Archive for the 'Citizenship' Category

Interview with Consumer Rights Champion-Amit: Part 1

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Today’s guest on Visceral Observations is Amit, a hardware engineer by profession. He is like us, yet more special. Because he is a concerned citizen who recently took cudgels for a consumer rights issue and won a case. Lets hear in first person about his experience at the consumer courts.

Hi Amit, Welcome to Visceral Observations!

Congratulations for winning the battle against MRP overcharging! 🙂 What was the problem you faced with vendor that led you to file a case in the consumer court?

I am a frequent flyer and fly through various domestic and international airports. It gets my gall to see the rampant overcharging that snack bars/small food outlets indulge in, with flagrant disregard to laws and rules.

Continue reading ‘Interview with Consumer Rights Champion-Amit: Part 1’

10 Reasons Why My India is Regressive


1. Corruption: India is 83rd on world corruption index as per Transparency Index. Most bureaucrats and politicians in the country are corrupt. There is no honesty in corruption as well. In India, bribing also does not ensure that your work will be done or not. So most entrepreneurs prefer to bribe outside of India to set up an industry. 🙂

Some days back, Hindustan Times broke a story that most Indians knew in their heart. There was misuse of Red Cross funds meant for Kargil soldiers by IAS officers. We all know how various unscrupulous individuals and groups duped millions of people by asking money in name of Kargil. But the money never reached those for whom it was meant. 😦

2. Insensitivity to Environment Hazards: India has not yet woken up to the importance of conserving environment and energy.

  • We still use bulbs in place of CFLs. It is not even apparent what could be other reasons of not using CFL other than cost? Do we get poor quality of CFLs in our country?
  • People who take care of India’s recycling are poorest of the poor – ragpickers. Their effort is largely unrecognized. We should also not have manual scavengers work in such unprotected conditions.
  • Asbestos is banned in US and EU because it is carcinogenic and also an environment hazard. But as per Outlook magazine, current Indian government is considering to revoke 20-year-old ban on asbestos mining. Forget environment, what about all those workers who would suffer from lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma, a painful cancer of chest wall lining. Doesn’t this government care for its people?

Continue reading ’10 Reasons Why My India is Regressive’

Go Green-Activities

I hope the last post caught your attention about energy conservation and global warming.

We can start fighting both these causes by joining virtual march against global warming. There is much more that can be done. Here are two downloadable mini guide books to conserve energy at both home and work.

Play this interesting quiz-cum-game Flex Your Power to find out several astonishing facts about energy conservation. Though, most facts will be related to California, think for a second in the context of India, how much we can save.

I tag Amit, Ashish, Dinsan, Ish, Nishu, Pradeep, and Dev to play the Flex Your Power game. They need to present their game score and state three facts about global warming/energy conservation that intrigued them while playing the game. I will compile a list of best 10 facts from those posted by you here in my blog. 🙂

And, you should tag at least two more people to play the game.

I realize some of you must be bored with tagging. But I wanted a way that could intrigue some more conscientious and sensible folks like you. This should help spread the word. 🙂

In case, you choose to decline, I would not mind.. Sniff.. Sniff.. 😦

Update: My friend, Ramesh, played the quiz, got a poor 853. He didn’t register a single fact. 😦 Apparently, quiz-cum-game Flex Your Power failed to evoke his interest. So much for my optimism. 😦


What I Will Do for World Peace Today?

I have been tagged by Nishu to write about my aim of life and how I want to make world a better place.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend at school.

world peace

When asked about what we wanted to do in future, I had said I want to work for women’s welfare. My friend said she wanted to work for India’s emergence in global world.

Looking back, I was a die-hard feminist. I actually thought of a name (Mukti, height of melodrama, isn’t it?) and concept of a women’s magazine I aspired to start. I also wrote early articles for this magazine so that I could publish them when I grew up. I was in class 10 then.

