Gandhian Philosophy and neurorehabilitation

This is the essay and poster on Gandhian Philosophy in Neurorehabilitation prepared for the 10th World Congress in Neurorehabilitation, Mumbai, India.

Gandhian Philosophy and Neurorehabilitation_Sahlgrenska


 

Neurorehabilitation is a complex process that involves minimization of neural damage and compensation of limitation of functions arising from neural disorders. New insights on neurorehabilitation can be gathered when observed from a Gandhian point of view. The perspectives, ideals, and vision of Gandhi are relevant today that one can find many parallels of principles from his life that are now used in medical practice worldwide.

Simplicity is prominently reflected in Gandhi’s ideas and way of living. His affinity to simplicity was evident even during his early days in England, when he cut down all unwanted expenses and chose to live in a modest setting. Gandhi firmly believed that happiness and prosperity are not bound to materialistic things but are derived from internal peace and satisfaction. He was against over-consumption and affinity to material possessions. The Gandhian virtue of simplicity has an important role in neurorehabilitation where the focus is on patient’s personal satisfaction and fulfilment. Oftentimes, the simplest of all interventions might be the most therapeutic to the patient. Some of the most complex life decisions of the patient can be changed simply by offering new perspectives. In neurorehabilitation, some of the most effective interventions such as mirror therapy and physical exercise are cheap, simple and inexpensive.

Gandhi had a holistic approach to his development as a complete social being. He did not divide his personal and private life into watertight compartments and mixed social, political and religious work harmoniously. He also believed that all life goals should be defined in such a way that it should make progress not only to one’s lifestyle, but also to one’s family, nation and the world. This philosophy of holism is one of the pillars of modern neurorehabilitation. A neurorehabilitation professional not only caters for the physical and psychological aspects of the patient, but also for the social and cultural dimensions of his/her personality. Neurorehabilitation involves working with not only the patients, but also their families. It also draws no boundaries between personal needs and social needs. Neurorehabilitation deals with several aspects of the patient’s life including nutrition, mobility, cognition etc. Thus, quality rehabilitation can be administered only by considering the patient as a whole, and not as a sum of organs.

Inclusivity and diversity were Gandhi’s core values. The ‘Hind Swaraj’ of his vision was the one where people thrived and cooperated despite differences in caste, creed, gender or religion. The same vision is applicable to neurorehabilitation in which all medical practitioners, caregivers, the family, and community have to work together with the patient to bring him/her to the fullest possible potential. There cannot be any hierarchy in terms of work division and everyone’s role is crucial in rehabilitating the patient. Gandhi emphasized that one’s action should be directed at the well-being of the poorest and weakest man (woman). This principle is of great importance in neurorehabilitation where the healthcare professional has to deliver the most care to the neediest and weakest patient.

Gandhi warned his followers that ‘healing should be its own reward’. In the present day world, medical care is commercialized and monetary reward is the primary reason for those involved in the healthcare industry. Gandhi had foreseen this problem as early as in 1925 when medical science was in its infancy. In neurorehabilitation where often debilitated patients might need lifelong treatment, it is inhumane to be acutely business-minded. Gandhi had also noted that science without humanity is the root of violence. In neurorehabilitation, the focus of the researcher and practitioner is on being compassionate, empathetic and tolerant. These humane values are emphasized more in neurorehabilitation than in other branches of medicine.

Gandhi had a life-long commitment to his ideals. His lifelong dedication to ahimsa and satyagraha are well-known and are praised by scholars and disciples alike. Similarly, in neurorehabilitation, the patients often need life-long care. Hence, neurorehabilitation becomes an integral part of the lifestyle of the patient. The patient and the healthcare professionals should work hand-in-hand, often throughout the lifetime of the patient to meet the goals of the therapy. Gandhian value of satyagraha encompasses the same philosophy: being patient, working consistently, and not stopping until the goal is reached.

The ideal community as envisioned by Gandhi is a reformed one where each individual works harmoniously to produce a self-sustaining economy. This aspect of community involvement is well-established in neurorehabilitation. The ‘social safety net’ provided by the state, and the ‘social cushion’ provided by the community are very important for patients needing neurorehabilitation. Community support and social awareness regarding neurorehabilitation are essential for enforcing policy change for accessible public spaces, pension plans and return-to-work policies.

