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.

Team India Special Smiles (TISS) children create history

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A first of it’s kind whatsapp news reading initiative was launched at 1:53 am on Friday, 8th September 2018.

Team India Special Smiles (TISS) is a volunteer based non-profit organisation in INDIA for Special Needs individuals and families.

An idea that came to my mind while doing a truly divine session for the children of TISS, relayed to them and whole-heartedly accepted and implemented with true devotion and dedication. I know, and I know you all know the effort that they took to produce this first edition of this news reading program, titled “Voice of TISS” is extra special.

As part of the program plan, children who are able to read and speak are encouraged to read out the headlines from daily newspapers and their parents will record them and send to me by whatsapp. My role is to compile them and continuously encourage them with guidance at difference stages of this production.

You won’t believe on day one itself, 4 children volunteered and took the challenge. To start with 3 of them created the news on their own about their dream school, that has been approved recently. The topic was selected by these children and their parents. So, you can imagine how closely and fast they took this initiative to their heart. 4th reader talked about the Sharjah Book Fair. They even selected the theme music, and provided me the famous DD music with the first part of the news!.

The art of reading books, newspaper and reading it loud is very important. This is becoming a forgotten art among children who are abled. Here is a group who are divinely abled showing it to the world, “Yes, We Can and Of Course, We Will”.

My sincere congratulations to the children, their parents, the office bearers of TISS and Indian Association Sharjah for supporting these blessed children.

The audio and video of this news reading will be available on Sound Cloud, Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You are welcome to encourage them with your positive comments and guidance.

Due to limited resources available with me right now, the first few editions will be done with minimum video and photos. However, as we progress, you can be assured to watch a full fledge news reading broadcast from these children. I am optimistic about it.

Looking forward,

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

8th September 2018

#TISS #TalentShare – A Talent or Knowledge Within You Is To Be Shared

Video link on Youtube: https://youtu.be/IS_41cS597E

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.

Irinjalakuda Railway station – the need for basic facilities!

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ഒരു ടോർച്ചു കിട്ടിയിരുന്നെങ്കിൽ….

ഈ സ്ഥലം പലർക്കും പെട്ടെന്ന് മനസ്സിലാവും എന്ന് വിചാരിക്കുന്നു. ഈയിടെ നമ്മൾ ഇവിടെ ഒരു സമരം ഒക്കെ നടത്തിയിരുന്നു. അത് പകൽ. പക്ഷെ രാത്രി നമ്മുടെ ഷൊർണുർ പാസ്സന്ജറില് ഒന്ന് വന്നു നോക്കൂ. അപ്പോൾ അറിയാം നമ്മുടെ ഇരിങ്ങാലക്കുട റെയിൽവേ സ്റ്റേഷൻ എന്താണ് എന്ന്. തനിച്ചു ആ സമയത്തു വരുന്ന സ്ത്രീകളുടെയും വയസ്സായവരുടെയും കാര്യം കഷ്ടം തന്നെ. നമ്മുടെ നാട്ടിൽ എന്തൊക്കെ കാര്യങ്ങൾ ഉണ്ടാവണം എന്ന് നമ്മൾ ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നു. സമയം എവിടെ. വേറെ പല പ്രശ്നങ്ങൾ ഗുരുതരമായിട്ടുള്ളത് കൊണ്ട്.. ഇതൊക്കെ ഇങ്ങനെ തന്നെ പോകും. ഇത്രയും കാലമായി മാറ്റം ഒന്നും ഇല്ലാതെ ഈ വണ്ടികളൊക്കെ ഇവിടെ നിർത്തുകയോ, നിർത്താതെയോ ഈ റെയിലിൽ കൂടി ഓടി… പിന്നെ ഇനി ഇപ്പോൾ ഒരു ലൈറ്റ്. ഹേയ്. വേണ്ടേ വേണ്ട..

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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