When All is Left, Everything is Right!

Aug 13, 2010.

“Everyone is born right-handed. Only the greatest overcome it.”… Yes I’m referring to the Southpaws here - the ‘Lefties’. 

On August 13, 1976 an organization known as ‘Lefthanders International’ first declared this day a holiday. The organization served as a source of information for left-handers. It also sold left-handed products for several years before going out of business.

On August 13, 1992 the left-handers Club in UK launched the International Left-handers' Day, an annual event when left-handers celebrate their sinistrality (technical term for left-handedness) and increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed. These events have contributed substantially to the general awareness of the difficulties and frustrations left-handers experience in everyday life, and have successfully led to improved product design and greater consideration of their needs by the right-handed majority - although there is still a long way to go.

As we celebrate the 35th International Left-handers’ Day, let’s take a look at the concept of left-handedness and how lefties have managed to shine in the right-dominated world.

Research shows that seven to ten percent of the adult population is left-handed. Left or right-handedness is an attribute of humans defined by their unequal distribution of fine motor skill between the two hands.

Left-handedness refers to the preference for the left hand over the right for everyday activities such as writing. But writing is not always the right indicator to judge whether a person is left-handed or not as some people who are left-handed write with their right hand and use their left for every other work.

World is Built for Right-handers

The world hasn't been too kind to the lefties. From a trivial thing like a pair of scissors to that complex contraption called the mouse sitting blissfully on your right (presuming you are using one), everything has been designed for the right-handers. Take for instance a pair of scissors. If you happen to be a lefty, you'd probably know what I am referring to. The tool is arranged so that the line being cut along can be seen by a right-handed user, but is obscured to a left-handed. Furthermore, the handles are often moulded in a way that is difficult for a left-hander to hold, and extensive use in such cases can lead to varying levels of discomfort. By the time you are done with it, you would be wondering whether it would have been easier to use a knife!

And then there's that computer mouse which, if proper care is not taken of as to its placement, you will find yourselves twisting to a most uncomfortable position just for that one tiny click, and added to that is the very shape of the mouse itself. But thank god for that blessed soul who spared a thought to the lefties and added the option to interchange the function of the mouse buttons at least.

And do think of the little kids for whom learning the alphabet itself is a herculean task, leave alone the trauma they might suffer if the teacher is not considerate of their left-handedness. In fact, even in the late 20th century, some schools still discouraged children from writing with their left hand, often seriously affecting the child's development. 

Plus Points

Among the most interesting facts about left-handers, the most common one is the brain dominance theory. In left-handers the brain is cross wired so the right hemisphere controls the left-handed side of the body and vice versa in case of right handers. Right-handed people operate in the left side of the brain while the left-handed use the right side. So the left-handers can proudly declare that they are always in the ‘right mind’...!

It is also true that lefties have managed to excel in creative fields like arts, media, music and so on compared to their right counterparts.  In sports, left-handers have always had an edge, be it boxing or wrestling or fencing or tennis. All of a sudden you're faced with a someone who doesn't use his/her hands the usual way, and you are literally 'left' wondering how to tackle the person.

Prominent Lefties

It is pretty surprising that most of the famous personalities, celebrities, sportsmen and politicians have been or are left-handed. Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi was left-handed.The current President of the United States, Barack Obama, is left-handed.  Former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush are also lefties, so also Nelson Mandela. Leonardo Da Vinci was a left-handed artist. Famous physicist, mathematician, astronomer Isaac Newton, entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates, actors Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Rosan are all lefties.

In the world of sports the lefties rule. Sachin Tendulkar (though he bats right-handed), Wasim Akram, Gary Sobers, Clive Lloyd, Brian Lara, Saurav Ganguly, Yuvaraj Singh...the list of cricketers is endless. Ace tennis star Maria Sharapova is also a leftie. Hollywood’s hit couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, both are left-handed. This way there is an endless list of famous figures who are lefties.

They say left-handed people are lucky, and going by that illustrious list, it may perhaps be true for all you know. In fact, you might even feel tempted to pick up that pen with your left hand and start the process of conversion right now! Who knows, may be our stars too may shift from right to left and prove to be lucky!!

