The History of Banking Industry in India

P. Lahiri

There is a difference of opinion as to whether the French word ‘Banque’ or the Italian word ‘Banca’ is the genesis of the English word “Bank”. Nevertheless, both these words point to some kind of a bench or a counter where money exchange transactions used to take place historically.

Charles Woelfel’s Encyclopedia of Banking and Finance more comprehensively defines a bank as “… an organisation engaged in any or all of the various functions of banking i.e. receiving, collecting, transferring, paying, lending, investing, dealing, exchanging and servicing (safe deposit, custodianship, agency, trusteeship) money and have claims to money both domestically or internationally.” In India, Section 5(b) of Banking Regulation Act, 1949, which was the first state act to control and regulate the activities of banking companies, defines banking as “Accepting, for the purpose of lending and investment, of deposits of money from the public, repayable on demand or otherwise.” Importance of bank in the modern age cannot be overemphasised since finance is the life blood of trade, commerce and industry of a nation. Today, we come across broadly, three types of banks: commercial/ retail banks, investment banks and the central bank. Banks, in most countries, are regulated by the national government or its central bank. Commercial banks are those that typically are involved in receiving deposits and managing withdrawals as well as supplying short-term credit to individuals and small businesses. Investment banks are those that provide corporate clients with investment services like underwriting and merger and acquisition (M&A) assistance. Central banks are chiefly regulatory bodies working for ensuring currency stability, overseeing money supply, controlling inflation and devising monetary policy. The Federal Reserve in the US, Bank of England in the UK and Reserve Bank of India are examples of a central bank.

Banking in India:

Ancient times:

History of banking system in India is as old as the early Vedic period. References regarding deposits, advances, pledging for loan, and interest rates are found in Manusmriti the book of Manu, the great Hindu jurist. There is mention in ‘Manusmriti’ of terms like Rnapatra, Rnalekhya, Kusidin (soodhkhor: kind of usurer in English) etc. This clearly indicates that banking did exist during the ancient Vedic civilization. During the Mauryan period, we find quotes in Kautilya’s (or Chanakya’s) Arthashastra (300 B.C.) about banking products like “adesha” which was equivalent to Bill of Exchange of current times. It also referred to ‘merchant’ bankers who used to receive deposits, advance loans and carried out other functions akin to those of modern day banking. Since ancients times Shroffs, Seths, Mahajans, Chettis, Sahukars etc. belonging to the Vaishya community have been carrying on banking business by accepting deposits and lending money for interest on the amount loaned to people. They even advanced loans to kings and managed the currency of the kingdom. These were indigenous bankers, primarily money lenders who did play some role in the economy of the then kingdoms by lending money and financing trade and commerce including foreign trades.

Muslim Era:

During the Muslim rule, particularly in the Mughal period there was some decline in the money lending business as Islam forbids taking of interest. However, with enhanced use of metallic money called Sicca with names of rulers and governors stuck on them and appointment of more revenue collectors, bankers, money changers and mint officers, the economy gained momentum. 18th century India was one of the most attractive centres for trade and commerce in the world. Flourishing trade centres developed in Peshawar, Lahore, Agra, Surat, Ahmedabad and Daulatabad in the north & west; Benares, Patna, Berhampore (Qassimbazar), Dhaka in the east and Golconda and Bijapur in the south. Trade boomed in fine muslin (textile), silk, saltpetre and indigo. From Central Asia came gorgeous carpets, lavish dress, dry fruits, horses and also slaves. Principal instrument of trade was the Hundi (a kind of IOU) which could be customised according to need to be used in trade and credit transactions. The men who engaged themselves in all these transactions of money transfers, issuance of letters of exchange were called Shroffs and Sahukars. These indigenous bankers by their extraordinary ‘power of purchase’ were not only centres of wealth, but also the epicentre of power during the Mughal Empire as it was presumed that they could even purchase thrones with their money power. However for agricultural loans the peasants continued to depend on the small village money lenders charging high interest rates.

British Period:

With the advent of the British East India Company there was major transformation in banking ideas. The western concept of banking made its appearance in the country with the founding of ‘The Bank of Hindustan’ in 1770 by M/s Alexander & Company but it is said, it did not follow some of the basic tenets of banking as per modern definition of banking. The first joint stock bank established in 1786 was The General Bank of India. Subsequently, the East India Company founded the first Presidency bank, namely Bank of Calcutta in 1806 which later in 1809 was renamed Bank of Bengal. This was followed by establishment of two other presidency banks, The Bank of Bombay in 1840 and Bank of Madras in 1843. The 3 presidency banks which started functioning as quasi-central bankers of issue, bankers to the Government and Bankers’ bank were later merged in 1921 to form the Imperial Bank of India. The oldest surviving joint stock bank in India is Allahabad Bank founded in 1865 by some Europeans in Allahabad. The first commercial bank in India having limited liability and entirely managed by Indians was Oudh Commercial Bank established in 1881 in Faizabad (in Uttar Pradesh). This bank which failed in 1958, served only local customers with no branches. The Punjab National Bank Limited was registered under the Indian Companies Act in 1894, with its office in Lahore, now in Pakistan. In the wake of the freedom struggle, the Swadeshi movement inspired some Indian entrepreneurs to venture into banking which saw founding of Bank of India Limited (1906), Canara Bank Limited (1906), Indian Bank Limited (1907) Bank of Baroda Limited (1908), Central Bank of India Limited (1911). The boom period of 1906-1913 helped the growth of these banks along with some others which did not survive in later years. The period between 1913 and 1917 was one of crisis as some 100 odd banks failed during these years. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was established in 1935 with private shareholders. The need for a central bank was met with its establishment. It took over the functions involving government transactions, hitherto carried out by the Imperial Bank.

Post-Independence:

By the time of independence in 1947, India inherited an extremely weak banking structure with a large urban centre bias; loans and advances were made available mostly to relatives of promoters and directed primarily to the trading sector only. Most of the smaller towns and almost all villages in the country were devoid of any banking facility. Certain geographical locations had a skewed presence of branches with no bank having a true all India network. Weak banks continued to fail till 1948 due to a variety of reasons ranging from inadequate capital structure, poor liquidity of assets due to injudicious advancing, lack of regulatory control and mismanagement. This underlined the need to regulate and control commercial banks. With the passing of the Banking Regulations Act, 1949, RBI was conferred with more powers of supervision, control and licensing of banks and the authority to conduct periodic inspections. The Act provided the legal framework for regulation of the banking system by RBI. In 1955 the State Bank of India (SBI) was constituted when the RBI acquired controlling interest in the Imperial Bank to form the largest commercial bank in the country. The nationalisation of the Imperial Bank of India became part of a wider objective to direct the funds of the banking system into certain neglected, but important, sectors of the economy such as agriculture, and to spread banking facilities in rural areas. In 1959, State Bank of India (subsidiary) act was passed to nationalise the seven subsidiary banks of the State Bank of India. These seven banks were the erstwhile banks of the princely states which merged into the union of India after independence.

Bank Nationalisation:

Since 1951 Government of India embarked upon planned economic development of the country with social justice. The government sought to play an active role in the economic life of the nation by introducing 5-year plans. As in other sectors of the economy, the government introduced several important reforms in the banking sector for its transformation. The aim was to bring in structural changes in commercial banking by bringing in certain banking legislations. To avert bank failures, the government in 1960 added a new section (Sec. 45) in the Banking Companies Act, 1949 which empowered the RBI to seek consent of the government to prepare a scheme of amalgamation of weak banks with strong and well-managed banks. Since the government opted for a socialist pattern of economy, it set a goal for itself to achieve a society where wealth shall be distributed as equitably as possible without government playing a totalitarian role. Accordingly, government adopted a model of mixed economy with the private and the public sectors functioning independently of each other. It preferred a scenario where the means of production, distribution and exchange would be owned by the state on behalf of the people and the working class, for consolidation of resources to build a controlled economy. Towards this direction the government enacted the Banking Laws (Amendment) Act, 1968 which envisaged a scheme of ‘social control over banks’. The immediate objective was to remove certain deficiencies in the functioning of scheduled commercial banks whereby the banks were directing their advances to the large and medium scale industries only and the priority sectors such as agriculture, small-scale indus­tries and exports stood neglected. Large industrialists who monopolised the board of directors in these banks were only interested in sanctioning large amount of loans and ad­vances to the industries they were connected with. However, this scheme of social control over banks was tried for only 168 days and the government decided to go for full nationalisation of 14 major commercial banks of the country on July 19, 1969. The motives for nationalization were both political and economic. Subsequently, in 1980, another six banks were nationalised bringing the total number of nationalised commercial banks to 20. The reasons that led the government to take this drastic measure can be outlined in the following points.   

