Community Reports

UAE residents help with Kerala relief efforts

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Abu Dhabi: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This was proven by a group that I am a part of called the “Our Irinjalakuda”, a Facebook group based out of Irinjalakuda in Thrissur, India.

During the recent Kerala floods, the group with around 60,000 members and about 200 active volunteers formed a team and got to work. None of them were experienced or experts in disaster management. But, they lead, took orders, guided and acted forgetting their caste, creed, political party or ideologies.

The momentum they generated to coordinate this activity triggered and transformed to the group’s first relief support operation in the Alappuzha district, which was one of the heavily affected areas.

A small team left with a pickup truck, loaded with essential food and medicine supplies, to personally distribute to and support those in need. However, they didn’t know what was in store for them over the next few days.

All the dams and rivers started overflowing and the water level started increasing. As the paddy fields got flooded, the bridges and roads started collapsing and transportation became absolutely impossible.

Temporary disaster control centres were quickly formed. Members took different lead roles and were supported by local students. The effective use of WhatsApp and Facebook came to prominence at this point when electricity was cut and there was no radio or disaster management communication systems in place.

Jithesh Ambady, one of the members of the group, created a support group on WhatsApp, which became the lifeline of supplies for not only Thrissur district, but also to all the badly affected areas in Kerala.

He told Gulf News: “My mother and sister’s family are all witnesses and victims of this natural disaster. I was able to understand from them, the critical moments of seeing death passing right in front you. If I was able to do anything about it, it was all because of the good friendships I have. With the small time frame that we had, whatever we were able to do for the needy is the result of the priceless relationships we hold.”

He efficiently utilised the public transport buses. With the support from their staff, they transported essential medicines and food supply in the initial stages and later cleaning aids.

Dr Rose Anto, another member of the group, said: “The relief efforts taught us many things, but most importantly that humans should be interdependent and must keep an eye on social causes, always. If united we are strong.”

Those who were stuck outside of the town as well many non-resident Indians sprung into action, coordinating these activities by keeping vigil at night when those on ground took an hour or two for rest and regrouping.

The youth came up with several ideas and collaborated with the government authorities in the rebuild process. Teams were formed and spread out to each village and carried out cleaning operations and relief support.

Before the government system started their action, this relief group thought well ahead and sourced items for cleaning, disinfecting and also formed small teams to support restoration of water and electricity.

The team also started to clean the affected homes and scan them thoroughly for snakes or other reptiles. They worked in coordination with Snake Wild Animal Rescue Association (Swara).

All these activities were systematically done keeping the local authorities informed and taking them along to oversee, so that there is absolutely no fund or material mismanagement.

The disaster management outlined above is just one example. There are several other groups from all parts of Kerala that deserve merit. At the end of the day, everyone was united, stood together and worked their way around during those extremely difficult days. All are heroes and they proved that working together works.

As the government works on the rebuilding process, questions are in plenty from the general public on how we can cut costs and function efficiently. The government could introduce a mandatory and major cut on the allowances for ministers and support staff and reduce their numbers.

Apart from that, there are several commissions and bodies, which are consuming enormous funds from the government. Why not dissolve them once and for all and save costs?

There are also a large number of advisors for several ministers who are pampered with huge payment and government facilities. Why not reduce them and let the government come out with an open online portal for public to provide free and professional advice?

Each government minister and all higher authorities are luxuriously pampered with at least one or two police escort cars and personnel when they move around. Why don’t we implement a permanent stop to this?

All the above questions, if answered, could lead to quicker rebuilding of our beautiful Kerala.

— The reader is an Abu Dhabi resident.

Kindness of a different genre by ADIS students

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ADIS students at the Spirit of Giving Charity Event organised during the holy month of Ramadan

I always love to encourage children and use my blogging activity named Talent Share with the motto “A Talent or Knowledge Within You Is To Be Shared” for it. It is rare that I ignore such an opportunity when I get to know or notice.

During the final days of Ramadan a group of final grade boys from Abu Dhabi Indian School (ADIS) Muroor approached me and told me about their Principal Mr. Neeraj Bhargava’s captivating words: “An effort made for the happiness of others lifts us above ourselves.”  A simple statement, but it echoed in their mind repeatedly and lead to a brainstorming session to what became the first of its kind by the school during the holy month.

Everything fell into place quickly for the student-teacher led initiative of collecting contributions to buy a thermal flask, fruits and dates for 500 laborers residing in a camp at Mussaffah.

Approximately 5000 students from Grade 3 to 12 participated wholeheartedly in this initiative. Each one of them enacted with a strong sense of respect, value and care to share.

