A Cartoon Blog for Communicating Science

International Women’s Day

Indian scriptures depict women’s power, importance, and reverence bestowed on them. Reverence to women has always been professed. Despite all these, discrimination is rampant in India. Preference for a boy child leading to female foeticide, discrimination by family members, sexual exploitation is all there to see. International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. It is an occasion marking a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. In India, National Women’s Day is observed on February 13 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Nightingale of India Sarojini Naidu. The fight for gender equality is more than a hundred years. One cannot help wondering whether the world would ever see gender parity! With the multiple roles, women play, some bestowed by nature like childbearing, playing an essential part of the workforce, one need to wonder whether achieving gender parity is flawed. What we need is to celebrate women for what they are and respect them. Poverty, violence, sexual abuse is harsh realities haunting humanity and what we have made the world as it is. As Mother Theresa said, “you alone cannot change the world, but you can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”. Let it begin with you, at your home, the place where you work and the society in which you live. Celebrate women’s achievements and be part of bringing the change leading to equality. With more than 100 years since women’s day is being observed,  one cannot help wondering whether the world would ever see gender parity!

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National Science Day

Science and technology are everywhere. It is essential to nurture the new generation to have an analytical yet creative bent of mind and prepare them to deal with real-life situations. This is also the focus of the new education policy. Curiosity building is crucial to learning. It is the endeavour human spirit of seeking answers that led to scientific advancements. India celebrates National Science Day on February 28 every year. It is the initiative of the National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) and started in  1986. On this day in 1928, the discovery of Raman was announced, and the day is being celebrated as National Science Day to commemorate Raman Effect. It is all about enhancing understanding of the importance of science in the day-to-day life of the people, efforts, and achievements in science for human welfare. The celebration is also to discuss all the issues and implement new technologies for development in science. The journey of Raman is also a lesson that should inspire many aspiring researchers. One must find ways to pursue what one likes. In the early days of his career, the research done by Raman was in addition to the administrative work he has done. When faced with the challenge of choosing between what you like and what gives you good financial packages, the life and journey of Raman should inspire. The government should quickly address the issue of providing reasonable remuneration for those interested in pursuing research. The unprecedented health crisis caused by the COVID pandemic highlighted the importance of research, more importantly creating an ecosystem that would find solutions for unforeseen problems. The vaccine hesitancy seen even in the advanced and educated societies emphasises the need to bring science closer to society. Public trust in science is vital for successful science-based policies. Raman said, “The only thing that is true is that a man is born, he lives, and he dies. Therefore, he should live his life properly”. The brilliance of people like CV Raman deserves more than celebrating his success; it motivates people to find solutions the societies face through the advancements of science and technology.

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World Whale Day

World Whale Day is observed on the third Sunday in February and began in Maui, Hawaii. It is a day to contemplate the challenges and problems life faces in the oceans. This day is specific to know about whales, their lives, how they live and the issues they face. Greg Kauffman, a researcher and the Founder of the Pacific Whale Foundation, introduced this day to bring attention to the threat of the very existence of the whales. Even though Whales can be scary, there is an aura about them. Not much is known about the way whales live. The giant creatures of the sea have been hunted for ages and have reached a near extinction stage.

As humanity put all the efforts into progress and grow, the path chosen for improvement has not been equitable. It brought many ecological downsides, and the ways decided to have been destructive and threatened the planet’s very survival. Oil spills, plastic litter, and industrial waste destroy ocean life and aquatic life, finding their way to oceans. Whales are no exception to the same. Humans need to remember that they and other life forms on the planet need to be together. Destruction of one cause imbalance and would impact the survival of all.

Even the mightiest needs protection, as they are more robust in their own environment, and if we pollute it, the stronger become vulnerable and lose their battle. World Whale Day is to remind us about the importance of conservation.
Let World Whale Day be the day of educating about the whales and taking steps to protect them.

