Month: March 2012

Koodalmanikyam Megharjun – Take care of him kindly please or else !!!

Posted on Updated on

 
 
 
 
 
Breaking news …..Koodalmanikyam megharjun killed his mahout this evening….too sad… too much cruelty on this elephant and one more victim.. This poor elephant is the most ill treated one in the recent times.

ഇരിങ്ങാലക്കുട: വരണമാല്യം അണിയാന്‍ ദിവസങ്ങള്‍ ബാക്കിനില്‍ക്കെ ദേവദാസ് നടന്നു കയറിയത് മരണത്തിലേക്ക്. 12ദിവസം ദേവദാസിന്റെ വിവാഹദിനമായിരുന്നു. നിരന്തരം പ്രശ്നങ്ങളുണ്ടാക്കുന്ന മേഘാര്‍ജ്ജുനന്റെ പാപ്പാനായി ഏഴുമാസം മുന്‍പാണ് ചുമതലയേറ്റത്. 18 വയസ്സ് പ്രായമുണ്ടെങ്കിലും ആനക്ക് നീര് ഒലിച്ചിരുന്നില്ല. ദേവദാസിന്റെ പരിചരണമൂലം നീര് ഒലിച്ചുവെന്നും ആനയെ നല്ല രീതയിലാണ് ദേവദാസ് ആനയെ പരിചരിക്കുന്നതെന്നും ദേവസ്വം അധികൃതര്‍ പറയുന്നു. നീരിനുശേഷം കഴിഞ്ഞ 1ന് ആനയെ അഴിച്ചപ്പോള്‍ ഇടഞ്ഞിരുന്നുവെങ്കിലും തുടര്‍ന്നും ആനയെ ക്ഷേത്രത്തിന്റെ വിവിധ ഭാഗങ്ങളിലേക്ക് മാറ്റി മാറ്റി കെട്ടി ഒരുവിധത്തില്‍ ആനയെ അനുസരണയിലാക്കിവരികയായിരുന്നുവെന്നും പറയുന്നു. ആനയുടെ പുറകില്‍ നടന്നിരുന്ന ദേവദാസിനോട് രണ്ടാംപാപ്പാന്‍ മുന്നിലേക്ക് കയറി നടക്കാന്‍ ആവശ്യപ്പെട്ടതിനെ തുടര്‍ന്നായിരുന്നു ദേവദാസ് വിശ്വാസപൂര്‍വ്വം ആനയുടെ അരികുചേര്‍ന്ന് മുന്നിലേക്ക് നടന്നു കയറിയത്. എന്നാല്‍ ആന യാതൊരു പ്രകോപനവുമില്ലാതെ ആന കൊമ്പുകൊണ്ട് മതിലിനോട് ചേര്‍ത്ത് കുത്തി കോര്‍ത്തെടുത്ത് ഉയര്‍ത്തുന്നതിനിടെ ഊര്‍ന്നു വീണ ദേവദാസ് വിശ്വസിച്ച് ഊട്ടിയ ആനയോട് എന്താ ആനെ കാണിക്കുന്നതെന്ന ചോദ്യത്തോടെയായിരുന്നു ജീവിതത്തോട് വിടപറഞ്ഞത്.

 
This photo of him was taken some time ago when I visited the temple and got time to visit his place and see him enjoy on his own.
I don’t think he can be as cruel as he became today. There is something definitely wrong. Do not label him a killer elephant. I have been with him for some time and difficult for me to think so. May be he will have a bigger story to tell.
This elephant has been badly treated from the time it was brought. How many mahouts changed – how badly treated, no count.In fact, a few months ago, after reading a news of ill treatment, i filed a petition to forest department and devaswom board and they did an inquiry. However, all died down, after some time. I thought, he was ok and since then being take care well, and was getting information regularly from press club team IJK, but they too did not suspsect anything wrong. There is definitely something wrong with the way they take care of it. I do not blame it from what I understand.
Of course, my sympathies to this young man’s family and friends, may his soul rest in peace and  and another sad fact that it is the 4th death near Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikyam temple in such a manner in the recent times.
Ramesh Menon
28.03.2012
 

