Hold up – A Book

Not everyone has the forbearance of reading books. It is among the most primary habits that a person must pursue in life. A highly advantageous thing about books is that it comprises of a wide range of diverse and contrasting knowledge. Francis Bacon metaphorically mentioned that some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and few chewed and digested. This connotates to some books to be read-only in parts, others superficially while only a few are read thoroughly with diligence and attention.

Students And Books

Reading, a skill relevant and necessary in every field of academic, in a sense enables students to learn the content of their course while in another plays a magnificent role in improving their vocabulary. While reading, we encounter countless new words. More often than not, we read non-fiction in which a lot of words keep recurring, simply because they are concerning the subject. If we put in the effort to make a note of these, we will have absorbed a lot by the end. Merely noting them down would not be of much help, unless we use them in our day-to-day lives as much as possible. If a student is inclined towards reading books, then they must be encouraged as it enhances their knowledge along with teaching them valuable life lessons.

Why Read Books?

  • In recent times, people with good vocabulary and communication skills have a good look-in for job opportunities
  • Apart from course knowledge and other basics about language, a good book significantly teaches readers life skills and guides them in a path to enhancement
  • Using MRI scans, various researchers proved that reading involves a complex set of circuits and signals in the brain thereby making those networks stronger and sophisticated
  • A research proved that the person who reads literary fiction – stories that explore the inner lives of characters show a heightened ability in understanding the psychology of the surrounding people

How Reading Shapes Our Personality?

Reading different types of books molds the brain of an individual to think from many directions and in many viewpoints, thus shaping up their personality. Many people who were avid readers ended up being successful later in life. Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group), Megha Mittal (Chairman of Escada), Ezra Klien (founder and Editor-in-Chief of Vox.com), and many more accepted books as an extravagant influencer in their path to success.

Reading as a foundation for learning improvises language skills, critical thinking, and creative development, especially in children. It builds up the power of imagination and heavily influences the readers’ views on different phases of the world. By inculcating reading skills early in life, the functioning of the brain is positively influenced. Also, it helps to check stress and mental stimulation.

Late APJ Abdul Kalam once said, ”One best book is equal to hundreds of good friends, one good friend is equal to a library”. It symbolizes that psychology is greatly affected by a good book. Keeping a small library at your home or room gives you a positive feeling. Once you start reading, you experience a whole new world and this pleasure of reading in a quiet place is incomparable.

When was the last time you read a book? With the advancement in technology, youth have tilted their routes of entertainment towards online games and activities. Being continuously exposed to various radiations for hours on end is deteriorating their mental and physical health. Let us step away from surfing online on our phones and computers, and replenish our soul by reading. Let us choose books as a source of enlightenment, and transform them into a source of enlightenment!

Nigeria – Misunderstood or Negativized?

Nigeria is a country located in the West of Africa, sharing borders with Chad, Benin, Cameroon, and Niger. It is a federation of 36 states with Abuja as its capital city, located at the center of the country within the Federal Capital Territory. The country was named after River Niger, which runs in the southwestern part of its territory. It is the third-longest river in Africa with a length of 2600 miles. 

It was colonized by the British but got independence on the 1st of October, 1960, with English as its official language despite being a country with diverse ethnic linguistics.

Approximately 80% of Nigeria’s economy relies on petroleum and agriculture especially on cash crops and products like palm oil, rubber, cotton, cocoa, wheat, peanuts, cassava, yam, wood, textile, timber, fish, etc., and natural resources such as crude oil, columbine, gold, diamonds, and so on.

The nation operates on a Democratic System of Government and also a Republican System, hence having the official name “The Federal Republic of Nigeria”. It is also popularly termed as, the “Giant of Africa” due to its population, economic value, and cultural diversity. 

Let us learn more about Nigeria, through these interesting facts:

For the record:

Population Map - Nigeria

1) Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, making up ¹/5th of the total population in Africa.

2) It is the 7th most populous country in the world and is estimated to overtake the population size of America in the next 20-30 years.

3) It is ranked as the 4th country with the most linguistic diversity in the world with 521 native languages from over 250 ethnic groups.

