Friday, 27 May 2016

#FairStart for Every Child to Curb Persisting Inequities

#FairStart For Children

Wednesday, May 25

UNICEF HQ, New Delhi

#FairStart for every child to curb persisting inequities is a great initiative taken by UNICEF India. The 'Fair Start' film unveiled by the organization as part of a social and social media campaign has drawn the main attention to a chronic disease of our society which is about inequities being faced by a large section of children in our country impacting their survival, development and growth severely. 

Children from various backgrounds participated in this impactful film that gives an insight into the lives of children who have tremendous potential but get fewer opportunities to grow up healthy and safe due to their environmental and societal issues. They have very less chances to attend school and to gain formal learning. They have higher chances of getting married as children.

Caroline Den Dulk, Chief Advocacy & Communication, UNICEF India stated that every child must get a fair chance in his/her life and deserves adequate nutrition, safety, protection, education, health care, and emotional growth. This campaign is focused on these purposes and it aims to draw attention to the lives of many children across the country who are deprived of these fundamental rights, often at times concluded simply based on where they are born. Every child in this country, and on this earth must get a fair and equal amount of opportunities  in life, irrespective of their ethnicity, gender, caste, region, or religion. Girls in India deserve an equal chance in life too, but on an average 2.22 million girls marry early every year in India, and 23% girls between 15-19 years of age experience physical or sexual violence.

The 'Fair Start' film has been produced with the participation of  group of children from various segments of life who brought their own real life stories to the film set. These kids played cast and crew themselves with the help of professionals in film, arts, and acting. The crew included Sahil, Cameraman who learned the art and tricks of shooting from some known professional. Sahil is just fourteen and wants to be a successful cricketer in his life. He studies in an English Medium School and helps his uncle in laundry work. He has his mother and a sister at home.  His father passed away 3 years back.

We also met Suraj, 10, Art Director, and Belinda, 13, Costume Designer.  Suraj has three sisters and two brothers. His mother is having a hard time selling corn. He prefers to help his mother at her work as and when he is able to. His father is an alcoholic and fights at home. Suraj has an ambition of becoming a scientist when he grows up. 

Belinda goes to a municipal school. Her brother Shawn is Cameraman/Director of this film. She works at home after school hours. She aspires to becomes an accounts executive when she grows up. Shawn, 15, has six siblings. His father left home many years back and mother is not keeping well for quite sometime. That made him to mature up fast and take the responsibility of his family. He decided to work and earn money for his home. He cleans gutters to make his earnings. He aspires to go to school as he is not able to due to his circumstances. He loves playing football. He is very helpful and caring by nature whereas his sister Belinda is shy in nature. 

The message of #FairStart is quite clear. Everyone has to share the responsibility in sharing the message, spreading it across communities and social media, doing whatever possible in this regard, and participate in the activity. It is not going to bring results in a short span as it involves a change in mindset and acceptability. Giving a chance to these kids brought out wonderful results from them at such a young age. The same holds true for all other children who are craving for a fair chance in life. 

Hum Saath Saath Hain For #LaundryGoesOddEven!

Those were the days
I would wake up
well before him
being busy in routine chores
He would feel proud to be
sleeping a couple of hours extra,
feeling fulfilled, satisfied.

Those were the days
He would come from work
Change, Relax, and Watch JukeBox,
while I would come from work
around the same time
Change, Get on the job without a pause

Those were the days
when eating, relaxing, leisure were
part of his share of life
between the two of us
Dusting, Cleaning, Washing, Cooking
were part of mine.

But one fine day he changed all of a sudden without any reason, without anything reasonably alarming happening around. I probed but all in vain. I finally asked him what was the reason of such a drastic change in him and he came back with a story. Few days back he was tired at work though there was no work pressure as such, and he thought to relax under a tree on the way home. He stopped the car near Lodhi Garden and sat inside the garden under a tree. 

The cool wind blowing and sitting right under the shade of that dense tree opened his inner eyes as he had a strange feeling inside. He felt about this huge difference in our lives. Why everything to be done is my job, and why everything to be consumed is his, was the cluster of thoughts dwindling in his mind.

