The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, January 16, 2000

The woman of the century

THIS refers to "The stuff legends are made of’’ by Manohar Malgonkar (January 2).

Despite her rather megalomaniac nature, Indira Gandhi will always be remembered by Indians for the Bangladesh War victory, Pokhran I and merger of Sikkim with the rest of the country.

Her clear message that a religious shrine cannot be allowed to be used as a hideout for extortionists, rapists and murders will be mentioned with applause by future historians.

Her failure to use the hundred thousand Pakistani prisoners to settle the Kashmir issue once and for all and the infamous Emergency are the dark blots on her personality. Yet she occupies a place of pride among great personalities that the country has thrown up during her long and chequered history.

  Her failings perhaps owed their existence to her failure to discriminate between sincere friends and sycophants.

Anyway history will carry her name in golden letters for keeps.


Paul Raffaele

This refers to the interview of Australian journalist Paul Raffaele by V. Gangadhar (December 26). The never-say-die newsman provides useful and enlightening insight as to what the profession of journalism is all about! All upcoming young journalists should make a serious note of his perception of journalism: "Journalism is all about people." He feels he was selected as a journalist because he was familiar with all sections of the society and could talk to anyone, highbrow or lowbrow, and get them to talk to him. Paul Raffaele is a journalist with a difference and is fully entitled to the title of ‘the never-say-die newsman’ because he likes to do stories about adventures in which he has played a major role. His stress on research while chasing stories is what makes him a distinguished journalist.

His comments on the caste system in India and cricket are interesting. While he finds the caste system in India appalling, he discovers that cricket is no more a gentleman’s game — as it is getting too commercialised.


Secrets of sleep

Appropos of "The secrets of sleep" by Mohinder Singh (December 19). Some of the world’s famous personalities had their own solutions to their sleeplessness.

Sir Winston Churchill had two beds. He would step out of the first bed to slip into the fresh unwrinkled sheets of the second one, in the middle of the night.

Benjamin Franklin also had two beds. He was so used to sleeping in his icy cold bedroom that he would jump into the cold second bed, as soon as the first one warmed up too much.

Both Kipling and Napoleon suffered from insomnia and therefore slept barely for three to four hours.

One eccentric, suffering from insomnia, slept in an open coffin.

The Spanish tradition of siesta has been converted into big business. Sleep parlours have sprung up where businessmen, students, etc can sleep in special massage chairs with dim lights and soft music, each half-an-hour’s siesta costing Rs 150 without massage.

An American firm produced sleep inducing cassettes, telling how to relax before sleeping. But the recording took sixteen hours as the sound engineer kept falling asleep!

A cold shower and a hot footbath are among the many aids to a good 40 winks snooze.



Sleep is a ravishing luxury Balm of hurt minds, it closes each day’s labour with a sense of sweet anticipation. After air, water, food, sleep constitutes the next most important elementary need for human life. The phenomenon of sleep has fascinated and puzzled psychologist, philosophers and doctors down the ages. Despite the tremendous strides made by medical science over the last couple of decades, many aspects of the phenomenon continue to be "a riddle wrapped in mystery" The mists surrounding the nature and dynamics of sleep started clearing only after man gained an insight into the functions of the brain.

Sleep, along with dreaming, is now considered a vital function of the brain. Sleep research carried out in various parts of the world has gone to show that normal sleep of eight hours consist of four stages. The first three hours of sleep are considered a period of deep sleep. This is followed by an-hour-and-a-half of dreams, two hours of deep sleep and finally an hour of shallow sleep preceding waking up.

Dreams, which are considered essential for a satisfying sleep, have been described as a creative phase wherein many researches have succeeded in solving the nagging problems they have not been able to tackle in their state of wakefulness. Inspite of all this, researchers are still far from unanimous on the question of whether sleep is an essential ingredient of an active biological life. For most primitive animals are known to lead a normal and healthy lives with little or no sleep. leeplessness or insomnia has become a major disease in our stress-oriented modern-day society.

In India till now sleep related disorders were not generally taken very seriously however recent years have seen the setting up of numerous sleep clinics in the major metros of India. And the demand for them is on the rise "India will soon surpass the U.S.A. in its number of patients with sleep disorders" says Dr Manjit Kaur Kanwar, senior consultant at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi.


Power of truth

Apropos of Taru Bahl’s article "Power of truth" (January 2), great writers, statesmen, intellectuals and eminent persons have given their views on "truth". Some such views are given here:

Truth, purity, and unselfishness, whenever these are present, there is no power below or above the sun to crush the possessor thereof. Equipped with these, an individual is able to face the whole universe in opposition.

What is meant by transformations? Seeing the truth in the false and seeing the false in that which has been accepted as the truth. Seeing the false as the false and true as true is transformation, because when you see something very clearly as the truth, that truth liberates.

Do not utter a truth which resembles a lie. Be scrupulously truthful, even if truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

To know the highest truth and to be in harmony with it is the condition of right being, to express it is all that we are, experience and do, is the condition of right living.

Never blame others to protect yourself, for time has a way of revealing truth.

The truth is that truth is.


Consumer rights

This refers to M.R. Pai’s article titled "Get justice for Rs 3" (December 26). There is no denying the fact that the Press has opened its doors for the Indian consumers who can voice their grouses and grievances with regard to the deterioration and deficiency of services rendered to them. But the unfortunate thing is that more than 80 per cent of the people are unaware of the existence of the Consumer Protection Act. The consumer movement cannot take off until the people in this country become aware of consumer laws. Only then can they fight for their rights.

First and foremost, consumer education should be introduced at the primary school level, and later at the undergraduate level, so that every child and every student learns to be an enlightened consumer. In order to spread awareness in rural areas, consumer education should become part of adult education and literacy.

New Delhi

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