4) It’s business hub city and former capital, Lagos, is ranked as the 3rd most populous city in the world. It is nicknamed as ‘Africa’s Big Apple’ dubbed from New York’s nickname.

5) Nigeria’s ‘Third Mainland Bridge’, located in Lagos is the largest and longest bridge in Africa.

6) It’s mangrove forests are the largest in Africa and 3rd largest in the world.

7) The Niger Delta of Nigeria is the largest delta in Africa and the 3rd largest in the world.

8) The Niger Delta has the highest concentration of monotypic fish species on earth.

In Entertainment:

1) Nigeria’s most loved sport is football, known as ‘soccer’ in America.

2) The movie industry here, ‘Nollywood’ is the second-largest movie industry in the world after ‘Bollywood’.

In Ecology:

Anambra Waxbill

1) The World Resources Institute states that Nigeria is home to over 550 species of breeding mammals and birds and 4,715 species of plants, making it one of the most beautiful and vibrant ecologies in the world.

2) The Anambra waxbill, a small species of bird with radiant colors, is endemic to the southern parts of Nigeria.

3) The Jos Plateau indigobird is a species of bird, endemic to the northern part of Nigeria.

4) The species of monkey known as ‘Drill Monkey’ are native to Nigeria and could only be found in it and Cameroon.

5) Calabar, a city in Nigeria, has the most diverse species of butterflies in the world.

In History:

Map of Benin

1) According to the result of recent archaeological research, people must have been living in Nigeria since 11,000 BC or further back.

2) The Walls of Benin, one of Africa’s ancient walls dated to around 800-1400 AD are the longest ancient earthworks in the world.

3) Ile-Ife in Osun State, in the western part of Nigeria, is a community dated to around 1000 AD. This community was paved in decorations that originated from Ancient America, suggesting that there must have been some medium of contact between the Yoruba’s—the ethnic group dominating the western part of Nigeria and the Native Indians (Ancient Americans); way before the discovery of America by Columbus.

4) The Dufuna Canoe was discovered in Yobe and estimated to be over 6,500 years old, making it the oldest boat in Africa and 3rd oldest in the world.

The People:

Yoruba Tribe

1) About 50% of the population is Muslim, and 40% Christians. While the remaining percentage is comprised of other religions.

2) The Yoruba tribe in Nigeria has the highest rate of twin births in the world. A little town in Oyo State, a western part of Nigeria called Igbo-Ora is nicknamed as “The Twin Town of the World” because of the unusually high birth rate of twins.

3) Nigerians consider the left hand as unclean, hence using it to shake hands, receive items, and eating is a sign of disrespect for them.

4) Nigerians operate on a degree of lateness that has come to be known as ‘African time’. As the time set for any event is never met, people are meant to attend it late. The more high class a person is, the later they would be.

5) Nigerians are the most educated immigrants in the US as estimated by the American census.

6) The inventor of the fastest supercomputer, Philip Emeagwali, is a Nigerian.

7) The designer of the famous car brand, Chevrolet Volt is a Nigerian named Jelani Aliyu.

However, is that all there is to Nigeria? Just like any other country, Nigeria also has some areas where development is a must.

1) Nigeria has the highest-paid legislators in the world.

2) Based on funds squandered by administrators, it is the most corrupt country. Administrators keep looting a greater percentage of the nation’s wealth.

3) It is rated as the 4th country with the highest number of poor, living with an income of less than 1 dollar a day.

4) It is rated the worst country to be born into based on welfare and prosperity projection.

Understanding the positive aspects of a nation is the first step towards identifying the problems faced by society. Going around, highlighting the positives of a nation does it no good if the negatives are pushed under the rug. Likewise, bashing a country due to the highly glorified negatives by other nations does not help solve the problems in that nation. Both are equally important for a nation to step into the light and stay alight. 

Is Right to Information our fundamental right?

Every citizen of India, regardless of the caste, sex, age, religion, etc., is bestowed upon with some fundamental rights by the Constitution. These rights are necessary for the liberty of an individual. Apart from these, we are also provided with some additional rights that are equally important which are later included to be a part of these rights. The Right to Information (RTI) is one such right that is provided to every Indian citizen. 

