Opinion 2010

Koodalmanikyam Manikyan – My Creatives – Malayala Manorama Dt. 26.04.2010

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My Creatives – Koodalmanikyam Manikyan – Malayala Manorama Dt. 26.04.2010

Indian president arrives on first state visit to UAE – My Comments – THE NATIONAL – Dt 22 Nov 2010

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My Comments – THE NATIONAL – Dt 22 Nov 2010 – Indian president arrives on first state visit to UAE

Dear Sirs,

Yesterday night, I saw a beautiful dream while sleeping. The excitement brought out by the elaborate arrangement being carried out by all to welcome the President of India after 7 years was there in my mind before going to sleep. I was thinking of the various landmark improvements that could come along with this visit that is taking place immediately after India being branded “as a nation that has arrived” amongst the pioneers by the US President. Yes, after a period of recession, India is coming out high in terms of progressive measures as a nation of importance and UAE, confidently emerging with it’s economic and administrative capabilities as a regional leader of significance. The visit is thus significant and I was in a high and my dream evolved. Yes, I was seeing numerous scenarios, as in a movie. First and foremost was the journey from our port of exits to UAE. Air India flying on time and that too on a regular basis at an economical and competitive rate and service standards competing with other airlines of the region. At the lounge I could see numerous politician and government dignitaries on official mission using the services of Air India rather than opting for other airlines. I was surprised first, but then came to know the new reformist and progressive measure by the government (in my dream!). The airline is running on loss anyway and thus instructions to all government representatives to opt for the airline to serve their travel needs have done magic as the airline now fly on time and with quality value. At the exit lounge I could see a computerized desk manned by personnel of the Human Resources Development Ministry taking a simple exit survey of the passengers traveling on work and leisure. They were gathering relevant information, which then were being relayed to the respective Embassy offices to update their residents on board data register in each gulf country. Interestingly, this desk was maintained with utmost efficiency that it was proving more than a help desk to numerous working class people who were exiting the country for jobs they knew or not. They were identifying those who were being taken wrongly and guiding them the right of course of action according to the problem they identified. Well, so far so good, I turned to the other side thinking of what next. And my screen moved to a sprawling university complex, where I could see the IITs and All India Institute of Medical Sciences extending it’s branches to the UAE. I could see both local and resident Indian students competing with each other to imbibe and share the educational expertise of our pioneer institutions at an affordable price, without leaving UAE after school years. On stretching, I could also see schools and universities in India teaching Arabic, Islamic Studies and Arts to know more about them and understand and educate the historic importance they carry to the modern day youth. Trrrnnggg, my alarm bell rang, well my dream interrrupted, and there were many more items to be seen and wished for. Not bad, as an ordinary Indian, without any political or business interest, my movie has been an interesting one, covering some of the basics requirements like economically viable and punctual transportation to and from my home country to my home away from home, increased educational facilities for my children, and safe and secure working environment for me and my fellow Indians and overall welfare of our families back home. I am thankful that I work in the UAE where all my interests are well protected and I look forward to the add-on’s that could materialize from this historic visit by the 12th and first lady president of the Republic of India Her Excellency Prathibha Devisingh Patil to the UAE.
Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

To read it in original, please visit THE NATIONAL online.

Short Take – GULF TODAY – Dt. 25.12.2010 – Pleasant Journey

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Short Take – GULF TODAY – Dt. 25.12.2010 – Pleasant Journey

Short Take: Pleasant journey
December 25, 2010

WE have reached almost the end of 2010. It was an eventful year considering the economic situation and progress made with limited resources. Those who held on to their hopes and dreams and progressed even an inch have to really congratulate themselves. It requires lot of determination and self-motivation. I salute all those who did it.

I was at a HSE campaign recently. We were segregating waste materials and each one had his own task to do. I was observing a little boy and his father. The boy was very particular in not mixing plastic with paper. He was saying, “Dad, if we mix it, it is not good for the environment. It has to be properly recycled. That’s what my teacher has told us in our class.” I was happy to hear him promoting HSE in his own small way.

Christmas and New Year have brought lot of visitors to the UAE this year. It is a promising sign to see the tourism industry and the business in this region flourishing. It brings hope to all that the economy will revive in 2011 and all those who suffered in some way or other due to the impact of recession will have reasons to smile in the new year and days ahead.

It has been an enjoyable journey for me with Short Take. Each week I had a set objective to look forward to, identify a small happening around and describe it in a friendly way for the benefit of those who love to read.

Ramesh Menon

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

My Letters – GULF NEWS Dt. 24.12.2010 – Baggage allowance

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My Letters – GULF NEWS Dt. 24.12.2010 – Baggage allowance

Baggage allowance

Congratulations to Etihad Airways for being named the world’s leading airline for the second consecutive year at a travel industry event.