  1. Bank deposits mobilised by commercial banks were largely lent out to security based borrowers in trade and industry.
  2. Since the banks were controlled by business houses, sectors of the economy such as agriculture, small and village industries, which the government called priority sector, though were in need of funds for their expansion, were actually starved of funds.
  3. It was necessary to spread banking across the country through expansion of banking network (by opening new bank branches) in the un-banked areas.
  4. In order to reduce the regional imbalance in respect of existing branch network of banks, it was necessary for banks to go into the rural and semi-urban areas where the banking facilities were unavailable.
  5. Agriculture and its allied activities despite being the largest contributor to the national income were deprived of their due share in bank credit.
  6. It was felt necessary to develop banking habit among a large section of population as more than 70% of Indian population lived in villages.

Post nationalisation, the banks were given quantitative targets to achieve the twin main objectives of nationalisation namely, expansion of branch network and directing a certain percentage of total disbursed credit into the priority sector. The target for priority sector lending for nationalised banks was fixed at 40% of net advances.

There were arguments for and against the act of nationalisation of banks. The principal arguments in favour was attaining a socialistic society, directing more credit to the priority sector of the economy and lowering of interest rates for credit extended to weaker sections, backward areas and the export sector. Those arguing against bank nationalisation believed that the reasons for nationalisation were more political than economic, existing set of evils of the sector would be substituted by another set of evils, inefficiencies inherent in public sector will result in financial losses, customer service will be affected and corruption and nepotism will creep in.

However, the positive impact of nationalisation was quite evident on the ground especially in respect of significant expansion of branch network, especially in rural areas; breaking of social barriers between bankers and customers with massive expansion of customer base; increase in direct and indirect employment opportunities; huge jump in the quantum of deposits and advance in reaching 90% of population. All these made nationalised banks a driving force of the Indian economy. Hence, positives of nationalisation far outweighed its negative impacts.

Narsimhan Committee Reports:

Looking back at the Indian banking system after nearly five decades since nationalisation, there are reasons to be concerned about the health of the banking institutions. The Narasimhan committee instituted by the government of India under former RBI Governor M. Narasimham in 1991, made significant discoveries about the health of Indian banks and the areas of concern for the banking sector from a regulatory perspective.

Important recommendations of Narasimhan Committee Report-I (Committee on Financial System) of 1991 are summarised below:

  1. It advocated easing of available liquidity with banks by lowering of SLR to the minimum level of 25% allowed by law and also lowering the CRR from its high level.
  2. It advocated gradual phasing out of government directed lending as against lending by commercial judgement. It suggested capping of directed lending to the priority sector at 10% from the existing 40% to increase profitability of banks in a competitive environment.
  3. It recommended reduction in number of public sector banks by mergers. It envisaged three or four banks including SBI to be developed as international banks; eight to ten banks with national spread to be positioned as universal banks and Regional Rural Banks concentrating on rural and agricultural finance.
  4. It recommended interest rate deregulation for benefit in emerging market conditions.
  5. It advocated healthier banks to raise more capital from the capital market.
  6. It recommended more transparency in banks’ balance sheets.
  7. It suggested internal audit and inspection.
  8. It wanted government to commit that there would be no further nationalisations and open the sector to newer private banks subject to compliance of regulations.
  9. It advocated setting up of debt recovery tribunals for speedy recovery of sticky non-performing assets (NPAs).
  10. It also recommended establishment of a special financial institution called Asset Reconstruction Fund (ARF) which would purchase debts from banks at a discount to pursue their recovery. This would ease the fund situation of banks burdened with doubtful debts.

Important recommendations of Narasimhan Committee Report-II of 1998 were:

  1. Strengthening of banks: It recommended merger of stronger banks to have multiplier effects on industry.
  2. Autonomy to banks: Greater autonomy was recommended for public sector banks in order to function with professionalism at par with their international counterparts.
  3. Narrow banking: Rehabilitating weak banks having heavier burden of NPAs by allowing them to invest their funds in short term risk-free assets.
  4. Capital adequacy ratio: For improving the inherent strength of banks, the committee recommended that the government should raise the prescribed capital adequacy ratio to 9% by 2000 and to 10% by 2002.

Implementation of many of Narasimhan committee recommendations in the aftermath of 1990s was a kind of watershed in reforming the Indian banking system. For determining true health of banks, RBI mandated adoption of Prudential Accounting Norms for (a) Recognition of Income; (b) Classification of Assets; and (c) Provision for Loans & Advances.

On income recognition RBI wanted banks to account for income from performing assets on accrual basis and on non-performing assets on cash basis.

On classification of assets RBI proposed classifying assets as (a) Standard/ Performing assets and (b) Non-Performing Assets (NPAs). NPAs were to be further classified as (i) Sub-Standard Assets; (ii) Doubtful Assets; and (iii) Loss Assets on the basis of their vintage in respect of non recovery of interest/ instalments.

On Provisioning on Loans & Advances, RBI directed banks to make appropriate accounting provisions on consideration of the quality of assets (depending on credit standing status), the value of collateral security and its erosion.

  Diversity in the Indian Banking scenario:

Besides commercial banks the country has developed specialised banks catering to various financial needs of the country. These banks are ―

1)      Co-operative Banks: These banks mainly serve the needs of agriculture and allied activities, rural-based industries and to a lesser extent, trade and industry in urban centres. Indian co-operative bank structure is one of the largest in the world.

2)       National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD): Promoted by RBI and Government of India in 1982, NABARD is India’s specialized bank working in the field of agriculture and rural development by providing refinance credit to other credit providers in rural areas, regulates them and optimises the agricultural processes.

3)      EXIM Bank (Export Import Bank of India): It was established in 1982 with the object to provide Marketing Advisory Service, Export Advisory Service to exporters & importers and also to offer financial products like Lines of Credit, Project Export Finance and Buyer’s Credit.

4)      Payment Bank: It is a special category bank which can offer selective banking services to their customers like acceptance of deposit up to Rupees 1 Lac from a customer, provide payment and remittance services, offer internet/ phone banking, issue debit/ ATM card but cannot issue credit card nor can offer loans. They can also function as business correspondents for other banks.

 Challenges ahead of the Indian Banking Industry:

Deregulation of the banking sector has thrown open new opportunities for banks to increase revenue earnings by diversifying their activities into investment banking, insurance, credit cards, depository services, mortgage financing, securitisation, etc. At the same time, liberalisation in the sector has introduced greater competition among banks, both domestic and foreign, as well as competition from mutual funds, NBFCs and small savings organisations like the post office, etc. Competition will be tougher by the day as Indian banks will have to benchmark themselves against the best in the world addressing substantial issues like improvement in profitability, efficiency and technology. The Indian banking industry still has a long road ahead.

References:

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bank.asp

http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/article/history-of-banking-institution-in-india-2305-1.html

https://www.slideshare.net/munder007/banking-system-in-mughal-india

http://www.eenadupratibha.net/Content/PreviewFiles/4FD99F44-3507-46F3-9CF3-ED32C8FF68C7/start.html#

https://www.slideshare.net/kritikagarg161/nationalisation-of-banks-in-india-48741017

http://www.allbankingsolutions.com/Banking-Tutor/Banking-System-in-India.shtml

http://www.preservearticles.com/2012033129396/short-notes-on-social-control-over-banks.html

https://www.ukessays.com/essays/economics/nationalisation-of-banks-in-india-the-economic-effect-economics-essay.php <<

http://kalyan-city.blogspot.in/2010/09/narasimham-committee-report-1991-1998.html

http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/banking/highlights-of-narasimham-committee-recommendations-on-banking-reforms-in-india/23497/

http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/accounting/bank/prudential-accounting-norms-of-rbi/59287/

http://www.bizfinance.co.in/page.php?page-id=65#sthash.VlP2MkWc.dpbs

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/11587/10/10_chapter%203.pdf

 

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A PAPER VERNIER SCALE FOR VARIOUS LABORATORY EQUIPMENT

B.S. Lark

Retired Professor

Department of Chemistry, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjab, India.

Abstract:

A simple graph paper vernier scale has been described to improve the readability of the scale of various laboratory equipment like burette, graduated pipette, cylinder, thermometer etc.

To enhance the readability of the scale of various graduated simple laboratory like burette, graduated pipette, cylinder, dilatometer thermometer etc. the author introduced a paper vernier scale. This paper vernier is very simple to make and is used just like a parallax card. With the help of this the level of the liquid in any of the above equipment having a graduated stem can be read quite precisely even when it lies anywhere between the graduation marks. In this way for example, the level in a burette calibrated up to 0.1 ml can be read up to 0.01 ml. Presently a modification is being suggested which renders the making of the paper vernier still simpler. Originally a vernier scale was suggested to be made by drawing the scale on a plane piece of paper, where 9 major scale divisions (MSDs) of the graduated part of the equipment are divided into 10 vernier scale divisions (VSDs) to give a least count of 0.1 of the size of the MSD (I.E. 0.01 ml in the case of an ordinary burette).

In the present modification, instead of making the scale on a piece of plane paper, use of a piece of graph paper has been suggested. The emergence of various combinations leading to various least counts and their usefulness has been discussed.

