Opinion 2015

Social commitment – Short Take – Gulf Today Dt 30th May 2015

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Social commitment

I have a Facebook account as well as Facebook page and a photography group that I moderate. On my personal account, I handpick my contacts who are there as friends. On the page and group, I do allow, with limited moderation, those who should be there.
The reason obviously is to select the audience who I wish to read my thoughts or will be interested to read it and whose activities interest me. Obviously, it will be the same with every socially committed person.
Recently, a virus hit one of my accounts. I did a housekeeping of my accounts and removed some names I genuinely thought should not be to in my friends’ or contact list.
I believe in the saying, “You are known by the company you keep.”
Social media should be used effectively. If one has free time, it is better to do something good, voluntary or social work, utilising the knowledge skills rather than wasting time propagating what another person or his family or friends do or how his family is or what his social status is.
It is always best to stay focused on good things.

Ramesh Menon
To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online.

Power of now – Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 2nd May 2015

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Power of now

 I walked slowly to my senior colleague’s office the other day. It was his first day from an unexpected leave. As soon as he saw me, he came and held my hands. We remained silent for some moments. That was a moment of long conversation without any words.
 He knew very well I will understand his feelings. He had lost his mother suddenly. Death of close ones bring in a sudden vacuum in life. We tend to get lost on words, thoughts and deeds.
Whom to ask and what to do when someone whom we depended always till then is no more to clear and cover our queries and actions!
The other day, I realised a friend of mine, who is now working far away from his family experiencing the same feelings. He was missing his late father a lot. I am sure many of you have or will have this feelings coming again.
What is happening around us these days due to a tragedy of bigger dimension in Nepal also brings in similar feelings when we read about the sad stories coming out each day.
Suddenly, many are left stranded in life and thrown to the mercy of the nature and of several unknown kind.
We don’t know what future has in store for us. But we certainly know our present is in our hand.
Live our life to the best possible way without hurting anyone and always try to help someone who is in need. Devote time in doing good things rather than whiling it away on loose talks about any.
If someone has nothing to do, it is better to remain silent and enjoy the bliss of being in this present world.
Ramesh Menon

To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online. 

Strict safety norms should be enforced

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Strict safety norms should be enforced
Reader is concerned about workers ignoring safety measures when at construction sites.
Abu Dhabi
World Day for Safety and Health at Work is being celebrated tomorrow, April 28, and our highest priority should be oriented towards the principle of prevention of danger.
A look at some of the maintenance activities being carried out by the staff of some companies that work on the installation of advertisement stickers on high rise buildings within the capital made me write about this important safety issue. They use the suspended scaffolding to paste these stickers on the windows. However, observing them at close quarters I noticed that most of them were not wearing appropriate safety gear.
My fear aggravated when I noticed that a group of construction workers who were working on seven-storey building were carrying out their jobs without wearing any safety gear. This was alarming and there was no way I could reach out to them and inform them to adhere to safety measures.
These two observations highlight the need for stricter enforcement of safety norms. We do note that companies have strict safety guidelines in place for the welfare of their workforce. However, there is always an exception. Some companies even hire part-time workers, and it appears that safety is not a matter of priority for them and precautionary measures are sidelined. This is dangerous as even a minor miss may end up in loss of life or permanent injury to the worker involved.
Through this report, I request the concerned authorities to consider this matter and enforce stricter rules for workers who engage in jobs at high altitudes. The need for a standard acknowledgement and acceptance to conform to safety standards is essential when permits for such jobs to be carried out are issued.
Let ‘Safety First’ be on everyone’s mind at all time. Keep reminding each other and remembering with a strong inner sense the three key notes: ‘Safety for me, for you and for everyone’ as a mantra to achieve better safety results.
— The reader is an operations manager 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

Short Take: Action pack – Gulf Today Dt 25 April 2015

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Short Take: Action pack
It was a short notice invite for a presentation. I couldn’t say no to it when I looked at the presenter’s name and details of the invitees he was speaking to.
The audience were a group of students in their final year of graduation coming from the prestigious French Petroleum university to learn about the finer aspects of the industry in the region.
The presenter was Sultan Al Hajji, a self-made Oil and Gas industry senior in the region. Educated in the US and France, he started from a junior level in the industry and progressed along to one of the senior most level within our company.
In his presentation he talked eloquently about the industry aspects and about the UAE and how and where it stands in the technological and economic forefront of developments happening worldwide.
At the end of the session, while answering the queries of eager students who were extracting more treasures from him, he came out with a gem of an action pack for them.
It was about the importance of networking for students as a means of improving their professional vistas to a greater horizon. He said to them to work hard as there is no alternate option for success.
At the same time, he told them to identify their primary and secondary interest levels and start networking with the right choice of contemporaries, seniors and experts to consistently update them with what is happening around them.
Sharing knowledge and expertise is the pathway to a successful career ahead. Identifying right mentors and right network to be in is essential for students.
Later, at some point of time, whenever these like-minded and networked contacts catch up with each other, it will prove that they all carried the same zest for success in life.
Moreover, it will not be a surprise to see that many of them may be knowing each other, due to their focus and path they opted for their personal and professional success.
Looking at the students’ expression at the end of the session, I felt it would be an everlasting action reminder and impression they would carry along from this visit to their future ahead. 
Pearls of wisdom like these are very rare to get these days.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi
Short Take – Gulf Today
Dt. 25th April 2015