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World Radio Day

Many of us grew up listening to radio broadcasts, be it news, music, or cricket commentary. Every year, World Radio Day is observed on February 13th. It is the initiative of the Spanish radio academy that led to UNESCO proclaiming it in 2011 and adopted by the UN in 2012. Despite being more than 100 years old, the Radio remains one of the most popular ways to exchange information save lives during natural or human-made disasters. Radio reaches everyone and has been with us longer than any other broadcast media. There are about 44,000 radio stations worldwide. In India, broadcasting began in June 1923, external Services in 1939. When India became independent, there were only six stations (Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Lucknow, and Tiruchirappalli). AIR’s services are delivered through 420 stations across the country, reaching nearly 92% of the country’s area and ~99% of the total population. AIR originates programming in 23 languages and 179 dialects. Given its literal meaning in Sanskrit (“Voice from the Sky”), Akash Vani is more than an appropriate name for the broadcaster. The trust in radio journalism can be sustained by producing independent and high-quality content based on verifiable information. Public interest should be paramount. Radio stations’ economic survival and ability to attract and retain the listeners base is a challenge to be addressed. Trust and viability of radio stations and ensuring competitiveness are the challenges to be addressed. Humans always aspired to find avenues to communicate, and Radio is doing yeomen service to humankind. As the world changes, so do Radio. It evolved, adapted, innovated, and continue to connect. Let us celebrate the power of Radio to reflect and promote diversity in all its forms.

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International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Equal access and participation in science for women and girls are paramount to see the overall progress. Despite representing half of the world’s population, women continue to be excluded from participating in several domains, including science. The UN in 2015 resolved to observe February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Women have an essential role and a right to participate in sustainable development policies, programs, and decision-making at all levels. India has seen several women researchers excelling in science and technology domains. Vanitha and Ritu Karidhdal,  the space researchers who worked for Chandrayaan 2,  Indira Hinduja, the first Indian woman credited for delivering a test tube baby or  Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon. The oceanographer Dr Aditi Pant, the first Indian woman to be in the Antarctic or the inventor of Sumeet mixer Madhuri Mathur, Long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science-related fields. We need science, and science needs women. Worryingly 52 countries in the world are yet to guarantee equality to women in their constitutions. Science lays the foundation For sustainable development in any society, and equality should be one of the core values. Equality is non-negotiable. We need science, and science needs women. It is an unfinished business of our time.

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World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day is observed every year on 4 February. To raise awareness about cancer and press the governments and individuals to perform. Cancer exists, and it could happen to anyone and everyone. The decade passed by has seen an increase of cancer cases by 21% and deaths by 26%. Fortunately, the overall cancer incidence in India is low. As India continues to age, cancer cases will double every 20 years. As per WHO, around one-third of deaths from cancer are due to preventable factors. Emerging technologies like AI are transforming cancer care,  both in early detection and treatment. Ancient Indian medicine systems like Ayurveda give importance to cure and prevention, need to focus on enhancing the adoption of such systems for providing holistic health care. Once a family member is diagnosed with cancer, gloom looms. Fear of death, draining of resources, financial and time ensuring emotional support to the patient and, more importantly, the family members. Only the commitment to act will lead to progress in reducing the global impact of cancer. There is an equity gap, costing lives and affecting everyone. As individuals, we have an essential role to play too. It is not about you and me. It is about everyone. As Mother Teresa professed, yesterday is gone, and the consequences of tomorrow are yet to be known. We have today, and let us begin to close the care gap for cancer patients and families. It is our time to act now.

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World Wetlands Day

2 February is celebrated as World Wetlands Day. From this year onwards, it is one of the UN observation days. The observation is to raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands. Wetlands occur where water meets land, and a wetland of international importance is referred to as a Ramsar site. Estimates show that 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900. Like in many other countries, the wetlands in India are also fast disappearing. One of the reasons attributed to the recent devastation caused by the 2015 floods in Chennai is vanishing wetlands. India has many Ramsar sites like Chilika Lake, Kolleru Lake, Loktak Lake. People are using more freshwater than Nature can replenish, destroying the ecosystem that water and all life depend on most – the Wetlands. There is no “Planet B’, at least for now. The world communities must work together to protect the irreplaceable wetlands for current and future generations to come. The role of local and indigenous communities is also vital in protecting them.