Constructions:

A rectangular piece (4 cm x 6 cm) of evenly cut graph paper is taken and its one smooth edge is aligningly placed against the scale of the graduated stem of the equipment. Number of vernier (graph paper) scale divisions matching against the main (equipment) scale divisions are read. Some different simple combinations and least counts of the corresponding vernier scales are summarized in Table 1. It may be remarked here that only those combinations wherein the matched VSDs and MSDs differ by either one or two divisions have been included in the table. When the difference is one, the least count of the vernier scale so obtained, is simply 1/n times the size of the MSD, if the difference is 2, then the least count becomes 2/n times and so on. Concomitantly the usefulness of the scale falls, as in one complete vernier scale, two or more units would lapse. The comments for the usefulness of the various combinations are also given in the table.

Table 1: Least Count of Various Combinations 

MSD VSD Least Count= (VSD- MSD)/ VSD Remarks
2 3 1/3 not useful
3 4 ¼ not useful
4 5 1/5 not very useful, but easy
5 6 1/6 some useful
6 7 1/7 some useful
7 8 1/8 quite useful
8 9 1/9 quite useful
9 10 1/10 most useful
10 11 1/11 quite useful
3 5 2/5 not so useful, but easy
5 7 2/7 not so useful, but easy
7 9 2/9 not so useful, but easy
9 11 2/11 not so useful, but easy

 

A vernier scale made on a piece of cm graph paper is illustrated in A Simple Graph Paper Vernier Scale Graph papers of other dimensions available in the market or self-prepared may also be used.

Slits S1 and S2 are made on the graph paper vernier scale so as to make the vernier scale slip on the burette or any other such device underuse. Slit S3 is meant to make visible the matching of zero of vernier scale with the level of the liquid in the burette and the matching of MSDs and VSDs.

  References:

  1. Lark, B. S (1996). A Paper Vernier Scale for Various Laboratory Equipments. J Chem. Educ 1996, 73 (2), p 177.

 

 

 

 

 

Nomophobia: Challenges and Management

Dr. Rajesh G. Konnur

The recent suicidal epidemiology among students due to Blue Whale gaming is alarming. Children, especially students are haphazardly using mobiles and electronic gadgets. The moment they are separated from their devices, anxiety and frustration hits them like a typhoon. Recent mental health literature research suggests that children and students suffering from nomophobia feel lonely with their phones and gadgets. Thus, these people isolate from real circumstances.

According to Envoy (2014), Nomophobia is defined as “the fear of being out of mobile phone contact”. The term, nomophobia, is an abbreviation for no-mobile phone phobia and it was first coined during a study by a U.K. Post Office in 2008 to investigate anxieties mobile phone users suffer. In order to refer to people with nomophobia, two other terms were introduced and colloquially used; nomophobe and nomophobia. A nomophobe is a noun and refers to someone who is affected with nomophobia. The term, nomophobic, on the other hand, is an adjective and is used to describe the characteristics of nomophobes &/or behaviors related to nomophobia.

The 2008 study in the UK, conducted on over 2100 people, demonstrated that some 53% of mobile phone users suffered from nomophobia (mail online 2010). The study also revealed that men were more prone to nomophobia than were women, with 58% of male participants and 48% of female participants indicating feelings of anxiety when unable to use their phone.

Another research study conducted by Secuor Envoy (2012), a security company in the UK, surveyed 1000 employees and showed that the number of people suffering from nomophobia increased from 53% to 66%. Unlike the 2010 study, the 2014 study that women were more susceptible to nomophobia, with 70% of the women compared to 61% of the men expressing feeling of anxiety about losing their phone or not being able to use their phone. In terms of the relationship between age & nomophobia, the study found that young adults, aged 18-24 were most prone to nomophobia with 77% of them identified as nomophobic, followed by users aged 25-34 at 68%. Moreover, mobile phone users in the age group of 55 & over were found to be the third most nomophobic users.

The recent definition by Nardi (2014), defines nomophobic as follows:

“Nomophobia is the modern fear of being unable to communicate through a mobile phone or the Internet… Nomophobia is a term that refers to a collection of behaviors or symptoms related to mobile phone use. Nomophobia is a situational phobia related to agoraphobia and includes the fear of becoming ill & not receiving immediate assistance.”

Another definition by International Business Times (2013) seems to put an emphasis on the feelings of anxiety caused by unavailability or inaccessibility of mobile phone.

Nomophobia or “no mobile phone phobia” is an anxiety which people face when they feel they could not get signal from a mobile tower, run out of battery, forget to take the phone with them or simply do not receive calls, texts or email notifications for a certain period of time. In short, it is a psychological fear of losing mobile or cell phone contact.

Nomophobia and smart phone addiction share many qualities, but the primary trait each disorder shares is that the smart phone is a source of relief and comfort. The key reason for this that smart phones have become central in communication and are perceived necessary to own in order to use the phone compulsively to the point where it can be defined as behavioral addiction.

Both nomophobia and Smart Phone Addiction Disorder have many comarbid disorders, two or more disorders within an individual , such as : anxiety and panic disorder, other forms of phobia (social phobia), obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, any disorder under the umbrella of depression from dysthmia to major depressive disorder, alcohol and drug addiction, as well as other behavioral addiction disorders (including mobile &/or internet dependence, gambling, online gambling, compulsive shopping and sexual behaviors) and personality disorders (borderline, antisocial and avoiding).

 Symptomology of Nomophobia:

The suffering client expresses multiple symptoms. The classical symptoms of nomophobia are anxiety, depression, trembling, perspiration, tachycardia, loneliness and even panic attacks in extreme cases.

Smart phone addiction & nomophobia share comarbid disorders such as social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorders, loneliness & atypical depression.  The DSM-5, states that non-substance addictions and conventional addictions have a high comorbidity with other disorders such as alcoholism and major depressive disorders.

Etiology of Nomophobia:

There are several causes/ etiology for nomophobia.

Psychosocial Role:

According to Clayton et al (2015), smart phone addiction may have psychosocial causes stemming from the need to keep in touch with others. One theory that supports that is FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) (Przybylski et al 2014). FoMO is defined as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent; FoMO is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing. Just like smart phone addiction and nomophobia, FoMO was established as a result of smart phone use and is based upon the psychosocial need to stay in good social starding with peers and to be constantly involved among in-groups. This may provide a connection with social groups & an outlet for daily stresses.

Embodied Cognition  and Extended Self:

Embodied Cognition can be defined as “psychological processes are influenced by the body, including body morphology, sensory systems and motor systems (Glenberg, 2010).  It can be further defined in more specific views. Margaret Wilson defined six views of Embodied Cognition as: cognition is situated, time pressured, we off-load cognition into the environment (such as maps and recordings to ease our cognitive load), the environment is part of our cognition [the mind did not evolve independently from the environment], cognition is for action, and off- line cognition is body based. Specifically, the third view that cognition can be off loaded onto the environment applies to smart phones. Since smart phones have internet connectivity, there is no cognitive task for calling declarative memories like facts and events. Instead of reinforcing memories, smart phones limit the ability to remember declarative memories with web searching.

Extended Self Theory is defined as “an individual’s possessions, whether knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, can become an extension of one’s self”. For example, someone [basketball player or carpenter] who uses a tool (basketball or hammer) regularly encodes the tool into their neural network. The weight and dimensions of the tool are innate to the user and can manipulate the tool with ease compared to someone who has never used the tool. The Extended Self Theory can be applied to smart phone users as well. Clayton (2015) explains smart phone loss as the “unintentional loss of a possession which should be regarded as a loss or lessening of self”.

Digital/ Cyborg Anthropology:

Digital/ Cyborg Anthropology is a field of Anthropology that “explores the production of humanness through machines” (Gary 2005). Case (2007) stated that smart phones have “effects of widespread mobile telephony on the social and spatial relations of individuals in the post modern state”. Distinct from current phones, older phones were situated in one area such as the home or in telephone booth. Modes such as mail took time. These modes had time and space as factors and Case argues that because phones are mobile and in real time, phones can compress time and space, giving users more control over communication.

Case also argued that there is a “techonosocial movement where there is a degree of control over social interaction because of technology. Because there are no nonverbal cues such as facial movement or body position, she states that “a cell phone interaction provides one half of a conversation equation.” Posturing and making one’s image seems more socially desirable.

She also argued that phones provide a “liminal” space. Liminal in the context of mobile-phones is defined as “The intersection between face-to-face interaction and cell phone conversations is a “betwixt” & “between” social space, in which a caller is neither fully engaged with those who are physically co-present, not fully mentally co-present (except for the technically mediated auditory connection) with the person on the other end of the line and shows the isolation of smart phone communication.

Flow, Impulsivity & Reinforcement:

Many studies on phone addiction attribute phone use to either positive or negative experiences & reinforcement (Przybylski et al, 2013). The study measured flow, the mindset of an individual who is fully immersed and hyper focus in an activity whilst experiencing pleasure (known colloquially as “in the zone”) & convenience of a phone to the amount of use to see if there was a correlation. The researchers found that flow had a positive correlation with phone use but connivance allowed flow to provide instant gratification & positively reinforced smart phone use.

