A League for Lefties
A left-handed wag once said 'If the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and if the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, then left-handed people are the only ones in their right minds.' While the implication of that statement is open to debate, it is an undisputed fact that in a world operating on the philosophy of 'majority wins', left-handers have always been shunned as morbid curiosities by right-handers.

At first glance, 'shunned as morbid curiosities' seems too harsh a turn of phrase to describe what most of us have unquestioningly accepted as one of Nature's whims. However, probe deeper and the bias against left handers is indeed shocking. For example, in ancient Japan, it was sufficient cause for a divorce if a wife was found to be left-handed. Again, the Latin word for left is 'sinister', but gradually the word has been connoted to mean corrupt, harmful, menacing or foreboding. In India, the 'inauspicious' left-hand must be left out when it comes to performing pujas, eating, or serving food, if one wishes to avoid eternal damnation. In order to combat such energetic opposition to a natural phenomenon, eight years ago two Punekars, Bipinchandra Chaugule and Uday Pendse founded the Association of Lefthanders, Asia's first platform for southpaws.

Eliminating the prejudice and superstition surrounding left-handers is one of the two main aims of this association. The 500-member strong organisation publishes a newsletter, Leftword, and also arranges lectures in schools and at PTAs to convince the world that left-handers are normal people, not abnormal freaks. Children are the focus of the society's work, and one of their main concerns is to prevent the forcible conversion of left-handers into right-handers, as is done by most parents. "That," fumes Chaugule, "is like asking the child to change the colour of his skin. In addition to the psychological repercussions of such a move, it is also biologically detrimental to the child's development, often leading to retarded manual skills, stuttering and inarticulate speech. In spite of that, parents continue to force children to switch hands, resorting to tactics like rapping the knuckles or tying the offending hand behind the child's back."

The Association's second objective is to encourage research into this neglected branch of biology. They have discovered that southpaws perform better than right-handers do at sports, music, languages, art, and activities requiring intuitive skills. Another important finding relates to the intriguing fact that drugs like antibiotics evoke different reactions in the bodies of left-handers and right-handers. Chaugule believes that there is much scope for further research in this field.

There are several subtle forms of discrimination against southpaws--scissors, knives, rulers, door knobs--all have been designed in ways that leave lefthanders bewildered. Even the left to right flow of the scripts of most of the world's languages proves painful and cramping to the lefthander wielding a pen. However, the Association of Lefthanders doesn't expect the righthander-dominated world to change its ways-just its views. For lefties also have rights.

If you belong to one of the 15 per cent of the world's population that can proudly claim to be left-handed, log onto the Association's website at: http://www.geocities.com/lefthandersind Or http://education.vsnl.com/lefthanders

The Association meets at the
ex-Fergussanian Hall, Fergusson College on the 13th of each month at 6:30 p.m. You may also contact Mr. Chaugule at 5520105 / 5536434 or at cbipin@vsnl.com

Ananya Lodaya

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