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National Girl Child Day

National Girl Child Day is observed every year in India on January 24 to promote awareness about the rights of a girl child. Promoting the importance of their education, health, and nutrition and enhancing awareness is the main aim of such observation. Nearly 1 in 4 girls is neither employed nor in education, 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence. India is home to millions of ‘out-of-school’ children, with girls being most of them. UN data indicates that India is home to more than 220 million child brides and accounts for about a third of the global incidence of child marriage. Forcing them to get married at such young age amounts to infringing on the rights and capabilities of adolescent girls. Then, early pregnancies also result in poor maternal and child health. The problems faced by girl children are universal in nature. There are many challenges: inequality caused by lack of access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, protection from discrimination, violence against women and forced child marriage. There is discrimination in daughters’ rights to inherit property in many countries, in either law or practice. Empower, Educate, Protect, and, more importantly, Celebrate the girl child. She could be your daughter, would grow and become a mother to some, share the joys of being your sister. Become a spouse to someone, raise a family and take care of them. Everyone must ensure that she is allowed to grow, sustain, and prosper. As Margaret Thatcher said, “if you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman”.

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National Youth Day

On his birthday, India celebrates National Youth Day on 12 January to celebrate a great soul, Swami Vivekananda. National Youth Week and Festival are celebrated starting from National Youth Day. Perhaps one of India’s most incredible spiritual and social leaders. An iconic leader who was very vocal about youth’s importance in nation-building. The speech he delivered at the Parliament of World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893 is historic. The demographic dividend will be realised when the nations take the necessary steps. Most of the countries where the youth population dominates are developing countries. This can help see their economies prosper, provided they invest heavily in young people’s education and health and protect their rights. Celebrating youth day is an occasion to introspect to ensure just and all-around growth. Humans bubble with energy in youth. The challenge is harnessing the same and providing direction. Remembering the writings of Swami Vivekananda is a way to go forward. Demographic dividends can be harnessed if attention is paid to their overall growth, especially their mental health. Swami Vivekananda said, “Take risks in your life, if you win, you can lead. If you lose, you can guide”. After all, it is all in the mind.

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Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (NRI Day)

The inquisitive nature of human beings led them to explore. It is often in search of resources to enhance the quality of life and lead safe and secure lives. With newer modes of transportation becoming available, humans ventured into exploring far off places. While exploring the world, some found the places they explored convenient and stayed back. The history of immigration dates back centuries. Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Non-Resident Indian Day) is celebrated on January 9 every year to mark the contribution of the Overseas Indian community to the development of India. On this day, in 1915, Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi, perhaps the greatest Pravasi from our country, returned to India from South Africa. 32 million NRIs and PIOs reside outside India. Overseas Indians comprise the world’s largest overseas diaspora. The highest annual number of migrants in the world are from India. Also, the world’s leading receiver of remittances (12% of the world’s remittances. Perhaps there is no country in the world where Indians do not live. While the mind would be where one chooses to live, the heart continues to be connected to the roots. Celebrate the success at the same time share the same. Achieving success is joy. Sharing is more joyful. Let us celebrate Indians who are not residing in this country.

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World Braille Day

Every year, “World Braille Day” is observed on January 4, the day which is the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the inventor of Braille. Braille is not a language; it is another way to read and write other languages. Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities are less likely to access health care, education, employment, and community participation. Observing a day like this acknowledges that life can be different and challenging for some people. Life under lockdown has posed several issues for the visually impaired as they rely on touch to communicate. The challenge is to bring awareness. It is not the individual’s mistake to be born with a disability. They deserve much more than merely changing the way they are addressed. When the world struggles to develop societies and communities to be just and empowering, the disability brings a new dimension to finding solutions. All human beings must ensure that suffering because of disability is minimised. Also, there is a need to enhance voluntary efforts, like eye donation and developing methods. Research needs to be improved to find solutions to reduce the number of people getting into partial vision. The determination showed by Louis Braille, not only in leading a life of purpose and laying the foundation for enabling millions to get connected with the world by introducing the language of Braille.