Now, what is this Right to Information? Let us understand this in brief. The Right to Information passed under the Right to Information Act of 2005, is a legal right added as part of the fundamental rights under Article 19 (1) which states the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression; and Article 21 that talks about the Right to Life. This act was enacted to promote transparency and accountability of the public authority in India.

The Right to Information empowers the citizens of a nation to seek any information from the government, inspect any Government documents, and seek certified photocopies thereof. It also empowers citizens to officially inspect any governmental work. This act allows Indian citizens to demand information from the government, making it more accountable. The government must come up with an accurate response in the form of a written document within 30 days of the RTI application.

However, there are some reasonable restrictions regarding the same. Such information including secrecy or confidential information of national importance which cannot be disclosed no matter the situation, does not entertain RTI. Section 123, 124, and 162 of the Constitution prohibits disclosing such confidential matters publicly. Besides, information under the Official Secrets Act is strictly prohibited as it pertains to national security.

To get a better glimpse of this act read this detailed article. To learn how to apply RTI, the process and steps to be followed, visit this link of the Government of India. You can also find previous case studies for your reference on the above link.

“IKIGAI”- The purpose of life

Every day we wake up, perform our daily chores, and at the end of the day we lie down to sleep and this is a never-ending cycle. We tend to not think of the purpose of our lives or the reason for our being. Even if we think about this, we don’t simply stumble upon the answers because we generally tend to push these thoughts away, not wanting them to linger around too much.

“IKIGAI” – the Japanese content of life, answers these questions for us. Ikigai (pronounced Ick-ee-guy), is our raison d’être or the happiness in our day-to-day life. The happiness in doing our chores, the happiness in our personal and professional lives. It means encompassing joy with a sense of the meaning of life and the feeling of well being. It is the passion and talent within us that motivates us to give our best in everything we do.

Ikigai revolves around what we love, what we are good at, what the world needs from us, and helps find the purpose of life with these questions. According to the concept of Ikigai, our belief and thinking determine the purpose of our life. Ikigai inspires us to find the flow in everything we do, accepting the setbacks, and moving forward with the lessons from those setbacks. It believes in living an unhurried life, cultivating good habits, being optimistic, and most importantly reconnecting with nature. It wants us to surround ourselves with people who find happiness in inspiring us, nurturing friendships that last forever.

“Ikigai”, is thus, a positive attitude towards life. It is a way of discovering the best in ourselves, a path that leads us towards the purpose of our life while accepting the ‘wabi-sabi’ or the imperfections of life. ‘Live in the moment and follow your own Ikigai’ for a happy and meaningful life.

Greek Mythology – Fuel to Ignite Imaginations

Greek mythology was originally told by Ancient Greeks as a part of Greek folklore. It began in the Bronze Age. Around 700 BC, the poet Hesiod’s Theogony offered the first written origin story of Greek mythology. These stories generally revolve around the origin and the nature of the world, the lives of the deities, heroes, mythological creatures, and the significance of the ancient Greek’s cultures, rituals, and religion. These mythical stories were initially propagated in an oral-poetic tradition.

Greek Mythology was mainly used to explain the environment in which mankind lived and the natural phenomena that they witnessed. It also advised on the best ways to lead a happy life. And finally, myths were used to re-tell historical events so that people could go back to their ancestors, the wars they fought, and the places they explored.

The main themes dominating the Greek mythology are the Wars – an inevitable part of existence; love – as examples of loyalty, trust, and eternal love; heroes – depicting marvelous achievements of virtue, strength, and honor; underworld – an expression of cultures of death; and the Mortality and Fate – representing visions of right and wrong behavior along with the repercussions.

Hesiod’s Theogony tells the story of the universe’s journey from nothingness, to a detailed and elaborate family tree of elements, Gods and Goddesses, who evolved and descended from Gaia (Earth), Ouranos (Sky), Pontos (Sea), and Tartaros (the Underworld). Later Greek writers have used this information and elaborated upon these sources in their works.