TheNational@7: A truly national conversation with our regular letter writers

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Ramesh Menon, Indian, living in Abu Dhabi
I’ve been writing letters to The National since its inception and have always found its best qualities are to raise important issues and to reflect the pulse of those living in the UAE. Letters to the editor bring important topics to the attention of the relevant authorities and there have been several instances when quick action has been taken on issues raised in this way. These include pedestrian problems, road safety, labour welfare, consumer issues and others. I am always optimistic of a positive outcome when I raise a community-related issue through the letters section of The National.


TheNational@7: Citizen journalists answer the call

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TheNational@7: Citizen journalists answer the call

The sight of two window washers working untethered on a narrow 13th-floor ledge of an Abu Dhabi high-rise was shocking.
They were equipped with the proper safety gear but had detached themselves from their safety ropes, leaving them at risk of falling to their deaths on the bustling street below.
The startled witness to this casual disregard of safety was Ramesh Menon, a technical officer at an oil firm who recorded it with his camera then alerted both the building management and also The National.
The effect was swift and emphatic: the window washers’ employer had its contract with Abu Dhabi Mall cancelled with immediate effect.
But because it was also featured in The National, publicity about the incident sparked a debate among those living here about the sometimes lax culture of safety in the UAE, including an editorial calling for zero tolerance towards those who take safety shortcuts as well as a flurry of letters to the editor on the subject.
What it also demonstrated in a wider sense is the way in which The National is an active part of our community. The newspaper does not just inform and entertain those living in the UAE – that flow of information goes both ways.
In Mr Menon and countless other ordinary people going about their lives, the newspapers’ eyes and ears in the community extend far beyond those of our reporters.
This is what the American playwright Arthur Miller was getting at more than half a century ago when he defined a good newspaper as “a nation talking to itself”.
Anyone who wants to know the hot topics of UAE society need only see how our readers express themselves, either through letters or on The National’s social media feeds on Facebook and Twitter.
Rising rents and the general cost of living, the plight of children caught in conflict zones, driver behaviour on the country’s roads, animal cruelty, the property market’s fluctuations, whether mothers should be compelled to breastfeed new babies, gratitude for the UAE’s accommodation of followers of other faiths, the process of Emiratisation and concern with the welfare of those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder are all topics on which The National’s readers voice strong views.
We have learnt to listen and take heed when an issue ignites our readers, shaping our response with the input of the community.
In the best cases, this dialogue can both highlight a problem and lead to its solution. In the window washers’ case, it meant there did not need to be a tragedy – for the negligent window washer or any innocent pedestrian walking below – before action was taken.
The same dynamic applied when another reader’s tip alerted us to theplight of two puppies – one with a paw deliberately hacked off and the other with damage to its foot pads – that were abandoned in the desert outside Dubai and left to die.
Our readers were shocked by this wanton act of cruelty, but it ended happily for Stumpy and Bernard, as the two puppies were named by their rescuers. Readers donated more than Dh7,000 – enough to pay for their medical treatment – and this included Dh3,000 from an American reader who saw the story on The National’s website.
The best news came from a couple who read The National. Hank Harrington, a helicopter pilot with Dubai Royal Air Wing, and his wife, Lynn,adopted the puppies, who will have a large garden to play in when the couple relocate to Britain in six months.
These are but a couple of examples of the wave of instances of what has been dubbed “citizen journalism”.
This mirrors the changes that have taken place since The National’s first edition was published seven years ago. It seems like ancient history now, but social media networks, microblogging sites and smartphones were all in their infancy on April 17, 2008.
Facebook had only 80 million members then, compared to 1.4 billion now; Twitter members were collectively sending an average of just about 1 million tweets per day, a fraction of the 50 million now; and the iPhone had been launched in the United States less than a year earlier. Today the UAE has the highest per capita use of smartphones in the world.
These forces combined to enable those living here to interact with The National in a way unimaginable to previous generations of journalists. Now, when there is a multicar pile-up on a foggy road or a major fire in the UAE, we receive images from readers in minutes. Comments on The National’s website come from every corner of the world.
This is as it should be, when a newspaper is having a dialogue with the community it was established to serve.


