Thursday, 21 November 2013

Fortifying India, from deep within: An Immune, Stronger, Healthier India ..

Feel an Architect already .. of a stronger, healthier and more immune India .. as I invested time ruminating how we go about doing it ..

Like with building all things strong, I reckon, it starts right at the foundation .. after all, everything strong, immune & resistant originates from a fortress of a foundation!

That said, its always relatively easier building 'things'.  But, 'building' human potential is a completely different proposition altogether ..

So, how do we build a strong India .. much more immune and resistant .. physically and mentally to all weakening factors .. be it bacteria, viruses, fungi, dust, pollution or a million other physical factors & of course myriad factors that affect mental and therefore, holistic well-being?

As with all things human, there is no single formula :) But, again with all things human, its evolutionary & highly capable of being learnt & replicating :)

So, here are my pointers to contribute to building a strong, healthy and more immune India; I gather these not from textbooks or websites; rather, from the biggest encyclopedia of them all - LIFE :) Writing out of experience, observation, passion and most of all, strong conviction ..

1.  Start at the beginning: Mother's Milk Every Baby's Birthright:

Talk of foundations & I can't think of a more apt human foundation than the elixir of life: Mother's Milk.  Talk of immunity and its an indisputable fact that babies fed on mother's milk automatically go on to become relatively much more immune and stronger adults than their not so lucky counterparts who did not get breast fed with mother's milk.

It is now scientifically established that mother's milk contains stem cells promoting the immune system and muscle & bone tissue growth.  Yet, for all the research & factual power in its favor, I observe there has been a steady decline in infants receiving mother's milk.  Certainly in India, if not the world over. A complex array of factors, i infer, have contributed to this:

- Young mothers married off rather early before their bodies are well developed to bear pregnancy's demands;

- yeah, a patriarchy that regards a girl's nutrition only secondary to that of the menfolk in the family; this may not be true of India's upper and middle classes, but this most certainly is a grim reality in both the growing lower strata as well as the rural population.

- in Urban India, women (and rightly at that, in my view) choose to defer motherhood a bit to accommodate hard earned careers.  This in itself is a welcome step, but are these women aware & socially & medically supported enough to ensure this does not deprive their future child(ren) of their natural source of immunity - are these women developing and maintaining themselves so as to outdo the deprivation age & a stressful lifestyle can wreck on their future child(ren)'s entitlements?  As a society, do we care enough to gather awareness, educate & reinforce this?

2.  Natural Food & 'Natural' Immunization:

I know; this is probably the most emphasized yet least followed best practice :)  Do we eat direct from Nature & eat every day - every meal that way? Our lives are dominated by inorganic, processed, fast foods.  

Inculcating an awareness of & respect for a 'Natural way of living' in very young kids is the place to start :) Tough, for sure; but from personal observation in my family, I can assure you, its very much possible. I have seen Grandpa inculcate love for and a discipline for gardening in Mom & she did much the same with me - the operative words, mind you are 'inculcating' not 'drumming', 'forcing' the habit down.  Introducing children to gardening, at a very young age - as young as 4, I have seen has its rewards when it comes to getting them to like vegetables :)  At 4 or for a long while thereafter, they don't actually have to do the gardening themselves - but, including them, making them participate in decisions, observation and discussions - I have seen, practically, draws them to Nature.  They start with the colors of the flowers & the butterflies .. and progress to slowly understand growth, Nature, a natural way of living ..

I know our fast lives seldom have time for all of this .. and the answer lies in processed food in the shelves of our supermarkets .. but then, we are not building an immune & strong India .. we are undermining its very build up. So, its time for serious reflection and lifestyle changes .. consistent, convinced change at that!

While on this topic, I want to draw our attention to something I think is unique and needs further introspection & subscription to..  what do we relate immunization to?  Often, a series of allopathic vaccinations prescribed by the maternity clinics / hospitals where the baby is born.. right?  I came across an 'alternative' or rather a 'supplement'.  I call it 'Ayurvedic Immunization' :) This program fortifies children under 16 through the use of purified gold, honey, ghee and other Natural goodness.  Now, I am not related to these folks and have no commercial interest in it .. but as an opinionated citizen & a future mother in this Country, the native land of Ayurveda, I believe - and strongly at that, this Ayurvedic Immunization, as a concept, deserves much more attention, regulation & adoption across the length & breadth of the Country. So, please discuss with elders at home, consult your family doctor by all means and see if this will help your kid(s) and future India :)

While it would be oh so convenient to get done with these sessions & then forget all about it, that just won't do :) Immunity building, much like Nation building, is all about being consistent, persistent and disciplined as we go about it.  That is where products like Dabur Chyawanprash come into our lives .. from my experience of long years of 'Chyawanprash' (well, yes, i resisted it big time as a child - because it did not have the fancy taste I wanted - but have grown up to understand that its the substance not the taste that builds strong foundations) I can say Chyawanprash harnesses Nature's goodness & dispenses it home in an easy form for intake & immunity building.  So, kids raised on mother's milk & naturally immunized, in addition to the modern medicine vaccinations still need to be regularly - and that means daily :) - fortified with Chyawanprash.  Dabur Chyawanprash has a number of herbs like Amla, known to be one of Nature's best antioxidants, Giloy - known to have immuno-modulatory properties and 40 other natural ingredients and seeks to provide three times (3X) immunity building.

3. Mantra 'Moderation' - Lifestyle Changes:

I have sharply noticed and observed with regret that our grandparents lived life with a golden mantra - moderation - that we let go even without realizing!

I strongly believe everything in moderation - be it what we eat, what we wear, where we go, what we grow etc. - moderation in every facet of life, I believe, is auto social immunity insurance - against diseases - physical and moral.  

