Smart Phone Addiction
'Smart phones are the new generation of mobile phones that provide integrated communication and entertainment services.' Easy availability and affordability of it have spread its effects to all even among lower socioeconomic class worldwide. In times of Corona Virus pandemic, it has become a substitute as virtual relationship building. It is essential for virtual education and entertainment. There is less time barrier of use of this latest technological gadget. It uses to interact with friends and calling parents. It uses to access social networking and so forth.

Several public health research revealed its adverse impact among teens. A new kind of health disorder has been diagnosed, which might be considered as "smart phone addiction/abuse/misuse". It is a new public health challenge. "Research shows that abnormal users of smartphone in the adolescent age group are more at risk of severe psychopathological disorders such as problematic behaviour, somatic symptoms, attention deficits, depression, and aggression." Further, adolescents with "smart phone addiction" easily access cyber-sexual content. They get involved in cyber-violence. They use to suffer from cyber-sexual delinquency.

A group of teens of Kolkata appearing Madhyamik and Higher Secondary examination was selected for exploratory study to examine their behaviour pattern and academic competency. Interaction and conversation with them indicated that a smart phone is only their alternative in their daily life. There is no limit on use of it. Even, they attended online classes to satisfy their parents and teachers. But they were not attentive to their academic lesson because they used to chat or involved in other activities. They had no seriousness about their academic performance. Their parents reported that they were arrogant, and they did not bother anyone. Some of their parents lifted and restricted the use of the smart phone. They were aggressive and quarrelsome with their parents. Finally, they behaved differently and withdrew from their daily activities. Surprisingly, they stopped taking of food and so forth. Now parents were very much worried to think about their future. Particularly, they were worried about their academic performance.
It had been observed that these teens were over smart and self-centred. Their happiness was with the virtual word. Parents reported that the contents of their surfing materials were full of cyber-sexual and it was their pleasure to share their peers and friends. Consequently, it has impacted to the youngest in the families.
'Smart Phone Addiction' is a new crisis to harm the teen's mental health and activities. There is an urgent need of psychological counselling and restrictive use of the same.
Harasankar Adhikari, Kolkata

Nodeep Kaur, Shiv Kumar and Custodial Violence
Condemning the custodial torture of Shiv Kumar by the Haryana Police, the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) organised a press conference on March 1,2021 at the Press Club of India, Delhi against custodial violence and hailing Majdoor-Kisan Ekta. The Press conference was addressed by Surjit Singh Phool of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Krantikari), Joginder Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), Vidya Sagar Giri of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Sucheta De of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Rajveer Kaur of Bhagat Singh Chatra Ekta Manch (BSCEM), Ishwar Singh Rathi of Nagrik Adhikar Manch (NAM), Sanjeev Mathur of Bahujan Samajwadi Manch (BSM), Nandita Narain of the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA), Rinchin of Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), journalist Mandeep Punia, Shiv Kumar's father Rajbir and Shiv Kumar's fellow arrestee, Nodeep Kaur of the Majdoor Adhikar Sanghatan (MAS).

Surjit Singh Phool of the BKU (Krantikari) spoke of how Nodeep Kaur and MAS were instrumental in building worker-peasant solidarity and that this was the reason they were targeted. Besides workers and peasants, the government was also targeting intellectuals and journalists, an example of which is Mandeep Punia whom he dubbed a courageous son. He said there is a need to expose the falsities of the government and to demand the immediate release of all arrested alongside the quashing of the FIR on Nodeep Kaur and other activists of MAS. Joginder Singh of BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) spoke of how the Modi government falsely used the term democracy to introduce anti-people laws. Lamenting the plight of workers forced into twelve-hour shifts, Joginder Singh spoke of how people undertaking peaceful protests were routinely arrested under false charges. Taking the example of Nodeep Kaur, he said all she did was raise the issue of workers, peasants and women for which she was brutally targeted, arrested and tortured.

Reiterating how rights of workers and peasants are intertwined and represent the interests of the people of this country, Vidya Sagar Giri of AITUC compared undemocratic legislation of the three Farm Laws to the replacement of forty-four labour laws by four Labour Codes. He said, "the ways in which laws are made reveal how the practice of debate and discussion has been buried to steam roll new laws that serve big industry. It is significant that the Wage Code was consciously passed during the uproar resulting from the abrogation of Article 370 to circumvent debate and discussion. Furthermore, the other three labour codes received presidential assent on September 28th 2020, the birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh, in effect making a mockery of all that he fought for." Sucheta De of AICCTU remarked on the deplorable conditions of workers and peasants across the country and how the slowdown in industry post the COVID-19 lockdown has been used to sack workers and deny them wages. Comparing the state of workers to that of bonded labour, Sucheta De referred to the incident at the Wistron Factory in Karnataka where workers were exploited in direct violation of the law. However, when they struggled for their rights, the police conducted a brutal crackdown with mass arrests. She considered the work of Shiv Kumar, Nodeep Kaur and MAS as the need of day and particularly referred to Nodeep Kaur as an example of workers unafraid to demand their rights. She also compared the manner in which those who fought for people's rights were regularly arrested, including many involved in the protests against the CAA, NRC and NPR while those who openly resorted to violence like Kapil Mishra remained free.

Nandita Narain of DUTA said that the words independence, freedom and democracy had no meaning today and those who wanted these things needed to fight for them. She considered unacceptable the Prime Minister's mocking of those who struggled for their rights as Andolanjeevi.
A Vidhya, CASR, Delhi

An Appeal
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farmers' unions, on March 12 urged agriculturists and other people of West Bengal not to vote for the BJP in the upcoming elections.

The SKM said that electoral defeat will force the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre to repeal the three farm laws.

'We are not supporting any party or telling people whom to vote for but our only appeal is that the BJP should be taught a lesson,' SKM leader Yogendra Yadav told reporters recently in Kolkata.

The SKM also issued a letter urging the farmers of the state not to vote for the saffron party.

The SKM, in the letter, said that a defeat in the elections will force the Centre to repeal the farm laws.

Social activist Medha Patkar, while accusing the BJP of trying to 'sell the country' to a few corporates, also urged people to exercise their franchise cautiously.

Condemning the Centre for 'insulting' the farmers' stir, Patkar said even the British occupiers had not resorted to acts which the present government is indulged in.

She welcomed the passage of a resolution against the farm laws in the West Bengal assembly.

Meanwhile, Farmers' Unions have given a call for Bharat Bandh on March 26 when the movement completes 4 months.
A Reader, Kolkata

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Vol. 53, No. 39, Mar 28 - Apr 3, 2021