Guinness Book of Records – Unreal

GuinnessWhat is the point in creating a record that 60 odd thousand undertook Yoga Lessons in one day in one place on 21 Jun 2015 in Delhi. So many qualifiers for the count but the major anomaly .. it has no relationship to the population …

Likewise we hold other world records:

1. Highest number of malnourished children
2. Highest number of female child infanticide in the history of world
3. Highest number of people living below poverty line (about more than 500 million)
4. Highest number of farmers committing suicide in anywhere in the world.
5. Largest number of people who do not have access to drinkable water.
6. Number one in Global Hunger Index. Some states in India are worse than Sudan and Somalia.

Anything else? Well there are many others

My recommendation Guinness book of records must put a denominator and find an index or a percentage to enable a factual comparison or achievement … for example how many eggs one eats in one hour … or what percentage of people go to office on bicycles … etc

An open letter to Somebody

To          Shree Traffic Handling and Roads Departments Gurgaon / Panchkula

Sub :     Traffic related concerns in Gurgaon and surroundings Dear Sir, A very large number of residents from all strata of life in Gurgaon have prioritized traffic and parking as two of the significant challenges to their lives in the city of Gurgaon and its surrounding. They consider traffic as a dangerous risk to lives over and above the shortage of water, electricity and sewage management.  Here is the summary of people woes and recommendations in this aspect. These should be merged with the Smart city plans that the government might be thinking about. Some of the challenges are independent of whether the city is smart or dumb. However, the points mentioned below should be elaborated by independent location based teams before the overall traffic place can be developed.

The Challenges

  1. Signage – Most of the signage on the highway and other roads is very low in height above the road. It is generally covered by branches making it invisible. Exit for the international and domestic airport from the highway is an exercise in deception. This is fine but the person who designed the location of placing these signboard should be accredited in guiding the traffic to just the wrong directions due to the signage that he placed. For this I will be willing to help, since I have seen these boards in foreign countries and there is not even a single misdirection in those countries. They are all uniformly oriented.
  2. Insufficient lane cross over prevention – The major inflow and outflow in Gurgaon city is heavily disorganized which leads to dangerous situations of traffic arriving in opposite directions near the ex-toll gates and near the Hero Honda area. At the ex-toll gates we also need traffic breaking lines or lanes, so that the vehicles are not tempted to change lanes at that high speed which is typical of a highway high speed.
  3. Inappropriate infrastructural planning – It is strange that one has to drive almost a mile to take a U turn to return to the Ambiance Mall, if someone was to come from the Jaipur side. Likewise the side road that runs parallel to the highway near the Income tax office is one way and for people coming from the Udyog Vihar have to drive unnecessarily wasting substantial fuel and their prime time onwards IFFCO chowk, when they actually want to go to Delhi side. It is natural that traffic congestion takes place.
  4. Entry-Exit on Highway – At all entries and exits to the Delhi-Jaipur highway, the traffic entry and exit is in real chaos, however the traffic arriving from the Vodafone metro station, intending to join the Delhi direction highway takes the cake. The driver is confronted even from a regularized traffic coming in opposite directions. Many vehicles divert towards the Cyber city area at all open recesses. This can be considered as one of the most humorous designs of the highway.
  5. Idiotic Traffic routing – Another idiotic design of traffic is near the Sikanderpur metro station, where no one really knows in which direction he should move towards his intended destination and in which lane he must align his vehicle. This is a great example of how a crisscross junction should not be made on the roads.
  6. Chaotic traffic directing – I would be failing in my list, if I did not mention that in spite of a 5 or years promise, no one has taken the effort of preventing the crisscrossing of vehicles near the Bristol area.
  7. Entry / Exit on School Gates – Congestion and flouting of traffic rules by school buses and parent cars at the entry of exit is present at almost all schools. Even if there might not be adequate figures to support this risk, one can see brawls almost at every school every day. What a great exhibition of civic sense we have provided for the young adult? Can we expect them to become good drivers in future in their lives? The schools and hospitals must be asked to give traffic plans for themselves.
  8. Amoebic potholes – Gurgaon must be leading the country in possessing pot holes and ditches that grow faster than they are repaired; if ever. We witness repairs only near the election times. The road tax that is levied, and the toll that the citizens pay should be utilized to repair the potholes overnight, every weekend, so that predictive driving can be resorted to by the drivers. Today a driver does not know where there will be a new pot hole this morning. He does not even think about following the lanes, because for all he knows, the lane may have a dangerous ditch ahead. I am also amazed at the indifference of the public that no one ever questions the road department about what their monthly plans for the repairs are. A separate list can be attached of the very troublesome spots, and we should not hear the argument that everything will be OK after the rapid metro or the road, is completed. On completion new developments would be scheduled and the residents will continue to suffer for their life time.
  9. Reverse Direction Driving – It might be a fact that there are no mechanisms, or there are illegitimate ones, for checking the issue of licences to drivers. Their illiterate performance is visible on the roads. Lane changing and reverse direction driving is the worst of these failures, and these should be controlled. The later one should invoke jail. At many places, particularly at the entrance to shopping areas and office complexes, drivers presume that going in the reverse direction is an acceptable norm instead of going further up to the designated U turn. This is a life threatening offence, even practiced by the traffic police vehicles.
  10. Street vending – The government should plan properly the 25 % street vending which is the norm to promote rehabilitation. Foot path encroachment clearly indicates that the police and authorities are protecting the offenders. The same can perhaps apply to the raising of temporary but glamorously illuminated Liquor distribution shops. If the government needs to gain from the excise duties on liquor, by all means, but not at the cost of children getting exposed to the sight of Aahaatas and liquor stores on a daily basis. When asked direction, children tend to give the liquor vending kiosk as the reference point.

