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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Leggy lasses pose threat to safety of male drivers ..

Leggy lasses in sexy outfits are proving to be a biggest threat to roadsafety of male drivers.A new research has shown that vehicular crashes shoot up as most maledrivers get distracted eyeing babes in sexy outfits.According to the survey by website uSwitch.com, over a quarter admit beingdistracted after spotting a hot woman walk past or in another car.The sexy outfits have even made 7 per cent of male drivers have a crash ora near miss. The study shows accidents shoot up by 50 per cent.Abhijit, a final year Btech student of Srinidhi says, "oh my God! my neckwas almost under a car tyre. I fell off my bike on the Prasad's Imax roadwhen I just kept starring at a 'super model'"."Its funny actually but true that male drivers keep starring at sexy girlson roads and break their limbs when there is an accident. I was the reasonbehind three guys being admiited to hospital", says Ankita, a BComgraduate of Villa Marie, laughing out louder.My gang of boys has a fanda, "week days, Mahindra Hills and weekendsBanjara Hills". Yes that is where you see angels walking on the road, saysPaul Preeth, a degree student of Bhavans.While a 12th standard Akshata's gang of girls say that they have beenobserving guys who reach the hang out place even before them and keeptrying to impress them.Says Charishma, "why boys are back of us? aww it's just magic," sheexpresses laughing out louder."Hyderabad is still partially filled up with all those salwar-wearinggirls and so when guys come across some girls hat-ke, it's quite commonthat they stare", explains Sohail Khan, a marketing executive withVodafone."It's so simple. We freak out almost every where in the city and we arecalled 'The Chi-choras'. We have divided girls into A, B and Ccategories. A for awesome looking girls, B for beautiul and C for chalega.A types are found in Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills, B in Sindhi Colonyand C anywhere in the city", explains Rajiv Jain, the Macha of the gang ofboys studying Btech in HITS college.On the other hand, the city cops say, this should not be the case whenbehind the wheel an that the drivers need to make sure they stay focused.However, youth can gather sweet memories to remind in later part of lifeonly by being mischievous in their adolescence, defends the city youth.

Chinese Phones- User-friendly for theives



The Chinese cell phones that are flooding the Indian markets over the past one year and are in great demand for being cheaper than the branded phones, surprisingly are very user friendly for offenders to commit crimes without leaving any clue.
Almost all the Chinese mobile phones especially Sigmatel S2, S3 and S4 models possess the same serial number or International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) 135790246811220. If it is so, then it is not just difficult but impossible for the cops to trace out the stolen handset.
With mobile phones becoming the popular target of thieves, it becomes necessary for subscribers to get acquainted with some practical measures to keep their mobiles safe.
One of the most important one happens to be the IMEI. In case a mobile phone is stolen, all that a subscriber has to do is call the network service provider, explain about the theft and give the IMEI number. The network will immediately deactivate the stolen phone's SIM card to prevent unauthorised calls being made whereas, all the Chinese mobiles possess same IMEI number that can lead to confusion among the network provider, user and the cops when it is stolen.
The Chinese mobile phones have a dual SIM option and their price ranges between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5000 but have same IMEI numbers, while only the costly models of the Chinese phones have different numbers.
"There is an option to change the IMEI number, but only a mobile technician can do it and not the user. If suppose a mobile is stolen, tracing it out would be impossible if all the mobiles possess the same IMEI numbers", explains Vemula Nagaraj, a mobile technician.
"A number of customers come to our outlet to buy the Chinese mobile phones. Till now there were no such instances where people complained against the functioning of these phones", says Pandurang, a mobile shop owner at CTC Secunderabad.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has nothing to do with the import of mobile handsets nor does it type approval of handsets and the Authority only blocks the stolen/ snatched sets through IMEI number, when reported by a complainant.
However, the TRAI can take initiative in exploring the issue and block such cell phones that can become weapons for anti-social elements to misuse.
Foreign countries like Pakistan and other neighbouring countries have already imposed a ban on these mobiles.