Etihad Airways now flies to many destinations from Abu Dhabi. Several new destinations, including those in South India, are being added in the near future.

A unified and standard 40 kilogram baggage allowance to all Indian destinations is a common wish-list among the passengers from Abu Dhabi. To travel by [Etihad] will then be a privilege for all to fly from Abu Dhabi, by the capital’s own airlines, from its state-of-the-art airport facilities.

I request Etihad Airways to kindly consider more baggage options on their flights to all Indian destinations alike.

It will also be a good idea for the airlines to partner with major electronic companies and shopping malls and provide special baggage vouchers on transportation of electronic appliances such as television.

This scheme will give a much required boost to revive the consumer sector.

From Mr Ramesh Menon
Abu Dhabi

Mr Hareb Al Muhairi, VP Sales UAE, Etihad Airways, responds:

Many thanks for your congratulations on Etihad winning the “World’s Leading Airline” award for the second year in a row.

Etihad continually looks to add new and innovative features to enhance the travel experience for our customers.

These features currently include online check-in and self check-in at Abu Dhabi airport.
We also recently launched our “India Connect” scheme for members of our Etihad Guest programme travelling to and from India.

India Connect has a range of partners in India and around the world, who provide special offers for members of the scheme.

These partners include restaurants, hotels, retail chains, telecommunications services and financial service providers.

In terms of baggage allowances, this is a key commercial aspect of the airline industry and needs to be managed carefully. That said, the levels Etihad offers customers in all our cabins are among the highest in the industry.

Mr Menon responds:

I thank the management of Etihad for their response. I look forward to their extended effort to give more baggage allowance, than the existing 23 kilograms, to passengers [flying] to Indian destinations so that more families can opt for flying out from Abu Dhabi.
It is the major detrimental factor when travelling during holidays as a family or for that matter as a group with luggage for a long stay.

Gulf News’ intervention has highlighted this issue and I hope that the management of Etihad will consider this important factor in their scope for improvement for passenger comfort and convenience to attract more business to Etihad as well as Abu Dhabi airport.

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

Readers Picture of the Day – GULF NEWS – Dt. 22.12.2010 – Time to Work

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Readers Picture of the Day – GULF NEWS – Dt. 22.12.2010 – Time to Work

This is a picture I took and submitted to Gulf News recently. It was taken when I was driving from Kerala to Bangalore via Mangalore. This coastal area, Murudeswar, is a beautiful place and  were fisherman and at that time I saw the fisherman preparing to go to sea.

Photography gives me great relief to unwind, relax and then prepare myself for the routine/or unplanned task ahead in my daytoday life.

It is a way of looking things in the most beautiful way it can ever get projected.

My Letters – GULF NEWS – Dt. 21.12.2010 – Community Service

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My Letters – GULF NEWS – Dt. 21.12.2010 – Community Service

Community service
It is extremely encouraging to see women walking away with most of the prizes in the community report competition (“Making a difference in people’s lives”, Gulf News, December 15). I am sure the interest generated by this special page in Gulf News will make sure that this trend continues with more efficiency. It should be part of our daily commitment to support the administrative system by effectively notifying them about the discrepancies and shortfalls and providing solutions, without unwarranted criticism. Women and children have a bigger role to play in the improvement of things happening around and let this be inspiration for many more to step in without inhibition. All the four reporters and their reports were excellent and aptly intended to benefit the community they live in. I have to specially congratulate Ms Vamika Bajaj on her activities, promoting education amongst ordinary workers and highlighting it for the knowledge and participation of many like-minded individuals. I hope she did get the necessary support she was looking for by way of this report.

From Mr Ramesh Menon
Abu Dhabi

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

Short Take – GULF TODAY – Dt. 18.12.2010 – Mobile Affinity

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Short Take – GULF TODAY – Dt. 18.12.2010 – Mobile Affinity

Mobile affinity

I was recently on a visit to Kerala. It was raining heavily. As I had to go to a forest area, I decided not to carry my regular mobile phone, which had all my telephone contacts. On my way back, I witnessed an accident and suddenly felt the need to contact someone to alert about the incident.

It was at that moment I realised that in my temporary phone I did not have any contacts synchronised. I hardly remembered any required number. Luckily, I was able to remember the number of a friend in Abu Dhabi and conveyed the message and he, in turn, sent an SMS with the required contact numbers. His xtimely assistance helped me take the necessary action I wanted to.

Back in Abu Dhabi, on the first day itself, I happened to assist a colleague who lost his office key while he went out. He had two mobiles and both the phones were on his table, when he went outside for a quick task. His plight was worse as he did not remember even his own office emergency contact number. Luckily, things were sorted out quickly and he was able to recover the phones.

After these two incidents, it made me think and realise strongly, the more mobile we become, the more immobile we end up with. Whatever programming or systematic organising we do, the old book and paper system of recording is at times necessary for important matters.