Actions and Decisions

For each of the identified problem areas, the traffic routing should be marked on the road as well as on the sides to facilitate the moving traffic. This is a simple exercise if the departments do not contradict each other. License checks are a must but the punishment should be like foreign countries. A traffic policeman can challan a vehicle or individual but he has no authority to collect the fine. It has to be deposited in the court or banks. The number of challans made by the constable should be computed and analyzed. The roads department should have a monthly schedule of repairs to the pot holes.

Yours sincerely  Mike Rana

(Editor Esprit d’ Metro Magazineon wordpress and Facebook)

Adulteration – The mess that we are in

Contamination, adulteration and pollution are three legs of the spider that spins cobwebs of our helplessness towards health and survival. Can we deal with them?

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Recently someone questioned me about the relative priority I give to cleanliness of air, water and food. I said, breathing seems critical since it supports our very existence. Lack of it is painful as well. Yet it is ironic that water and food stay on top of our priorities. Smilingly he agreed but added; you need air five times more than fluids and ten times more than food. That we focus more on water and food is because their impact is quick and noticeable.

I was kind of nonplussed but I recovered and laid facts bare before him. We both agreed that we were not doing enough, and should raise priorities for fighting for unpolluted air, clean water and unadulterated food. We also realized that we were helpless in some way, because the control was not in our hands. Yet there were things that we could easily manage.

I have since been thinking about this. Don’t we spend disproportionate time, money and energy in acquiring pure fresh water and food, and ignore the quality of air that we breathe? We do not miss any opportunity in blaming the traffic and the systems for the pollution in the atmosphere. And who causes chaos in traffic? We drive cars with single occupancy, do not switch off engines at long drawn traffic junctions, park anywhere and indulge in street shopping for fruits and vegetables. We do not realize that not only we are slowing the traffic and causing chaos, but in the end we jointly end up consuming more fuel for less mileage and increased pollution.

Whether it is the vehicular traffic, or the industry or deforestation, governments are trying hard to worsen the situation in the name of development and progress. And each country wants to enjoy this indulgence at the cost of others. Forums are struggling hard to arrive at the consensus on how much we are allowed to pollute the environment; each country defends its own case. Each wants the other country to be green so that she can be red.

Who or what should be questioned

936799_10152172573409483_45763845_nPollution due to traffic, is a bit out of our control unless they can localize the work place, adopt neighborhood living, provide mass public transportation or reduce energy demands by some other innovation. But when it comes to food, the situation should well be under own control. The local bodies, societies or interest groups should be effective. Yet all of them depend on law instead of social steps. So the systems fail because the governance fails in general. The failure is caused by insufficient processes, violating of whatever processes exist, corruption that exists in the mechanisms for catching and punishing.

We have the right to live, isn’t it? UNO provides all humans with a right to live and it expects the governments to make this possible. This means governments must take control of the situation. The full loop of acquisition, storage and distribution must be meticulously designed and religiously followed. Citizens must compel the governments for it.

Further, in the long term, is there no commitment that the parents are to breed a healthy next generation? So, can they justify feeding children and friends, unhealthy fast foods and addicted drinks in the shopping malls or other public places? Are we still living in the illusion that street food is tastier? Is the poison in our kitchens not enough that we look for stronger ones in public eating places?