Youth Suicides on rise



Published in Deccan Chronicle on July 31, 2008
More students and youth of the city are committing suicide these days, unable to cope with the pressures of life. More than 10 suicides and over 15 suicide attempts have been registered in various police stations in the city this month.
Experts point out many teenagers and young women were opting for suicide as a solution to their myriad problems on the academic and personal fronts. "We are getting more suicide cases these days," says the additional director-general of police, Mr A.K. Khan. "There are two kinds of cases. One is of youngsters who fail in their studies and the other consists of those people who lack social support."
Authorities at Gandhi and Osmania General hospitals say that most suicide cases they get are of youngsters and married women. On Wednesday, Naga Malleshwari, a student of Osmania University, committed suicide by hanging herself in the hostel room after she failed in one of her exams.
A young student of Telugu University, G. Vishnu Kumar, consumed poison and collapsed at the feet of his teacher on July 14. According to the police, his suicide note said he was unable to adjust to "the obscenity prevailing in society." His family and friends said that he had no known problems.
Similarly, Satya, a lecturer in the Keshav Memorial College in Narayanguda attempted suicide recently as she was abused by a motorist. Another young woman, a call centre employee, attempted suicide in Alwal after her lover ditched her. Shockingly, many youngsters are so touchy that they attempt suicide even if their parents are a bit harsh towards them.
"Suicide rates shoot up as soon as exam results are announced," says Neharika Nami, a student. "Apart from outside circumstances, I feel it also has to with something that’s within the person." "Sometimes it is parental pressure and sometimes it is societal pressure," says Dr Purnima Nagaraja, a psychiatrist.
"Parents should reassure their kids and provide psychological counselling and education when necessary," Dr Nagaraja told this correspondent. "Teachers should realise that they play a vital role in the life of a student. They should be unbiased in their treatment, says J. Kalyan, a student at Osmania University. Compared to last few years, the suicidal tendency among youngsters is about 50 times more according to figures with the police.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

1.25 % of Pregnant women in Hyderabad are HIV +ve



Lack of awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS among women, both educated and un-educated, is increasing the scope for the virus to spread more. As per the latest report of the Andhra Pradesh Aids Control Society, the prevalence of HIV among pregnant women in Hyderabad is 1.25 per cent.
Andhra Pradesh has the highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the country, with two per cent of the low- risk general adult populations represented by women.
Shockingly, a survey done by APACS showed that the prevalence of sex with non-regular partners is substantially higher in the city. As the problem reaches epidemic proportions, the issues of care and support for the affected individuals and prevention of HIV transmission from those affected has become critical.
"Thank God, my kid is healthy and does not have HIV, but I wonder if I will be lucky this time," says Renuka, a 28 year old woman of Hyderabad. Five months pregnant with her second child, Renuka’s anxiety is both evident and understandable. She has been HIV positive since 2006. A blood test at a blood donation camp in 2007 revealed the bitter truth. One doesn’t have to wonder long about the source of the deadly virus as she frankly confesses. "It is due to unsafe physical relations with non-regular partners." And though she struggles to live peacefully with the condition, trying to integrate herself with the community, the pangs of dejection are never far away. Grateful just to be alive, however, she tries to stay optimistic.
Not just Renuka is in the lonely fight, millions of others have contracted the virus in the same manner. Now aware of the pitfalls of unsafe sex, Renuka strongly advises against having multiple and unsafe sexual relationships.
"Usually people do not know how the virus is transmitted and the gamut of myths surrounding the disease doesn’t help matters either," says Dr Surendra Mantena, medical expert at MedPlus Health Services. He adds, "at healthcare clinics, we believe the primary control measure is to educate people and demarcate between facts and myths surrounding HIV/AIDS. Since all transfused products are now routinely screened for HIV, the chances of infection are remote. Babies born to HIV-infected women may become infected before or during birth or through breast-feeding after birth."
On the importance of curbing this epidemic, he comments, "individuals should become aware of the risk factors associated with contracting HIV including unsafe sexual practices and drug use. Public health measures should include Counselling and Confidential Testing."
Besides this there are 28 ICTCs, which provide counselling and testing services to the general population. As per the latest statistics from these ICTCs, A total number of 10,499 pregnant women have been found positive, since two years while the total number of non-pregnant women found positive is 10,499. A total number of 136 babies have been tested so far, who have completed 18 months and out of them 31 have turned out to be positive.