Without knowing what was in those manuscripts, my proud mama handed them to an uncle who was visiting us. I was inwardly cringing as some of my articles were outright aggressive. For example, one article provided tips to harassed women how they could avoid getting their salaries snatched by their hostile family members. How did a 14 or 15-year-old get such (tacky??) ideas? Simple, I was a voracious reader. Library books were just not enough to keep my attention and my parents would not subscribe any magazine for me, I took to secretly gorging through wanton women magazines like Femina, Manorama, Grihashobha… My young mind didn’t escape both the subtle and melodramatic notes of female misery.

Now that I am grown up, I realize it is not enough to address women-related issues. It’s not all about better life.

Personally I believe if I can change the life of one person for better, I have paid my debt to life. I think of adoption all the time, but I can not commit yet as it is dependent on the wishes of my partner. I want to give a child a home with two willing partners. Not everyone can be a privileged super mama like Sushmita Sen and Anjelina Jolie.

I can not be a lone crusader in my dream to make a difference. Hence, more than lone volunteering, I try to reach out with words so that I can have reach out to hundreds of more volunteers for a cause. That is my immediate aim.

Watch this space to read more about what I do for world peace. 🙂

Responsible Citizen or Responsible Media?

My worst fears came true today with the arrest of ‘sting operation’ journalist in Uma Khurana case.

Two days ago, while traveling to work, Shikha, my friend, colleague, and travel partner 🙂, told me the news about Uma Khurana. The story is pretty simple yet sad reality.

An unknown news channel runs a so-called “sting” operation “uncovering” a government school teacher who was forcing school girls into prostitution by blackmailing them. An unidentified girl posed as a “victim.” After a hue and cry, Uma Khurana was arrested and man-handled by the mob. It was chief minister Sheila Dixit who announced that Uma Khurana has been suspended from her job at school.

Uma Khurana Man-handled

What is the cost of her individual dignity?

When Shikha told me about the school teacher Uma being beaten by angry students, my first fearsome doubt was: Is she really the accused? Was it right to manhandle her without giving her a chance to defend herself? Even if Uma Khurana is a “pimp” as the news story called her, what gave the mob a right to manhandle a woman who hadn’t yet been proven guilty by law? I doubted the authenticity of an unknown channel. But obviously, rest of the city didn’t. Also, it seems it is easier to take out your frustration in a mob, because mob has no face.

Two days after the story ran, police became confused as none of the parents came up to lodge a story. It turns out the “victim” in the sting operation was not a school girl at all! She was instead an aspiring journalist who gladly posed as schoolgirl-turned-prostitute on camera. (It is an different issue altogether how difficult it is to find jobs at entry level in this country.) Police is now questioning the journalist who ran that story. Today the journalist was arrested. A shame! A disgrace!

Ah, before you make the same mistake of jumping the gun and rendering the journalist guilty, take a while to think who should be ashamed in this entire episode.

Shame on the citizens of the country who do not think twice to kill in rage (do not forget the recent Bhagalpur incident or other road rage killings that happen everyday on roads of India), who do not give a hoot about law and order in the country. Shame on the news channels who mock sacred principles of journalism to garner cheap publicity or TRPs.

I condemn such news channels who run false stories, they do not appreciate the freedom fourth estate enjoys in our country. If our present Information and Broadcasting minister P. R. Dasmunshi would have his way, he would impose a news content code to regulate what news could be shown on TV and when! They also plan to lay down rules for sting operation. Such regulations threaten the freedom of Indian media. But do we value this freedom?

When will the Indian media value the power they hold on masses and resolve to use their freedom responsibly? As they say in Spiderman movies, “With great power, comes greater responsibility.” Media, along with its sting operations is useful weapon against social and political evils, but one that needs to be utilized judiciously.

The onus of being responible citizen lies on us. As for media, we need to keep making our collective voices heard.

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Visceral Observations is written by Poonam Sharma. It is licensed to her under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License
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