Opinion 2012

Ancestral tree – Short Take – Gulf Today Dt. 22.12.2012

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Ancestral tree
Another year in our life is completing, as fast ever as possible. As an individual, I had lots of ups and downs, turbulent times, losing or winning days. It all marked the beauty of the year 2012 that was.
Several people and interactions passed by during this time. Some, I do not remember at all, but certain others, I definitely remember.
One was the trip I took to India to perform rituals associated with the first death anniversary of my mother-in-law.
We were asked by the priest to name our ancestors. He started asking the name of our parents. We answered. He asked the name of our grandparents. With a bit of difficulty, we answered that too. He then asked the name of our grand grandparents. We got stuck.
Our knowledge train about our family stopped then and there. We decided we should find out more details and prepare a family tree.
Back here in the UAE, I met the other day, a UAE national and colleague of mine, who incidentally brought to me a photo showing his family tree consisting of his ancestors leading to a list stretching a hundred years back.
It took him a great deal of time, but he was proud to show me the legacy. Why should we not try to emulate it as a task for the new year?
Explore our way to our ancestors’ memories and roots.

Ramesh Menon

To read it in original, visit Gulf Today Online
Gulf Today : Short Take dt 22 Dec 2012

Outpass fees for Indian amnesty seekers may be waived

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Outpass fees for Indian amnesty seekers may be waived

Ambassador asks Indian government to scrap Dh60 charge for amnesty seekers

Dubai: Illegal Indian residents applying for a UAE amnesty to exit the country without immigration fines or legal action may have the application fee waived under a new proposal by the Indian ambassador to the UAE. M. K. Lokesh said on Sunday he has formally requested the Indian government to waive the Dh60 charge for the “Emergency Exit Certificate,” informally called “outpass,” needed to exit the UAE under the amnesty. The amnesty lasts from December 4 to February 3 for all nationalities, and each nation’s foreign missions charge separately for the outpass. “I’ve written to my government to consider waving off the fee… Once the Government of India agrees, there could be relief,” he said during a press conference at the India Club in Dubai on Sunday. “The decision will come hopefully soon. It can take time, there are procedures in place.” There is an additional Dh9 service fee charged by outsourced company BLS that handles Indian passport and visa applications. There are also optional “value added services” like form-filling and on-site photography services. Lokesh said: “We’ve asked them (BLS) to reduce this for amnesty seekers by 30 per cent.” He added that during the last amnesty in 2007, “90 to 95 per cent of them (applicants) traveled at their own cost, each (air) ticket cost about Dh1,000… This time we expect 90 per cent of them to bear their own airfare.” Lokesh said financial assistance for those who cannot afford to be repatriated was an ongoing effort of the Indian missions even outside the amnesty. “We’ll try to help the destitute, we’re already helping them on a daily basis… The (Indian) civil aviation has been informed of this (amnesty) and maybe they’re going to give ticket concessions. And I’m also trying generally with Indian airlines.” Last amnesty, about 1,200 air tickets were arranged for applicants, he added. “Ultimately, only the deserving ones will get it.” Lokesh said that those being repatriated under the amnesty may be allowed to return to the UAE in the future. “We (Indian embassy in UAE) haven’t got anything in writing from local (UAE) authorities, but they’ve said there’s no formal ban. Formally, they haven’t told us there won’t be any ban,” Lokesh said. Last amnesty, about 46,000 Emergency Certificates were issued by the Indian missions in the UAE, Lokesh said. “We issue the travel document called Emergency Certificate, we don’t know how many people actually left.” This year, more than 220 Indians have applied so far. When asked how many applicants are expected this year, Lokesh said: “I can’t be speculative – hopefully less than last time. The initial response has been lukewarm, only about 30-50 people daily. In the final stages, more people may come… The bottlenecks may be the immigration centres – they also issue their own outpass – at the last minute, but there aren’t so many Indians there right now.” There are 14 BLS and Indian community group centres where amnesty seekers can apply in the UAE, he added. “There are 1.75 million to 2,000,000 Indian people here, depending on where you get your figures from. Indian’s are law abiding, their role here is appreciated. Some of them have become illegal residents due to some unforeseen reasons beyond their control.” For verification, Indian applicants who don’t have a valid passport or visa copy details can present their Indian ration or voter card, Indian driving licence or details for relatives and their address in India. “Even with a proper name and date of birth, in cases we’re able to find out from our records if they’re Indian citizens,” he said. After securing an outpass from their embassy or consulate, or the outsourced service provider, amnesty applicants have to approach any of 10 immigration centres handling the official pardon programme in the UAE.

My comments as follows: 

It’s a pity that this kind act was thought about after other countries did so to their nationals. Any requirement or actions for non-resident Indians are always a source of revenue for the government and it happened in this case of amnesty too. Let all good actions and thoughts initiate proactively from our legislators and government representatives.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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

Men in blue need proper place of rest

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Men in blue need proper place of rest

Mid-day break rule would help companies provide shade to workers
By Ramesh Menon, Gulf News Reader Published: 16:35 October 27, 2012

The summer holidays are over and work has returned to its regular routine. The mid-day break rule enforced strictly by the authorities was a success and apparently most of the companies involved in its implementation followed it strictly.