While flow is a positive reinforce for smart phone use, impulsivity may be regarded as the negative reinforcer. One study in particular found that impulsivity, the urgency to check a phone & the inability to focus on a task was positively correlated with perceived dependence of a smart phone (Billieux, 2007). In the context of addiction, impulsivity is associated with negative affect. If an addict feels negative emotions, they take their stimulus to stop the negative emotions. Billieux et al (2010) found that their participants used their phones when they were feeling “bad or “bored” & would negatively reinforce their behavior.

These patterns of positive & negative reinforcement follow the same pattern of behavioral addiction, which has been shown to follow the same neurological path as substance addiction in terms of reward & reinforcement (Grant, 2011).

Collectively, these rewards ( social gratification, more  control of social interaction through liminal space, offloading cognitive tasks, avoidance coping) compounded with consequences (anxiety, or nomophobia, FoMO, impulsivity, isolation) shows that excess smart phone use follows the same pattern as any addiction in terms of positive and then negative reinforcement, especially if the user has an existing disorder (social anxiety, depression, low self-esteem ) & that nomophobia can be referred as smart phone addiction.

You are Nomophobic when:

  • If you wake up in the night every two hours just to check your phone.
  • You check your phone even when you are having lunch or dinner.
  • You start to panic when your phone is about to run out of battery & you can’t rest until you put it on charging.
  • Feeling that you’re missing out on life when there is no signal.
  • Urge to answer the call, no matter how busy you are.
  • Taking mobile phone to wash room/ bathroom.
  • You’ve checked your phone twice reading this article.

It is detrimental because:

  • It causes anxiety. People suffering from nomophobia tend to suffer from anxiety when separated from their phones. This causes high blood pressure. It also reduces attention span of an individual, which can harm one’s work productivity.
  • It’s a colossal waste of time. Avoid looking at your phone, while doing other activities. Recent research suggests that this multitasking doesn’t work, as you can’t retain and process information at the same time.
  • It affects your sleep patterns. The blue light emitted from phone, signals to your brain that it’s time to wake up and it suppresses melatonin, the hormone responsible for dictating your sleep rhyme.
  • It leads to skin trouble. Constant contact with your phone can cause acne, allergies and dark spots. Other symptoms in long run seen are deafness and cancer.
  • It affects your relationship with friends and family, thus affecting your social skills. It’s considered rude if you constantly check your phone, when you’re talking to them.

Coping with Nomophobia:

  • Limit the use of mobile phone.
  • Turn off the mobile before going to bed.
  • Customize notifications in phone. Constant notifications from various apps in your phone are distracting.
  • Delete apps that are not required.
  • Use watch & calculator instead of apps.
  • Take phone breaks while working.
  • Balance screen time and in-person time each week. For every hour you invest in front of a screen, you invest in human contact.
  • Try a technology every month, where you actually go for a day or more without a computer, tablet or cell phone. You’ll feel liberated.
  • Place your phone at least 15 inches away from you sleep at night. This helps to keep you in a safer zone.
  • Block your day in time zones, where you spend time using technology, but also have blocks of time for organic, genuine interaction with people. Spend more time with friends and family. Limit your phone use, when you are with them. Watch films on a big screen, rather than on your phone.
  • Cultivate a habit of book reading, love the books.
  • Involve in sports, out -door games and in social activities.
  • Consult the health personnel if symptoms persist beyond control.

 

Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime in India

Prapanna Lahiri

 

All the different types of taxes levied by the government can be categorised as direct and indirect taxes. Direct taxes are paid in entirety by a taxpayer directly to the government and cannot be transferred or shifted to another person. Income tax which an individual pays directly to the government is an example of direct tax, as the burden of the tax falls flatly on the individual who earns a taxable income and its incidence cannot be shifted to others. Indirect taxes, on the other hand, are those taxes which can be shifted to another person. Value Added Tax (VAT) is an example of indirect tax included in the bill of goods and services that one procures from others. The manufacturer or service provider, who pays the initial tax, later shifts the tax burden to the consumers by including the tax to determine the final price of the commodity or service sold to them. There are other indirect taxes such as Excise Duty, Countervailing (customs) Duty, Service Tax, (State) Value Added Tax/ Sales Tax , Octroi/ Entry Tax and Entertainment tax, the last three being levied by state and local governments and the rest by the federal government.

GST is “one indirect tax” for the whole nation. This will make the entire nation one unified common market. This one tax is meant to bring about a uniform system of indirect taxation as substitute of various such taxes levied by central and state governments as well as local authorities. Hence, GST is touted as one nation, one market and one tax. At present, more than 140 countries have tried this deviant scheme of indirect taxation in one or the other form. France was the first country to introduce GST in 1954.

India made history now, on the midnight of June 30 through the introduction of the bill in Parliament, on Goods and Service Tax (GST), the mother of all tax reforms. As stated above, this biggest tax reform post-independence seeks to amalgamate several central and state taxes into a single tax under one umbrella, to mitigate cascading or double taxation and thereby simplify the current system of indirect taxation. Accordingly, with the introduction of GST, central and state governments are set to abolish all multiple taxes (except customs duty) by simultaneously levying dual GST comprising of central GST (CGST) and state/Union Territory GST (SGST/UTGST) for supply of goods and services within a state or union territory. For all interstate supplies a single integrated GST (IGST), which would be the sum total of CGST and SGST/UTGST, is to be levied. Centre and state governments, except the state of J & K, have enacted laws to levy GST. Being a destination based tax the scheme of GST proposes to levy and collect tax on the basis of location of consumption of goods and services and not on the basis of location of their production. A single tax is proposed to be levied on the supply of goods and services at all stages, right from manufacture up to final consumption.  Credits of input taxes paid at each stage will be available for setoff in the subsequent stage of value addition. It makes GST, essentially, a tax only on value addition at each stage. In a nutshell, only value addition will be taxed and burden of tax is to be borne by the final consumer though his invoice will bear only the GST charged by the last dealer in the supply chain, with setoff benefits made available at all the previous stages.

Some substantive features of GST regime: GST works on the principle of Value added tax (VAT) with the basic objective of taxing the value addition at the each stage of business, achieved by allowing tax paid as set off/credit against tax liability on output/income. It is a comprehensive tax, levied on all transactions made for a consideration, in manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services (except the exempted goods and services), at a national level which, in principle, should not make any distinction between goods and services for levying of the tax. Certain commodities such as Alcohol for human consumption, Petroleum Products (crude petroleum, motor spirit/petrol, high speed diesel, aviation turbine fuel and natural gas) and Electricity have been proposed to be left outside of the purview of GST for the present. Besides taxes on these products, real estate-stamp duty and property tax shall continue to attract taxes as per the structure prevailing before introduction of GST.

Basic methodology of GST is based on the principle of value added tax (VAT). For a simple understanding of the approach, the very common example of making of a shirt, at its different stages, may be considered.

Stage – 1:  The shirt maker buys raw material or inputs such as cloth, thread, buttons and tailoring equipment — worth `100 which sum includes a tax of `10. With these raw materials a shirt is manufactured.

Stage – 2: The shirt-maker adds value, say of `30, to the shirt by cutting and stitching it. The gross value of the product (the shirt) becomes (100+30) `130. At 10% rate of tax, the tax payable on output (the shirt) will then be (10% of 130) = `13. But under GST, a tax of `10 has already been included and paid against the price of consumed raw material/inputs and the same can be set off from this tax accrual of `13 on the output. Therefore, the effective GST incidence on the shirt maker is only `3 (13-10).

Stage – 3: At the next stage, after the good (the shirt) is purchased by the wholesaler from the manufacturer at `130, the latter adds his margin (surplus) of, say, `20 to the good, the gross value of the shirt he sells, thus, becomes `130+20= `150. Tax payable at 10% on of the wholesaler’s output (`150) will be `15. But under GST, from the tax of `15 payable on his output he is entitled to set off the tax of `13 already included and paid in the preceding stages on the good purchased from the manufacturer. Thus, the effective GST incidence on the wholesaler’s output is only `2 (15 – 13).

Stage – 4 (Final):  In the final stage, a retailer buys the shirt from the wholesaler. He adds value or margin of, say, `10 to his purchase price of Rs 150. The gross value of his sales, therefore, comes up to `150+10 = `160. The tax on his output at 10% rate shall be `16. But by setting off the tax paid on his purchase from the wholesaler (`15) against this tax now payable (`16), the effective GST incidence on the output of the retailer comes down to `1 (16–15).

Thus, the cumulative GST on the entire value chain from the raw material/input suppliers (who can claim no tax credit since they are assumed to have not purchased anything themselves) through the manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer is, `10+3+2+1=`16. The final incidence of tax falls on the final buyer (consumer) of the shirt. Against this cumulative tax of `16 on value additions realised at various stages of the value chain under GST the total tax payable under the erstwhile central excise/sales tax regime would have been `10+13+15+16=`54.