It is evident that Gandhian philosophy is closely in alignment with the core principles of rehabilitation. Gandhi’s ideas and practices should continue to inspire healthcare professionals to seek provisions for applying ahimsa in various facets of their work in neurorehabilitation. In current times of intense competition, we, the healthcare professionals, must embrace Gandhi’s integrity and avoid the temptation to forego morality and empathy.

Travel Quiz Questions

This is the slide deck I prepared for Reverberates Online Quiz (external link to Facebook). They are a bit hard to crack, but if Google is your friend, you might be able to get one clue after the other from the question statements, which you can google separately. Image search may also sometimes lead to the answers.

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Photos from Wikimedia Commons, Flickr CC-BY-SA or CC-BY-NC, 2.0/3.0. All logos and photos taken from copyrighted sources used in the slideshow are low resolution and are for illustrative and educational purposes only (Read more about fair Use here). For the pdf/pptx version of this quiz set, please contact me directly. 

General Quiz Questions (Part 3)

This is the quiz set I created for a school quiz in Thamarassery in 2014. Looking back, some of the questions appear interesting to me, especially the one with spiderman’s arm.

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Photos from Wikimedia Commons, Flickr CC-BY-SA or CC-BY-NC, 2.0/3.0. All logos and photos taken from copyrighted sources used in the slideshow are low resolution and are for illustrative and educational purposes only (Read more about Fair Use here). For the pdf/pptx version of this quiz set, please contact me directly. 

General Quiz Questions (Part 2)

This is the quiz set on current affairs I prepared for a quiz held in Calicut Medical College (I forgot the occasion). As you guessed it, many questions might be outdated by now.

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Photos from Wikimedia Commons, Flickr CC-BY-SA or CC-BY-NC, 2.0/3.0. All logos and photos taken from newspapers used in the slideshow are low resolution and are for illustrative and educational purposes only (Read more about Fair Use here). For the pdf/pptx version of this quiz set, please contact me directly. 

Gender Gap in Wikipedia’s content

Only 15% of all biographies on English Wikipedia belong to women. Women and men are portrayed differently on Wikipedia in terms of article structure, the use of infoboxes, network properties, notability etc. This research project is aimed at mapping the gender gap on Wikipedia in terms of its content. This work is done as a followup report to my presentation at WikiWomenCamp 2017. The aim is to create a review of peer-reviewed research papers on gender gap on Wikipedia’s content.

Methods

  • Find all relevant articles for the analysis using Google scholar. Keywords used are ‘Wikipedia’, ‘gender’, ‘content’, ‘women’, ‘bias’ and various relevant combinations of these words.
  • Screen the title and abstract to include only those studies that fit the inclusion criteria. Further screening for content to only include the studies about gender gap in Wikipedia’s content.
  • Assess the validity and reliability of the results
  • Systematic presentation of the findings
Rosiestep_at_WikiDivCon_2017
Rosie Stephenson Goodnight has worked extensively on bridging the gender gap in English Wikipedia. Photo: Camelia.boban, CC-BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Results

The results were summerized under four categories :

