Left-Handedness – Indian Perspective

India has a great past and a history of thousands of years. Religion and religious scriptures played a significant role in shaping Indian social Psyche. Though Religion came into existence as a guiding principle to Life on the path of enlightenment and for the progress of the society towards a civilized existence, in the later stages of the History,  many  of these  principles were distorted and degenerated into Socio-cultural Superstitions. Taboo of the use of the LEFT-HAND in many Day-to-Day activities was one such misbelief or superstition that came into existence and has stayed as,  by and large, a permanent fixture in the Indian social mind. In India, as may be elsewhere  in the world, Left-handedness was not considered as NORMAL or NATURAL.
Majority of human beings use their right hand for most of the daily activities, who are termed as Right-handers. But there are a certain percentage of individuals who find it convenient and natural to use their left hand for daily activities. They are Left-handers. Their number is small (10 to 15%) as compared to Right-handers. This condition is prevailing since time immemorial. Even then it has always been a presumption of the society (especially the parents and the teachers) that a child can be trained to use whichever hand we like, considering it as a matter of practice only. This is not true. Handedness or Hand Preference is an inborn trait. It is not a habit. It is related to brain and Neurological Make-up of the person and can never be changed. (Left-handers thus become World’s largest unorganised minority).

Social Reaction:
Left-handedness has been looked at with a lot of curiosity, doubt, apprehension and as something dirty, inauspicious, evil or sinister. At the same time the fields of Sports and Arts are filled with innumerable Left-Handers who have excelled beyond imagination and more and more Left-Handers are deliberately included in sports teams. Only in cities and in some of the educated families, Left-handers are either treated normally or with praise. This contradictory attitude of the society is an intrinsic part of the life of most Left-Handers. e.g.
For religious purpose, left hand is banned and there are many taboos against its use for Pooja (worship ritual), Prasad (Holy food), Aadaab, Salaam, Cross etc.
Many-a-times Left-handed daughters-in-law, (especially in rural India) are either not accepted or considered as a bad omen and are harassed in many ways. They are not allowed to use left hand for cooking, serving etc. the hand is branded (burnt) or hit on to discourage its use.
Many-a-times a matrimonial alliance could be rejected if the bride-to-be (or even at times the groom-to-be) is a Left-hander.
Children are discouraged and forcibly obstructed from using left hand for writing, eating and many daily activities, not only in rural and backward areas but in modern urban societies as well. Their left hands are tied behind their backs or in a bag or are hit on the knuckles or applied Chilly powder to or branded (burnt) to discourage its use.

This has a long-lasting negative effect on the psyche & the overall personality of the child, which can inhibit a natural healthy growth and affect mental and physical efficiency.
It may lead to problems like-Speech disorders (Stammering, Stuttering & sometimes Dyslexia),
Psychological deficiencies (lack of confidence, negativism and clumsiness, feeling of defeat & being alienated, dirty or inauspicious).
This may even lead to certain medical problems like allergies, fits, bed-wetting, irritations & reactions to foods and medicines, and Auto Immune Disorders.
It also hinders the natural development of psychomotor & manual skills like co-ordinated use of fingers for many daily activities (Writing, cooking, drawing, painting, sewing, knitting and the like).

More Hazards:
On top of it all, every left-hander has to live in a world designed exclusively for right-handers, they being in majority. In industrial environment, all the machinery, tools and equipment is designed for right-handed use. This creates unimaginable hazards for a left-handed worker. It affects his/her efficiency, quantity and quality of output and most important– he/she may meet with minor or major accidents. These things go unnoticed, as this point is never thought of by the management and the worker themselves too.

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