There was a paradigm shift in his mindset, and in our life in parallel. He decided to share every job at home with me in all chores with no gender bias. He removed the label from all chores at home and started offloading them from my shoulders thereupon. 

He felt that when I am as busy as him and as much on the move, then why he should expect me to shoulder complete responsibility of the household. On top of it a bit of guilt that arose in his mind was because I never complained, or asked him to share, by contributing his efforts in the work rather than sitting, relaxing, sipping coffee, reading newspaper, watching TV, or listening to music.

That is when it is not only #LaundryGoesOddEven in our happily-turned-happy home but a lot more beyond that. He has been able to change everybody's mindset at home by becoming a load-sharer, work-contributor, and change-maker at home. The earlier thought of everybody's clothes turning out as good as new only when I, the woman of the house, wash them, has changed. 

He brought the new Ariel Matic 'Share the Load' pack ensuring that the stains vanish and our everyday best is at its gleaming best, no matter who does the laundry. In fact, at time, he offers to take the load even when it is my turn as per the Odd-Even calendar that came along with the Ariel Matic pack. The calendar ascertains the laundry days split right down the middle between him and me! The whole journey of our life has transformed from just 'Biwi ka kamaal' to 'Miyan-Biwi ka kamaal'

I must thank Ariel Matic and its #LaundryGoesOddEven that has brought a sea-change at our home. Splitting chores and household duties has not only reduced the time taken to do them but has also increased a substantial amount of quality time we get to spend with each other. That in turn has resulted in content family members, strengthened relationships and a happy home. 

We have reached a purely Win-Win situation. The life has got much easier when he started sharing 'my' load. My load has become 'our' load. The gender inequality is now eliminated in my family and gradually in extended family too. Not only that, the impact has started going to our friend's families too. So from one household the impact has not gone to many households at our end. 


I am taking part in the #LaundryGoesOddEven Challenge by Ariel India at BlogAdda

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Delhi Caught Up On IndiMeets With #CatchUpOnGrowth!

#CatchUpOnGrowth – the Dream of every Mom to a child up to 12 years of age but few are not able to fulfill this dream of theirs and hence have to console their child that it is okay, so that the child doesn't develop inferiority complex. Every mother tries to provide all the nutrients like proteins, vitamins and minerals to her child by providing milk, egg, green vegetables, fruits etc. but faces lot of hurdles as children are quite choosy about many veggies like Gourd, Sponge Gourd, Ladyfinger, Tinda, Bitter Gourd etc. 

But not anymore as on 15th May, 2016 an IndiMeet with a difference was organized at The Lalit, New Delhi. This time a product launch was done exclusively for a group of bloggers only. 

Anoop started with his usual number game for first timers to acclimatize them to the customary fun activities for us bloggers. First timers gave their introduction and spoke about their blogs. In the number game, Anoop asked bloggers to choose any number between 0 to 10 based on which he announces prizes, each time. Dr. Mandira and her husband Dr. Manoj won 500 and 200 bucks. Mr. Rahul got two roses which he gifted to his friend who had come from Bangalore for the Meet. Ms. Chichi who was a first-time attendee was asked whether she loved Apple or not. She replied in the affirmative and Anoop gave her one apple to eat amidst jolly cheers! Numbers chosen by various bloggers were 2, 8, 1, 6 5, 7, 9, and 10. Anoop had missed out on numbers 3 and 4 by mistake.  

This fun activity was followed by a Panel Discussion which was moderated by Ms. Natasha Badhwar who is a renowned entrepreneur, media professional, and blogger. She herself is mother to three children. Hence she could correlate to the topic with ease and had her own anecdotes to share too. 

The Panelists were:- 

1. Dr. Rajeev Chhabra – He is the HoD of Pediatrics at Artemis Hospital. He has been practicing since 17 years during which he worked at Max Hospital, Seth GS Medical College, St. Mary's Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Center. He completed his MBBS from Rajasthan University, and MD from Mumbai University. He has also done a post-graduate program in Pediatrics Nutrition from Boston University, USA. 