  • Coverage bias : Coverage bias occurs when men and women are covered differently on Wikipedia. For example, the coverage bias may manifest as differences in the number of notable women and men portrayed on Wikipedia.
Research Data Methods Findings
Wagner et al [1] Wikipedia in 6 language editions Wikipedia in 6 languages compared to several datasets: Freebase, Pantheon, Human Accomplishment, crawled the content of articles about people in the reference datasets using Wikipedia’s API (November 2014). Men and women are covered equally well on Wikipedia and articles about women tend to be longer than articles about men on Wikipedia, when compared to those from the reference datasets.
Graells-Garrido et al [2] The DBPedia 2014 dataset, The Wikipedia English Dump of October 2014 The DBPedia and Wikipedia data dump were analysed for metadata properties. The gender of a biography, whenever not mentioned, was determined by ‘inferred gender for Wikipedia biographies’ (Bamman and Smith) 15% of articles in ‘Person class’ were about women. In comparison to the global proportion of women, the categories that over-represent women are Artist, Royalty, FictionalCharacter, Noble, BeautyQueen, and Model.
Reagle & Rhue [3] Biographical subjects from several sources (100 Most Influentiial figures in American History, TIME magazine’s list of 2008’s most influential people, Chambers Biographical dictionary, American National Biography Online) compared to English Wikipedia and Britannica. A Python program was used to compare web pages related to the subjects targeted in the reference sources. Google API was queried for top four results. Gender was guessed by the balance of gendered pronouns (she, her, he, his). The length of an article is determined by the words of article content and does not include citations and other miscellany. Wikipedia provides better coverage and longer articles on women than Britannica. Wikipedia has more articles about women than Britannica in absolute terms, but articles about women on Wikipedia are more likely to be missing than articles about men compared to Britannica.
Wagner et al [4] DBPedia 2014 dataset, inferred gender for Wikipedia bios Calculated the number of language editions in which per biography is represented and google search volume of women’s bio, compared them with Wikipedia articles Women in Wikipedia are more notable than men, which the authors interpret as the outcome of a subtle glass ceiling effect.
  • Structural bias : Structural bias refers to preferential use of gender-specific tendencies while connecting articles on notable people. For example, there may be more links to men’s biographies on articles related to women.
WikiGap_sthlm
WikiGap is a program dedicated to closing the content gap on Wikimedia.
Research Data Methods Findings
Wagner et al [1] Wikipedia in 6 language editions Wikipedia’s API (November 2014), analysed for probability that a link from article with gender g1 ends in an article with gender g2. Articles about women connect less to articles about men via interlinks. Articles about people with the same gender tend to link to each other. Articles about women tend to link more to articles about men than the opposite. Men are more central than women in English, Russian and German language Wikipedia.
Graells-Garrido et al [2] The DBPedia 2014 dataset, The Wikipedia English Dump of October 2014 Proportion of links from gender to gender was calculated and tested against expected proportions. Analysed distribution of PageRank by gender to understand centrality. Women biographies tend to link more to other women than to men. The article with highest centrality tend to be predominantly about men, beyond what one could expect from the structure of the network.
Wagner et al [4] DBPedia 2014 dataset, inferred gender for Wikipedia bios, attributes, PageRank Explored to what extent the connectivity between people is influenced by gender. Investigated the relation between the centrality of people and their gender using PageRank. The top-ranked women according to PageRank are slightly less central than men, and the centrality of women decreases faster than that of men with decreasing rank. There exists a bias in the generation of links by Wikipedia editors, favoring articles about men.
  • Lexical bias : Lexical bias refers to the inequalities in the terms used to describe men and women on Wikipedia. For example, the articles about women are more likely to have details about their family life.
Research Data Methods Findings
Wagner et al [1] Wikipedia in 6 language editions Open vocabulary approach where classifier determines which words are most effective in distinguishing the gender of the person an article is about. Log likelihood ratios are used for comparing different feature-outcome relationships. There is lower salience of male-related words in articles about men, which can be related to the idea of male as the null gender (there is a social bias to assume male as the standard gender in certain social situations). Words like “married”, “divorced”, “children” or “family” are much more frequently used in articles about women. This study confirms that men and women are presented differently on Wikipedia and that those differences go beyond what we would expect due to the history of gender inequalities.
Graells-Garrido et al [2] The DBPedia 2014 dataset, The Wikipedia English Dump of October 2014, Linguistic Inquiry and Word count (LIWC) dictionary To explore which words are more strongly associated with each gender, Pointwise Mutual Information is measured over the set of vocabulary in both genders. Also considered burstiness, a measure of word importance in a single document according to the number of times it appears within the document, under the assumption that important words appear more than once (they appear in bursts) when they are relevant in a given document. Marriage and sex-related content are more frequent in women’s biographies and cognition related content is highlighted in men’s biographies. Words most associated with men are mostly about sports, while the words most associated with women are to arts, gender and family. Of particular interest are two concepts strongly associated with women: her husband and first woman.
Wagner et al [4] Overview of English Wikipedia biographies, inferred gender for Wikipedia bios Analysed gender topic, relationship topic and family topic in Wikipedia’s biographies. Quantified the tendency of expressing positive and negative aspects of biographies with adjectives, as a measure of the degree of abstraction of positive and negative content. Family-, Gender-, and relationship-related topics are more present in biographies about women, linguistic bias manifests in Wikipedia since abstract terms tend to be used to describe positive aspects in the biographies of men and negative aspects in the biographies of women.
  • Visibility bias: Visibility bias occurs when articles related to men and women are differently promoted within Wikipedia. For example, men’s biographies are potentially more likely to be featured articles than women’s biographies, although the difference is not significant.
Research Data Methods Findings
Wagner et al [1] Wikipedia in 6 language editions Proportion of women’s biographies that make it to the main page of Wikipedia Selection procedure of featured articles of Wikipedia community does not suffer from gender bias.