In the above simple illustration the difference in the tax incidence under the two regimes – central excise/sales tax and GST – clearly arises out of double taxation in the former where the raw material taxed at the first stage i.e. Rs.10 gets again included in the tax at the second stage, again at 3rd stage and finally at the 4thstage. This is what is called cascading effect i.e. tax on tax till the level of the final consumer. One main objective of Goods & Service Tax (GST) is to eliminate this cascading effect in indirect taxation.

One interesting take here in administration of GST is that invoices must be maintained in each successful stage of transactions by all parties to claim Input Tax Credit (ITC). If any tax is evaded at one stage, the same is captured at the next successive stage. For easy compliance a robust and comprehensive IT system would be the foundation of the GST regime in India. All tax payer services such as registrations, returns, payments etc., are designed to be made available to the taxpayers online.

Benefits of GST regime:

  1. Removal of cascading effect in indirect taxation will ensure seamless tax credits throughout the value chain and across boundaries of States. This would reduce hidden costs of doing business making it more competitive.
  2. GST will ensure that indirect tax rates and structures are uniform across the country, thereby increasing certainty and ease of doing business and making choice of location of business, tax neutral.
  3. With a comprehensive IT system in place for administration of GST making all operations online, tax compliance will be much easier and cost effective.
  4. Business will be immensely benefited by embracing the ‘one nation, one market, one tax’ regime. The existing indirect taxation system created borders within borders where tax laws, tax rates differed from state to state leading to distortions in the allocation of resources and indirect taxes. Unavailability of Tax credits for interstate transactions was a major hindrance in taking business decisions.
  5. The GST regime will facilitate free movement of goods, reduced transportation time and costs with elimination of entry tax and Octroi.
  6. Reduction in transaction costs of doing business would eventually lead to improved competitiveness for trade and industry.
  7. The subsuming of major Central and State taxes in GST, phasing out of Central Sales Tax (CST) and comprehensive set off of input goods and services would reduce the cost of indigenously manufactured goods and services. This will enhance competitiveness of Indian goods and services in the international market giving a boost to Indian exports.
  8. GST rates for most FMCG goods having been kept lower compared to the previous rate should lead to more demand and increased consumption in the sector.

As worked out in the simple illustration provided above it is apparent that indirect taxes accruing to the government under the erstwhile central excise and sales tax regime appear more than what would accrue in the GST regime indicating a loss of revenue to the government. But in real terms there existed wide spread of tax evasion in the central excise and sales tax regime. This evasion is not possible in the GST regime as a robust IT infrastructure is the backbone of the tax administration in this regime. There is an inbuilt mechanism in the design of GST that would incentivise tax compliance by traders. The IT systems in place, by bringing down cost of collection of tax revenues of the Government, will lead to higher revenue efficiency. This gain in efficiency of revenue collection, prevention of leakages and elimination of cascading effect of indirect taxation is expected to provide relief in overall tax burden on consumers. Finally, there is a scenario of the state governments suffering some loss in revenue collection in the GST regime. To overcome this loss, central government has decided to offer 5 year compensation to states.

Reference:

 

 

EMPTY NEST SYNDROME

By: Rajesh Konnur

Life is a bio-psycho-social change. Change occurs in every part of life. Gradual changes in social life process are the main focus of new era. Every individual has to pass through his/ her life stage cycle.

The departure stage in the family phase is when grown children leave home, also known as the period of ‘launching children’. Parents launching their last child go through what is usually known as the “empty nest”.

The Empty Nest as a Twenty First Century Phenomenon:

Most of the theorists, assume that empty nest period is inaugurated when the youngest child turns 18 or when a particular launching event occurs, such as marriage or graduation or leaving home and staying far away from parents due to socio-educational conditions.  In simple way, it refers to as a “letting go” of the children or having them “leave home”.

Empty Nest Syndrome is described as a feeling of grief, loneliness parents may feel when children leave home. It can also result in depression, loss of purpose, feelings of rejection, worry and stress and anxiety over children welfare. Other contributory factors are an unstable or unsatisfactory marriage, sense of self based primarily on identity as a parent or difficulty in accepting a change.

Parents also dealing with stressful life events like menopause, death of a spouse, retirement are more likely to experience the syndrome.

Research studies have shown that parents whose children leave home do not necessarily experience the grief associated with empty nest syndrome, majority experience increased marital happiness and more leisure time.

Common Emotions:

  1. Feeling Sad: Sadness is always a common perception in parents at the beginning of their child’s departure. However, this sadness will be reduced by busy daily life activities and by responsibilities.
  2. Loving Children: Missing loving children during meals is also one of the important emotions of empty nest syndrome.
  3. Anxiety & Denial: Worry, sadness, skipping meals is all symptoms of empty nest syndrome.

Coping with Empty Nest Syndrome:

Rediscover the love of your life:

This period can be challenging if a couple discovers that there are problems with their relationship they have not faced because having children around helped to cement their relationship. It can also be that after being parents for so long, they have forgotten how to be lovers. This is a time to talk honestly & openly about the direction of the relationship together & decide what happens next.

If the children were the only bonding force in your marriage, you both may need to work on your own relationship to restore what has been neglected.

Remember the past and look forward to the future:

Develop the mindset that you expect your spouse to have changed somewhat. You have both aged since meeting and been through many experiences that you did not envisage when you first fell in love. With time, people become clever about their likes, dislikes, preferences etc. Trying to see this as an opportunity to discover each other’s “new” selves can be a fruitful way to revive a flagging relationship.

Allow time for your relationship to blossom anew. Sometimes, none of this will patch up the reality that you’ve grown apart. If you realize that your relationship is beyond repair, talk it through, seek report at counseling clinics, pray together, and serve the Lord and His people together.

Talk to your child. Your child is probably feeling anxious and uncertain about his/ her new life, too. Reassure them of your love and support. If you feel that you have made mistakes or have regrets about your past approach to parenting, talk to your child about these feelings honestly and work to resolve guilty feelings.

Talk to your partner. Be honest about the emotions you are experiencing. Strive to be as sensitive to your spouse’s needs as he or she is to yours.

Respect your child’s new independence. Be proud of his or her achievements and maturity. Aim to be supportive, but give your adult child room to grow and learn from his or her mistakes.

Focus on the future, not the past. While it is important to cherish happy memories, anticipate even happier times to come, such as when you may become a grandparent.

Reconnect with your partner. Now that you are alone again, take advantage of the opportunity to spend time together and “date” again.

Stay active. Get involved in hobbies and activities. Try to exercise regularly and keep fit. Consider volunteering or going back to school to learn new skills. Use your time productively and creatively.

Join an empty nesters support group. Get to know others going through the same transitions you are, and share your stories and feelings.

Stay disciplined with money. With one less person in the house, you may have extra money. If you are not careful, this extra money can be frittered away quickly. Review your savings and investments and take steps to make sure you are on track with your retirement planning.

If feelings of sadness, anxiety or depression persist, contact a professional counselor.

Lack of development in the North-eastern part of India ― a historical legacy

By: Prapanna Lahiri

India’s northeast, now consisting of 8 (eight) states, Arunachal, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim, is a fascinating region of this vast and varied country. Initially the region was known by the sobriquet ‘Land of Seven Sisters’ consisting of seven contiguous states as listed above barring Sikkim which began to be counted within North East India after the state was made part of India in May, 1975. The northeast has in store some real surprises for a visitor to this farthest brink of the country. Obscured from the greater world by ageless forests and formidable mountain range, it is in many ways a land of the greatest unknowns and remains one of the most unexplored regions of Asia. Liberally endowed with nature’s bounty, this region of the northeast boasts of breathtakingly scenic undulating hills and luxuriant green covered plains, hosting a wide variety of rare flora and fauna.

Historical perspective: Delving into the history of the region one comes to know that this is the only region, to come later under British rule, which never formed part of the Mughal Empire save the plains of the erstwhile princely state of Tripura. Assam the major state of the region had the distinction of being ruled by the longest ever running dynasty on Indian soil, the Ahom dynasty that reigned on for almost 600 years successfully resisting attempts at making Mughal inroads into Assam. The Ahom rulers ruled Assam and Manipur from 1228 A.D. till the first Burmese invasion of 1817 followed by two others that continued up to 1826 heralding Burmese rule of Assam and Manipur, a period of severe depredation of the region. The state was finally annexed into British India in 1826 following the First Anglo-Burmese war.

Fissiparous tendencies in the northeast: In a way most of northeast India forming part of Indian Union was accidental. Unlike in other parts of mainland India which were unified culturally and politically even in the pre-colonial era by a kind of homogeneity formed by caste dependent Hindu societal structures and the overall Hindu ethos, the society of the hill people of the multi-ethnic Northeast with their diverse social alignments and tribal identities presented a disjointed cultural milieu. For historical reasons, the cultural hue of the more Sanskritised Assamese community speaking an Indo-Aryan language and that of the Hindu Vaishnavite Meiteis of Manipur were different from the other north-eastern communities which were mostly tribes. With the kind of socio political integration existing in mainland India, the subjugation to colonial rule further unified the society for its emancipation. The situation in Assam was not quite the same, as simmering apprehension of extinction of Assamese nationalism built over centuries encouraged secessionist tendencies later exploited by movements like the ones started by ULFA. In Manipur too, despite existence of a Hindu Viashnavite tradition the Meitei community was suspicious of overall Hindu cultural imperialism.