Distracted on the road – My Letters – GULF NEWS – Dt 26.03.2012

Posted on Updated on

Distracted on the road – My Letters – GULF NEWS – Dt 26.03.2012

Distracted on the road

During one of my drives from Abu Dhabi to Dubai I noticed many drivers using their mobile phones to talk or send text messages. I also noticed that many of them drive luxury cars and many are female drivers. In one case, I saw a woman driving with a small child sitting between her and the door, while talking on the phone to someone. I have a feeling that the number of middle class residents using their phones while driving has decreased due to heavy fines. So why don’t the authorities implement a pro rata-based percentage surcharge on top of the regular fine that is based on the type of car the motorist drives, his or her employment or salary? Those who drive such expensive cars are supposed to be educated and should project themselves to the society as an example in terms of being safe on the roads. I am writing this after seeing many drivers either talking or sending text messages while driving.

To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS online.

From Mr Ramesh Menon
Abu Dhabi

Wish to know this mysterious reader (s) ?!!!

Posted on

Dear Reader(s) from Mountain View, California,

I am curious, when I see every day, the following message.

 A visitor from Mountain View, California viewed “Ramesh Menon’s Clicks and Writes: Community Report – GULF NEWS – Dt. 05.02.2011 – Need to inculcate reading habit in children” 14 mins ago

I wish to know about you…………..

Could you kindly communicate with me at my email  – team1dubai@gmail.com.

Sincere regards,

Ramesh Menon

Confusing crossing – GULF NEWS – Community Report Dt 25.03.2012

Posted on Updated on

Confusing crossing – GULF NEWS – Community Report Dt 25.03.2012

Confusing crossing

Steps needed at Abu Dhabi Mall for people to have easy passage without being fined
  • By Ramesh Menon, Gulf News Reader
  • Published: 00:00 March 25, 2012

  • Image Credit: Ramesh Menon/Gulf News Reader
  • Left: The traffic signal in front of Abu Dhabi Mall.
    Right: The pedestrian crossing is for handicapped only but the sign escapes the attention of residents who are at risk of being fined.
  • The area around Abu Dhabi Mall is one of the busiest places in the emirate, especially during the early mornings and evenings. There is always a constant flow of visitors to the numerous embassies, shops and offices situated there.

     
    There is a pedestrian bridge in front of the mall for the public to cross the road. However, there is also a pedestrian crossing and traffic signal with a sign that reads, ‘Handicapped only’.
     
    People are confused many a times, as the signal is operational. So they tend to cross the road using the pedestrian crossing and ignore the bridge.
     
    We regularly witness a cat and mouse game played out between a team of dedicated officers from Abu Dhabi Police and the general public visiting the shopping mall. Whenever the team from Abu Dhabi Police is there, a police barricade is put in place and officers stop and fine jaywalkers. Many people get fined in the process.
    However, as soon as the police team departs, people start crossing the road from any point they feel like.
    The traffic signals are temporary and are placed in a manner that results in some drivers not noticing them. Additionally, many members of the public cross the road without even caring to check for oncoming traffic as they are busy speaking on their mobile phones.
     
    A well-planned traffic strategy has to be developed for this particular point that witnesses heavy pedestrian movement, especially until the road works are completed.
     
    Measures should be adopted so that the public are accorded easy passage without being troubled and fined.

     
    — The reader is a technical officer, based in Abu Dhabi.
    To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS online.

    Rhythmic treat – Short Take – Gulf Today Dt. 24.03.2012

    Posted on

    Rhythmic treat

    Recently, I had an opportunity to attend a scintillating two-hour music session by Anoushka Shankar and her team in Abu Dhabi.

    The group of artistes were from different parts of the world and the performance was harmoniously blended with the artistes complementing each other on traditional Indian and Spanish musical instruments and melody.

    The theme Traveller turned out to be perfect as the rhythm and mood created a “gypsy feeling” in the audience’s mind.