On the evening of 11th June, the children set off with the items in their school buses accompanied by the staff to meet just before Iftar, the unsung heroes. It was a great feeling for the students who participated in this “Spirit of Giving”, charity event organized by ADIS.

“It started off as an idea to give back something small to those who give us silently so much. A week later we were filling the stomachs and setting smiles in many people”, said Ahmed Hashim, Grade 12 and Head Boy of Abu Dhabi Indian School.

Accepting the gifts and seeing the joy which radiated from the laborers made the students realize the infinite value of those simple but by now immensely precious items of love shared.

Participating in such an event for the first time, Aditya Mani, Grade 11 said, “It was a mixed feeling. On one hand, we could experience how they lived their daily life and on the other hand we could see the joy on their eyes. At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or what you’ve accomplished. It’s all about who’s spirit you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made feel better. It’s about what you’ve given back.”

Continuing with his ever smiling expression, which was double this time he said, one of the recipient, who received our token of affection said to us “more than the food items, the gesture of giving us a flask brought memories of our families back home. We will take it back home as it will be more useful to our elderly parents”.

His classmate Umang Bhandari, Grade 11 said “We all learnt about how lucky we are. Seeing their happiness, gave us a joyous feeling that we felt couldn’t be fetched from any other materialistic actions. The happiness I saw in their eyes made me experience something inexpressible. It inspires me now to do something even better for them. After all, a human is a human who lives for other humans”.

Elachezhiyan Kavyan, Grade 8 concurred, “This was an amazing opportunity as I wanted to serve people and experienced it first time. Something new. How people live, not like us! Happy to see them. If there is any such activities in future, I will definitely participate”.

Commenting on the students initiatives, Mr. Bhargava concluded “Our school is a large mix of diverse culture in Abu Dhabi and prides itself not only on academic success, but also on creating school ethos which connects community at its heart. We actively encourage all students to get involved in charitable activities locally and internationally. Although our starting point was altruistic, we’ve found that by giving something to others we’re reaping rich rewards as a school of relevance. Specially, this is the Year of Zayed and the students touched base with his values and sure to inspire and contribute humanitarianly more next time.

Photos by Mohammed Adnan and Ahmed Razak (Grade XI).

Best wishes to the entire team and I am sure that this will be an inspiration for the student community of Abu Dhabi Indian School to continue with sustained interest and effort to serve the community around.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

@rameshmenonauh/ rameshmenonabudhabi@gmail.com

ഇരിങ്ങാലക്കുട റെയിൽവേ സ്റ്റേഷൻ പരിസരം ഒരു വലിയ ആരോഗ്യ വിപത്തിൽ!

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ദേശാടന പക്ഷികളുടെ സാന്നിധ്യകൂടുതൽ കാരണം ഇരിങ്ങാലക്കുട റെയിൽവേ സ്റ്റേഷനും പരിസരവും ആരോഗ്യത്തിനു ഹാനികരമായ അവസ്ഥ സൃഷ്ടിക്കുന്നു. അനേകം പക്ഷികൾ തമ്പടിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നതു സ്റ്റേഷനോട് ചേർന്ന് ഉള്ള വന്മരങ്ങളിലാണ്. അവയുടെ വിസർജ്യം വന്നു വീഴുന്നത് റെയിൽ യാത്രക്കായി വരുന്നവരുടെ വാഹനങ്ങളിലോ അവരുടെ ശരീരത്തിലോ ഒക്കെ. കൂടാതെ ഈ വിസർജ്യം അവിടെ കിടന്നു, മഴവെള്ളത്തിലൂടെ ഒലിച്ചു സമീപ പ്രദേശങ്ങളിലേക്കും എത്തി പെടുന്നു. സഹിക്കാൻ പറ്റാത്ത മണത്തോടെ യാത്രക്കാർ മൂക്ക് പൊത്തി പിടിച്ചു നിൽക്കുന്നത് സ്ഥിരം കാഴ്ച. ശ്വാസകോശ സംബന്ധമായ അസുഖമുള്ളവർ ഈയിടെയായി ഈ സ്റ്റേഷനിൽ നിന്ന് യാത്ര ഒഴിവാക്കുന്നു എന്നാണ് അറിയാൻ കഴിഞ്ഞത്.

സ്റ്റേഷൻ അധികൃതരുമായി കുറച്ചു നേരം സംസാരിച്ചതിൽ നിന്ന് മനസ്സിലാക്കിയത്, ഇതിനകം തന്നെ പല ഓട്ടോ ടാക്സി തൊഴിലാളികളും, സ്റ്റേഷൻ ജീവനക്കാർക്കും ശ്വാസകോശ രോഗങ്ങൾ വന്നു കഴിഞ്ഞു എന്നാണ്.

