Parenting - The art and science of nurturing
Authored by Dr. Shekhar Seshadri and Nirupama Rao, and published by Byword Books (Rs. 250/-), lives up to its blurb Children are nature’s gift to mankind, and how we raise them is our gift to the world.
A rare book that does not resort to any jargon, balances the needs of children and parents very rationally, and yet goes into the depth of emotional well being. While it draws extensively from the principles of the famous Rudolf Steiner, it also projects the Indian family scenario, with insightful case studies that make the reader sit up and think.
Almost every aspect of parenting, from common issues such as discipline, learning, self esteem to generation gap and sibling rivalry has been dealt with in a simple but practical manner, giving specific tips to parents to handle different and difficult situations. The book also covers adoption, grief, sexuality and value education, which are the need of the hour.
This book is a reminder to parents on issues that are known cognitively but often neglected in practice e.g. the importance of touch, respecting the child’s choices, acknowledging unique learning styles, to name a few.
Teaching and giving a good upbringing to kids has been quoted very well – All people are learners. The challenge is to determine the kind, amount and pace of learning that benefits different individuals, whether they are intellectually, developmentally or physically challenged. Every person loves to learn and wants to learn, but with dignity and freedom.
This book is a useful tool to adults who wish to keep learning how to provide better learning and growth to kids.
The Human Zoo
The city is not a concrete jungle but a human zoo. - The Human Zoo written by the revolutionary author, Desmond Morris, of “The Naked Ape” (sold over 10 million copies), published by Vintage Books.
It is almost as though he was a clairvoyant who could see into the future. This book, written in 1969, speaks about the behaviour of human beings in the rat race of urban life. His first book on human behaviour from the perspective of a zoologist had already created immense awareness (and controversy due to religious gurus denouncing the fact that humans can be compared to any other animal). In this book, he writes about animals who live in zoos, and how their natural behaviour changes.
He analyses the behaviour of human beings who live in the urban zoo, or the concrete jungle, confined to their apartments, office cubicles and cars or buses. He has highlighted the many ill-effects of this unnatural environment, and how it has made us move away from our development and growth as it should have been. It is remarkable that this book, written almost fifty years ago when computers and mobiles were unheard of, almost predicts what life would be in the twenty-first century.
Chapter after chapter regales us with facts that we neglect, comparing our behaviour to the behaviour of zoo animals, and shows us where we too are going off the track. With remarkable insight, he explains each of our erratic behaviour patterns, why we imbibe them, and then he gives simple tips on how we need to overcome and move back to a more natural lifestyle. Do read the book and share your thoughts with all of us. Shall we, can we, will we listen to him ...?
Anatomy of an Illness
“Anatomy of an Illness” – as perceived by the Patient (reflections on Healing and Regeneration)
by Norman Cousins, published by Bantam books
A breakthrough in holistic healing in the West took place due to the efforts of not a doctor, but a patient suffering from a serious ailment. The person in question is Norman Cousins, who wrote this book in 1979, based on his experiences and subsequent recovery from an “incurable” disease.
In his own words, Cousins wrote, “This book is about a serious illness that occurred in 1964. I was reluctant to write about it for many years because I was fearful of creating false hopes in others who were similarly afflicted. Moreover, I knew that a single case has small standing in the annals of medical research, having little more than “anecdotal” or testimonial value. However, references to the illness surfaced from time to time in the general and medical press. People wrote to ask whether it was true that I “laughed” my way out of a crippling disease that doctors believed to be irreversible. In view of those questions, I thought it useful to provide a fuller account than appeared in those early reports.”
The book is a story of an unusual partnership between a physician and a patient and how together they were able to beat back the odds. The doctor’s genius lay in helping the patient use his own powers: laughter, courage, tenacity. The patient’s talent was in mobilizing his body’s own natural healing resources, proving what an effective weapon the mind can be in the war against disease.
In one of the chapters “Pain is not the Enemy” he has recounted about the work of Dr. Paul Brand in CMC Vellore with patients afflicted with leprosy, and his amazing discovery that people who cannot feel pain suffer unimagined consequences, including losing their fingers and toes to rat-bites.
A Fistful of Rice
Vikram Akula is one of the unsung Indians who have done India proud. His parents migrated to US when he was just 2 years old. Brought up in the luxuries of Western life that his successful surgeon father could provide for him, his heart yet beat for the impoverished Indians. Watching a poor lady picking up each grain of rice that fell on the floor, he understood the immense gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. And he decided to do something about it.
He has pioneered micro-finance in the “for-profit” mode, channelizing millions of dollars for the welfare of the poorest of rural Indians – and made them pay back rich dividends to the investors, while significantly improving their economic status.
Vikram braved through reams of red-tape, faced violent attacks from extremists, survived the trauma of being labelled a Christian-converter, and lived in a barren room in desolate surroundings, with no door, no toilet, and well water a good ten minute walk away. This, despite having proven himself in the world of Academics through an MA from Yale, a Ph.D. from University of Chicago, and having held a lucrative job in McKinsey.
Vikram lives in Hyderabad, heading his SKS Microfinance, reaching out to millions of poverty stricken Indians in different parts of the country. He keeps coming out with innovations to provide the poor with products of daily use, insurance, banking. He has proven to the world what he has always believed in – that the poorest of the poor, given simple opportunities, can not only rise up to a better quality of life, but can also provide dividends to those who invested in them.
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