Little girls struggle within to look good


A study by Girlguiding researchers, has shown that girls as young as ten are suffering from stress and anxiety and struggling to cope with growing up in today’s society.
Peer pressure to look sexy is driving girls under 14s to stress and anxiety. The influence of magazines, websites and friends telling them how to look and act, is making them unhappy. It is even driving some of them to do self harm and eating disorders.
"I have seen students of different generations. Three decades ago, girls never knew what parlours were. Now that I see a drastic change in teenage girls. I was surprised when I saw Ritu, a class VI student, bleach her face just because there was hair growth on her upper lip. Kids under 13 have become more beauty conscious these days and that feels weird", says Nargis, an english teacher at Aurobindo college.
Whenever 13-year-old twin sisters Minhaz and Miraz, ask their mom for threading their eyebrows, their mom says 'don't act as if you are to become actresses. Just walk to the tutition".
"All my friends go for threading their eyebrows. I have a slightly visible mustache, I would feel good only if I get my upper-lip done", says Minhaz.
Young girls are longing to look peppy and stylish but either family customs are not allowing them to or their tender age that is yet to mature.
"Kids aged between 8 to 9 years of age are just sneaking into the parlours whenever they want when they are denied to by their parents. Infact my 9-year-old daughter Varsha did that. She asked me for three five rupee coins saying that she would drop them in her kiddy bank but she got her eyebrows done with that money. She thought that I wouldn't recognize", says Vani Srinivasan, a home maker.
Youngsters these days are attaining puberty in a fast pace and so they want to be perfectionists in everything. In the list, beauty is given the top criteria and then other things follow. Most of the advertisements focus on youngsters these days. Every young girl would want to look sexy and so they are preferring body-hugging clothes.
"Many school going girls visit my parlour. Infact let me tell you an instance where a little girl just came in and said 'aunty! I want to get my hair set and can you apply that face cream that you applied to my mom last evening? And trust me that girl would be not more than 8", says Shilpi Jane, who owns a parlour in Malkajgiri.
"Young girls are being forced to grow up at an unnatural pace in a society that adults have created. Going for a bleach or gwtting their eyebrows shaped is not abnormal but depedancy on beauty parlours to look sexy in an early age is unwanted as they would any way go to a parlour once they attain puberty. Their interest in looking good should be considered. But parents should however keep an eye on things like waxing that spoil the tender skin if opted for in such an early age", says Purnima Nagaraja, a psychiatrist.
However, a healthy attitude and a realistic concept of understanding things would assist kids in living a healthy life.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's all about livelihood and not living in sin for them..



Euphemistic expressions, patronising gestures and a facile moralising characterise the society's responses to prostitution. These are "fallen'' women who "live in sin'' and must be "rescued'' and "rehabilitated''.
Varalakshmi, a 30-year-old woman suffered severe injuries when she fell from the second floor of a rescue home, when she tried to escape. she was housed at Swadha shelter home at Alwyn colony in Kukatpally as part of a rehabilitation project, after she was arrested by the police.
When asked why she had to escape, this is what she had to say "I am a human being too. I wanted to see my daughter."
While the other five inmates succeeded in their escape, Varalakshmi got caught. Her saree got hooked to a rod on the wall when she tried to jump. She fell from the second floor and suffered severe injurues to her limbs. She was admitted to Gandhi Hospital.
"This is the third time that inmates have escaped from this home," said Nirmala, a supervisor of the home.
Like Varalakshmi, there are many sex workers in the city who get caught in police raids and are sent to rehebilitation homes. Not all the government homes however, have an initiative to care for these less fortunates.
The luxury they get used to, forces them to escape from the rehabilitation home.
Dhana Lakshmi, 32, who has been in the profession for 10 years, minces no words, "You want us to quit this profession. Okay we want to quit too. But give us real options. Don't lock us up in remand home or separate us from our children. Don't ask us to cut paper flowers and earn Rs 5 a day. If I can earn Rs 50 or Rs 100 every day through my dhanda and support my family, why would I be interested in your five rupees?''
There's good reason why "rehabilitation'' is a dirty word for these women. Several have experienced life in the so-called "corrective institutions'' personally.
Kalyani, now secretary of a committee recalls how she fled one particular institution where a police constable routinely rounded up women and took them to service local bigwigs.
One of the biggest problems they face is police oppression. The reason for this is simple. Laws meant ostensibly to protect women from falling prey to traffickers, end up criminalising them for being in prostitution.
Under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, 1986, they can be rounded up for "practicing prostitution near a public place'' or for "indecent behaviour''.
"It's so ironical. The number of sex workers have been prosecuted up under this act is several times that of all the pimps, procurers, and clients put together. The police exploit it to the fullest. They harass these women continually and demand sexual favours as a matter of right. Its my own experience," alleges 41 year old Jhansi.
In some states, police are required to book a certain number of cases as evidence of their "drive against vice'' and end up arresting and releasing the same people, allege some social workers. So it is a rehabilitation that do not rehabilitate, a police action that only drives the trade underground.
Vani Raghu, a social worker, who works for the Women's Rights, feels the only way out is to decriminalise the women in prostitution. "It's only then that they can openly ask for check ups or fight difficult clients and police officers,'' she points out. According to her, it is unsafe conditions rather than prostitution that is responsible for the spread of AIDS.
There are one million HIV-infected Indians, 40 per cent of whom are also tuberculin positive, according to figures put out by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
"If women work in fear of a police raid, they are unlikely to use protection. Sex workers have told us that they require at least 20 minutes to negotiate condom use'', Deepa, a volunteer says.
It is the trafficker who must be criminalised not the women who are in the trade. But decriminalising these women is not enough. Social workers say,"they must be guaranteed basic human rights." "The difference between an ordinary Indian woman and a sex worker, is that one has rights, the other doesn't.'' Attempts to organise around such demands are being made in isolated corners of the country which when spread across cities like Hyderabad, can have more impact.
"We feel these self-regulatory boards, controlled by us, can help in tackling problems like HIV/AIDS and the entry of children into the trade,'' says Mala, a coordinator.
Already, some organisations and committees have set up co-operative banks, schools and are running telephone hotlines to extend social and psychiatric supports to the AIDS/HIV afflicted, and even have a flourishing theatre wing.
The experience of organising other women like her has given Mala, who entered a brothel at the age of nine some 25 years ago, a rare confidence.
She can speak into a microphone before a large group of people without a trace of hesitation -- something most women in her village would have found difficult to do. And this is what she has to say, "although our bodies are sold like those of a doll, we are not inanimate objects. We are people with feelings, with a heart, with a mind. Society must, therefore, treat us like human beings."

