Tomatoes or Tacos for Rs. 100? Did I hear it right?

In a country where the life of a common man holds no value, it is tomatoes which have turned into the most precious point of discussion, as they are now being ‘guarded’ in the literal sense of the word.

Tomatoes- the new jewel to rob?

The news of tomato prices shooting up to Rs. 100 has been the talk of all the towns from Mumbai to Delhi but the latest progression involves how the fruit is being protected by armed guards in Madhya Pradesh. This happened after a recent robbery of 300 kg tomatoes at a wholesale market in Mumbai.

Bank for Tomatoes to Bank upon…

The opposition (Congress) has found a rather unique way to seize the opportunity and protest against the hike by establishing the State Bank of ‘Tomatoes’ in BJP led UP. Cashing upon the helplessness of the common man, the bank offers a 5x return on the deposit of the fruit within a period of six months along with lockers and loans.

Well, the rain seems to have washed off a lot more than crops and livelihood of people across the country. It has also washed off BJP’s efforts to continue pleasing people post the slashed fruit prices after demonetization. Though the government has given an assurance of the prices soon dropping down, but for now, the situation reminds us of the satirical dialogue from 3 idiots, “Paneer to beta, kuch dino mei itti itti thailiyo mei sunaar ki dukan pe bikega”- the only difference being the replacement of ‘paneer’ with ‘tamatar’ in this case. Indeed, as ironical as it may seem, one can afford Mexican chicken Tacos priced at Rs. 50 at a cost lesser than a kg of tomatoes.

‘Happy’ and ‘Independence’ Day, is it?

On the grand day when  the entire nation is enthralled with feelings of celebration, oozing with patriotism and enjoying a day off, there occurs an incident which questions the entire conceptual privilege around the feeling of being ‘free’ or ‘independent’ in India itself.

I am talking about the gruesome rape of a 12 year old girl in Chandigarh, on her way back home after having attended the Indian ‘Independence Day’ celebrations at her school. Not something new to have happened in our country, but on a day like this when social media, phone texts/ messages  are filled with talks of patriotism, of freedom struggle, there lies an under shadowed reality where the struggle continues. It was in Sector 23 where a man  stopped her, pulled her aside and raped her. He also held a knife to scare the little girl.
Sadly, being a multi-party country, what we are best at are talks, lengthy speeches, but no serious execution. The Union Home Ministry recently held a candle-light march to assert the right to safely access public spaces but where does this end? The march was preceded by nothing but a similar incident just days later.

“According to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2015, 8,800 cases of rape on children were registered across the country under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). In 2,227 cases, or 25.3 per cent, the offenders were found to be employers or co-workers”- source: NCRB

These statistics  raise a few questions in mind about How free are we?

Are we free to stroll alone outside our homes?

Are we free to travel alone during the day, let alone night?

The answer is Yes, we are free- but sadly at our own risk! So, what use is this dreaded freedom’ of?

This news neither made me happy nor did it make me feel independent- 70 years down the line, even small children, let alone women, continue to face the same forms of sexual assault and plight which they faced during the British rule and partition.

We indeed are slaves unless freed from crime and the perpetrating criminals. We need to ponder and so do executive, legislature and judiciary- not just for formulations and implementations but also for severe deterrent measures of punishment. By the way, Happy India Independence Day?

 

This ‘Raksha Bandhan’, care beyond gender!

Happy Raksha Bandhan to all of you. And for all those who don’t have a brother, don’t be disheartened, your sister is your best guide, well wisher and protector for life. Today, I thought of coming up with something different. This blog is a thoughtful presentation of what and so much more which the festival can shower us with.

This Raksha Bandhan, let’s discover the emotional story of two sisters. While the younger one (Naina) always missed having a brother, especially as Rakhi came around the corner, the elder one ended up finding love, care and security in her younger sister.

Click here, to watch the video: 

‘Bandhan’- a short film on Raksha Bandhan

This short film is an attempt to convey that a sister can be a hero, a brother, a mother, she can be everything- because you don’t really need a brother to celebrate the feeling of being secure.
And hence, have  alook at this video which sends forth a warm Happy Raksha Bandhan message for all the sisters and brothers in the world. Thank you all,  for the feeling of doing ‘raksha’ or any ‘bandhan’ in the world doesn’t need a gender approval.