I would just like to add one more thing which my Psychology teacher Shalini Aiyappa had told us while explaining about this left-right businees: “Who says you cannot use your both hands in a similar manner? If children are trained in the appropriate way right from childhood they will be able to perform every task using both hands. Practice is what counts.” 

So start practicing, because, though we may be satisfied with our right or left-handedness, it would surely be quite an achievement if we could manage to write neatly with either hand. And just imagine the benefits - if the right hand writes like a crow's leg, the writing of the left one may at least look like its head.

But jokes apart, it's a day dedicated to the left-handers, and if you happen to be one of them, feel special just for being among the elite few of the world. And if you are not a lefty, don't worry, you dominate the world.

Veekshita Arasa - Archives:

by Veekshitha Arasa
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Comment on this article

  • Chandrakanth Pai Maroor, Mangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    Left handers are wired to the right hemisphere of the brain and right handers the vice versa. So the left handers can always claim they are in the 'Right' mind !

  • prathviraj, M(b)angalore

    Wed, Aug 18 2010

    very nice article...superb....me also lefty....

  • J D A mumbai, mumbai

    Sun, Aug 15 2010

    It is true the lefties are more into creative fields,
    I am rightie but i hav practiced to write and use the computer mouse in left
    People who comments that their elders have chnged them to use right can now also practice in using left
    Fact is if you use left hand the right brain will be more active and the right hemisphere of the brain has more of creative sense

  • Ruchir Agarwal, mangalore

    Sat, Aug 14 2010

    makes interesting reading.I dint know all these famous leadors were lefty.
    i am a right hander but only while playing cricket i was a lefty

  • Asha Vas, Mlr,Riyadh

    Sat, Aug 14 2010

    Nice article,quite interesting.ME & my daughter both left handed.My mom changed my writing forcibly to right hand,my grany used to comment "whenever she has to offer water or juice to the guests she use lt hand which is very disgraceful" My mom had no option than diverting my brain connections.But when i learnt my daughter is also lt handed i searched for articles abt lt handers,discussed with school teachers,& thanks to those teachers who told me dont force her to change this inborn skill,she will excel if she fucus on her goals.this was a good message & today my daughter does everything in lt hand perfectly,she is not lacking any confidence either.
    Its a good article Ms.Arasa,great research as well.

  • syble, Mangalore

    Sat, Aug 14 2010

    baba might b interesting for u read leisurely

  • irene, niddodi, Bejai

    Fri, Aug 13 2010

    I remembering writing with my left hand until I was 7, my teacher used to beat me with the wooden scale on my knuckles, every time she would come near me, I used to get so scared I would change from left to right this went on for 2 years and now I am writing with my right hand, but I can still write with my left hand too. Actually my writing looks better with my left hand. There was pressure from my family also I think to change, somehow they taught me to eat and write with right hand. but all my other activities, cutting, washing I feel better with the left but I do not find it difficult to use my right hand either.But I know I have more strength in my left h and.
    thanks for the article, made me feel special. When I watch the Presidents write with the left hand I always think why could not I?
    Anyways that is all in the fast, God Bless those Nuns who used to beat me on the knuckles, in those days they did not know any better.

  • y.jnaneshwara rao, Mangalore/USA

    Fri, Aug 13 2010

    Very good article.Thanks to Veekshita.I am a lefty.Of course,my parents and teachers were forced me to stop usage of left hand and given me of all sorts of punishment including burning one of my fingers,i was told ,but somehow i continued.My son also a lefty.He is a software Engineer working in MNC at Bangalore having innovative ideas for the development/ improvement in this field.I am a retired Bank utive.I am very proud of myself and my lefty son.Wish you all the best Veekshitha.

  • Flavy Dcosta, Dubai.,

    Fri, Aug 13 2010

    Thank you very much. Nice article. I remember my family members used to tell me to change the habit of writing in left hand but i could not do that. Even i used to feel shame. Today i am proud of myself. One thing i can say "Lefties have special talents. I always take the right decession.

