About privilege

by Yash 0 Comments

Privilege – A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

We are not equal. Some of us are born to rich parents, some to poor parents. Some who are born in poverty make it big in life and become rich. We think its merit, its our efforts. To a certain extent – yes it is true. But a major factor is privilege. Privilege of being born to well to do parents, being born into a peaceful place, being born to parents who can afford to get you quality education, just good genes. Privilege of being born into a specific race, skin colour, gender, religion, caste. Even your looks or physical abilities are a privilege. Just being a man is one of the biggest privileges, even in 2014 and even in the most developed countries of the world!

Right now I am sitting here in an air conditioned office, typing this post on a laptop sipping coffee. The way that I make money doesn’t involve me doing a mundane job where I don’t even have the liberty to take a loo break whenever I wish. I see people all around me who if they decide to take a break from there work for a day or two, they loose income for those days. Why is that so? Why don’t they deserve the life of comforts that I have? And I am not even at the top of the pyramid, I am somewhere at the middle of the middle may be. Life at the lower levels is a daily struggle.

These days its mostly education that makes a lot of difference in what sort of work a person ends up doing. Better education usually affords one a better job and a higher quality of life. Why does some people have better education and others don’t? Simple – privilege. Those who have a better education had parents who understood the value of education and had sufficient means to educate their children. That’s a privilege. Now now now, we see all around us poor people working hard to educate their children – again they are the parents who are intelligent enough to understand the simple truth that education pays. They limit the number of children, work extra to educate their children. It’s a privilege for the children. Also that the parents happened to be living in a country/society which is relatively peaceful and has institutions that provide good quality education for an affordable price. A child born in some poor country in Africa or in a war zone of Gaza, Syria or Afghanistan will not have that privilege. And then we pass on the privileges to our children. So if I am educated and make good money I will make sure my daughter also gets a good education so she will carry that same privilege.

There are some other privileges that are not as obvious – like gender based privileges or caste or race based privileges. A lot of people don’t realize this. Being a woman automatically closes a lot of doors for you. In many of the conservative societies women are reduced to nothing but home makers and child bearers. All in the name of protecting them or even giving them a comfortable life! Being a girl reduces one’s opportunities drastically. So if you are born as a man you already have an unfair advantage over half of the population just for being a man!

Should you be ashamed of your privileges? No. We don’t choose our privileges. We just happen to get them, we don’t have to be ashamed of them, but we do have to be aware of our privileges. Be humble. Don’t brag. If you got a job at a multinational company then it’s because you had parents who could get you good education, you had a good intelligence because of your genes – factors that are totally out of your control. So be humble. Do not look down upon those who are not as privileged as you. You aren’t better and they aren’t worse.

This video of a speech by Tim Minchin is relevant

In conversation with Arvind Kejriwal

You have seen Modi’s fixed Adalat, you have seen farcical interview of Rahul by Arnab. Now here’s an interview or rather interrogation by an openly hostile anchor and frequently asked questions asked directly by the people.

He’s not running away, he’s not blabbering unrelated things. He answers every allegation and clarifies every doubt. Do spend an hour and watch this. You may or may not vote for him but at least watch it.

Why complicate life

by Yash 0 Comments

Missing somebody?…… Call

Wanna meet up?….. Invite

Wanna be understood?… Explain

Have questions?…. Ask

Don’t like something?.. Say it

Like something?…. State it

Want something?…. Ask for it

Love someone?…. Tell it

Courtesy: 9gag

Eye donation and useful tips to protect the eyes

I am part of Mumbai Freethinkers, Mumbai chapter of Nirmukta an organisation that promotes scientific thinking and rationality in India. We had organised an eye donation camp on Sunday 16 October and Dr. Mayur Morekar, a fellow freethinker gave an awesome presentation about the benefits of eye donation and gave some useful tips for protecting our eyes.

Key points of the talk:

A. Eye Donation.

1. Individuals of any age can donate the eyes. The donor may be a just born neonate or a 100 year old adult. Anyone, even people who have undergone cataract surgery, LASIK surgery, spectacle wearers, and diabetics can also pledge to donate their eyes.

2. A single individual’s eyes can help up to 4-6 people. Different layers of the two corneas and parts of sclerae of the 2 eyes can potentially save the structure and provide sight to upto 6 different people.

3. The procedure takes only 15 minutes. In most instances the entire eye is not removed. Only the cornea which is the outermost part is removed and small guaze  balls are placed and the eyelids are closed. There is no damage to the face. Externally it would be difficult to tell that the eyes have been donated.

4. In case of an urgent call for eye donation for our beloved ones, dial 1919 to connect to the nearest eye bank. Eye bank personnel would visit our homes and do the needful within half an hour of reaching our homes.

5. Eyes have to be removed within 6 hours of the death and transplanted to the recipient within 96 hours.

6. India has tremendous shortage of corneas, so everyone must donate their eyes.

B. How can one prevent an eye infection?

One of the commonest reasons for corneal blindness in India is infection.

1. If you feel something is in the eye; DO NOT rub the eye, let it tear and visit an eye surgeon.

2. Do not be your own doctor and do not try over the counter eye drops from a local chemist. Eyes are too precious. Do not neglect them; go see an eye specialist immediately in case of injury to the eyes.

3. Be extremely meticulous while wearing and removing contact lenses. Make sure you do not scratch your eye while removing or inserting the contact lens. DO NOT share contact lenses, clean them regularly with the contact lens solution provided.