At the heart of Greek mythology is the pantheon of deities who were said to live on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. From there, they ruled every aspect of human life. The Gods and Goddesses looked like normal men and women but could morph themselves into animals and other things, meaning they could perform metamorphosis. The 12 main Olympians are:

  • Zeus (the king of all gods, the god of weather);
  • Hera (queen of all gods and goddess of marriage);
  • Aphrodite (goddess of beauty and love); 
  • Apollo (god of prophecy, and knowledge); 
  • Ares (god of war); 
  • Artemis (goddess of hunting); 
  • Athena (Goddess of wisdom); 
  • Demeter (goddess of agriculture); 
  • Dionysus (god of pleasure, and festivity); 
  • Hephaestus (god of fire); 
  • Hermes (god of hospitality. Zeus’s manager); and
  • Poseidon (god of the sea).

Now let’s have a quick run-through of some of the most well-known Greek Mythological stories and the suggested books. 

  1. Story of Hercules – an adventurer who performed 12 impossible labors for King Eurystheus; 
  2. Pandora – the first woman whose curiosity brought a curse and evil upon mankind; 
  3. Pygmalion – a king who fell in love with an ivory statue; 
  4. Arachne – weaver who was turned into a spider for her arrogance; 
  5. Trojan Prince Ganymede who became the cup-bearer for the gods; 
  6. Narcissus – a young man who fell in love with his reflection; 
  7. Midas – the king with a boon of turning everything he touches to gold;
  8. The tale of the winged horse Pegasus;
  9. The cursed Prometheus whose liver is eaten every day for stealing fire from the Gods;
  10. The kidnap of Persephone by Hades;
  11. The Fall of Icarus, the man with wings of wax;
  12. The story of Achilles of Homer’s Iliad.
  13. Horse-man Centaur, the Lion-woman Sphinx, the Bird-woman Harpies, the One-eyed giant Cyclops, and many more. 

There are many other interesting stories in Greek mythology that bring the imagination of a child to play. Mentioning them all would be one hard nut to crack. I hope this information has motivated you to delve deeper into Greek mythology. Go ahead and read the above-mentioned stories and let us know which mythological story is your favorite.

Is Freedom Of Speech and Expression Absolute in India?

Every human being has been provided with certain rights and freedoms. We have the right to live, to move, to opt for any profession, adopt any religion, the right to speak and write whatever we want, and so on. In today’s blog, we are going to learn about our right to freedom of speech and expression which is said to be the mother of all liberties.

Freedom of Speech and Expression is a right to freely express one’s own views and opinions, including but not limited to spoken or written words, pictures, printing, publications, etc. 

In India, freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India. Apart from this, provisions relating to freedom of speech and expression are also given under various international conventions like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, etc.

Right to Freedom of Speech & Expression in India

Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression to all Indians. This includes the right to communicate, print, and advertise the information. In India, freedom of the press is implied from the Freedom of Speech and Expression. However, this right is not an absolute right as stated in Article 19 (2). Some reasonable restrictions have been imposed on freedom of speech under certain cases. So, let’s understand more about those restrictions that prohibit our right to free speech.

  1. Security of the state – anything that exposes the confidential matters pertaining to the safety and security of the nation is restricted from the right to freedom of speech. 
  2. Friendly relations with foreign countries – first amended in 1951. Under this provision, unrestrained malicious propaganda against foreign friendly countries is strictly prohibited.
  3. Public order – an expression of the wide connotation that signifies the state of tranquility. Any speech that disrupts public order is restricted.
  4. Decency or morality – under section 292 to 294 of the Indian Penal Code, restrictions have been imposed on freedom of speech and expression in the interest of morality and decency. This strictly prohibits obscene words in public places.
  5. Incitement to an offense – freedom of speech cannot confer a right to incite someone (through any mode of expression) to commit any punishable/unlawful act or action in force.
  6. Defamation – freedom of speech becomes an unlawful act when it is used to defame or damage one’s reputation or expose a person to hatred, ridicule, and contempt.
  7. Contempt of court – Under this, no person has the right to speak against the court order or decision. This is similar to disrespecting the Indian law.
  8. Sovereignty and Integrity of state – this does not permit anyone to challenge the integrity & sovereignty of our country or to preach cession of any part of India from the Indian Union in any form of speech.