Do watch, comment, like or share if its relatable.

India-Where Rain Halts Life…

From East India to the West and from Northern parts of the country to the South, the rains this monsoon have reignited the questionable drainage patterns of the country. It indeed is not just the Global Warming which needs to be blamed but a lot more.

Significant Several Killed/ Stranded due to Floods

Gujarat- The NDRF has come up with the latest statistics of the death toll in Gujarat, the state with the longest coastline, owing to the flood condition since the past few weeks. The alarming number is approximately above 120. The Meteorological Department confirmed that the state’s expected rainfall this monsoon was not more than 900mm and the state has already received more than half of the predicted quantity which is 555mm. With 2 more months remaining for the monsoon to leave, the government faces a strict challenge to not let the death toll multiply further.

Rajasthan- As much of an oxymoron as it may sound, even the ‘driest’ state of the country doesn’t seem to be spared by the menace of monsoon rainfall. State officials have come up with certain latest figures which are suggestive of 25 deaths in the past week.  Tourists also faced the brunt as they remained stranded while Mount Abu recorded the highest rainfall in its history on July 24, 2017, resulting in a flood like situation.

Assam- More than 13,000 people in Assam were left stranded and terribly affected as the flood like situation continues to last since the inception of the rainfall season. Till now, it is an alarming figure of more than 75 lives which have been lost.

Delhi-NCR- As far as the national capital is concerned, the incessant rain around Gurugram and Delhi NCR Region is giving a tough time to the daily office commuters as it is taking them as long as 4 hours to cover a stretch of 20-25 kms.  Besides, the helplessness of the commuters is being cashed upon by various cab service providers as the prices surge up to a high of Rs. 150 for a mere distance of 5kms.

Recurring annual problems- Solutions, maybe?

Having an Un-Blocked drainage and an accountable system could help: The various road management departments in all states of the country must come up with a common Pre-Monsoon Action Plan for the purpose of monitoring the same.  In Delhi, for instance, the PWD, the NDMC and the NHAI must adopt a fresh stance for desilting. Perhaps what can be done is that the trash from cleared drains is put in landfills to solve unnecessary clogging and  dirt, instead of leaving it open as it ends up choking drains once flown back.

Better road designing: A set pattern of roads needs to be followed. Examination suggests that despite having several arterial roads, rain seems to clog water as most of the roads have an error-ed slope construction to be blamed which does not allow the rain water to recede naturally. Slip roads on the other hand tend to flood in the easiest way. While population seems to be on an incessant rise, more stress needs to be laid upon improving the drainage system.

Green patches to be encouraged: The authorities also need to understand the importance of growing green grass patches around trees, local parks and along the roadsides. These green patches act as natural sponges which absorb water that pours down on the planet but what is being done is cementing which takes away a simple effort towards minimising water retention on the roads.

Improved traffic management: The biggest nightmare associated with rains is the traffic ridden roads that comes along with it. Currently, we just have 1,200 police strength as against 5,500 population on the roads.  An improved deployment would enable better water management resulting in less chances of floods.

While the pace of business is at a standstill in various states of India, it is the routine life of people which has come to a halt- whether it is going to school, earning a living, or more so making their ends meet.

Cab/ Taxi rides- Services or Jeopardised Convenience?

By Naina Sharma

GLOBAL PERIL OF CAB DRIVERS 

Incidents of cab drivers acting as assailants, raping or kidnapping passengers is not only common in India but on the foreign land as well. An Uber driver in the city of Florida was recently arrested for indulging in  rape and kidnapping of his female passenger. The driver, who was 57 had centrally locked the car doors even before the passenger tried to jump out.

In similar incidents in India, there have been multiple cases where women have been raped or sexually assaulted by cab drivers. If not that, cab drivers tend to tease passengers by saving their numbers in the contact list and then they end up calling or texting the passengers at odd hours.

The threat isn’t restricted to women alone, quite recently, on July 6, it was a 29-year-old doctor in Delhi who was kidnapped by an Ola driver and his accomplices. He was kept in hiding for a period of 2 weeks post which the police arrested the Ola driver along with other kidnappers.