    What made the concert more interesting was the way they took off from one style to another using musical instruments that were non-conventional to those styles they attempted.

    Pin-drop silence was what we experienced at the huge auditorium of Emirates Palace, except for the magical sounds coming out from them.

    It is true that music has no boundaries.

    I could relate this pride of watching her perform live at Abu Dhabi when after the programme some guests leaving the auditorium mentioned, “I watched her dad perform 40 years ago in New York and now her in Abu Dhabi. Both bring the same sweet smile, calmness and ease of quality music out when they sit to perform.”

    Ramesh Menon

    To read it in original, please visit GULF TODAY online.

    Rousing start to Abu Dhabi Festival – My Letters – GULF NEWS Dt. 21 March 2012

    Posted on Updated on

    Rousing start to Abu Dhabi Festival – My Letters – GULF NEWS Dt. 21 March 2012

    Anoushka Shankar’s performance sets the tone for truly global celebration of art and culture
    • Staff Report
    • Published: 00:00 March 21, 2012

    Abu Dhabi: The seventh edition of the Abu Dhabi Festival was inaugurated at a special ceremony at the Emirates Palace Hotel attended by dignitaries, guests and members of the public, on Monday.
     
    Iraqi artist Hassan Massoudy’s specially commissioned calligraphy exhibition ‘Gestures of Light’ was the highlight of the evening’s programme along with a performance by internationally renowned musician Anoushka Shankar, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading sitar players, and the only artist to be trained exclusively by her father, the legendary Ravi Shankar.
     
    “Every year we aim to showcase the diversity of the world’s artists and genres by bringing a taste of global music and performances to the nation’s capital. With Anoushka’s involvement in this year’s festival, we broke new ground with her mesmerising young talent renowned the world over and set a new bar for future performances,” said Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, founder and artistic director of the Abu Dhabi Festival.
     
    Students honoured
     
    Additionally, outstanding Emirati students from the UAE University, Zayed University and the Higher Colleges of Technology were recognised for their participation in initiatives supported by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation.
     
    They included the Young Media Leaders programme, which provides training for careers in the media and the Theatre-in-Education (Tie) programme, a series of workshops led by the City University of New York’s creative arts team.

    The festival also presented a lifetime achievement award posthumously to Dr Walid Gholmieh, a prominent conductor, composer, scholar and activist for western classical music in the Middle East, and a defining influence in Lebanon’s classical landscape.
    The 27-day event, which will end on April 6, includes 168 cultural and artistic events across the UAE.
     

    My comments as follows:

    The opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Festival along with Anoushka Shankar’s performance created an everlasting memory. An impressive array of dignitaries joining HE Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan were present to recognise outstanding Emirati students from the UAE University, Zayed University and the Higher Colleges of Technology for their participation in initiatives supported by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation.

    It was a moment of joy for all those who actively involved in the Young Media Leaders programme. Lifetime achievement awarded posthumously to Dr Walid Gholmieh created the perfect platform for a scintillating two hour two session of music by Anoushka Shankar and her team of musicians.

    The performance was harmoniously blended with the artists complementing each other on traditional Indian and Spanish musical instruments and music.

    The theme Traveller turned out to be perfect as the rhythm and mood created a gypsy feelings in audience mind. I could relate the proud sense of watching her perform live at Abu Dhabi when after the programmes some of the guests leaving the auditorium mentioned, I watched her dad perform 40 years ago in New York and now her here in Abu Dhabi. Both bring the same sweet smile, calmness and ease of quality music out when they sit to perform.

    Wish the programme was made available for a wider range of audience for view outside the auditorium through giant screens placed at various points in Abu Dhabi Corniche. In addition, after each show photo session of the artists performed on stage should also be allowed.

    Hope Abu Dhabi Festival organisers will consider this aspect for the future shows. The name and fame of Abu Dhabi Festival should reach a wider section of population.
    Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

    To see a similar performance held elsewhere, please watch this video. It was almost the same or better.


     

    Mawaqif reaches Abu Dhabi mall area

    Posted on Updated on

    We have now Mawaqif. I hope it will ease a lot of parking problems in Abu Dhabi mall area. Specifically, the middle parking.  One more expense to take care.