  • shanti nazareth, Mangalore/ Dubai

    Fri, Aug 13 2010

    Very good article. It made good reading for me as my son who is 8 years old is left handed. No one else in my family is. We never tried to change him and never will. You should see the way he has fun eating athome and when out too. As long as he is happy thats what matters to us. And yes he loves to play football and his sis always says he will be good at sports. I am very proud of my left handed son. Wait till I tell my son that there's a day dedicated to them he will tell all his friends and yes very proudly!

  • Smitha Mascarenhas, Mangalore/Dubai

    Fri, Aug 13 2010

    Dear Veekshita, Good article. It feels so good that there is a day earmarked for the lefthanders.
    I am a proud leftie but let me tell u that it has not been so easy being a leftie. In the childhood, the fellow classmates as well as some insensitive teachers used to ridicule "DAMMA KAI" may be that prompted me use right hand also for some of the activities except writing. I remember some of the relatives advising my mother to beat and change my lefthandedness in the early stages itself otherwise there will be a bigger problem in later stages.

    Now again I am facing same kind of suggestions from relatives and friends with regard to my daughter, who is also a leftie (to beat and correct her). But,we as parents understand that it is not a disability or disease and sure that one day she will prove the world wrong and be the best in whatever field she choses as destiny. Afterall most of the prominent and famous personalities are lefties.
    As you said, many of the day-to-day instruments are manufactured keeping only righthanders in mind. But what I have noticed is most of the lefties are so adaptive that they can use both the hands to their convenience - bet the righties do that?

    So all lefties, have lots of fun on your day and once again Veekshita, may God bless you.

  • Jeewan D'souza, Mangalore

    Fri, Aug 13 2010

    Very nice article.. Gud one Veekshitha


    Fri, Aug 13 2010

    I am a lefty.but using right for writing because when i was small my sis beat me on my hand when i use left.one thing is sure those who are lefties they will use more left side like eye,hand,leg.
    Even you can see they will use their left leg as first step for walking.They are more clever.smart.intelligent,brainy.One advise for lefties if you are lefty don't ever use right like Sachin.When you go for higher studies it will affect your speed,hand will pain while writing believe me.Happy lefties day for all my lefty Friends.

  • Avinash,RJ - Associate Producer, 92.7Bigfm, Udupi/Kundapur/Mangalore

    Fri, Aug 13 2010

    Got to know the plus and minus points of right and left handies.. Veekshitha, good research!!Will use certain information in my shows as well.

    "left-handers can proudly that they are always in the ‘right mind’...!..."(Lefties should feel proud after reading this sentence)..and Veekshitha, you write anything, i am fine with that!!!!!))


  • Jossy Moras, Bangalore (Mangalore)

    Fri, Aug 13 2010

    Very nice article!!! It makes us feel today. I also like the title - "When All is Left, Everything is Right!"

    Keep rocking!!!

  • Antony Herbert Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney,Australia

    Fri, Aug 13 2010

    Interesting article Veekshita, which is very close to my heart as well, for I am a leftie, one of those who fall into the minority. The life, being a leftie, though was not all that easy and simple for me, especially during my childhood and teen years during 1950`s, and as you say, being leftie used to be taboo in those years, and not looked upon kindly and favourably. I still remember my Mother used to scold me and beat me up, and when I still did not change, she changed her tactics and used to coax me up and promise me so many nice things, if I changed my habit of using left hand, specially for writing. The same was the case at school during my elementary school years - my teachers used to beat me up for using the left hand for writing - but somehow I never changed, so also my elder brother from whom I picked up the habit. My younger siblings also followed my example, though some of them later changed to right hand. These days it`s not a big deal, and as far as one doesn`t eat with the left hand, the lefties are well accepted especially in this part of the world that I live - the percentage of lefties in fact is quite high over here. Yes, you are right Veekshita, when you say that, we the lefties have some special talents, especially when it comes to playing sports etc, though intellectually, it is debatable, and I am not sure whether we are any better. Thanks Veekshita for an nice article which is timely on the "Left-hander Day" - nice to hear such a day existed.

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