However, the heat has not fully disippated and thus, the unpleasant and totally appalling condition of a minority set of worker.

I am talking about a group of workers I happen to see every noon at a prominent sewage maintenance project happening in the heart of Abu Dhabi city.

These workers rest on the road and under the sun in a very sad state. From what I understand, now that the enforced rule is no more active, they are given a choice to rest wherever they can. If possible, companies involving construction workers should consider their field work conditions and assist them accordingly.

I humbly request the authorities to extend the rule as per the average monthly temperature prevailing in each region. I am sure this would provide sustained relief to workers who are involved. –

The reader is a technical officer, based in Abu Dhabi

To read it in original, please visit Gulf News online

Breast cancer a year-round worry

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Breast cancer a year-round worry

The account about Peter Campbell and his family (Expat’s battle to fly dying wife home, October 14) was timely.

In October, breast cancer month, people try to paint everything pink. But afterwards, concern can fade away. I know this; we will soon mark the first anniversary of the death of my wife’s mother. whose breast cancer was detected late.

Women of all ages should carry out self-examination, and if any small irregularity is seen, they should come forward at once for a mammogram.

Most doctors are compassionate and experienced and will do their best to help.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

To read it in original, please visit THE NATIONAL online

Extra caution needed to handle flammables

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Extra caution needed to handle flammables

Guidelines needed to ensure precautions are taken to protect residents

By Ramesh Menon Gulf News readerPublished:  October 11, 2012

While in the heart of Abu Dhabi, I happened to witness a tanker refilling a building’s storage unit with gas and was shocked at the absolutely careless manner in which the process was handled.

The building was situated in the center of the city, in front of one of the malls in the area, and the truck was stationed in the street, where many vehicles continuously passed by.

There was no sign or barrier around the truck to keep other vehicles at a safe distance.

All but one of the workers were out of uniform and the one person wearing a uniform was not near the control unit of the truck, which was transferring highly flammable gas to the storage unit. Nor was there a single person near the inlet to monitor the transfer process.

I was really shocked to see this being handled as if it were a transfer of drinking water to a building unit.

There are restaurants and coffee shops in the building, and the streets are filled with drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who carry lit cigarettes and which could be thrown in any direction at any time.

Also, rash drivers try to speed on these narrow roads. What if a vehicle were to emanate an electronic spark or if there was an accident while this process was taking place?

I humbly call on the concerned authorities to take caution and urgently issue appropriate guidelines for the refilling of cooking gas at residential units. These are activities that need to be carried out under strict caution and guidelines.

Let us take precaution before an accident happens.

The reader is based in Abu Dhabi. Be a community reporter. Tell us what is happening in your community. Send us your videos and pictures at readers@gulfnews.com

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

Jaywalking

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Jaywalking

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi / 8 October 2012

Abu Dhabi Mall is at the centre of the city and there is always heavy traffic movement. Although there exists a pedestrian over bridge, some people still prefer to cross the road, without using it. At times, they do it even if they see oncoming vehicles. More alarmingly, people continue to talk on phone while crossing the road.
Abu Dhabi authorities used to have staff on both sides fining those who violate and jaywalk at this particular point. But, I believe, after the long summer and Eid holidays, all have forgotten this golden rule of not to cross the road at any point they wish, and seems like authorities have also forgotten about this prominent point.

May I kindly request Abu Dhabi traffic authorities to restart the campaign against jaywalking at busy traffic points. I also believe more education is required to update those who are new and also tend to forget. It should be followed up with appropriate fines so that they do not endanger their lives.

To read it in original, please visit Khaleej Times online.

Welcome and waiting.

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Theme – ‘Red in the UAE’.
Where – One of the oldest 5 star hotels in Abu Dhabi
When – 1st October 2012
Why – Welcome and waiting… a traditional arabic welcome tent gives always a warm feeling to relax and converse, the past, present and future.

An entry to Gulf News Photography competition. If you love it, like it here:

Gulf News Photography competition

Who would like to say NO to this red and "made in UAE" item.

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Theme – ‘Red in the UAE’.
Where – At one of the best hotels in Abu Dhabi \
When – 1st October 2012 Why – Who would like to say NO to this red and “made in UAE” item.

An entry to Gulf News Photography competition. If you love it, like it here:
Gulf News Photography competition

Schools should promote health – Letters to the editor – The National Dt. 01 October 2012

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Schools should promote health
Watching the flow of students returning to a reputable school near my home after the summer holidays, I noticed that most the children are overweight.
Because many schools do not have adequate play areas, I think that classroom-based exercise, and health-awareness programmes should be conducted at the start of each day.
Even five minutes each morning could change the students’ outlook, making them more health and fitness conscious.
Smoking outside the school gate is another unhealthy practice that is quite common.
Schools say they are powerless in this matter as it happens off their premises. Therefore, I think it is up to health authorities to check what is going on near schools and take action against students who smoke in public – and their parents.
Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi
To read this in original, please visit The National online