Looking for more updates about Freedom of Speech? Click on this link to get an in-depth knowledge of freedom of speech and expression in India through several case studies.

Delving into Greek Literature

Greek literature extends from the 1st Millennium BC to the present day. After the conquest of Alexander the Great, Greek became the common language of the eastern Mediterranean lands and then of the Byzantine Empire. At present, it is chiefly confined to Greece and Cyprus. Greek Literature can be divided into three time periods – Ancient Greek Literature (800BC-350AD), Byzantine Literature (290AD-1453AD), and Modern Greek Literature (1453AD-Present).

Ancient Greek Literature – Ancient Greek Literature alludes to the literature written in ancient Greek dialect. The Greek language arose from the proto-Indo-European language; roughly only 2/3rd of its words are derived from various phonetic reconstructions. By the 5th century BC, Athens fully adopted the Phoenician derived alphabets that primarily arose from the Greek-Ionia or present-day Turkey.

  1. Pre-classical Period (800BC – 500BC) – The earliest of Greek Literature was completely oral while the ancient Greek Literature was oral to some degree. The poems that were composed in the pre-classical period were meant to be sung or recited. Writing them down for literary purposes began a little before the 7th century BC. Most of the poems focused on myths and legends that were partly folktale and partly religion. The significant figures of this period are Homer and Hesiod.
  2. Classical Period (500BC – 323BC) – Western literature became more prominent through its genres – lyrical poetry, Pastorals, Odes, Elegies, Epigrams, along with dramatic presentations of Comedy and Tragedy. Even Philosophical dialects, histories, and rhetorical treatises arose in this period. The two celebrated lyrical poets of this period are Sappho and Pindar. Throughout this period there were hundreds of tragedies that were written as well as performed, but only a limited number of plays survived. Especially the ones authored by SophoclesAeschylus, and Euripides. The writing of comedy also commenced in this period, as a ritual, in honor of Dionysus (the God of theater in ancient Greek religion). The earliest written plays were full of obscenity, abuse, and insult. Hence, the only surviving plays are of Aristophanes which are a treasure trove of comic presentation. The greatest achievement of the 4th century BC was in the field of philosophy. Greek philosophy flourished during the classical period. And the most prominent contributors to this field are SocratesPlato, and Aristotle.
  3. Hellenistic Period (323BC – 31BC) – By 338 BC, the important Greek cities were captured by Philip II of Macedon. Philip II’s son Alexander expanded his father’s territory of conquest greatly. This period is defined as the timeline between the death of Alexander the Great and the rise of the Roman Domination. And after the 3rd century BC, the Greek colony of Alexandria in northern Egypt became the center of Greek culture. The most valuable contribution done in the Hellenistic period was the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, by Septuagint. On the other hand, Greek poetry flourished with works of Theocritus (creator of pastoral poetry), Callimachus, and Apollonius of Rhodes. And Menander came up with his New Comedy, which changed the course of drama representation.
  4. Roman Age (31BC – 284AD) – A large section of Greek literature from this period was histories. The Roman Period contributed largely to the subjects of poetry, comedy, history, and tragedy. The important historians of this period were Timaeus, Diodorus, Siculus, Plutarch, Appian of Alexandria, and Arrian. Significant contributions were also made in the field of astronomy and geography by Eratosthenes. The physician Galen pioneered developments in scientific disciplines including anatomy, neurology, pharmacology, pathology, and physiology. Other than this the New Testament, the Gospels, and the Epistles of Saint Paul are also a product of this period. This period marks the end of Ancient Greek Literature. 

Byzantine Literature – Written in Atticizing, Medieval, and Early Modern Greek. It is a combination of the Greek and the Christian civilizations based on the foundation of the Roman political system. It comprises of four main cultural elements: Greek, Christian, Roman, and Oriental. The literature of this period was mainly written in the Atticizing style (a particular region of Athens in Greece). Some were written in Latin and the ones from Latin Empire were written in French. Apart from all these Chronicles, Encyclopedias flourished in this period. 