My thank you note:
It was surprising to see a special mention about me in the 7th Anniversary edition of The National! Safety First. Let the mantra within us be “Safety for Me, Safety for You and Safety for ALL”.
Thank you The National team. 

Safety rules are being breached

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Safety rules are being breached

I have seen workers in harnesses installing billboards or putting stickers on high-rises. But when I looked closely, I noticed that most of them did not have adequate safety gear. This has happened on more than two occasions.
Once, I was frightened for a group of men who were working on a seven-storey building without any protective gear whatsoever. I am sure that these are not stray cases. People will continue to flout the safety rules if such lapses are not reported.
At the same time, strict enforcement of rules is necessary.
It’s mostly smaller companies that ignore the rules as they engage contract or part-time workers. 
They need to be monitored all the time.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi
To read it in original, please visit The National online.

Parents need to take absolute care – Gulf News Debate – The ethics of Facebook friends Dt 12th April 2014

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Parents need to take absolute care
This is an important topic with modern day relevance connecting academic and family values. Literally, every school-going child in the UAE is exposed to digital media in one way or another. Social media like Facebook and WhatsApp are good when used with parental assistance. Prolonged one-on-one correspondence and interactions on these online platforms without supervision will definitely give opportunities to peep into one another’s personal matters and many times it can go outside the boundaries of etiquette and morality. A school-going child up to his graduate level does require parental monitoring. Absolute care should be taken to follow them, their activities within and outside school to make sure they are progressing on the right path.
Children are exposed to knowledge and information much easier than us and it is a parent’s duty to make sure that their children is not going astray from his or his family’s goals and dreams. The educational authorities and schools should give this subject greater thought and study the probability of taking the right measures to define which medium and up to what extent teachers and students can interact on social media.
From Mr Ramesh Menon
Abu Dhabi

Changing world – Gulf Today – Short Take – Dt 11th April 2015

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Changing world
Every morning when I go to office, I see a little girl going to her school. She will be struggling to smile and say good morning as she is yet to awake from her sleep. Her mother will be carrying the bags and bottle and literally carrying her to the waiting bus.
Days went on and suddenly one day as I was going to office, I noticed all the three members of the family together. The girl was in a cheerful mood and said to me, “We are leaving for India!” I thought, they were going for school holidays. Then the father corrected, “No, we are leaving for good.” I felt sad.
The other day while going to the office, I saw a pair of old tri-cycles at their doorstep. Abandoned and reminding of a childhood that had moved on.
This brought many thoughts in my mind. The modern age children are victims of several circumstances. When I go to my home in Kerala, I get to see the books, toys and many other items I used during my childhood days. Neatly kept and displayed in my room at our home. The fact that parents remained in one place and availability of place and personnel made those items remain intact for years for me to be reminded of my young age.
How many children these days get this privilege? How many parents have time to think about their children and their personal preferences and choices? Even if they do, can they accommodate those demands, if they have a job that makes them move around the world?
Are these the reasons for children becoming non-materialistic and non-emotional? A point to ponder as I wish this little fairy a blessed journey ahead in her home state.
Ramesh Menon

Gulf today – Short Take Dt 11 April 2015
To read it in original, please visit, Gulf Today online.

Family values – Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 28 March 2015

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Family values
The trend these days is to have a dedicated day to remember someone or something special. So we have a day for water, earth, father, mother etc.
Looking at each one of them and the current upbringing style of children makes me really worried.
Are we becoming fully dependent on these dedications to remember our duty and commitment to all these beneficiaries?
Let us take the example of water. In the early days, it was passed on to children from a young age that water is precious and to be preserved in all possible ways. Likewise the affection of mother. It is perennial. Whatever be our actions towards them, their love and care will continue to follow till the end.
Then comes the important lady in the life of a married man: Wife. The culture and tradition is different among many, but the duty remains the same globally. After marriage, there is always a sense of togetherness in everything one does. If not there, it should be that way.
In many cases these days both husband and wife are working. Activities are in plenty for those who want to socialise around. However, share the duties together, give as much time for each other as possible. Show affection and continue to promote and pamper each other with a sustained interest.
It is a special feeling. The affection and care after your mother, only your wife can give. She is the best person who can judge your best and worst days in advance. Only she will have the patience to adjust the environment according to your mood syndromes.
I am thankful to God for giving me a loving wife. No special day is required to promote her as every day is special. I am sure it is vice versa. That has been the case with my parents too. It is a special feeling when I see that they are nearing the golden jubilee of their married life.

Let love, affection and family values prosper worldwide without the need for any special days or dedications.