2. Ms. Satinder Kaur Walia – She did Masters in Psychology with specialization in School Psychology from University of Central Oklahoma, USA. She has a decade of experience of working with differently abled individuals at a global level. She is also running her own 'Learning at Potential' center for educational and psychological assessment of individuals. 

3. Dr. Jyoti Arora – She has more than fifteen years of experience of working with Fortis, Artemis, Max, and Paras Hospitals. She is presently Head Dietician at Batra Hospital. She regularly conducts training sessions. She is also involved in many research projects related to nutrition. 

Dr. Rajeev talked about the importance of balanced and proportionate growth in children with respect to the right height and weight at a given age during their growth period. He also threw light on various symptoms one can spot if one’s child is lacking behind on growth curve and prevent its detrimental impact on their self-confidence. He also talked about the anxiety faced by the parents when their child shows depression signs after facing humiliation among his peers. Parents are in a fix having diarrhea of thoughts but constipation of words while dealing with it.

One important point highlighted by Dr. Rajeev was about obsession of Indian parents with Milk which is nothing but 90% water. He suggested the parents that if the child doesn't like Milk there is no need to force feed him with it. Rather more Milk at times leads to more Calcium deposition in body which in turn leads to Anemia as Calcium leaches out Iron from the body. This can further lead to slow IQ development of child.

Ms. Natasha rightly pointed out that few mothers are over-concerned about their child's diet all day long. They want to keep on feeding them throughout the day even if the child throws up what he eats. Although their intentions are good but the process is not. Overfeeding can also lead to obesity which is a silently growing epidemic throughout the world. Actually parents should tune themselves to the natural rhythm of child's body and act accordingly.

Dr. Jyoti gave her own example that although she was a nutritionist but she gave birth to twin daughters who were born preterm weighing 1 and 1.4 Kg and were in nursery for as long as 33 days. Although doctors and other family members advised her to keep them in nursery for some more time but she preferred to take them home as mother's touch has its own importance. 

I totally agree with her on this point as mine was a similar case where my daughter was also premature and weak but the love and care and proper balanced nutritive diet later on helped her in gaining her strength. Ms. Walia stressed upon the fact that the family should focus on adopting child-centric parenting instead of following Tom, Dick and Harry's Internet based advice. She also said that at times more than children, parents need counseling so that they can follow their instincts and pay attention to a child's needs accordingly.

An emphasis was also laid on the importance of the bygone ritual of eating at least one meal of the day with the whole family sitting together. This way the child at times doesn’t refuse to eat something nutritious which everyone else is eating even if he doesn't like it.

Ms. Walia gave one example that whenever she takes her son for any birthday party, to avoid the junk food there, she makes him eat some nutritious stuff beforehand. I think a bit differently in this regard.
Being a psychologist she should rather address the parents present in the party to not keep the junk food on the menu and rather have some nutritious alternatives. As Dr. Jyoti pointed out, there can be various options like: 

  • Instead of regular Maida Burger, one can go for Wheat burger which provides good fibre.
  • Burger patty can be made nutritious by using Cottage Cheese, Corn etc. which is delicious too.
  • Whole Wheat Pasta/Atta Noodles can be mixed with Green Veggies like Broccoli, Spinach, Capsicum etc. to make them relishing as well as nutritious for the children.
  • Instead of carbonated drinks like Cola, child should be encouraged to have salted or sweet Lemon Water or Fresh Fruit Juice.

Dr. Jyoti advised that the child's day must start with healthy proteinaceous food like Oats, Ragi, Corn, Eggs etc. Later on in the day a bit of junk food once in a while is not a taboo. Excess of junk food should be discouraged.

A child's growth in terms of height and weight also depends on their genetic and environmental factors apart from the nutrition given. Importance of exposure to sunlight to prevent Vitamin D deficiency which is quite prevalent now a days is must for child's bone development and strengthening. At least 40 minutes of sunlight 5 days a week with least clothes is necessary as our skin manufactures Vitamin D. But one should avoid the time slot of 11-4 PM when UV rays are harshest and can lead to more harm than benefit.

Children are lacking outdoor physical activity now-a-days as they are more into social networking/mobile games etc. These lifestyle changes play a negative role in achieving proper growth in terms of height and weight. The lack of activity to burn calories leads to obesity. 