Modern Greek Literature – The literature of this period is written in standard Modern Greek language. It witnessed the revival of Greek and Roman studies; and the development of Renaissance humanism and science. The Cretan Renaissance poem Erotokritos is a prominent work of this period. It is a romantic verse written by Vitsentzos Kornaros around the 1600s. Modern Greek Literature was mainly influenced by Diafotismos, a movement that translated and borrowed the ideas of the European Enlightenment into the Greek world. Adamantios Korais and Rigas Feraios are two important figures of this movement. At present, Modern Greek Literature is a part of the Global Literary Community. And Greek authors like George Seferis and Odysseas Elytis have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Human Rights in Indian Constitution

Human Rights are some basic rights or moral principles inherent to all human beings regardless of caste, race, gender, age, religion, language, and nationality, thereby ensuring equal status to every person in the society. These rights are mentioned in both national and international laws.

The International law mentions Human Rights in its milestone document ‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)’, which contains 30 civil and political rights granted to all the people across the world. Similarly, every nation has granted some human rights to their citizens. 

Indian constitution also has such a provision for its citizens, which we all know are Fundamental Rights. There are 6 fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution but under these, there are several other rights. Let’s understand each of these in detail.

1. Right to Equality (Article 14-18) – The Right to Equality ensures equality to all citizens in the society without any discrimination based on caste, creed, religion, sex, etc.

Article 14 – Equality before the law.

Article 15 – No discrimination based on religion, sex, race, etc.

Article 16 – Equality of opportunity.

Article 17 – Abolition of untouchability.

Article 18 – Abolition of titles.

2. Right to Freedom (Article 19-22) – This right guarantees freedom to all Indian citizens regardless of any gender, religion, caste, creed, race, and economic status.

Article 19 (a) – Freedom of speech and expression.

Article 19 (b) – Freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms.

Article 19 (c) – Freedom to form associations and unions.

Article 19 (d) – Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India.

Article 19 (e) – Freedom to reside and settle in any part.

Article 19 (f) – Freedom to practice any profession and business.

Article 20 – Protection and respect of conviction for an offense.

Article 21 – Right to life and liberty (Right to privacy).

Article 22 – Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.

3. Right against Exploitation (Article 23-24) – Right against Exploitation prohibits employment of children under the age of 14 years in factories and companies.

Article 23 – Prohibition in traffic of human beings and bonded labor.

Article 24 – Prohibition of employment of children in factories, companies, etc.

4. Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25-28) – This right ensures that equal respect is given to all religions. Every citizen has a right to freely choose his/her faith and manage religious affairs.

Article 25 – Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion.

Article 26 – Freedom to manage religious affairs.

Article 27 – Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular region.

Article 28 – Freedom as to attendance at a religious institution or religious worship in certain educational institutions.

5. Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29-30) – These rights protect the rights to freedom of culture, and lets minorities preserve their culture and heritage. Right to education, on the other hand, ensures the provision of education to everyone without any discrimination.

Article 29 – Protection of interests of minorities.

Article 30 – Rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.

6. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32) – The Right to Constitution Remedies is the protection of all the above rights. If the fundamental rights of citizens are violated then they can appeal in any court including the Supreme Court.

Article 32 – When any of our fundamental rights are violated, we can seek justice through courts.

All of the above-mentioned rights are entitled to Indian nationals only by the Constitution of India. Click on the hyperlinks to know more about human rights and fundamental rights in India.

Chronicles of Pandemics: In Retrospect of Literature

This worldwide pandemic is certainly not the first. Nor will it be the last. Amidst such a disheartening and isolated situation, one always turns to literature and art to come in terms with reality. When we put our current situation in context, it invites dark thoughts and scenes of the other pandemics that are recorded in literature.