"Drink and Drive, no more Survive"



If you are planning to drive back home in the night after a drink or two with your friends at a party, take a shot of these figures. In few weeks, over 1600 cases of drunken driving were registered in the city.
Drinking and driving together can make a cocktail deadly enough to land one in jail and penalty for drunken driving can range from Rs 300 to Rs 1,200 and people booked for the offence will be kept in judicial custody for a day.
Krishna, Madhu, and Nagi Reddy died on the spot after their car crashed into another vehicle in Khairatabad recently. The three were heading home after a party.
Teenager Prasanna kumar met his end on his way home, after having a couple of drinks with his friends. He died on the spot after his bike ran into a truck near ECIL. Little did he know that the pegs he had before driving would be his last.
Experts point out various reasons for the increase in drunken driving cases. They say it has increased substantially in the last couple of years due to increasing levels of income, stress, overtime in jobs, and peer influence.
According to police, people in the age group of 20 to 30 years are the ones who are booked for drunken driving, and they are the most frequent visitors to bars and pubs.
The accident prone areas in the city are identified as Trimulgherry cross roads, Banjara Hills road numbers 3, 10 and 12, Jubilee Hills checkpost, SR Nagar cross roads, Punjagutta, Ameerpet, Patny, Paradise, ECIL, Kushaiguda, Uppal, LB Nagar and Mehdipatnam.
Surprisingly, these days motorists are being caught by traffic cops for drunken driving even in the day time. "Most of the drunken driving related cases and fatalities are recorded in between 11 pm and 1 am, which is the time people return from pubs and parties", said VSK Kaumudi, additional commissioner, Traffic. "I was surprised when we caught three guys drunken driving in the day time recently at Khairtabad", he added.
Durga Reddy, a bar owner says, "we provide liquor and food to customers seeking them. It's up to people to decide whether they are drunk enough not to drive. The government has asked us to close shop at 11.30 pm, and we stick to that rule".
Special arrangements have been made by the traffic police to check drunken driving in the city both in the day and night. Policemen are equipped with breath analysers to detect alcohol intake, and presence of policemen will be beefed up in crowded areas and entry points to the city.
Though there are no government rules asking bars and restaurants to discourage people from drunken driving, if every bar owner takes it as an additional responsibility, such cases of fatalities due to drunken driving can be prevented upto an extent, express some people.

"Increase in fuel price - violate traffic rules", motto of motorists



Increase in fuel prices is making more people violate traffic rules in the city. Motorists are reluctant to drive a long way to take a U-turn as driving on the wrong side is easier and saves them fuel too.
Driving on the wrong side of the road is a serious offence and such traffic violators will no longer be called as violators but offenders, say the Traffic police.
As most of the roads in the city these days are made one-way, motorists are going against the traffic rules to save both time and fuel.
Interestingly, most of the cases booked are near Somajiguda circle, Punjagutta junction, Begumpet, Himayatnagar and other busy roads in the city. This in turn is causing inconvenience to other road users and leading to accidents.
Recently, a college student who drove his bike on the wrong side at Himayatnagar, got hit by an auto coming from the opposite side and had severe injuries.
People are arguing with the traffic police when they are caught for violating traffic rules saying that they are doing so just to save fuel.
"What else can I do than drive on the wrong side when there is no U-turn close by. I have to drive almost a kilometre to take a U-turn and fuel prices and touching sky",says Vishnu Vardhan, a business man in the city.
Traffic police though are imposing fines on such violators, motorists seem to be unaffected with it.
While on the other hand, many roads in the city have barricades as dividers and people happily push them aside for space to take a turn and don't bother to replace them.
People are literally in chaos when they suddenly see a vehicle coming opposite in their way.
"Driving on the wrong side is a very serious offence. Most of the violators are sent to court and the court will impose fine on them", said VSK Kaumudi, Additional Commissioner, Traffic.