ANALYSIS OF THE EXISTING PROCEDURES

Since I am a regular rider myself, the curiosity bug within me compelled me to question Ola/ Uber drivers daily about what exactly were the requirements which they had to meet in order to become an Ola/ Uber driver. Ola drivers mostly stated the presence of a driving license as an imperitive while the Uber drivers said it is quite simple to become a Uber driver in the Indian capital. They said that the only requirement essentials for them were their driver license and manageable english speaking skills. There were no background checks involved and a single ID proof along with a few passport sized photographs was more than enough to start driving the Uber cabs.

MANDATORILY STRICTER HIRING PROCESS

The fact that there are hardly any drivers’ licenses which get cancelled in India despite criminal records, there arises a requirement to have a peripheral check. Perhaps, the need of the hour lies in conducting a transparent and multi level hiring process of the cab drivers as a few pointers need to be freshly adhered to-

  • A proper medical checkup analysing the mental state of the applicant is a must as it would ensure minimization of mentally unstable drivers. This is essential since a considerable proportion of rape and molestation cases are triggered through a sick mindset.
  • Examining the habits of the applicant is also essential and if there are even the slightest of implications of him being a frequent drinker or stoner, then the job application must be rejected at the earliest possible instance.
  • A background check which refers to a family scan pertaining to a cross examination of members/ relatives and if there is a police case running against any of their names.

Meanwhile, as passenger safety continues to haunt customers as a key issue, the cab companies have waived off an assurance towards adopting more stringent processes while signing up new drivers as it could have an adversely reverse impact on their business in the longer run.

How much ‘Milk’ to be wasted at this Mahashivratri festival in India?

A print release by the Government suggests- “India ranks first in milk production, accounting for 18.5 per cent of world production, achieving an annual output of 146.3 million tones during 2014-15 as compared to 137.69 million tonnes during 2013-14 recording a growth of 6.26 per cent.”

While milk production is on a steady high, so is milk consumption. Though research suggests a huge disparity between the amount of milk consumed in rural areas and the urban areas, an average consumer in north western states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana spends more than Rs. 500 per month on milk. Undoubtedly, milk is the nation’s favorite since it is not only associated with being a source of nourishment and protein, but also as a means of displaying appreciation and dissent.

GENERIC OBLIVION NEEDS STATISTICAL WAKE UP CALL – TEMPLES AND ACTORS EARLIER, ROADS NOW!

The tradition of offering tonnes of milk to the ‘Shivling’ (during Mahashivratri which is almost on the cards) and other idols of Gods and Goddesses has long been under the baits of discussion. Reports are suggestive of how gallons of milk is wasted in the name of offering it to Gods while millions die of hunger each day. The World Bank estimates India as one of the highest ranking countries in the world in terms of malnutrition statistics.  Another startlingly alarming fact is that 10 million people succumb to death every year, owing to chronic hunger and various other hunger-related diseases. And to put facts under a clearer slate of reasons, 92% of these deaths are a result of hunger prevailing under normal and ‘celebratory’ circumstances of the land of festivals. Only eight percent are the victims of hunger due to calamities such as high-profile earthquakes, floods, droughts and so on.

When temples weren’t enough, we jubliated towards decorating milk on the posters of God-like celebrities such as Rajnikanth just prior to his film release. And still when our obsession with milk didn’t seem enough, we came up with downpour of gallons of milk all across city roads like those of Ahmedabad on 6th July since a bunch of farmers wanted to protest.

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MERE HYPE OR CAN MILK INDEED TREAT MALNUTRITION? 

According to experts, carbohydrates, protein, fats and vitamins are the 4 essentials which save us from mal-nourishment. Surprisingly, just 250 ml cup of milk per day contains 8.38 g fat, 11.65 g carbohydrate, 8.3 g protein and is an excellent source of Vitamin B12, has 5% Vitamin A and 29% Calcium. Furthermore, 87% of milk is water and hence a vital indirect source of nutritional solvents.

I can now quite confidently say that my argument is not just another plain one hanging in the thin air, but yes, even a cup of milk per day can facilitate the inherent battle of the internally plagued and malnourished India.

