GUWAHATI, Sept 29 � At a time when the government has been claiming to give utmost priority to education and create a knowledge-based society, the reality reflects quite a different picture � a State still in the grip of ignorance, and unfortunately no concerted efforts coming from either the official or non government agencies to illuminate the dark recesses in the people�s mind.
In the last few days, a section of the media has been busy sensationalising the issue of the culture bound syndrome that is common across the globe and known by different names, and Koro in Malaysia is very close to the syndrome reported in Assam as of now.
In the Indian Subcontinent this condition manifests as sex neurosis and is known as the Indian Dhat syndrome. This problem can be addressed by increased literacy and access to sex education.
This culture bound condition has been reported from certain areas in West Assam where everyone is talking about a �new disease that causes shrinking of the male private part.� Here it is worth mentioning that as per studies by Ashadeep, a society for the rehabilitation of the mentally ill, compared to other parts of Assam, in the west Assam districts like Baksa, Chirang, Kokrajhar, etc., more cases of mental illness have been reported in the last couple of years. All these areas have witnessed intense conflict that had led to the rise in the anxiety level, one of the major causes of this syndrome.
Quite unfortunately, the local media hype regarding this syndrome has created an uncalled for situation that has put every educated individual to shame. On a tour around the bustling capital city, which is looked upon as the intellectual hub of the State, one will bump into all sections of people with lime smeared on the ear lobe in an effort to shield oneself from the �dangerous disease�.
Right to the well dressed men and women to the salesman in a sleek mall and the daily wage labourers, everyone is sporting lime spots on their ears and the more paranoid ones are immersing themselves in water holes.
According to Dr Kamal Kalita, Assistant Professor, Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Regional Institute of Mental Health, lack of awareness about this problem which is anxiety related has generated an unfounded fear in a section of the population.
Dr Kalita pointed out that this syndrome afflicts the lower socioeconomic classes that lag behind in all the developmental fronts. �Rumour about the syndrome has caused panic in the rural areas and in Guwahati too, a section has fallen prey to the rumour mongers,� he said.
It may be recalled that this syndrome was reported amongst a certain community during the Assam agitation and called locally as �Jinjinia bemar�.
Conscious section of the population has called for immediate stopping of the rumour mills and disseminating information amongst the masses.