Ramesh Menon

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

For the benefit of those who are visiting Sabarimala this season- if possible, please avoid Swami Ayyapan Road if it is raining

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For the benefit of those who are visiting Sabarimala this season- if possible, please avoid Swami Ayyapan road if it is raining

During a short visit to Kerala, utilising the UAE National Holidays, I had the privilege to visit Sabarimala Temple for a quick darshan. I used to visit the temple every year till 1995 and it was after a long gap, I was able to make a trip to this very important temple and have darshan of Swami Ayyappa. Although, I used to take the 41 days religious rituals during this season, somehow or other visiting the temple eluded from me till this year, which I used to diligent perform from a very small age till the visit in ’95. It was all sudden and as it turned out, and as those who came along with me and all others who were present there conveyed, it was a call on duty with a divine purpose.
Kindly view and listen to the Community Report in full at Mathrubhumi online, please click here

During a short visit to Kerala, utilising the UAE National Holidays, I had the privilege to visit Sabarimala Temple for a quick darshan. I used to visit the temple every year till 1995 and it was after a long gap, I was able to make a trip to this very important temple and have darshan of Swami Ayyappa. Although, I used to take the 41 days religious rituals during this season, somehow or other visiting the temple eluded from me till this year. It was all sudden and as it turned out, and as those who came along with me and all others who were there mentioned that this unplanned visit, especially the descend from sannidhanam to pampa was planned by Swami Ayyappa. The road was extremely dangerous, and since I was not in touch with anyone with regards to the conditions prevailing, and also the fact that there was a kanni ayyappa (who was visiting sabarimala for the first time), I opted to take Swami Ayyappan road, to show the way. As we moved down, it was like, one of the dangerous steps I took in my life. The person who was along with me was aged and found the slippery road too difficult. To add to our woes, there were continuous stream of heavily loaded tractors driving upwards to sannidhanam along with donkeys loaded with goods, and dolly (manual carts in which elderly or physically challenged are carried on shoulders to sannidhanam). The rush upwards was heavy on that day and then the police personnel diverted all those who were coming down to use this road making it really busy.
Everyone who used this road, used the same path and as we moved on, it became more and more difficult and the steep descend for us were equally or more steep for the fully loaded tractors. Any moment a devotee or a donkey cross in front of these tractors, these drivers were left with no option to control the vehicle and hold it without coming down. The wheels rotating and the muddy road with intermittent rain, made it skid and move towards the pilgrims, and all those behind it.
After seeing two such occasions, I couldn’t resist myself from highlighting this issue, as I found no police personnel, no ayyappa seva sangam volunteers or any other helping hands to rescue or direct those affected from this dangerous situations.

The following self explanatory pictures are added with brief narrations for the benefit of better understanding the situation I witnessed.

Rush of pilgrims on that day at Sabarimala

Swami Ayyappan Road – pilgrims descending down to Pampa rush towards any available space as they listen to the sound of horns of the arriving tractor. The space is just enough for a tractor, with loads on both side to pass, with difficulty.
You may see those workers carrying heavy load on their head also resorting to climb upstairs, either wait or continue walk till the tractor pass by.

Here comes a heavily loaded tractor

And here descends a tractor. If you notice, the driver is standing, may be literally on the breaks to control the vehicle to a stop, on the slippery conditions.
This poor driver had to apply break at the corner, eventhough he had continuously alerted those coming down with whistle and horn, someone ran in front and had to apply the break. For nearly 15 minutes, for all those watching from the side and upstairs, it was life and death situation for the driver and for all those behind, as he had absolutely no control on the vehicle as it continued to come down.

Left with few contact numbers that came to my mind, I called up Amrita TV team in UAE, who in turn informed the reporters stationed at Sabarimala and captured the scene. Calls to Mathrubhumi helped me to get the direct number of Kerala Chief Minister Sri V S Achuthanandan and his Personal Assistant , after listening to me from the location, requested me to appraise the situation to the Devaswom Minister. A call to his office and talk with his Personal Assistant, I was assured, necessary measures will be taken with immediate effect.

Upon return, I thought of highlighting it further and a timely video news coverage on Amrita TV channel and a Community Journalism Video report in Mathrubhumi online and a few emails to concerned authorities have made sure that the road conditions prevailing at Swami Ayyappan road will be improved for the benefit of devotees visiting Sabarimala this season and in future.
I thank all concerned especially Amrita TV team at Abu Dhabi and Sannidhanam and Mathrubhumi Online team for timely assistance and willingness shown to highlight this problem with importance.
As satisfying it may be for a person who value the safety of those around and also from a Non-Resident Indian working in the gulf who rarely get to see heavy rain, it started raining heavily as we drove away from Pampa. I enjoyed the rain, heavy rain, and all along was thinking of the thousands of devotees who were either climbing up or down, or stationed at Sannidhanam and Pampa.