Our lifestyle today is not one of moderation - its often obsession (with either long traffic ridden commuting, with hours in front of TV or the PC etc.) or at times desperation, but seldom calculated moderation practiced almost like religion :)

So, its time to promote 'Moderation' as National ethic :)  Moderation in every facet of life and society.

I will, at this point, refrain from doing a doctoral thesis on moderation in this post .. to allow for reflection and adoption in the readers' mind :)

4.  Staying Connected to Roots:

Ever seen a huge tree with vast expansive branches?

How many of us know that the banyan tree is India's National tree? :)

What catches your eyes in this photo? Its vast expansiveness? Or, its strong and rooted nature? Its the latter for me.  

To me, the banyan tree is so reflective of Indian culture - 'connected to roots'. No matter how expansive a tree or for that matter a human being grows, it is ultimately the roots that nourish, feed & protect.  Therefore, trees and humans that lose connection with their roots - in the pangs of growing wings & carrying on with their flights - in my view, stand impoverished and deprived of the immunity & nurture only roots can provide.  

I write this here because I see an Indian society increasingly disconnected. From its core culture, from its roots, from its ancestors, from its parents, from the values and ethos that built this great Nation ..  well, it quite simply, is a wake-up call to return .. and return unquestioningly and unconditionally .. as someone who learnt/learns classical music, i can tell you, 'unconditional surrender' in itself .. is a precursor to immunity .. from a range of ills! Indian classical music's 'gharana' tradition and unconditional surrender to the 'Guru' is revered for its results.  I am a strong believer and beneficiary. Its just that our discerning, educated and more exposed minds often question & give up without getting to the heart of why a certain tradition existed in the first place :) So, the next time, before dismissing a tradition or a connection with our roots, please pause & refrain.  Stay connected, Stay rooted .. much like the banyan tree - which grows its connections to its roots even as it grows its wings (expansive branches) so that it can draw enough nutrition for its flight. Wings without roots will burn us down.  

5.  That Institution called 'Family Doctor':

Talking of roots & immunity, it doesn't always have to end with the family. "Roots" socially, to me, means the entire environment that gives birth to us and nurtures it - from the city to the people in our family's network.

One such, what I call an institution, that is fast disappearing from our social framework, according to me, is that of the 'Family Doctor'.  For generations, he/she was/is their trusted adviser.  In today's melee of walk-in clinics, mega hospital chains & a healthcare 'industry', this very root of our framework seems disappearing.

I have been blessed to be in a family that kept touch with its family doctor(s) and I can assert that it is a 'healing' touch.  Medicine after all is not just to cure.  It is to heal. And the healing touch between the doctor and the family often creates a seldom understood or documented 'placebo' effect, providing immunity from anxiety, wrong diagnosis and stress of being at the mercy of hypermarket-like healthcare!

6.  Building Immunity with that ubiquitous building block - 'Faith':

What fortifies us? Much as natural food & immunization fortify us from deep within, physically and physiologically, we need as much a moral and mental 'Chyawanprash' to complete our fortification.  

I call that moral and mental Chyawanprash 'Faith'.  Yes, we all know the age-old adage that 'Faith can move mountains'.  How many of us allow it to? :)

Are we connected and practicing enough as a society to inculcate, promote and reward faith?  If the answer is no (I feel so), is it not time to start?  

Let me take you through this team building lesson from Ramayana:

Lord Rama, God incarnate, needs to build a bridge to go to rescue his wife held in abducted captivity.  He starts by throwing a huge rock on to the sea & presto, it duly sinks!  Whereas his staunch believer Lord Hanuman writes 'Ram' on each rock imprinting his faith, so to say, and holds them with a prayer and throws them on to the sea .. lo & behold, they hold on without sinking ..

Lord Rama asks Lord Hanuman something of this nature: "I am God incarnate - the force myself.  My rock sinks but yours floats. How?"

The epic doesn't ask this question because Lord Rama doesn't know the answer.  It rather seeks to dispense a vital team lesson through Lord Hanuman's answer: "My Lord, the power of my faith in you is greater than your power, by itself" :)

And, this is important: by quoting this I am NOT subscribing blind followership of religion or self-styled gurus.  What i am calling for is a concerted social attempt to harness faith - in whatever means - it could be as simple as community prayer, we can.  But we need it urgently.

7.  Sport and Art, as a way of life:

Sports teaches us how not to be losers when we lose; 

Art teaches us how not to lose when we win :) 

Together they build immunity to social corrosion.  

Its time to therefore incorporate these as regular ingredients in every child's life.

8.  Letting our child(ren) have the journey of their lives - not 'guided tours':

Immunity is dealt a serious blow when stress mounts; it therefore is very important to let our children grow up in their journeys - their unique journey and not confine them to our 'guided tours'.  We don't have to become a Nation of forced engineers, for example, as the movie 3 Idiots so nicely articulated.  

Let our Children grow into professions and vocations they choose - at the time they choose instead of hurrying them through guided assembly line lives. Let's measure and regulate social and peer pressure on our kids lest their immunity to withstand is seriously undermined.

9.  Social cleanliness - physical and moral:

An immune India would be the product of not just the immediate but the ultimate National environment.  A Nation that is eaten away each day by greed, corruption, lawlessness, apathy and indifference cannot hope to be immune to its effects, in return!  

I therefore believe, as a Nation, we need to cleanse our framework - of greed, corruption and of portraying women as objects of lust!  This will fortify our National immunity to crimes of all sorts.

That brings us to the end of this post.  Hope you find meaning the way I meant it to be .. please leave your comments and suggestions as to how we can build a strong, healthy & Immune India :)

This post is written as part of the "An Immune India" with Dabur Chyawanprash.

Cheers :)