Parking crisis in the city



Parking crisis is an ugly manifestation of automobile dependence in the city. Citizens allege that the authorities concerned are not properly identifying the "No parking" zones but are simply fixing the boards anywhere in the city.
Spacious places in the city are being marked as "No parking" zones while messy and congested roads still have vehicles being parked even on the foot path.
Especially in areas like Punjagutta, Somajiguda circle, Khairtabad, Ameerpet, Mehdipatnam, Lakdi-ka-pul and motorists are allowed to park their vehicles literally onto the roads and footpaths. While all the road side places are "No parking zones", places which put up "Parking boards", can be used to park vehicles. If this is taken into consideration, people have no place to park at all in the city but their residence and office. Both the traffic police and the GHMC have rights to identify "parking" and "No-parking" zones in the city, involving the area ACPs.
Traffic police have recently identified more than 10 important junctions in the city where the traffic density is highest. The places where there is no security personnel are also identified as "No parking" zones, as there would be none to take the responsibility of any bad situation. "The parking of vehicles especially four- wheelers within the specified zone are simply towed away", says VSK Kaumudi, Additional Commissioner, Traffic.
Citizens allege that, all the spacious and parking friendly places are being categorised under "No parking - towing zones", that is decreasing the available place to park vehicles." 'No parking' zones are identified for name sake", says Karthik Subramaniam, a software engineer.
Most of the commercial buildings in the city are built, with no parking space included in the plan at the time of construction and it is in turn causing trouble to the motorists. For instance, the Minerva coffee shop building right in front of the Somajiguda circle has no parking lot and there are security personnel who guide people to park their vehicles literally on the foot path. Till recently, there was also parking pay practised there.
Similarly, Navaketan building, Chandana Brothers, Patny, Shop owners say, "we don't own the whole building. We just have our outlet in one of the shops in the entire complex. The builder should be held responsible."
The GHMC officials say, the places where there is no proper security and lonely areas are also identified as "No parking" zones, as there would be none to take the responsibility of any bad situation that has every scope to occur.

Motorists fix Side view mirrors for name sake



Though there are rules passed long ago that the side view mirrors are compulsory for all vehicles, city motorists are just fixing them for namesake and are not using them.
Rule 125 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 clearly reads that rare view mirrors should be fixed to all motor vehicles. Similarly, the rule 316 reads that, every motor vehicle shall be fitted with view mirror so that the driver has a clear view of the road in all directions and the rule 434 reads that no person should be allowed to sit or stand in such a way that the driver's view is obstructed.
The city cops agree that it is a serious issue but surprisingly, not a single case was booked against motorists who don't use side view mirrors.
Without observing the movement of other vehicles in the mirrors, people take a sudden turn not even with an indicator on, which is confusing the other road users and also leading to accidents sometimes.
For instance, in Hyderabad, side view mirrors of all vehicles are folded in. Woe be the motorist whose side view mirror remains in the intended position, for sooner or later it will be part of the road debris.
Anyway people have an intention of identifying, vehicles, with the horn, if it is a two wheeler, a car, an auto or a bus.
Amit Kumar , a student says, "I don't need to look into the side view mirror as I can identify the type of vehicle, by the horn the motorist blows".
"Even if a biker is at fault and a bus hits him, the bus driver is considered responsible. The society we are living in, has sympathy towards the person in a comparatively weaker level like the biker has when compared to a bus or a lorry driver", explains VSK Kaumudi, Additional commissioner, Traffic. "We assume that every motorist is aware of all the traffic rules. Or else he is not issued license, that is the rule. But as every other person is issued driving license, one spare time to understand traffic rules and regulations", adds Mr Kaumudi.

No 'No parking' zones for city motorists



City motorists are infamous for parking their vehicles at places where they are not supposed to, if one goes by the number of such violations reported. Parking violations topped the list of violations in the city. Though the traffic police are keeping an eye on all the main junctions and lifting vehicles parked in no-parking zone, the problem still persists.
With no thought of inconvenience to other road users, people park on the road, just about everywhere, be it on the Necklace road, near Hyderabad Central, near G Pulla Reddy sweet shop in Somajiguda, very close to Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s residence or a dozen such locations in the twin cities. Boards that clearly say ‘No Parking - Towing Zone’ do not appear to deter violators.
Of the 15 lakhs cases booked last year, parking violations topped the list of over 20 types of violations, numbering over 2,00,000 cases. This is followed by extra-projection (height-load or overloads) in auto trolleys, vans and lorries, cell phone driving and others.
The total revenues netted by the traffic police in the form of penalties and compounding fee in the last six months was over Rs 7 crore, while it was over Rs 13 crore in 2007.
People, however, blame Government for the chaotic situation. "What else can we do than parking vehicle somewhere on the road, when there is a long way to take a U- turn and reach the shop on the other side", says B Vikas, a BTech final year student of SNIST.
Shopping malls, multiplexes and amusement parks - they are all there in the happening Hyderabad but most of them lack enough parking places leading to chaos on the main roads. They allege that the government has been granting approval for buildings which do not have sufficient parking space.
"Municipal officials and traffic police should take proper action against builders for not providing adequate parking in complexes", says Ananth Raj, a software engineer.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) VSK Kaumudi says focus was being laid on preventing motorists from parking at no-parking zones to ensure smooth flow of vehicular traffic. "We have organised inspections periodically with cranes to curb it and we have our inspectors inspecting the main junctions," he says.
Experts caution that the situation would be more ‘alarming’ with increase in vehicle population, particularly four-wheelers and so it is time to address the problem now.