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World Day of War Orphans

Caring for children in traumatic circumstances is a priority. “World Day of War Orphans” reminds the world of the responsibility of finding solutions to the problem resultant of the conflicts and wars. Efforts of SOS Enfants en Detresse (SOSEED), a French organisation, has led to the world observing the day to remind the world of the impact of the wars on the orphans. In many war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, and other African countries, the number of orphaned children is alarming. UNICEF indicates that children from poor countries face the brunt due to war and conflicts. Every person has a right to access the quality of life, more so a child. Ensuring their health and wellbeing should be a priority. Child victims are a high proportion of civilian deaths in recent conflicts. Those orphaned due to war have an additional problem of living in fear. Ensuring a secure and safe environment for them is the responsibility of all human beings. Let us not forget children are in the world because elders decided to bring them.

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World Evidence-Based Healthcare (EBHC) Day

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day is observed on 20 October each year. The observation aims at raising awareness of the need for better evidence-based healthcare policy, practice, and decision making to improve outcomes. It is a campaign to reflect and share experiences of using evidence to generate impact in healthcare globally. The Infodemic is making it hard for people to find evidence-based, trustworthy guidance when they need it.  While battling to tackle the COVID pandemic, health care workers, medical professionals, government officials, and policymakers must find ways to address the Infodemic relating to the COVID pandemic. Fostering meaningful partnerships, communicating evidence to the stakeholders, making available, reliable information, and enabling meaningful dialogue and engagement is the way to tackle the Infodemic. There is an urgent need to establish new partnerships amongst academia-media, experts amongst all forms of treatment methodologies (allopathy, AYUSH, and traditional healing), and enhance literacy. Fund the projects and programs in achieving the same and create platforms for improved monitoring and surveillance. Educating, being bold and highlighting and celebrating the successes is the way forward. While the governments, the policymakers, health care workers and professionals, researchers, information science professionals have a role to play in tackling the Infodemic, as individuals, all of us have an essential role. Both in not creating information without evidence and, more importantly, not being part of the link in the spreading the news. After all, the crucial players in the Infodemic are the public who consumes and contribute to spreading the information. Ensuring being responsible would go a long way in breaking the waves of Infodemic.

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World Mental Health Day

Being sad and lacking interest in activities that you usually enjoy, challenging to carry out your everyday routines. A situation all of us would have the experience to varying extent some time or other. If anyone happens to live with someone with depression in the family, you can help them recover, equally essential to look after oneself. “World Mental Health Day” is observed every October 10, 1992, and promoted by World Federation for Mental Health. The complexity of Brain and neurological diseases often becomes a barrier to public awareness. The biggest challenge is to take proactive steps to address the stigma and discrimination associated with mental ill-health. The challenge is to overcome the barriers it creates in seeking help. People going through depression look otherwise normal, and hence it is a more significant challenge to identify at the early stage of the onset of depression. It is estimated that close to one billion people have a mental disorder. Mental health has come to focus during pandemic times like never. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on people’s mental health. While the pandemic has affected everyone, more so with the people with long-term health conditions. The human brain controls nearly every aspect of the human body ranging from physiological functions to cognitive abilities.  The mind referred to as Chitta, Manas, and Vijnana, is not so easy to control. The world has seen great minds coming together who worked for the wellbeing of humanity.  There is a need for establishing the mechanisms for providing care for the elderly and ensuring good mental health. There is a need for promoting a healthy brain.  The health of the human being is controlled by the brain. With the proper support, you can get better, so if you think you might be depressed, seek help.

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