A single metric tonne of milk is equivalent to 1,000,000 ml. This quantity is sufficient enough to feed 4,000 people Below the Poverty Line. Though there isn’t a confirmed statistic on the number of tonnes of milk wasted annually in the name of Mahashivratri season and protests, the fact that there are thousands of huge temples across the country, reassures that the milk wastage is definitely beyond a single unit of metric tonne. Just imagine! How many malnourished children can be treated with this amount? 4,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 or more?

WHAT’S BEEN DONE ISN’T ENOUGH!

In 2014, Madras High Court had passed an order over a PIL that sought to hold the wastage of  milk. The court bench said: “The commodity should be used for the benefit of young children besides offering to the deities.” The bench however, conceded that it could not put restrictions on the rituals under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department.

On the other hand, some are not willing to give up. Care takers of Saketri Shiv Temple in Chandigarh came up with an initiative to utilize the offered milk in 2015.  The officials stated that people usually got milk in pouches. The temple collected these pouches only to distribute after heating the milk. The temple volunteers collected 170 quintals of milk at the rate of Rs 38.35 per kg for offering. About the same quantity of milk is donated by the devotees which comes up to be 350 quintals. Besides this, 60,000 bananas were also arranged for devotees.

Though an impressive step, it hasn’t been replicated by many. The stress must lay on prohibiting the wastage of milk, it can save lives and it has been validated enough. Ours being a progressive society, must save its millions of kids who die of hunger, when its completely in our hands to move beyond our religious obsessions. How progressive is our India where 10 million hungry people die annually? And, how much milk do you plan to offer to idols this Mahashivratri?

GST or no, here are 5 immortal ways to Save Money

By Naina Sharma

The much controversial GST just rolled out, and besides being happy or sad, it has left most of us and even the opposition (INC) confused. Other than the tax rate, the question pestering our minds is whether we’ll end up saving or splurging. While spending and then worrying about the expenses is a never ending process, no matter how happy or sad the GST turns out to be, knowing the right ways to save does the trick.
I have come up with a few interesting day to day techniques which will please your wallet !
Let’s have a look at few.

1. Pick up a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables: This will indirectly keep you away from visiting restaurants which will not only save you from earning those extra calories but also from paying those heavy bills.

2. Have house parties instead: Let’s admit it. Tax is tax! Whether it’s 30% or 18%. Partying outside the house not only leaves you compelled to order food and beverages on high price but you are also forced to pay those extra bucks.
All you can do instead is prepare TAX-FREE snacks at home, served with the affection of homeliness and tossed with sense of a love. Eventually, you end up earning brownie points amongst your friends/relatives and a few more coins in your clutch.

3. Quit Smoking: One cigarette on an average (of all brands) costs Rs. 12 as per an approximation. An average smoker smokes 4-5cigarettes per day which makes it a total of Rs. 48 or 60 per day ! If we were to equate this figure with a month, 50*30=Rs. 1500. An average smoker spends Rs. 1500 on smoking alone whereas for a chain smoker this figure might be ten times and may mount to Rs. 15000 (which generally is the salary of a huge range of workers). Spending so much on smoking -something which causes deterioration of mental and physical health, being concurrently least productive is an act of utter foolishness.
However, if you plan on quitting  those smoky tabacoo sticks, you can end up SAVEing this money too and probably pamper yourself with a weekend spa or road trip.

4. Refrain from using those shopping apps: Let’s face it, those lucrative offers from the shopping apps installed in your phone are way more addictive than anything else on the planet. The way these apps trap you with a flat 60% or Buy 2, Get 1 Free scheme, ends up making you spend more than you would have usually done. A few of my friends spend Rs. 20,000 per month on shopping online- mostly because it’s instant and convenient. So, everyone out there, especially women, if you feel you are gradually losing on your savings and turning into an online shopaholic, stop for a while, introspect the orders of the last few months and try giving up on those apps for a while, you wouldn’t lose much on fashion. Trust me!

5. Pool in while you travel: Petrol and Diesel prices keep juggling every now and then but one thing which can help you is- opting for the greener way. 2 things you can’t deny are the fact that your environment needs less petrol in the air and you need more money in your hand. So, what better way to kill two birds with one stone?