Friday, July 26, 2013

The real terrorists

Thought of sharing three real life stories from the world of bureaucracy.

Story 1:
July 26, 2013:
Today I read an interesting story in the Times of India fontpage. "Jawans on loo break still on national duty".
The story is about a jawan- Sepoy Lakshman Kumar, who was on his way to a toilet while on duty when he suffered a fall along the Indo-China border in Ladakh on August 15, 2009. He died four days later.
His wife was denied all compensations by PCDA - Principal controller of defence accounts, saying the soldier was not on duty when he got injured.
His widow challenged the decision to deny compensation.
Yesterday, the Armed Forces Tribunal in Chandigarh said that 'A soldier taking a loo break during working hours should be deemed on duty for the nation" and ordered Rs 10 Lakh compensation with an additional 10% interest.
The widow asked in her review petition:  "It seems strange that the office of the PCDA is suggesting that a person should not even go out to attend nature's call and if he does, he shall not be considered on duty during those particular moments".

Story 2:
January 2013.
One housewife died in an accident. Since she was holding life insurance policies, her husband files a claim. The insurance company rejects the claim on the grounds that the deceased was "not an earning member" and she was just a housewife!

Story 3:
One college teacher is seriously injured in a train accident in Kerala. He had to spend four years under treatment for a spinal injury and reaches the point of retirement. The administrative section of the university refuses to give him any retirement benefits saying that the train reaches the station at 4.55pm and the teacher was at fault that before the end of official working hours, he left the office! The teacher says that that day was a strike called by the students of that college and there were no classes.

Story 4:
One very famous and reputed institute of the country invites a professor to attend a meeting in their campus. The prof reaches the campus one day in advance. In the evening, he realises that he needs to buy some medicines and goes to a medical shop just opposite the main gate of the campus. While crossing the road, a vehicle strikes him badly and passers by take him to a nearby hospital. After sometime, when he regains consciousness, the doctors tell him that he needs blood urgently. The prof calls up the registrar of the university. The registrar hears out the details and promptly declares that he cannot do anything about it because "accident happened outside the university campus - on the road".

All these are cases of strict bureaucratic execution of rules told to them.
They might be legally right, but when we look at the humanitarian angle to the final verdict, these bureaucrats are the real terrorists. They are "public servants" who are supposed to serve the public, take decisions in the right spirit and serve the nation.
But all these cases show the perverse side of bureaucracy. 
Time has come to teach the bureaucrats that rules should be used, after all, to serve humanity. Not to kill.
Let there be light.

Asatoma Satgamaya
Tamasoma Jyothirgamaya
 Mrithyorma Amritham Gamaya.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cellphone mania – a process of addiction

I have a humble request to people who call me on my cellphone:

Ask these simple questions to yourself before calling.

  • 1. Is this call really important? Can my questions be answered through text (SMS or Email) ?
  • 2. Is this call so urgent and important that I cannot wait for a few hours to get a reply?
  • 3. is there a possibility that the receiver of the call may find it inconvenient to answer the call?
  • 4. Are the topics of discussion of a specific nature that we cannot leave any record in text form ?

I was experiencing a reduction in hearing ability on my left ear for a few years. Meanwhile, my wife happened to mention about Prof Girish Kumar from IIT Bombay who is doing a lot of research on health hazards of mobile phones and mobile towers.
The most important conclusion was that mobile phones have an impact on our health!

As the hearing problems increased, my awareness about mobile phones also improved a little bit. I started observing the calls I make and the calls I get.
Then I realised (to my dismay) that 90% of the calls I made were just out of habit– everything I wanted from these calls could be communicated through text and the reply could also be communicated effectively in the form of text.
Example: During June I get a large number of calls asking the dates of our yearly Design Degree Show. The best example of how text can be and should be used in cellphone communication!!

The next angle is the question of patience. A student of mine called me recently to ask about the price of a particular font. I said that I am not a font vendor and I cannot answer such a question so fast! After a few days I heard that he was calling many other "font specialists" with the same question. 
A clear case of impatience. 
If he had taken the web addresses of font vendors and spent about 15 minutes on the web, he could have found the price of that font from all the vendors selling it. Later, he told me that he was a victim of the "Hurry - i dont have time" culture perpetrated by the big digital products manufacturers.

We have one hour to spend on facebook and twitter. But we dont have time to send a query on email or sms and give the receiver a few hours to reply!!

My ENT doctor conducted some tests and told me that he gets lots of patients from the 16-25 age group. he says listening to music with the earphones is also harmful to the ear.

Lots of cases are reported in newspapers about young people trying to cross railway tracks while listening to music through earphones and losing their lives. That is another side effect of cellphones and iPods!!!

I wonder about this: Is there a slow conditioning process happening around us that all of us are becoming slaves of the cellphones and smart phones ?
Why am I checking my email every hour on my phone?

Look at people switching their cellphones on immediately after a plane lands!

Did anyone die because someone didnt switch on a cell phone on time?

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