C. Tips for people who work long hours in front of computer

1. Take short breaks after every 30 – 40 minutes and look at distance, out of an open window or down a long corridor as far as possible for a minute or two.

2. Remember to blink when you are in front of a computer screen. The blink rate drops from normal of about 18 times per minute, to as low as only thrice every minute. Try to keep your blink rate as close to normal while on computers

3. Maintain the computer monitor 20 degrees below eye level.

4. Use an anti-glare screen monitor.

Here is a program that will remind you to take a break on a Windows computer – http://themech.net/eyesrelax/

D. Some myths about eye numbers

Eye numbers in a child depend on two factors – length of the eye and the shape of the cornea. And in a child the eye number will change with age till they stabilize when the growth of the child stabilizes between 18-22 years of age. So don’t scold your child if he/she gets glasses and expect the eye numbers to change as the child grows; till it stabilizes. Having glasses is not really your or your child’s fault.

LASIK surgery to get rid of glasses is advisable only when the numbers stabilize and remain stable for a year.

Finally Dr. Mayur R. Moreker spoke a few minutes on the realization of his passion to be a Martial Arts Student touching upon the innovative concept of training the visually impaired in Martial Arts at Aatish Academy For Performing X-treme Arts, Andheri, Mumbai

Attendees dispersed after pledging their eyes for donation.

Dr. Mayur R. Moreker is a Consultant Eye Surgeon, Specialist in Ocular Inflammation, Immunology, Uveitis, Eye Infections, Cornea, Ocular Surface Disorders and Complicated Cataract Surgeries and a Personal Counselor at
Bombay Hospital & Medical Research Centre, Mumbai and an
X-treme Martial Arts Student at Aatish Academy For Performing X-treme Arts, Mumbai.
He can be reached on +91 9820308358 or eyeinflammation at gmail dot com

How Facebook helped an aspiring artist with his career

This is a true story and by no means over. The guy in question happens to be one regular lower middle class chap who grew up selling combs to confectionery to augment the family income. He spent his childhood in the company of comic books. He wasn’t alone. For kids growing up in early nineties comic books was an attractive and very economical option of entertainment because those were the days where there were no 24 hour cartoon channels and animation was limited to 2 hours of fun time every Sunday morning on DoorDarshan.

So when this guy grew up comics became his passion. He graduated from Indian super heroes to Marvel and DC. But comics remained his first love. And then he discovered the world of computers and Internet. At first he didn’t understand a thing. He couldn’t afford a computer so he would visit his friends and would visit web sites of his favourite comic publisher. He got intrigued by the world of comic art. He became interested in the process. He took a particular liking to the colouring process of the comics. He started asking people how the vivid colours of the comic pages were created and somebody mentioned Photoshop to him.

So the guy joined a course at a local institute and learnt Photoshop. He was helped by a couple of his friends who were in the designing field and he started honing his skills. He even managed to buy an old computer to practice. He would procure black and white drawings from the Internet and colour them and he would show them to his friends. That was all about it for a while. It would have ended there and he would have continued to sell biscuits for commission to local shops. But then something happened.

Somebody introduced him to Facebook.

And that changed his life. He didn’t understand it in the beginning. He did not know what that site was, or what its features were. One of his friends helped him create a profile and taught him how to upload images and how to make friends. The first thing he did was he befriended the publisher of the comic book which he had been reading since his childhood. Then he started uploading his colouring works on Facebook. And every time he would upload it, he would tag everyone in his friends list in the image. He didn’t know what he was doing. Someone just told him to tag people and he followed it religiously. It had a profound effect. Because the editor he tagged was friends with hundreds and thousands of other people and every time he tagged him, his image appeared in the timeline of that person. So all his contacts would see that work.

His free uploads on Facebook were now being seen by hundreds of people. And he started receiving feedback and friend requests from strangers. He accepted everybody’s request and the more people became his friend, he started reaching a larger audience. He would post a recent artwork he had coloured and he would get instant feedback and encouragement. That kept him going. And very soon his efforts were noticed by an upcoming publisher. And he offered him colouring assignment. With the encouragement and guidance of his mentor who had made a good name for himself in the field he accepted it and soon his name was printed as a colouring artist on hundreds of comic books.

He was elated. He had spent his life loving his comic books and now his name was there on a real comic book! Although he still wasn’t a professional artist cause it still wasn’t paying him much and he had to continue with his travelling salesman job, he had found a start. He continued posting refined samples of his artwork on Facebook and another publisher approached him and more work poured in. And then one day he landed the most prized assignment of his nascent career as a colouring artist. He got an offer to colour the comic version of the upcoming Bollywood Superhero movie. Although it was because of his mentor that he got the assignment, Facebook was responsible for taking him to that stage.

Facebook gave a new lease of life to this aspiring artist. Without Facebook he might not have got the wide platform to showcase his talent. For lack of feedback and encouragement he might have given up on his ambition. And Facebook’s photo tagging feature was instrumental in getting him the huge audience that eventually landed him a paying assignment for doing what he loved. Even his mentor who is a successful artist now wishes if he had Facebook when he had started out.

His story is by no means over, he has just started. He is working on 3 comic books right now and has even got a job offer from another comic publishing house at a salary that is double of what he is making as a travelling salesman.

He owes his career as much to Facebook as he owes it to his mentor.

Note: He is a friend of mine and the mentor I am talking about is not me. I am not into comic artwork, I am a programmer.