The works that readily come to mind are of course Albert Camus’s The Plague. A bleak parable illustrating the human condition. But the plague is not just an allegory; it is also the tale of a devastating natural calamity. Dr. Bernard Rieux decides to stay back in Oran to tend to the sick, accepting a life of exile and imprisonment, which is the inherent fallout of every pandemic. Like the French army marching into Algeria, the plague descends on the Algerian town of Oran. The plague – rules out any future, cancels journey and silences the exchange of views. The novel tells us that “no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.” Camus writes at the beginning of the novel that – everybody knows…pestilences have a way of recurring in the world, yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our head from a blue sky. 

The response to any pandemic has always been denial, with the state playing down the number of fatalities to conceal the seriousness of the situation. Similar to what happened in the early days of the Great Plague in London in 1664. Daniel Defoe’s ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’ testifies to the common practice of the state spreading misinformation and bending the media to fit its interests. And we see this reflecting in the present situation of the COVID-19 crisis.

Some similar patterns that we can trace right now are – the U.S denouncing China for the spread of COVID, the KGB holding the US responsible for the spread of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, etc. Nearly two millennia ago, Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius held the Christians culpable for the smallpox affliction in his empire. During successive plagues, Jews were accused of poisoning the wells of Europe. Defoe underscores the bigotry and xenophobia that lies beneath this tendency.

The pandemic affects the rich and the poor equally. “The vast cities of America, the fertile plains of Hindostan, the crowed abodes of the Chinese, are menaced with utter ruin,” writes Mary Shelley in her dystopian sci-fi novel, The Last Man, 1826. This is the story of plague in Constantinople in 2092, lasting a year and returning in the spring in a more malicious avatar. People start rushing to the churches, temples, and mosques to appease the Gods, while the government focuses on making suitable decisions and taking action. Human achievements in the fields of science and technology, arts and commerce keep declining. In the end, the narrator, wandering in the ruins of Rome, comes across a manuscript in Italian and decides to write a book dedicated to the dead, titled The History of the Last Man. Jack London then modeling his plot on Mary Shelley’s novel, wrote his post-apocalyptic novel, The Scarlet Plague in 1912.

All these above-mentioned novels prove that history repeats itself. And only literature can fight back with a dream of an equitable world, where healthcare is a right and not a privilege. Government transparency is a justified expectation and not a pipe dream. These novels also normalize a pandemic and its repercussions, reminding us how this will keep happening as long as humans live.

Importance of Non-Verbal Communication in Daily Life

There exists a myth that when a person speaks, only 35% of their communication is verbal and the rest of the 65% is nonverbal. That’s not entirely true as it depends on the context and the situation. It is, however, absolutely true that nonverbal communication can make or break a message.

Non-verbal communication is way more powerful than verbal communication. While communicating, 95% of the impact is of our non-verbal actions like the way our body acts and reacts on different occasions and situations. 

Non-verbal communication has been classified into these following types based on different cues–

  1. Kinesics – a study of body movements including gestures, postures, and different facial expressions.
  2. Oculesics – a part of kinesics; the study of eye movement, eye-contact, eye behavior, gaze, and eye-related nonverbal communication It is effective communication through eye language.
  3. Haptics – related to touch which is the first communication humans experience. Haptics include hugs, kisses, and handshakes.
  4. Proxemics– the study of space. It involves how we arrange space and how it influences the way we relate to others. It also demonstrates relational standing with those around us.
  5. Paralanguage/Vocalics – the vocal but non-verbal dimension of speech. This involves vocal pitch, volume, inflection, rate of speech, and rhythm.
  6. Chronemics – is how humans communicate through their use of time. Good timing is very crucial while communicating. The study of chronemics involves punctuality, allocation of time to a particular event, speaking at the appropriate time, etc.
  7. Silence – serves as a kind of non-verbal communication when we do not use words or utterances to convey messages, rather our silence does the job.

Why is non-verbal communication important?

Each movement and combination of movements of the body – such as shifts in posture, the direction of the eyes, gestures of the limbs, and expressions on the face – provide signals to others. These cues may be subtle or obvious, and they can be contradictory: A person might say one thing while body language conveys an entirely different message.

Because nonverbal communication is often instinctive and typically not easy to fake, it is generally more indicative of a person’s true feelings. Hence, it is said to be the most important part of the communication process. Learn more about non-verbal communication here.