With this community report, I kindly request those who read to circulate it amongst those who benefit from it on the dangers of using this road, when it is raining, and till the time the authorities define appropriate safety measures, for the tractor drivers, the dolly operators, the donkey operators and the poor animals and of course thousands of pilgrims visiting Sabarimala this season.

I also:

– request the authorities to kindly install necessary sign boards informing devotees not to rush and run down on the slopes as it is dangerous for them as well as those elderly or children who may be on their way.

– request the authorities to kindly place necessary police and ayyappa seva sangam volunteers on Swami Ayyappan Road to control the smooth passage of devotees and load carrying vehicles or animals till the time appropriate measures are in place for improved safety.

– request the authorities to kindly install ropes or other type of support system for devotees to hold and grip while they descend, especially on the numerous shortcuts which are extremely dangerous, and deceptive.

– although a repeat, I humbly request all young and regular devotees to patiently descend without rushing, as it is extremely dangerous for all those who use the same road for journey up and down.

More to be done and my personal efforts in this will be continued in this direction in the near future.

Ramesh Menon,
Abu Dhabi

Latest update as on 15.12.2010

The above is the print screen shot of a news reported in Manorama Newspaper online and print dated 15.12.2010.  Kerala Government have now approved a 5.5 crore budget to increase the width of the road from present 3.5m to 5 mts and build a wall on the dangerous edges enroute this road. There are plans to have additional or sufficient path for walking. It will be a concrete road. Since any expenditure above 10 lakhs needs special permission from an ombudsman and his approval is required, the proposal will be submitted to him shortly by the concerned authorities. I sincerely hope this will be approved and the road work will get done before the next Sabarimala Season.

Community Report – GULF NEWS – Dt. 06.12.2010 – A solution to the poster menace around Abu Dhabi

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Community Report – GULF NEWS – Dt. 06.12.2010 – A solution to the poster menace around Abu Dhabi

  • Gulf News reader Ramesh Menon proposed the installation of notice boards around the city, in order to discourage residents from pasting ads on building walls, bus stops and other areas.
  • Image Credit: Ramesh Menon/Gulf News reader
    • A solution to the poster menace around Abu Dhabi

     Municipality could install notice boards at prominent places and charge fee

    In recent times, the authorities have come up with various initiatives to keep Abu Dhabi’s streets neat and clean. These include action against putting up posters and littering.

    Sticking posters on walls and public bus stops has been an issue that spoils the image of cities all around the UAE. Motivated by the authorities’ new initiatives, I went around Abu Dhabi and decided to highlight a few cases.

    I found that putting up bills and posters is not a one-off issue. They are pasted in all possible places at junctions and areas frequented by the public. A closer look brought out the content of most of the posters on display. They are either rooms for rent, tuitions or baby sitting jobs that are available.

    This shows the need for a common, convenient and economic platform for the public who wish to advertise locally.

    The same platform could also be used as an advertisement board to exhibit what is happening locally, within a short time frame.

    Through this community report, I therefore call on the municipality and development departments to install simple notice boards at prominent corners in each neighbourhood.

    People who wish to advertise could then do so after paying a fixed amount to the municipality or relevant authority. Inspectors could then monitor and also penalise those who post indiscriminately in non-designated places and spoil the beauty of our city.

    A section of these notice boards could be used to post advertisements of programmes happening within the city, organised by the authorities as well as private parties. This option would bring in added revenue.

    I sincerely hope this proposed system would help reduce the problem.

    The reader is a technical officer based in Abu Dhabi

    Be a citizen reporter. Tell us what is happening in your community. Write to us and send us your videos and pictures at readers@gulfnews.com

    To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS online

    Short Take – GULF TODAY – Dt. 04.12.2010 – On ‘write’ path

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    Short Take – GULF TODAY – Dt. 04.12.2010 – On ‘write’ path

    On ‘write’ path

    I was with a friend the other day. As we walked discussing several topics, we passed a post box. Suddenly, our topic changed to the tradition and forgotten art of letter writing.

    It is Christmas and New Year time and we remembered and talked to each other about the olden days when we used to anxiously wait for the greetings from relatives and friends. Those days have gone and the tradition is already extinct.

    What made me interested was the fact he told me about his parents. For the past 20 years, he regularly writes to them every week. Once in a month, he takes a demand draft for their monthly expenses and posts it along with a small note discussing the small things happening with him and at the same time curiously asking what’s happening in their world.

    This happens without fail, even though he calls them frequently. He was telling me how happy his parents were when they received his letter and when he gets their thank-you note acknowledging and detailing the smaller things, which gets past their usual phone calls.

    I wish I could emulate him. I am sure many others who read this will also envy him.

    Ramesh Menon