Colonial Era: Moreover, the advent of the colonial rule in the region did not help the integration process either. The British after gaining control of the area embarked on a policy of isolating the hill people from the main-stream of Indian life by introducing Inner Line Permit system ostensibly to protect their culture and way of life from influence of the plains people. At the same time this inner line system successfully prevented cementing of any relationship between the hills people and the plainsmen in economic, social and cultural fields. Factually speaking, the inner line regulation marked the beginning of the isolation of the Northeast. After independence Nehru spoke of a policy of making the people of this region feel “…they have perfect freedom to lead their own lives and to develop according to their own wishes and genius…” He assured them that India besides being a protecting force shall also be a liberating one, in so far as customs and habits which they are unfamiliar with will not be imposed on them. The first Chief Minister of Assam Gopinath Bordoloi too ensured that special provisions related to the hill areas were included in the sixth schedule of the constitution of independent India. He also took measures for intermixing of the hills and the plains people through socio-cultural activities.

Insurgency: Despite these positive efforts and pronouncements, fissiparous tendencies continued to develop owing to factors ranging from desire for self expression, perception of injustice and discriminations, aspirations of small time politicians, unequal development of states and role of Christian evangelists. Nagas who are fiercely independent people were the first to raise the flag of revolt. This gave birth to South Asia’s longest running guerrilla campaign. The Naga National Council (NNC) formed in 1946 initially demanded autonomy within undivided Assam. But on the eve of Indian independence the NNC under A.Z. Phizo suddenly declared independence for the Nagas choosing a path of conflict with the Indian state. The NNC later split and the breakaway faction, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) emerged as the new spearhead for the rebel movement. Additionally, the demand of the Nagas for ‘Nagalim’ (Greater Nagaland) is a thorn in the solution of the vexed Naga imbroglio. The demand infringes on the territorial integrity of neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal, as Nagas began claiming large areas these states inhabited by their tribes to be made part of the proposed entity of Nagalim.

In neighbouring Manipur too, there were revolutionary movements which opposed Manipur’s merger with India. Particularly, the youth of Manipur resented the way Manipur, a princely state with a constitution and an elected Assembly of its own, was annexed into the Indian Union. Disgruntlement with this merger on allegedly derogatory terms gave birth to several separatist groups that led to a fierce spell of urban and semi–urban guerrilla warfare in the Imphal valley. Insurgency continued for over four decades from the eighties making Manipur even today the most insurgency ridden violent state in India’s northeast.

The demand of the inhabitants of the Mizo district of erstwhile Assam state for a separate entity led by organisations like ‘Mizo Union’ later turned into armed uprising for a sovereign state driven by a more radical outfit the Mizo National Front. The rebellion was suppressed by Military operation in the sixties. Finally the Union Territory of Mizoram was curved out from Assam in 1972 and later given statehood in 1987 after a peace accord with rebels was signed in 1986. Here it is important to mention that the hilly state of Sikkim though included in the northeast has been free from insurgency and its resulting ills.

Immigration: Another important factor that triggered conflict in the northeast is unbridled immigration into the region from densely populated East Bengal (now Bangladesh). This gave rise to fears of minoritization amongst the region’s indigenous ethnic groups. A classic instance this fear emanated from the situation obtaining in Tripura where demography got changed within two decades making Bengalis a powerful majority, enabling them to assume political power. Other North-eastern states going the Tripura way is a fear that haunts minds of the indigenous people.

The role of the Christian Missionaries: Christianity started spreading among the hill population of the region, mainly concentrated in the three Christian majority states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram. With British rule establishing itself in the hills of the Northeast, spread of Christianity also took off. British rule did not happen at one go and it took time to consolidate. Likewise, Christianity too spread among hill tribes in phases starting with the tribes of Meghalaya, the Nagas and Mizos in 1830s, 1872 and 1894 respectively. From the arrival of British rule to the onset of insurgency in these areas, the existing religions i.e. Animism among the hill tribes and primarily Hinduism of the plainsmen of the region, failed to foster the desired unity and co-operation among these two types of population. Barring the Meiteis of Manipur who converted to Hinduism in the 18th century under a local ruler, religions and culture of India failed to influence the inhabitants of the northeast. Circumventing of Indian culture among the hill tribes was to an extent instrumental for the lack of brotherly feelings between the people of hills of the region and the rest of the country. What political rule of the British could not deliver to the hill people was delivered much more by the Christian missionaries. They transformed basic lives of the hill folks by improving their community health, hygiene and education. Greatest impact was felt in the field of education by introduction of Roman script in Nagaland and Mizoram, since the Nagas and the Mizos did not have a script of their own. Christianity proved to be a unifying force to bind people together. The flip side to all this was that Christianity moulded the population towards a culture alien to India’s own, by opening their eyes towards western civilization. There were allegations, not without reason though, that Christian missionaries sought to instil a fear in the minds of the tribals that the Hindus of India are out to destroy their age old customs and traditions, obliterate their separate identity and thereby dominate them. By imparting English education in convents and missionary colleges, they tried to allure them towards materialistic western culture and wean them away from the national mainstream, encouraging demands for a separate nationhood. These allegations were bolstered by the fact that the areas where the missionaries carried out their work, insurgency got a boost like in Naga Hills, Mizo Hills, hilly parts of Assam, and Tripura.

Constraints of development of infrastructure and connectivity: The most critical element of the northeast is its connectivity with mainland India. What connects the North-eastern states with mainland India is the chicken’s neck also called the Siliguri Corridor, a narrow stretch of land situated in the state of West Bengal. This slender link-corridor sandwiched between Nepal and Bangladesh is about 21 km wide. Sikkim and Bhutan are to the north of this strategic corridor. The geographical location of the northeast is equally strategic as it borders on four countries, namely, China and Bhutan on its North; Myanmar on its East; and Bangladesh on its South and West.

There are serious challenges for Infrastructure development of the North-eastern Region:

  1. Poor connectivity with the rest of the country is a challenge. Difficult terrain within the region makes maintenance of road connectivity arduous. Development of transportation and communication linkages is lopsided being concentrated in the upper Brahmaputra valley only.
  2. Small and widely dispersed habitations make connectivity and delivery of services difficult.
  3. Railway network is very thin owing to geographical and sometimes, strategic reasons. However, projects are underway for extension of railway tracks to all the state capitals or to points nearest to the state capitals by 2020.
  4. Bilateral arrangement with Bangladesh is yet to be worked out for the proposed Agartala-Kolkata rail link through Akhaura and Dhaka (in Bangladesh) which will shorten the distance by nearly 1100 Km. Similar inland waterway links are also possible through that country but are yet to be implemented.
  5. There are security concerns with India’s international neighbours that hinder extension of telecom and other infrastructure facilities to the International border.

Socio-Political and economic factors of underdevelopment: Besides the prevalence of factors affecting growth of the national economy there are some unique features to this region that have stifled economic well-being of specifically this region. These unique features, primarily related to the long standing socio-political unrest prevailing in this area are: ―

  1. Economic activities got concentrated in select pockets. This resulted in vast areas remaining inaccessible and backward even to this day.
  2. Revenue from tea and oil made urban centres prosperous while the rural hinterland being overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture remained poor.
  3. Lack of infrastructure has impeded industrialisation while industrialisation could not materialise owing to poor infrastructure. It is a vicious circle.
  4. Widespread and prolonged socio-political conflict situation resulted in economic destruction and social disorganisation.
  5. Steady flow of central funds into the hands of the local elite including local political leadership has indirectly discouraged local initiatives to raise funds for economic rejuvenation of the region.
  6. Inadequate economic infrastructure like transportation, communications and market accessibility stood in the way of industrialisation, even in the small scale sector.
  7. Insurgency, in more ways than one, has become the easiest, sustainable less risky and expanding industry of the entire northeast barring Sikkim.
  8. Large quantities of development funds landed in the kitty of the insurgents as they cornered most of the contracts and supply orders.
  9. Primitive farming like slash and burn (jhum cultivation) is still being practised in the hilly areas of the region. Single cropping pattern in the plains failed to produce enough food grain for even for local consumption.
  10. Elected representatives of the people are not responsible and accountable to the electorates but are answerable to the insurgents, who manage their winning.
  11. Food stuff and essential supplies from government are siphoned off by the insurgents and the poor people suffer.
  12. Despite business summits very few investors are willing to invest in the given disturbed scenario and employment opportunities for the youth are not created.
  13. Businesses and enterprises fail because of frequent extortions by insurgents.
  14. There is heavy exodus of students from this region for education in other parts of India resulting in big outflow of funds.