Multi-tasking while driving



First it was drinking. Then it was cellphone driving. Now text-messaging is the latest behind-the-wheel or behind-the-handle activity, traffic cops are trying to curb.
When caught by a traffic cop, Nikhil Anand, an Intermediate student of Bhavans argued "I did not speak over the phone. I was just SMSing my friend. I din't violate traffic rules as only talking over cellphone is prohibited and not SMSing" and then the traffic cop had his mouth wide-open with utter-surprise.
"All my friends do it," says Vishali Mehta, a 18 year old who admits that she too occasionally sends texts while driving her car despite a ban on cell phone use for drivers with learners' permits. "I SMS even when I am driving just to keep myself available to my friends" she adds.
"Young people these days are SMS freaks. As all the cellphone connection companies are offering '1 paise per SMS' offer, people prefer to communicate via SMS than a call though it is dangerous while driving", says T Vani, a teacher at Foster School.
"It's okay. It is not dangerous as I am used to texting. I know when to press which key. So I keep texting without looking at the mobile screen while I drive my bike", explains John Diwakar, a Btech graduate.
Youngsters have even posted videos of themselves texting while driving on YouTube, and many younsters have joined a Facebook group called "I Text Message People While Driving And I Haven't Crashed Yet!"
Keeping attitudes aside, texting while driving has been cited as a likely factor in fatal accidents. The traffic authorities have been prompting all the cities this year to consider banning the activity. Cell phones are already prohibitted in the colleges and also while driving, in the city. But these laws may not do much to curb texting while driving. A texting ban is difficult to enforce because, unlike cell phones that drivers hold up to their ear, texting is often done with the phone held lower down on or propped on drivers' laps.
Given the challenges police face in trying to enforce cell-phone restrictions, it's no wonder that different studies released this year by the NGO's for highway safety found that Hyderabad's cell-phone ban for drivers did not deter them from talking or texting.
In fact, cell phone use actually increased slightly after the law took effect. Perhaps most telling, only a few cell-phone violations were issued in 2007.
One of the cities where a lot of public attention is being paid to texting while driving is Hyderabad, after Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.
Pratap Reddy, a real estate businessman, admits he tried texting while driving once - just to see what it was like. As he expected, his car swerved as he attempted to type and drive. "Let me tell you, I will not do it again," he says.
After several fatal accidents involving text messaging, the government should begin calling the officials to demand action. A text message ban in the city should be passed, explain many parents of teenagers. It's always tougher to enforce a law that is targeted at an age group. It can be difficult for enforcement officers to know for sure whether someone is covered by the law.
"We have a hard time determining whether or not they are using the speaker phone feature or whether or not they are actually texting," says VSK Kaumudi, Additional commissioner, Traffic. " Texting is far story but even if a person touches a cellphone while driving its offensive according to the Motor vehicle acts. While driving, one's concentration should only be on the road and limbs on the vehicle contol systems ie; steering or handle or brake", he adds.
Though it is found that enforcement is not the only key to success with cell-phone laws, public perception of enforcement also plays an important role.