    Election experience – Short Take – Gulf Today Dt. 17.03.2012

    Posted on

    Election experience

    Participating in a recent associational election turned out to be an excellent management experience for me.

    Contesting as a candidate for a literary post, I realised I had to be more socio-politically conscious along with my literary abilities if I have to venture again.

    Although, the election was done by voting of members.

    I realised that there were only very few who opted to utilise their voting rights. It made me think about our general cry for voting rights to be part of national constitutional formations.

    What will happen, if majority refrain from their civic rights to elect a candidate by way of a vote.

    My share of advice after this interesting event is, if given a choice to participate in such an activity, do not miss it and vote it right.

    Also as a candidate, one should keep a winning attitude and strategy to see the race through with smiles.

    Ramesh Menon
    To read it in original, please visit GULF TODAY online.

    Indian federal budget fails to impress the majority – My letters – Gulf News 16 March 2012

    Posted on

    Indian federal budget fails to impress the majority – My letters – Gulf News 16 March 2012

    Indian federal budget fails to impress the majority

    Finance minister makes a weak attempt to trim deficit

  • By Babu Das Augustine, Deputy Business Editor
  • Published: 10:53 March 16, 2012
  • Dubai: Disappointing economists, business leaders and stock market, India’s finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday presented the federal budget 2012-13, which made a feeble attempt, at best, in reducing India’s ballooning fiscal deficit.
     
    The budget set a fiscal deficit target of 5.1 per cent of GDP for the fiscal year, down from an expected 5.9 per cent in the current year. This year’s figure, however, ended up far above the 4.6 per cent it had originally targeted in its budget a year ago.
     
    Mukherjee said he expected the Indian economy to grow by 7.6 per cent in the next fiscal year, up from an expected 6.9 per cent in the current year but below the 8.4 per cent growth of the previous fiscal year.
     
    “We are disappointed with the budget because it assumes a relatively high, 5.1 per cent deficit in the 2012-13 fiscal year. We also think that growth target is a bit too optimistic while inflation may have hard time falling as much as they are assuming,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist and strategist at Credit Agricole, Hong Kong.

    Analysts said the budget did not make a serious effort to rein in subsidies. The Finance Minister announced that from 2012-13 while subsidies related to food and for administering the Food Security Act will be fully provided for, all other subsidies would be funded to the extent that they can be borne by the economy without any adverse implications. He said that the government will endeavour to restrict the expenditure on central subsidies under 2 per cent of GDP in 2012-13and over the next three years, it would be further brought down to 1.75 per cent of GDP.
     
    “The market was hoping for a lower deficit for the next financial year, so disappointing from that perspective. India continues to have the largest fiscal deficit within emerging Asia, hence expect this to weigh on the rupee,” said Jonathan Cavenagh, foreign exchange strategist, Westpack, Singapore.
     
    In the budget estimates for 2012-13, the gross tax receipts are estimated at 10, 7.76 trillion which is an increase of 15.6 per cent over the Budget Estimates and 19.5 per cent over the revised estimates for 2011-12. After devolution to States, the net tax to the central government in 2012-13 is estimated at Rs 77 trillion. The Non Tax Revenue Receipts are estimated at Rs16.46 trillion and Non-debt Capital Receipts at Rs 4.16 trillion. The total expenditure for 2012-13 is budgeted at Rs149 trillion. Of this Rs52 trillion is the Plan Expenditure while Rs96.9 trillion is budgeted as Non Plan Expenditure.
     
    Tax proposals
     
    The tax proposals are guided by the need to move towards the Direct Tax Code (DTC) in the case of direct taxes and Goods & Services Tax (GST) in the case of indirect taxes. For now it appears that the DTC has been deferred from the planned implementation from April 1, 2012.
     
    Individual income upto Rs200,000 will be free from income tax; income upto Rs 180,000 was exempt in 2011-12. Income above Rs500,000 and upto Rs 1 million now carries tax at the rate of 20 per cent; the 20 per cent tax slab was from Rs500,000 to Rs800,000 in 2011-12. A deduction of up to Rs10,000 is now available for interest from savings bank accounts.
     