Contradictory statistics introduced by agencies

Statistics state that sixty percent of the food samples taken for testing are found within tolerance. In the 72,000 samples taken in Delhi, a year back, only 4% were objectionable. Is this a smokescreen or illusion? In milk samples, 70% were found culpable, yet no one was punished. Although counter statistics project a confusing scenario, intuition suggests that quite a miserable situation exists for adulteration and pollution on the ground. Are different agencies engaged only in presenting a story that suits their own agenda? How long are they going to let the system pull wool over our eyes? In the end the citizens are left to fend for themselves.

Who initiates this malady

Retailers do not have the wherewithal to breed or proliferate adulteration, but the law chooses to target only them for prosecution. Inspections and samplings are inflicted on small retailers or individuals. The big fish remains unaffected; by collusion with the authorities or by getting away via penalties. Which corporation minds a paltry million penalty when billions have been profited through this sinister route? Moreover, large warehouses of grains are susceptible to misappropriation by the politicians, giving further loose rope to pilferage and adulteration. Government policies for distribution of dubious water to the destinations unconnected to the main stream, is probably intentional since these breed attractive commissions. Corruption starts at that high level and superficial efforts to curb it are directed at the lower levels. Is it not an illogical approach?

Indifference causes grave risk to the public

A simple contemplation convinces us that if samples are found tolerable, these might have been rendered so due to the delayed testing. Delays are not inadvertent but well planned in order to accommodate bribery. For the supplier and the inspector, the sample is only a product that is meant for sale, commissions or penalties. For the consumer, it is a question of life and death. The infection or the pain caused by adulteration is worse than what could be caused by malnutrition. They search for weak organs and limbs in our bodies, for manifesting themselves. No organ or limb of the body is safe. No system is strong enough to fight the malady.

Further, we must not debate on the difference between intended and ignorant adulteration in food. Whether cows are given rich food to increase in the milk output, or chemicals are used to save on fermentation or ripening time, or unsuitable alternatives are deployed to increase profit margins, the end effect is the same; ill health of the consumers.

10295990_10152788886864027_111510498001963276_o13662925Pesticide in food certainly helps fighting the large scale insect damages, but the produce must be rinsed before putting them up for public consumption. Use of preservatives like phosphoric, benzoic acid or their salts to the wheat flour is a well guarded secret, while preparing south Indian dishes. Use of chemicals will increase as the food security bill gains ground. How much of these can we absorb in ourselves? And how much we should avoid is not merely our decision.

Legal Implications

Who do you think is responsible for bringing us to this level of deterioration? The buck is generally passed from citizens to the government and in the reverse direction.

As the law enforcement fails to curb the crime, the governments turn around to hide behind the excuse that existing laws are inadequate since development and progress has overtaken them. Haven’t we heard that before? We heard it again during a calling attention motion in the parliament, very recently. The minister called them outdated and ineffective, which needed revival. And we were mesmerized by his deceptive logic, like we were watching a magician making a scantily clad woman disappear, right in front of our vigilant eyes.

The Indian Supreme Court questions the executive, particularly for the adulteration in milk. It is the mother of many edible products that are considered nourishing for the generation that is growing up. Then why is it shying away from sending culprits to jails. Is there a shortage of legal provisions? Does the law need amendment here? Will we raise voices and force the representatives to ensure such amendments?

In a recent television debate, both the BJP representative Dr Satpal and ex-Congress representative Punia cried hoarse that there is no implementation of even the existing laws. To these cases of offence or omission, we apply the law related to unfair trade practices and no one is imprisoned. They questioned the benefit that is being projected by making them stricter. But let us not laze around; let the framework for severe execution be ready so that as and when the executive decides to be tough, there are no exterior hiccups in the law.

Can we adopt the following

  • Catch the culprits at the source. A serious question is whether the edibles are adulterated at the first procurement, at the whole sale stage, transfer stage, or at retail selling. Probably the impact decreases in that order.
  • Carry out testing of the samples at lightning speed to prevent their replacement. No loop holes must exist for bribery to set in
  • Dispose the cases off on fast track courts. Most of the citizen concerns in many other domains as well demand this approach
  • Angry consumers are looking for imprisonments, so why not harden the law to include imprisonment for these crimes
  • And public, please read the label carefully not only for the date of expiry but also the contents of the bottled or packaged products. For example ghee with Agmark is more reliable just as jewelry with Hallmark or wool with Woolmark label is.
  • Invoke the consumer forum. It costs merely nothing.

201-03-02 My Books-009If the government and the systems fail to rescue us, what option do we have other than prevention. Do not bring poison to kitchens, and reduce eating outside in makeshift kitchens. For re-iteration of this recommendation, please go inside the kitchens of the event management locations. I bet, you will stop eating and drinking outside.