രാത്രിയിലെ വെളിച്ചവും, എല്ലാ സമയത്തും ഉള്ള യാത്രക്കാരുടെ സാമീപ്യവും ഈ പക്ഷികളെ ഇവിടേക്ക് ആകർഷിക്കുന്നു. ഓരോ പക്ഷിയും ദിവസ്സേന ഏകദേശം 3.5 കിലോയോളം മൽസ്യത്തെയോ മറ്റു ചെറു ജന്തുക്കളെയോ ഭക്ഷിക്കുന്നു എന്നാണു കണക്കാക്കപ്പെടുന്നത്. ഇത് വൻ രീതിയിൽ ഈ പ്രദേശത്തെ ജന്തു ജല ജീവി സന്തുലിതക്കു ദോഷം വരുത്തുന്നു എന്ന വസ്തുതയും നമ്മൾ മുന്നിൽ കാണേണ്ടതുണ്ട്.

വല്ല വിധേനയും ഇവയെ ഇവിടെ നിന്ന് തുരത്തിയില്ലെങ്കിൽ ഇനിയും നിരവധി യാത്രക്കാരും അവരുടെ വാഹനങ്ങളും സ്റ്റേഷൻ തൊഴിലാളികളും ഈ ദുരവസ്ഥ അനുഭവിക്കേണ്ടി വരും.

സമീപ പ്രദേശത്തെ എഞ്ചിനീയറിംഗ് കോളേജ് / ടെക്നിക്കൽ കോളേജ് വിദ്യാർത്ഥികൾ ഇത് ഒരു പ്രൊജക്റ്റ് ആയി എടുത്തു, റെയിൽവേ അധികൃതരുമായി ഒത്തു ചേർന്ന് ഏതെങ്കിലും തരത്തിലുള്ള ഹൈ ഫ്രീക്യുൻസി തരംഗങ്ങൾ ഉപയോഗിച്ച് ഇവയെ ഓടിക്കാൻ ഒരു ശ്രമം നടത്തിയാൽ, ആ മരങ്ങൾ മുറിക്കാതെ ഈ ആരോഗ്യ പ്രശ്നത്തിന് ഒരു പരിഹാരം ആവും.

A system that helps save water

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Reader came across a school project that reuses water in the flushing system

Published: 15:40 April 9, 2017Gulf News

By Ramesh MenonGulf News reader

A few days ago, after a hectic schedule at the office, I decided to visit a friend and spend some quality time relaxing. During our conversations, I could hear some sounds from the washroom. I was curious to know what was happening and came to know that my friend’s son and his classmates were working on a water conservation project for their school.

It is always amazing to see projects on water and energy conservation. The children were fixing a self-made wash basin, connected to the toilet’s flushing system. When the flushing mechanism fills the tank, a pipe channels extra water to the basin, dedicated to washing one’s hands.

I was amazed by the concept. There were a few young boys working on it and the tools they used were all simple. The basin was a simple ice cream tub and two pipes were connected to it as an inlet and outlet.

In this newly created flush system, when you flush, water from the storage tank moves to the toilet and fresh water fills the tank for the next flush. While filling the tank, some water is redirected to this wash basin. This water supply lasts for about a minute, or until the tank fills up. The water collected in the basin then goes to the tank for the flush. It saves a large volume of water!

One of the students told me: “Normally, we need 20 seconds to scrub our hands with soap and then wash up, but this process consumes a lot of water. This model will save this resource.”

In a day, a person washes his or her hands seven times on average, as stated by WaterWatch, a US-based non-governmental organisation. During hand wash, up to 14 litres of water can be consumed by just one person. But, by using the device created by these students, only 5.6 litres of water would be consumed by one individual in a day. In a family of four, that saves up to 33 litres of water per day. And the best part is, all this water is then reused, to flush the toilet.

I later found that the students had implemented the idea in different places, and thousands of litres of water were being saved in their school and in the homes of some of the students. This idea is the brainchild of Keerthi Kumar Jagannath, an administrative staff member at the Abu Dhabi Indian School, Al Wathba. He deserves great appreciation and honour for initiating, motivating and encouraging students to take up such projects.

He has a target of equipping 1,000 washrooms with this set-up. When I spoke with him, I found it was his passion to invent, demonstrate and inspire others with such innovative ideas.

Such efforts should be endorsed, in order to foster improved environments. The power to save the planet rests with us. I hope more schools, malls and corporations adopt this simple method in their flushing system so we can save a huge volume of water every day.

— The reader is based in Abu Dhabi.

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To read it in original visit Gulf News Dated 10 April 2017.