The Panel Discussion was followed by Q&A session where bloggers cleared their doubts with the panelists: 

  • A mother expressed her grievance - “My child is fussy and blackmails me by sulking and not eating any food when he doesn't get the junk food he demands.” What shall I do? Dr. Jyoti answered and others also agreed that everyone including adults resort to such tactics but we should not disrespect food and one can always do positive bargaining with the child to eat nutritious food in lieu of going to say a water park/mall/cineplex etc.
  • A father asked - “Is there any need of a dietary supplement apart from the nutritious balanced diet for a child?” Dr. Rajeev answered in the negative.

After this, Mr. Amaan Khan who is the Marketing Lead for Horlicks for the Indian sub-continent, GSK Consumer Healthcare addressed the bloggers and declared that the solution to all the discussed problems found in pre-pubertal children (boys aged 3-9 years and girls aged 3-8 years) regarding lacking height and weight are resolved by the age old famous company GSK by providing advanced nutrition for growth and development in the form of a health food drink called Horlicks Growth+

Then, he unveiled the product packs amidst loud cheers and music. Within minutes, the hotel staff was ready to serve the sample to all for tasting. The product is presently available in two of children's favorite Vanilla and Chocolate flavors. After tasting, one of the bloggers asked if we adults can drink it too daily without any harm as it tastes like melted vanilla ice cream. He was advised that once in a while it is okay but you should not forget that it is not your routine evening drink but an exclusive product made for short and lean pre-pubertal children

HorlicksGrowth+ is available in a large pack of 400 grams costing Rs. 585 and a small 200 grams pack is costing Rs. 315.

Dr. Aditya Kaushik, Head Medical Affairs for Indian Subcontinent, GSK Consumer Healthcare said that the company claims for clinically proven visible growth in six months among children of 3-9 years as according to pediatricians this is the critical growth phase for children. Growth lost during early childhood requires specialized nutrition. Horlicks Growth+ provides good quality Protein with key amino acids and fats, Calcium, Vitamin C, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A etc. which helps in naturally enhancing height and weight to optimize growth without obesity. 

High quality protein used in the product is specially formulated which is easily digestible and is absorbed fast. But he also emphasized that this is a specialized product and hence parents must take the advice of the pediatrician before starting using this product for their child. 

The RDA i.e. Recommended Daily Allowance of Horlicks Growth+ is 48 grams, 2-3 times a day with Milk or Water as prescribed by the Paediatrician.

He explained that the product is for any short and lean child who is less than 10th percentile (as per CDC Growth Chart) on weight or height e.g. a 3-year old boy with height less than 90 cm and weight less than 12.5 kg.

This product is not a replacement but only companion to a nutritious balanced diet.

Mr. Jaideep asked about the study conducted before manufacturing this product for which Dr. Kaushik described that it was conducted among 200 healthy, short and lean pre-pubertal children of age group 3-9 years with height and weight less than 10th percentile. It was a random study which was Placebo controlled that is 100 children were given this formula and 100 were given a placebo which was a low protein formula with no added vitamins and minerals over a period of 6 months. By the end of 6 months in comparison to the children in the Placebo group, the children who consumed the nutritional formula had gained more height and weight without any changes in their BMI i.e. growth without any obesogenic effect.

The research and design for the study was initiated in 2011. Clinical trials were over by 2013 and the result came in 2014.

Mr. Amaan Khan replied to a question that presently Horlicks Growth+ will be available in Delhi NCR, South India, West Bengal, Mumbai, Pune and then they plan to expand its reach to other regions too. Online retailers shall also be involved.

During a short tea break, the company took some video snippets taking viewpoints of various parent bloggers present there into consideration. Yours Truly was one of them.  

After the break, the Meet received its final touches in the form of a video making competition among 8 teams of roughly 10 bloggers each who got various props from the Horlicks team in the form of Horlicks Growth+ packs, fruit baskets, measuring tapes, lab coat, etc. which they were to use to make an interesting and relevant video promotion of 30 seconds and upload it on Twitter. We all enjoyed a lot making these videos. 

The day ended as usual with a group photograph of all the bloggers going hurr-hurr in fun and returning with a pack of Horlicks Growth+ too. 