 

Group_photo_of_women_wikipedian_with_Katherine_Maher_at_WikiConference_India_2016,_6_August_2016_3
Women Wikimedians at WikiConference, India 2016. According to a 2011 survey, only 3% of Indian Wikimedians were women. Photo: Afifa Afrin, CC-BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons

References

  1. ↑ a b c d It’s a man’s Wikipedia? Assessing Gender Inequality in an online Encyclopedia Wagner, Claudia; Garcia, David; Jadidi, Mohsen; Strohmaier, Markus (May 2015). “It’s a man’s Wikipedia? Assessing Gender Inequality in an online Encyclopedia”Proceedings of the Ninth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  2. ↑ a b c Graelles-Garrido, Eduardo; Lalmas, Mounia; Menczer, Filippo (September 2015). “First Women, Second Sex : Gender Bias in Wikipedia”Social and Information Networks. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  3.  Reagle, Joseph; Rhue, Lauren (2011). “Gender bias in Wikipedia and Britannica”International Journal of Communication S: 1138–1158. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  4. a b c Wagner, Claudia; Graelles-Garrido, Eduardo; Garcia, David; Menczer, Filippo (2016). “Women through the glass ceiling: gender asymmetries in Wikipedia” (PDF). EPJ Data Science. Retrieved 30 July 2017.

 

The same article can be found on meta-wiki here. A longer presentation containing information regarding gender gap research on Wikipedia can be found here.

Featured photo courtesy: Martina Cora, CC-BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Autumn leaf

Autumn leaf

This is the autumn leaf I painted and gifted to my dear friend Pelin from Turkey. It was painted using Sennelier watercolor. Some realistic touches were made using Faber Castell colored pencils. The frame is IKEA Fiskbo (A4 size).

 

Gender Agenda : Gaining momentum

This article won the All Kerala Women’s Day Essay Writing Contest in March 2013 conducted by Cradle Hospital, Calicut. The topic was “Gender agenda: Gaining momentum”.

Among one of the most talked about issues globally in the recent times is the gender gap and its consequences. In the light of third wave feminism, many gender equations are being re-read and discussed. The gender agenda, therefore, is gaining momentum- slowly but surely.

While the protests of the 70’s were for essential needs like education and equal wages, the protests in the 90’s are for giving adequate and comfortable ‘space’ for women in every sector of the society. The third wave movement in the 90’s also addresses the issues of homosexuality, religion, ethnicity etc. and embraces diversity and change.

The gender crisis is going into a crucial phase worldwide. Women became the heads of the nations for the first time in Mauritius, Serbia, South Korea and Malawi in 2012-13. Malala, the Pakistani girl who advocated for women’s education became a global icon, and her story inspired many global organizations to work for the upliftment of the oppressed women of Asia. One Billion Rising, the event for expressing solidarity to the one billion women who suffer gender violence was taken up by women all over the world to spread the message of gender equality. India is also heading towards the global trend. With the Justice Verma commission proposing new laws to ensure the safety of Indian women and many Indian women making it to news for their glittering achievements, there exists scope for hope.

The Arab spring and the Jasmine revolution was a milestone in the history of struggle for equality. The protests saw many Arab women, who are generally denied personal freedom and imposed strict regulations, taking part in revolution against authoritarian dictators of their respective countries for want of a democratic and peaceful government. Though the protestors, including the Nobel laureate Tavakkul Karman, were later silenced, the incident served as a starting point for the struggle against oppression of women in the Arab world.

The US Presidential elections saw the peak of misogyny in the political agenda of the Republican party. The party’s agenda included enforcing stricter rules for abortion and birth control. Todd Akin, a Republican representative was known to comment that pregnancy rarely occurs as a result of legitimate rape. His explicitly misogynistic and highly objectionable comment was criticized widely by feminist scholars worldwide.