Govt hospitals - cruel places for the poor

Published in Deccan Chronicle on Friday, July 4, 2008

Time and again there is a hue and cry about people being treated with no concern at the government hospitals in the city.
One major problem involved in the scenario is that doctors are still considered demigods. And sometimes, there are a few black sheep like doctors, who work hand-in-glove with their doctor-friends to practice illegal acts, allege quite a few patients.
The situations prevailing in the city's two important government-run hospitals Osmania and Gandhi project the negligence of the authorities concerned.
Facts behind the functioning of the Osmania General Hospital, one of the oldest hospitals in twin cities make all open-mouthed. Each of the four entrances to Osmania has a history hidden behind it.
Not just patients enter into the hospital from these entrances but also outsiders who disguise as security guards, ward boys and ayahs to make easy money within the hospital premises. Also, doubts raise on illegal acts happening within the hospital compound. There is none to show concern towards the poor patients.
Shockingly, a school teacher who visited the hospital for a check up, was about to be molested by an unknown man who entered the hospital just like any other patient. The issue was not resolved, instead the authorities screamed at her saying that she was trying to create a mess.
On the other hand, startling facts like the emergency room in the hospital with no phone connectivity, poor sanitary facilities project the hospital's worse state.
While the hospital has been facing an acute shortage of stretchers and wheelchairs, the available ones are being used to carry goods. Severely ill patients are forced to walk around the hospital due to lack of wheelchairs and stretchers to carry them.
Veera Ramulu, a diabetic who travelled from Mahaboobnagar to get his leg operated, had to walk all around the hospital as he could not make out the room number written on the OP sheet. "I have severe pain in my leg. I saw an ayah carrying some goods in the wheelchair. When I asked her for the wheelchair, she was arrogant and walked away", said Ramulu.
Not just Ramulu, there are hundreds of patients who are forced to walk around the hospital as they cannot avail of the opportunity to use the wheelchairs and stretchers according to their necessity. Most patients just go back home after they face such situations as their physical condition doesn't permit them to walk anymore. Though many private organisations and hospitals have donated stretchers and wheelchairs, they don't seem to serve the purpose. Some of the stretchers and wheelchairs are broken and there is none to take an initiative to get them repaired. And the hospital authorities vaguely say that they are using the stretchers to carry not just patients but also to carry goods. "We have 158 stretchers and quite a few wheelchairs. We use them for both, to carry patients and also goods", said Ashok Kumar, Superintendent Osmania General Hospital.
Most importantly, the lack of sign boards in Osmania and Gandhi are causing chaos in patients and their attendants. At Osmania, patients and their attendants are facing difficulties in identifying the rooms referred in the OP or Case sheets, as different sections of the hospital have been frequently shifted from one floor to another from past one year.
Authorities seem to take no responsibility in arranging for direction boards in the hospital. A patient alleges that there is no proper layout to display details of each ward in the hospital. All their time is killed in searching for the concerned doctor and room number that are entered in the OP or Case sheets.
For instance , Hanumanthu , 27, a road accident victim was rushed to Osmania general hospital last month at 12:30 am. A case sheet was given to his attendant at around 4am. They were asked to visit the doctor in room no 302, the plastic surgery room. Attendants pushed the stretcher with Hanumanthu on it, all around the hospital. They could not identify the room. The frustated attendants of Hanumanthu, later admitted him to NIMS. Like Hanumanthu, there are hundreds of people who visit Osmania hospital and all their time is killed in searching for the concerned doctors and rooms.
Meanwhile the security guards, ward boys and nurses torture them for bribes.
"It is annoying that the doctors themselves have no schedule chart of their duties and they are unaware of the room numbers and wards", says a doctor who remains anonymous." "It is difficult for people to make out rooms in the day time and in the night times it is like a pain for them to walk around the hospital", he adds.
While some people suggest that installation of CCTV cameras or computerized systems and monitoring the situations could solve the problem upto an extent, the superintendent of the hospital Dr Ashok Kumar says, "I will make sure that the sign boards are displayed in a week's time".
One can imagine, what the situation at mortuaries can be, when the wards are maintained with no care and consideration.
The cold storage system at the Osmania mortuary is under repair for several months now. Lack of cold storage facility is making the already bad conditions of the mortuary even worse. The PG students and house surgeons are accommodated in the building right in front of the mortuary. However, the hospital authorities seem to downplay this issue as a regular phenomenon. Though this issue was projected several times by the media, the authorities seem to be unaffected.
Poor sanitation is a major issue in the government hospitals. Though the hospital management has been handed over to private organisations on contract basis, nothing much seems to be working.
Lack of power connections in certain wards of the hospitals is causing inconvienience to the patients but creating a scope for illegal acts.
Nevertheless are the situations prevailing in Gandhi hospital. While government is spending crores of rupees for the benefit of poor and for better facilities in the hospital, all the funds seem to be just dissappearing.
Gandhi is the first hospital in the twin cities to have a pyrolysis-based incinerator to get over the problem of hospital waste management. But the plant seems to be less used from the time of its inauguration.
While, all the authorities played an active role in the introducing of this plant, they are keeping mum now. RMO, Dr BV Rao, says "The plant is functioning but its capacity is less. It is designed for the general waste but we are using it exclusively for bio- medical waste"."The biomedical waste is to be segregated from the other hospital waste and it takes time. We are running the plant for about three hours everyday". "Four personnel have received training on this technique of pyrolysis to operate the plant" added Dr Rao.
Though the outlook of Gandhi hospital seems to be pretty good, the situations inside are pathetic. Frequent powercuts at these government hospitals are causing untold suffering to patients. Adding to the poor facilities of the hospital, powercuts are endangering the lives of poor patients during emergency. It is shocking that hospital has no full fledged generator facilities.
While the conditions prevailing at the hospital project the poor administrative facilities, the superintendent of the hospital, Dr B Balraju says, "we have generators which turn on immediately in case of powercut".
Many patients allege that they were asked to pay over Rs 200 if they wanted a discharge ticket or a medical certificate at Gandhi hopsital. There are two types of discharge tickets and medical certificates issued to people. One costs Rs 200 and it mentions a sick- period of one to three months and the other costs Rs 500 mentioning a time frame of over three months.
Unscrupulous IV class workers are involving themselves in such things to make good money. Patients are never treated with love and affection, which are supposed to be the main mottos of doctors.
For instance, recently, the death of a man, Maqbul in a shed at Gandhi hospital and his wife Ayesha having to face hardships even at the burial ground, is still not washed away from the minds of the people. Though the state government has introduced many schemes for the benefit of poor, the patients are left unaware of all their rights in the hospitals.
A situation where an HIV patient was illtreated at NIMS, projects the inhuman attitude that still exists in the society.
Shockingly, vacant beds at the hospitals are used by outsiders and there is nobody to care or question about it.
"When health care becomes a business, doctors lose human values", lament patients.
What, then, makes a hospital good or bad? The quality of doctors, medical facilities or its administration? The answer is: All.