P.S.: All images carrying the date '15.05.2016' have been attributed to the Author and carry a copyright of the Blog. Images without such a time stamp have been taken from IndiBlogger's FB Page. 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Recounting The Journey, This Mother's Day...


Since the last one week, my heartbeat was playing havoc. Pacing, given the thrill of the burning question - 'Would I hear those three words, those for which I had longed?' 

No, not those three - ' I love you'; those had been cherished a couple of months back. This time, it was more than those. Have you got it? 

Yes! The three golden words this time around were 'You are Pregnant'. 

The statement which can lead any married woman's life into a topsy-turvy situation. 

This burning question led me to the Gynae in no time. My fingers were crossed the entire time, to hear from her, a reply in the affirmative. And, she didn't disappoint me. With a broad smile on her face, she declared, 'Yeah, now you ought to visit me every three weeks for the next nine months, after which I'd be happy to hand over to you, your bundle of joy.' 

For that moment, I experienced a multitude of emotions, which cannot find expression in words, but foremost was the feeling of Gratitude to the Almighty for bestowing upon me, the bliss and cherished privilege of nurturing a new life within me. 

In the next moment however, a tsunami of doubts, questions raged inside me. This being my first pregnancy, I had no idea how to deal with it. Of course, I wanted the best for my baby. But, ensuring that my baby grew well in me seemed like a maze, which was difficult to navigate by oneself. 

The doctor could very well gauge the mixed reaction on my face. She held my hand and assured me - 'Everything will be fine. Just be yourself, be happy, don't strain your body and mind unnecessarily. Eat healthy and follow my instructions as far as mild exercise and the intake of vitamin pills are concerned. It will all be fine!' 

Yes, I will! I was determined to endure through the best and worst for my baby and myself too. I knew it for a fact that unless the Mother is hale and hearty, she can't expect the same for her baby. 

I reached home and broke the good news to all the family members and the journey to wellness began. Being a working woman, I had to now cope with my pregnancy, job and household chores, all in one go. The family members took care of the house and I kept myself stress free on the work front. 

Days passed by leading me to embrace the bodily changes. Some unpleasant, many more pleasant. 

Needless to say, I too had to deal with nausea or morning sickness. For me, however, the sickness was not only limited to the morning time, but lasted almost all day long. It happens, my doctor told me. One should not worry as this phase too passes away. Eating healthy could help - it did help me - in this regard. 

During her second trimester, every expectant mother is bothered about stretch marks, which are an aesthetic celebration in my opinion, bundled with pregnancy. I was mindful of their appearance and used to lightly massage the area believing that this exercise would lighten the scars. 

In the third trimester came the 'baby bump' as it is addressed, nowadays. One should not be conscious of the visibility of the tummy but dressing gracefully helps. After all, you are and should be proud of and not ashamed of being pregnant. 

As the time of delivery grew near, the amazing realization of being a mother grew on me too. Along with me, my husband and both sets of family members were waiting impatiently for 'D-Day'. 

When that day came, my water broke, the labor pains consumed me and my screams were growing louder by the minute. At the same time, I was thinking of the abundance of joy that was to be bestowed upon me, in a couple of hours. This thought helped me in coping with the pain. 

God gave me the courage to bear, and believe me, he gives this strength to all. All of this experience was encapsulated forever in that one moment when I finally became a Mother. 

Yes, that is what pregnancy can do to you. To all the expectant mothers out there, it's about putting all those apprehensions to rest, shedding all inhibitions about being pregnant, about what-how-when of managing yourself and your baby during those nine months, about giving birth by bearing lots of pain. 

Yes, of course. All of this is an experience of a lifetime but the moment you take your newborn in your arms, the moment she or he first glances at you, you become unmindful of the entire universe as from that very moment, your child becomes your entire universe. :)

It has been two decades to the time when I embraced motherhood, yet recalling this account brings along with it, a feel-good-factor which leads me to celebrate motherhood with each moment of life! 


I’m writing about my wonderful journey of pregnancy for the #YummyMummy blogging activity at BlogAdda in association with Marico Bio Oil.