Gender_equality_symbol_(clipart)

The homicidal rape of a Delhi woman has caused the issue of women’s freedom and security to limelight again in India. In India, where rape is inextricably linked to shame, this incident being reported and given wide coverage on the media and social networks served as an impetus to the women to be vocal about the sexual harassments they face. The Delhi issue saw the delegation of women friendly laws which promise stricter punishments for crimes against women. However, the law is not often implemented in its strictest sense and the criminals evade conviction by creating loopholes in the evidence. The focus should, therefore, be on ensuring speedy justice and creating corrupt-less executive bodies.

Misogyny is so deeply rooted in India’s collective psychology that it has permeated our textbooks, our pedagogy and our parenting. The textbook of the pre-school child shows the picture of a man comfortably resting on an armchair, reading the newspaper labeled as ‘father’, while labeling a woman washing utensils in the kitchen as ‘mother’ and unconsciously injects the traditionally assigned, patriarchal gender roles into the child’s brain. While India has unwritten norms about how its womenfolk should behave, it does not impose any restrictions to men, creating generations of people who think of women as a second-class citizen, an inferior being and a sex object. In a society which has determined that men make good leaders, women are underrepresented in administrative and political fronts. Domestic violence, female foeticide, honour killings and dowry system are the other problems faced by a large section of the population in India.

There’s little point to holding up placards asking for change and justice if changes don’t begin from our families. The male and female child should not be discriminated at homes, and all children should be given equal consideration regardless of their gender. Any custom or tradition which threaten the well-being or curtail the freedom of women should not be supported. Women should be empowered to protest against the injustice they are subjected to at homes, colleges and workplace.

While it is satisfying that many of the problems which are primarily of concern to women are being discussed and debated, it is also to be realized that discussions are initiated only when a tragedy happens or when a misogynistic remark slips from the mouth of a notable personality. It required the death of a Delhi woman to get rape be accepted as a mainstream issue, and the comments of ex-Justice Basanth to have the Suryanelli case re-examined. Ireland thought of providing the right to abortion only after the death of  Savitha Halappanavar due to an obstetric cause, and Julia Gillard had to be on her vocal best to have the gender discrimination against women political leaders in Australia capture the attention of the menfolk. We should strive for a just world were women’s issues are not discarded as a gender issue, but recognized as a mainstream problem that requires the collective involvement of both men and women to arrive upon a solution. We should strive for an enlightened world where women are not considered as a machine for pregnancy, but a living being with the capability to take decisions on her own. We should strive for a liberal world where women’s sexual issues and concerns about reproductive health are no longer hushed and silenced.

The observation by Virgnia Woolf that “anonymous was always a woman” throws light into the fact that, women’s achievements are neglected since pre-historic times and that their existence was always in the shadow of their husbands or fathers. Even today, there exist countries which prohibit women from driving and voting. Clerics of certain religions imposing bans selectively on women also point towards misogyny and assert on the patriarchal notion that women are objects who do not have an existence inseparable of their guardians (men), and that they are objects which need guarding.

The growth of technology has largely helped in bridging the gender gap. We have moved from the times when vehicles had to be ignited manually to auto-ignition engines and broken the sexist belief that driving could only be possible for men as it required physical strength to be able to ignite the engine manually. As more and more jobs are getting automated, physical strength is no longer the desired quality of an employee, which has helped women to be a sizeable population at workplace. The stereotyping that women are less intelligent has been challenged by the many women who hold key positions at international companies.

Women, after millennia of repression, are finally on the verge of finding their rightful status in the society. In these modern times where men and women strive equally in all fields of activity, demonstrate identical skills and talents, share equal responsibility, decide the future of institutions and the fate of nations, woman need to be given the respect and freedom she rightfully deserves. The patriarchal notion that women are freely accessible objects which can be possessed and controlled still exist in various communities, which have to be freed of by education.

Quoting Emilie Buchwald, “the most important gift anyone can give a girl is a belief in her own power as an individual, her value without reference to gender, her respect as a person with potential.” Let us hope that in the coming of time, women all over the globe be recognized for their potential and not biased based on their gender.