Parents in a frenzy for Aadhaar

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This news report is sensational and shocking until now. All Non-Resident Indians (NRI) have been urged to get their Aadhaar done for the mandatory official identification and usage purposes.

One concrete example is the students’ need of this card for the forthcoming National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET). A number of parents had to travel back to their home state in India for the sake of obtaining an Aadhaar card for their children in order to qualify for the exam. They were clearly informed that if their children do not have an Aadhaar card, they will not be eligible to take the NEET. They were told to register in the NRI category, which was prominently highlighted for them to adhere to. However, it does not end there. What about the other important activities like applying for mobile subscriptions, handling transactions at local registration offices, etc. Indian authorities urge the public to obtain their Aadhaar card, where details on their biometric and demographic data are compulsory information including their thumb impression.

From Ms Ramesh Menon

UAE

Read the corresponding news to this letter:

Indian expats ‘not eligible for Aadhaar IDs’

 

 

‘Instant fame’ is not worth endangering yourself

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Readers write to Gulf News about issues affecting them and their community

‘Instant fame’ is not worth endangering yourself

Readers write to Gulf News about issues affecting them and their community

Published: 14:02 March 25, 2017Gulf News

‘Instant fame’ is not worth endangering yourself

This is an extremely important move from Dubai’s Environment, Health and Safety Control Authority (“Local order against daredevil selfie takers”, Gulf News, March 21). They are curbing the recent craze of ‘selfie-adventurists’ doing dangerous stunts on top of high-rise structures. Not only is this a death-defying act, but also creates negative motivation for others to follow and receive ‘instant fame’ on social media.

In fact, people don’t just perform these kinds of stunts in Dubai alone – it happens everywhere. In one of my trips to Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah, I witnessed a family encouraging children to jump repeatedly from the guard rails for a picture-perfect opportunity, while someone else kept clicking pictures on their camera. This happy excursion could have become tragic any time one of them fell down the side of a steep slope. I hope there will be more awareness programs to constantly alert and remind people of any imminent danger. Safety should be our priority at all times.

From Mr Ramesh Menon

UAE

Queuing system a must at bus and taxi stands

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Abu Dhabi city is looking much more beautiful these days with more cycle tracks, walkways, places to sit and relax as well as children’s play areas. What we need now is a queuing system for bus and taxi passengers at every station. I routinely see passengers fighting among themselves to board the bus or taxi first.

There should be proper signs, instructions and marks that will compel people to honour the queuing system.

It’s not that these people are not educated. But they disregard the system in the absence of any guidelines or mechanism.

Abu Dhabi Mall Cooperative taxi stand is an example of an efficient system. This should happen across the city.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

To read it in original, visit, The National online. {Photo courtesy The National}

Fine ambulance chasers!

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Readers write to Gulf News about issues affecting them and their community

I was travelling towards Dubai from Abu Dhabi on Shaikh Zayed Road, almost near the World Trade Centre when I noticed an ambulance trying to make way through the heavy traffic. Its driver was finally able to get to the emergency lane and was trying to gain speed to reach its destination. I was alarmed to notice that two bikers, one a delivery guy and another a normal rider were trying to follow it bumper to bumper.

This is an extremely dangerous driving habit and those found using emergency lanes and following speeding ambulances should be reprimanded and heavily fined. They are not thinking of the danger when or if the ambulance driver has to suddenly apply the brakes!

Let us think about road safety at all times. It is our responsibility to remain safe.

From Mr Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

Dt 28 January 2017

To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS online

Fill it, Dig it, Forget it! – Kadugodi Whitefield Road that WORKS

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In an year how many times this small stretch of road at Kadugodi Whitefiled has been filled, digged again and then left like that! Pathetic! Even the tractor guys are finding it difficult to drive. So you can imagine how difficult it is for cars and two wheelers. The way the work for pipeline is being carried out at one point here, I feel, very soon, they will find oil here! No one can drive. Not to forget the speed at which the two wheelers ride on these roads. So, imagine the plight of those elderly or children who walk through this stretch to the Volvo Bus stand or Whitefield Railway station. Authorities – please open your eyes and do a neat job, once and for all.

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Lower the height of signboards – Letters to the editor – The National Dt 22 June 2015T

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Lower the height of signboards – Letters to the editor – The National Dt 22 June 2015

Sign boards

The new Onwani system will make it easier for people to access every location in Abu Dhabi. What we have to do now is get used to this change.

However, I would like to point out that the signboards with the building numbers and QR codes have been placed too high. This makes it difficult for short people or those of average height to access them to scan the QR codes.

Lowering the height of these boards will enable everyone to make use of the QR facility.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

To read it in original, visit The National online