Jail inmates set to adapt holistic way of life

Imagine a life confined to imprisonment for years and sometimes a life time in that predicament. A person is removed from society, cut off from family and friends and turns into a lonely soul made into a convict to repent for his actions. The very thought conjures up images of sad people living aimlessly within the four walls of the prison they are housed in. With no hope of respite from boredom, loneliness and guilt, and in absence of a support or care system, their situation is indeed worrisome.

But this is the story that every jail in the country tells, where inmates slowly see their lives waste away, day by day, hour by hour. One is forced to wonder why jails are called 'correction centres'?

For those suffering such a fate getting through a routine day is indeed a mammoth task, with nothing to do but wait out their years of punishment period awarded by the law of the land, albeit fairly or unfairly. In such a situation even a slightest diversion is a welcome respite.

And that’s what Organic India, a Lucknow based, internationally known company manufacturing herbal products did. The top officials and staff of the company not only visited the District Jail and the inmates, but interacted with them as well to help break the lackluster mundane routine the prisoners facing detention follow. 

They company officials through a unique initiative stepped in and changed the schedule of the prisoners for a day. Among the different activities organized for the prisoners and the prison staff alike an education of sorts on stress management and the role of a clean green environment was also impressed upon within the prison barracks.

Explains Krishan Gupta, Managing Director and Global CEO, Organic India, “Our Indian system of holistic approach dictates that we organize our life in such a way that it helps us to take  a step ahead day by day towards our goal for self realization. What better way to start than introspecting on ourselves? I believe the one’s who need such an approach the most are those who have lost everything due to their actions. Thus we chose the Lucknow Jail to educate inmates about a healthy and holistic living and integrating their senses with a clean and green environment.”

Gupta believes that, simple activities like these are very important as it keeps people in facing a prison term in touch with the society and once they are released, their new approach to life helps them integrate with the society better.

Thus to begin with, the prisoners in the jail at Mohanlalganj got to taste the famous tulsi tea of the company. This was followed by distribution of herbal supplements for stomach disorders, to regulate their system ravaged by stress and strain of a life gone wrong owing to negative emotions like anger, hate, guilt and aggression. This was backed up by discussions and debates on benefits of living a holistic life within a clean and green environment.

Says Gupta, “We are sponsoring the month’s supply of tulsi tea and some medicinal herbs for stomach and bowel care for the prisoners in the District jail. This is important as the benefits of tulsi and herbs made by it will be evident only by regular use. The stress levels of the inmates are so high and tulsi is an effective way to manage that with regular use. The enthusiasm and happiness on the faces of the prisoners as they sipped the tea and took part in discussions with us was indeed a treat. This only brought home the point that no one in our society thinks of organizing such events for those who have been shunned by the society. Such initiatives must be taken more often.”

To ensure that the prisoners have a regular supply a month on as well, Organic India with support from the District Jail authorities will begin planting tulsi shrubs in the barracks of the prisoners and over 100 neem trees on the barren wastelands within the jail premises. The entire activity will be completed by July 12, 2012.

But what makes this activity really unique is that the prison inmates themselves will plant and nurture the tulsi shrubs and neem saplings, thus making a beginning to a healthy daily routine in harmony with their surroundings.

Post a month, based on the daily feedback that is being provided by jail authorities to Organic India on status of the emotional and physical well being of the prison inmates after a month of using the tulsi products, a similar event is being planned on July 5, 2012 at the District Jail. 

The aim would be to further reiterate the importance of a stress management through natural and holistic approach towards life. How successful it will be we will have to wait and see.  

However the current event came to a close with tusli malas and jute bags being distributed to the prison inmates and staff and making them all pledge to give up use of plastic and polythene!

Now that’s one healthy start! 

Anjali Singh
Photo credit: Anjali Singh
(Anjali is a senior journalist and writes for Citizen News Service (CNS). She is also the founder-Director of Saaksham Foundation)