    The budget made an attempt to widen the service tax base. All services will now attract service tax, except those in the negative list. The negative list has 17 heads and includes specified services provided by the government or local authorities, and services in the fields of education, renting of residential dwellings, entertainment and amusement, public transportation, agriculture and animal husbandry. Service tax rate is being increased from 10 per cent to 12 per cent, with consequential change in rates for services that have individual tax rates. The standard rate of excise duty for non-petroleum goods is also being raised from 10 per cent to 12 per cent. No change is proposed in peak rate of customs duty of 10 per cent on non-agricultural goods.
     
    The direct tax proposals in the budget will result in a net revenue loss of Rs 450 billion and the raising of indirect taxes will result in a net revenue gain of Rs 4.6 trillion resulting in a net gain of Rs 4.1 trillion.
     
    “The finance minister is looking to collect large sums of money through indirect taxes, probably to mitigate the fiscal situation, but this could have an impact on consumption,” said Deven Choksey, managing director of K R Choksey shares & Securities, Mumbai.

    My comments as follows:

    The presentation of budget 2012-13 by Finance Minister Pranab Mukharjee presents a feeling of let down to middle class citizen of India. He projected India’s GDP growth in 2012-13 to be 7.6 per cent, +/- 0.25 per cent when compared to global growth is impressive.
    With increased cess on crude oil to Rs 4,500 per tonne from Rs 2,500 per tonne, Oil exploring companies will be burdened further and look for relaying it to the end users.
    Ignoring the cry of indian companies manufacturing heavy power equipment to increase the customs duty on imports of such equipments will demotivate growth in this sector.
    The budget did not give support to Indian engineering exporters like Larsen & Tubro, which accounts for about one-fourth of the country’s total merchandise exports and instead proposed to raise excise duty to 12% from 10%.
    Power utilities are likely to benefit with proposed two-year exemption on import duty for companies importing thermal coal.
    A proposal to allow external commercial borrowing to part finance rupee debt of power projects will also help growth in this sector.
    Low cost housing developers and financiers will benefit after the budget proposed allowing external commercial borrowings for low-cost housing projects below Rs 25 lakhs. Hope it brings more quality and genuine infrastructural offerings to common man.
    Private Airlines will benefit after the budget proposed to allow external commercial borrowings of up to USD 1 billion to help meet immediate funding needs.
    The proposal to allow foreign direct investment by airlines under “active consideration” may bring a smile on two on airline king Vijay Mallya.
    The above two items looks as interesting options for Indian investors from abroad to move in with financial platters to stake more presence in the forthcoming years to barter important rights to NRIs.
    Infrastructure finance companies such may tend to benefit after the proposal to double the issue of tax-free bonds for financing infrastructure projects.
    India also announced an increase in import taxes for assembled SUVs and utility vehicles costing more than USD 40,000. On one hand the proposal mentioned on will see increased prices on luxury cars, we are yet to see any reforms being done on the registration of such cars at  the point of purchase origin or rather a unified registration charges in all states, which is where the state exchequer and in turn centre being devoid of a major share on taxation. However, the move may turn out to be positive for indigenous car makers like Tata and Mahindra.
    Fertilizer makers could see a fall in expenditure after the budget fully exempted basic customs duty on import of equipment for three years which when passed on to farmers could result in smiles on ordinary citizens.
    On one hand it brought in measures to reduce the pricing on medicines for treating cancer and HIV, there was no mention on the facilitators to control the costlier trial and error methods they use to treat these patients. This therefore will remain a costlier option for common man in the year to come.
    Full exemption on branded silver jewellery from excise duty may create interest in silver as first choice.
    Duty-free allowance for eligible passengers of Indian origin from `25,000 to `35,000 and for children of up to 10 years from `12,000 to `15,000, which seems to be one among the few sugar candies thrown at NRIs in this overall exercise.

     

    To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS online.