Considering all the above aspects of insurgency in the region the truth that comes out is ― insurgency as a consequence of poor developmental performance of local and central governance has now become the cause of the economic backwardness of the region. To break this vicious cycle of violence and to provide a semblance of good governance in the region, it is worth considering the prescription given in a research essay ‘Rethinking Delhi’s Northeast India Policy’ written by a research associate, Bethany Lacina of International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. It says “Only concerted efforts to establish the rule of law, a system of accountability and faith in the formal institutions of governance can break the cycle of violence.” This is of utmost importance as it concerns the destiny of the GenNext of Northeast India and the security of the Nation. The true potential of the northeast may be fully realised if it becomes the eastern gateway for meaningful implementation of the Government of India’s “Look East policy’ that envisages efforts to cultivate extensive economic and strategic relations with the nations of Southeast Asia and China.

Reference:

  1. http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/EconomicPotentialofNortheastIndiaAnAssetorThreat_shivanandah_120511
  2. https://www.idsa-india.org/an-apr-5.01.htm
  3. http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/16882/9/09_chapter%203.pdf
  4. https://www.examrace.com/Study-Material/General-Studies/Economics/Challenges-to-Infrastructure-Development-in-North-East-Region.html

ACCIDENTS

By Amandeep Kaur

INTRODUCTION
Accidents are the main cause of injury and even death in children. People only relate accidents to traffic accident or accidents in outdoor activities. However, as a matter of fact, the place where people regard as the safest place – “home” … hides many “hazards”. The main cause of home accident is general negligence of safety at home. This pamphlet aims at providing some measures in preventing home accident, first aid measures and how to call for help.

Household injuries are one of the top reasons behind the fact that kids under age of 3 visit the Emergency, and nearly 70% of the children who die from unintentional injuries at home are 4 years old and under. Young kids have the highest risk of being injured at home because that’s where they spend most of their time.

Supervision is the best way to prevent injuries, in the home and out, but even the most watchful parents can’t keep kids completely out of harm’s way every second of the day.

DEFINITION

In general an unplanned, unexpected, and undesigned (not purposefully caused) event which occurs suddenly and causes injury or loss, a decrease in value of the resources, or an increase in liabilities. As a technical term ‘accident’ does not have a clearly defined legal meaning.

 Ways of accidents of children at home

  1. Fall
  2. Chocking
  3. Burn/scald
  4. Poisoning
  5. Cuts
  6. Drowning

A detailed discussion on these are as follows:

a) FALL OR FALLING OBJECTS

 Cause:

Unstable gait of the toddler, presence of objects on floor, lack of supervision, curiosity of the children etc. When children start to move around on their own, there is an increased danger of them pulling objects down on top of themselves.

Prevention:

  • Keep floors free of toys and obstructions.
  • Exercise close supervision when toddler learns to walk.
  • Never leave babies unattended on raised surfaces.
  • Check constantly floor surface for wear and tear.
  • Keep floor dry.
  • Always ensure bed-rail of the baby cot is raised when the baby is in the cot.
  • Always use a securely fitted safety harness in a pram, pushchair or highchair.
  • Windows and doors must be locked to avoid misadventure by children.
  • Avoid placing “step-stones” such as a chair next to a window.
  • Take extra care to avoid side-turning of a baby chair.
  • Being conscious of your kids health means making sure any trailing electrical leads, table cloth edges and dish towels are out of reach in order to help prevent accidents happening.

First Aid:

  1. Don’t panic. Call for help if necessary.
  2. Check the level of consciousness of the infant/child.
  3. Examine the child if airway is clear (e.g. can talk, cry or not); if breathing is adequate and circulation is normal (observe colour of the face, depth and rate of breathing).
  4. If breathing and circulation are normal, check for any other injuries on the body.
  5. If bleeding occurs, ensure there is no foreign body in the wound. Apply direct pressure to stop bleeding by covering clean gauze on it and add pressure on the gauze by your hand. Elevate the injured limb.
  6. If deformity is seen on the injured part, do not move it and call for help immediately.

b) CHOKING

Cause:

Accidental swallowing of foreign body, strangulation, covering of head by blankets, accidental suffocation by pillow while baby sleeps in a prone position, near-drowning etc.

Prevention:

  • Choose toys proportionately with the age of children. Avoid toys with detachable small parts.
  • Ensure small objects are kept out of reach of children.
  • Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and out of reach of children.
  • Strings and plastic bags should be kept out of reach of children.
  • Foldable furniture should be properly placed and locked. Instruct children not to play with them.
  • Instruct children not to play while eating.
  • Never let children use milk bottle by themselves without adult’s supervision.
  • Never use pillow for baby under one year of age. Do not use large and heavy blanket. Never let the blanket cover the face of children during sleep.
  • Avoid sleeping with baby on the same bed.
  • Never leave children alone in a bath tub or basin filled with water.
  • Bucket filled with water must be covered and keep children away from it.

First Aid:

  1. Do not panic. Remove the cause from the patient.
  2. Call for help immediately.
  3. Perform CPR if necessary.

c)  BURN/SCALD

Cause:

Scald by hot water, burn by fire, touch on hot objects such as cooking utensils, etc.

Prevention:

  • For adults, never hold a hot drink/food and a child at the same time.
  • Ensure milk, congee or other food stuff is at a reasonable temperature before feeding.
  • Ensure proper fence or door is installed at the entrance of kitchen. Such must be closed at all times. Instruct children not to go into kitchen.
  • While cooking, pay extra attention to the stove fire and the cooking utensil. Turn the pan handle away from the front, and close to the wall.
  • When running a bath for a child, always test water temperature beforehand.
  • All hot objects including an iron or containers with hot matter must not be placed near the margin of a table. Avoid using tablecloth. Matches and lighters should be placed out of reach of children.
  • Instruct children not to wander around when adults are preparing for a meal.
  • Install proper cover to sockets.
  • Warn children to never play with fire.

First Aid:

  1. Do not panic. If necessary, call for help.
  2. Examine the child if airway is clear (e.g. can talk, cry or not); if breathing is adequate and circulation is normal (observe colour of the face, depth and rate of breathing).
  3. If breathing and circulation are normal, check for the burn or scald injures on the body.
  4. Rinse the injury site with tap water for about 10 minutes. If the child feels chilled, stop rinsing.
  5. Cover the injury site with sterile gauze. Dress with bandages.
  6. Never apply toothpaste, soy sauce or other ointments on the injured sites.
  7. Do not puncture any blister.
  8. Do not tear off any burned clothing that sticks on the injured site.

d) POISONING

Cause:

Food poisoning, accidental swallowing of drugs, detergents, insecticides, etc.

Prevention:

  • Keep medicines and chemicals out of sight and reach of children, preferably in an isolated, locked cabinet.
  • Always store chemicals in their original containers with appropriate labels.
  • Never tell children drugs are “sweets” as this may give a wrong idea to children.
  • Ensure toys and dining utensils bought; meet the international standard, e.g. colouring materials being non-toxic etc.

First Aid:

  1. Do not panic. Call for help immediately.
  2. Examine the child if the airway is clear (e.g. can talk, cry or not); if breathing is adequate and circulation is normal (observe colour of the face, depth and rate of breathing).
  3. Start CPR if necessary. Be cautious not to contact any chemicals.
  4. If the child is unconscious but the airway is clear, breathing & circulation are normal, place in a lateral position.
  5. Bring along with any vomits and remains of drugs taken when seeking medical treatment.

e)  CUTS

Any cut means that there will be some blood, and this can be one of the most difficult things involved in first aid for children.

Apply pressure to stop the bleeding and apply an antiseptic to the area. Assessing the situation is important, but (generally speaking) if the blood stops following pressure, it is likely to be a minor cut that will not need stitches.

 f)  DROWNING

Young children can drown in very shallow water, so should be supervised at all times when near it. This includes ornamental garden ponds, water features and even baths.

 CALLING FOR HELP

  1. If necessary, call for ambulance service.
  2. Do not panic.
  3. Tell the call-taker how the injury happens and which part of the patient’s body is injured.
  4. Tell the call-taker if the child is conscious.
  5. Clearly tell the call-taker the address where the accident happens, the route leading to this address, and your contact telephone number.
  6. Do not hang up the phone until the call-taker had no further question. Do not rush.

CONCLUSION

Accident cannot be completely avoided, but its occurrence can be prevented. To prevent accident to children, adults should pay more attention to home safety. They should also clear any hidden “hazards” at home and teach children about safety. If accidents happen, stay calm and call for help immediately.

 

Essence of learning a foreign language including English

By: P. Lahiri

Language can be defined as a human system of communication that uses arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, and/ or written symbols. From this definition of language it is clear that the term language does not exclude symbols, gestures or motions, as excluding these would mean denying the language of the deaf community. Human beings use language to express their inner thoughts and emotions, to comprehend complex and abstract thought, to learn to communicate with others, to fulfil human wants and needs as well as to establish social rules and maintain culture. “Language is an extremely important way of interacting with the people around us. We use language to let others know how we feel, what we need, and to ask questions. Language is the light of the mind” – said John Stuart Mill. Human beings have this unique capability of expressing infinite ideas (sentences) with a limited set of symbols (speech, sounds and words). No other species known to date is capable of this art though limited vocalisations by the chimpanzee or some birds are a kind meaningful communication within their species. In fact, language is a cognition that truly makes us humans.

