Why Left Hand is right?
Despite 73 years of Independence, the ‘Left Hand’ in India is yet to obtain its official freedom. Growing up in an orthodox Indian family, I was given early education on ethics and the moral code of conduct that I should follow as an Indian. The first rule was “Anything Left Is forbidden”. I was taught to accept the gift from the right hand, pass objects with the right hand, eat with the right hand, and touch the feet of elders as blessings with the right hand. The left hand was to be used to wipe my bottom after addressing my bathroom urgency, remove shoes from my feet, and perform other actions that were considered ‘dirty.'
Why is ‘left hand’ evil?
The belief that left is ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ can be traced back to the Latin word, ‘sinistra’ which means left. In Middle Ages, the left-handed people lived in fear of getting accused of practicing witchcraft. The evil was associated with the left as the left-handed gestures were used to symbolize the devil. As time passed, people started to associate left-handedness with disability. The parents of left-handed individuals had to force their wards to use their right hand instead of left in the fear of social exclusion. According to psychiatrists, forcing an individual to change their natural inclination, such as coercing the use of the right-hand instead of the left can have detrimental effects on an individual’s cognitive development.
The greatest example of the times was King George VI, who was born left-handed. The Oscar-winning film “The King’s Speech” is based on King George VI’s life and it portrays how forcing him to be right-handed became the cause for his stammering.
Myths on left-handedness
1. Mentally unstable
There’s a common belief prevailing in society for centuries that left-handed people are mentally unstable. Researchers have found that the mix-handedness of lefties or southpaws can lead to an increase in the risk of getting diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or certain learning difficulties like dyslexia. However, these studies should not be mistaken as applicable to all lefties.
2. Lefties are gifted
Although, being gifted is a positive connotation. But, it can also be sometimes considered a prejudice. Lefties have a dominant right-brain, the side of the brain is associated with creativity, emotion, and intuition. However, if we compare the righties and lefties, both have the equal potential to be creative and emotionally intelligent.
3. Handedness is a choice
Studies have shown that the dominant hand of individuals can be detected in a mother’s womb through ultrasound. The preference of a baby to be right or left hand is already decided in the womb based on their brain development of the dominant side, either left or right hemisphere of the brain. Once the baby is out of the mother’s womb they develop according to what has already been decided in the womb. Hence, individuals have fewer choices, but, sometimes coercion can change an individual’s preference.
4. Left-handed people are dangerous
According to a study from Yale University, people with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia are much more likely to be left-handed than those with mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder. This doesn’t mean that all lefties in the world are dangerous and you should start to maintain distance from them. These studies are conducted to find biomarkers to identify the illness and find a necessary treatment for the same.
5. Identical twins have same-handedness
Identical twins can have same-handedness, however, they can also have different-handedness. This applies even to monozygotic twins who’re considered the most identical human beings in the world.
6. Gene factor
The genes cannot be considered as the ultimate factor for the handedness of an individual. Left-handed parents can produce right-handed offspring(s) and vice-versa.
According to reports, about 10 percent of the population in the world is left-handed. Being a minority, the left-handers have to fight against prejudices and social stigma prevailing in society. In 1976, Dean R. Campbell, the founder of Left-Handers International Inc. observed the first International Left-Handers Day on August 13. Since then, every year, August 13 is celebrated as International Left-Handers Day.
In 2016, The Left Hand Shop became the first store in India that exclusively sold products meeting the needs of lefties. The founder of the company Pavitter Singh was inspired by his son’s struggle. Singh’s son was born a lefty and looking at his son struggling to find products in the market catering to lefties, he decided to start his own company in India. Today, the company sells school stationery, cricket equipment, playing cards, premium dough, utility knife, and other essential left-hand concentrated products under local, international well as well its brand, MyLeft.