Language Acquisition: Now the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language and then to produce and use words and sentences to communicate is called Language acquisition. Researchers have categorised language acquisition into two phases – first-language acquisition and second-language acquisition. First-language acquisition is a universal process regardless of the home language. Human infants listen to the sounds around them, begin to imitate them, and eventually start producing words of the language the family speaks. Second-language acquisition presupposes knowledge in a first language and comprises the stages an individual goes through as he or she learns the elements of a new language, such as vocabulary, phonological components, grammatical structures and writing systems. The most common instance of second-language acquisition is when a child who speaks a native language other than a foreign language goes to school for the first time and is exposed to people and peers speaking another language. Children find it much easier picking up that second language. This is not to suggest that for others at a later age learning a second language would be that much difficult; but obviously it will need a lot more practice, time and dedication.

Learning a second language is as exciting as it is beneficial at all ages. The benefits are practical, intellectual as well as based on aspirations. In this age of globalisation fluency in a second language opens up a world of opportunities. Nelson Mandela, the great revolutionary and later the President of South Africa aptly said If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language – that goes to his heart.” Also in this regard, the quote of the Austrian-British philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, is as significant – “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

Some of the more important benefits of learning a second language are: Better job prospects, satisfying travel experience, exposure to new cultures, clearer understanding of the world, greater insight into the first language, improved memory function and a profound sense of achievement.

While teaching a foreign language following points have to be factored in:

  • language spoken at home
  • quantum of opportunity to practice the second language
  • internal motivation of the learner
  • reason that the second language is needed (e.g., learning for school purposes, to converse with a friend or for work)

The oldest and the traditional method of teaching a foreign language had been the grammar–translation method also called the classical method which was historically employed for teaching the two classical European languages, Greek and Latin. Under this method, in what is called grammar–translation classes, students are made to learn grammatical rules which they apply in translating sentences from the native language to the target language that is sought to be taught. This method envisages reading a particular text in the source language and writing or reproducing it in the target language mainly paying attention to the form of the sentences. By focusing only on reading and writing, this method undermines speaking and listening. In the Grammar–translation classes, usually conducted in the native language of the students, two things are achieved namely they start learning grammar rules i.e. memorising by repetition and then apply the grammar rules deductively to translate a text of native language into the target language helping the students to further their general intellectual development. Despite the fact that this method of learning a foreign language originated in medieval times it remains to this day, for whatever reasons, the most popular method of learning a foreign language in high school. The likely reason could be that progress in learning foreign language could easily be evaluated by making students take these translation tests.

Notwithstanding the popularity of this method in foreign language instruction, this method has been the single most dominant reason for making learners to hate learning a foreign language. No wonder the method has miserably failed to make people achieve fluency in a foreign language. This shortcoming has sparked a debate as to how important it is to learn grammar in learning a language. While not minimising the importance of learning language grammar, many successful language learners agree that prioritising on learning of grammar is not the best path to tread, in learning a language. Nevertheless, this is not to suggest that one has no need to learn grammar. The only point to emphasise here is that learning grammar can be put off till such time one gets reasonable communicative proficiency in the language much as a child learns a language by listening to others speak it. The fear of grammatical error may create a mental block in learning a language. Grammar really makes sense only if a learner has been exposed to the language for a while. But in the final analysis, if one wants to master a language grammar has to be learnt, some day or the other.

The best course for one to learn a foreign language is to adopt a top down approach which means the learner looks at the big picture first before trying to figure out the details of the rules that were applied in framing of sentences. However, many language teachers would argue that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to leaning a foreign language. Some method may just work well for a learner while some others would find it not the best way to learn a language. When a particular method followed in a language class does not quite work for a learner, he/ she could even develop an aversion to continue in that class. This is because we all learn differently, there being some quick learners and some taking more time to get to grips with a new language.

Learning to converse in a new language beyond childhood can appear very difficult, but the learner can make it easier by not creating more barriers that will hinder progress of the learning curve. To make the learning process much smoother and enjoyable the most workable strategy for the learner would be to stop trying to translate ideas and thoughts from the native language to the target language. After obtaining a basic grasp of vocabulary in the target language, the learner should stop thinking in his/ her native language, trying to translate everything in mind, as this slows down progress and limits the real focus of learning.

One very effective way to learn a foreign language is to read and listen to dialogues in that language for a considerable period of time. This will enable the learner to understand how the language practically works without taking recourse to lengthy grammatical explanations and without memorising endless grammatical rules. Short explanations of the grammatical concepts may be provided after the learner gets to see the concepts actually used in conversations. Reading or listening to practical dialogues containing commonplace words and phrases comes very handy in learning a language. Learning the usages of these words and phrases in actual conversations is more practical because it helps the language-learner to learn the words in their exact context as opposed to memorising long vocabulary lists. Understanding correct usages of words and phrases in proper context helps in retention of vocabulary, in assimilation of the learned concepts and in accelerating conversational fluency in the language. This method of learning a language even prompts the learner to think in the target language as soon as possible. When the learner starts thinking in that language to the extent of saying line by line in the head, the learning process can be said to be nearing culmination.

Importance of learning English as a foreign language:  The English language is one of the most widely spoken and understood languages and is often reckoned as the most influential language in the world. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Well over 67 countries have English as their official or native language, more than any other language in the world. It is one of the official languages of most of the countries of the British Commonwealth besides the USA. The international business community often uses English to communicate. While it is not easy to approximate the exact number of English language speakers in the world, some estimate puts it at around 1.5 billion people who speak English as a first or second language, one of the highest numbers for any language. One needs to be proficient in English language for pursuing education in countries like the UK and the USA. There are several globally recognised examinations for international students to measure their English language ability. 55% of all websites are in English. The bulk of electronic communication is in English; being able to read and write e-mails is of immense advantage.  Some of the world’s best films, TV shows and music are in English. Therefore, learning English will help one for a better understanding of other cultures.

Learning practical English: Learning English at a later age can be quite difficult. Therefore, following propositions the learners may find useful by not creating more barriers in their path of learning.

  1. Refrain from translating: It is advisable to stop thinking in one’s own language and trying to translate everything into English because it grossly slows down learning progress and limits the focus. It is better to proceed with the already acquired vocabulary for creating the expression in English.
  2. Getting over fears of mistakes: Fear about how others may react to one’s speech is a great barrier in the way of conversing. Mistakes are natural for learners and mistakes are a great learning experience to quickly get better.
  3. Avoiding negative thinking: Negative thoughts about perceived difficulties in conversing and harping about mistakes committed earlier hinder progress in learning. Positive thinking boosts confidence in conversation.
  4. Shaking off nervousness: Grabbing every opportunity to speak will go a long way in getting over nervousness.
  5. Refrain from taking it personally: It is desirable to avoid feeling too conscious about accent and pronunciation as it leads to apprehension about others not understanding one’s accent.
  6. Going beyond the classroom: It is imperative not to confine to English conversation within the classroom itself and to grab every opportunity to converse in English even outside in informal surroundings.
  7. Keeping up the effort: Not to give up till one is more confident in conversation should be the motto.
  8. Refraining from comparing oneself to more fluent English speakers: Not everyone has the same pace of learning since opportunities and surroundings vary from person to person.
  9. Not to be apologetic about not being perfect: Perfection comes with time with more and more practice.
  10. Avoiding outdated methods of learning: Not to adopt the Grammar Translation method for leaning that inhibits the process of learning, is the way forward.
  11. Not spending more time in studies: It is advisable to spend more time in application of principles of grammar or rules of language rather than studying about the rules and getting them by heart.
  12. Keeping up effort at reading more texts: Wider reading habits sharpen the knowledge about usages in composition of sentences and refine language skills. This also improves writing skills.

Communications skills help develop intelligence and knowledge which is the key to prosperity and growth in developing and advanced industrial societies, in an increasingly interdependent world. In this context acquiring capability to converse and communicate in widely spoken foreign languages like English becomes indispensable. One more thing is worth remembering in the matter of learning another language; one has to distinguish between nuances of spoken language and the written one.  Speaking the “written version” of the language will make one sound foreign and unnatural. On the other hand, if the speaker sounds natural when speaking, the audience will be honestly impressed and will feel closer to the speaker.

Reference:

http://grammar.about.com/od/il/g/languageterm.htm

http://www.omniglot.com/language/articles/benefitsoflearningalanguage.htm

https://voxy.com/blog/index.php/2011/04/inspirational-quotes-for-language-learners/

http://languagedevelopment.tripod.com/id2.html

http://www.brighthubeducation.com/language-learning-tips/70729-defining-second-language-acquisition/

http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/language-acquisition-overview

https://www.ukessays.com/essays/philosophy/significance-of-language-in-human-affairs-philosophy-essay.php

http://www.lingholic.com/important-grammar-language-learning/