Doctors play hookie..

Published in Deccan Chronicle on Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gone are the days when ward boys and nurses used to bunk duty but still got paid. This trend is now fast catching up with even doctors. They are acting college students as they are lethargic in performing their work.
Attendance, for doctors in government-run hospitals in the city is like a kids play. Signatures in centimetre wide columns in the registers leave no clue about late comers.
The state of punctuality in government hospitals is declining day by day and for this statement, there is a 'yes' nod followed by a grin from all the employees.
"I agree that there is no punctuality. But it is not fair to say that only we are irregular to work. It is a common scene in all the government offices. We travel from long distances" said a doctor in Gandhi Hospital.
While, Secretariat and some of the government offices already have bio metric punching machines installed to record attendance, the employees of government hospitals still mark their attendance in registers.
"We check both the in and out attendance registers regularly and we make sure that all the staff attend work", said Dr Ashok Kumar, Superintendent, Gandhi Hospital.
The OP timings start from 9 am and the doctors are expected to be there atleast by 9:30 am. But the superintendent's office in Gandhi and Osmania hospitals are just accomodated with tables and chairs with no officials present. All the doctors anyway walk down to the room that has attendance register to mark their attendance. A punch machine installed at the same place, can avoid late coming.
"The attendance registers in the hospital are unsigned upto 12:00 pm on some days for which none of the doctors are questioned by any authority", said a clerk in Gandhi Hospital, who wants himself to be unidentified.
"It is a government-run hospital. Like wise, we have many entrances and it is not possible to install biometric attendance systems as we don't have financial resources" said B Balraju, Superintendent, Gandhi Hospital.
"When we visited the hospital at 1pm, a ward boy said that the concerned doctor already left. This happened continuously for three days", said a patient attendant at Gandhi hospital.
Students are punished for coming late but doctors have no punisments at all for attending patients late or even skipping the visit to wards assigned to them.
"The only punishment for them is to install a bio-metric punching machine, that records the in and out timings and this should be linked to their salaries", says P Vasudeva Rao, a retired Railway employee of South Central railway, who was once a victim of a doctor's negligence.

Govt-run hospitals have no proper security





Government hospitals are the most vulnerable public places from terrorist point of view and yet the State government does not bother to provide security cover at important hospitals.
None of the government hospitals in the State is provided with even the minimum security measures like metal detectors, leave alone posting security guards round-the-clock.
Authorities say security measures at government hospitals are a bit impracticable since they have multiple entry and exit points. Manning all these doors is virtually difficult given the financial crunch these hospitals face, they argue.
The Hyderabad city's two big government hospitals, Osmania and Gandhi, have thousands of people walking in with absolutely no security checks.
Last year's twin bomb blasts in the city brought into sharp focus the vulnerability of citizens at public places. And questions raise on the safety of lakhs of people who visit government hospitals everyday and small bakeries and restaurants have a security check at the entrance.
Surprisingly, there is no random check at the hospital entrances and no security personnel available to take a closer look at either the people or the baggage they carry into the hospitals, which is posing threat to the safety of patients, their attenders and the hospital staff including doctors.
After the Mecca Masjid blast followed by the twin bomb explosions in Lumbini park and Gokul chat in the city, the government made it mandatory for installation of metal detectors in all public places like shopping malls, theatres, parks and hospitals.
"Most of the poor people come to us and we trust them. We cannot place metal detectors, as there are many entrances to the hospital. Nothing serious can happen as our security persons check people who look suspicious", said Dr Ashok Kumar, Superintendent of Osmania General Hospital.
"Our health conditions force us to visit these hospitals though there are no proper security checks in the hospital. We are poor people, even if we are killed, there is nothing much the nation will lose" says Mujtaba, a patient attendant at Osmania General Hospital.
"It is a government-run hospital, we don't have financial resources to set-up such systems in the hospital", said Dr B Balraju, Superintendent of Gandhi Hospital.
Sai Lakshmi, a patient in Gandhi hospital says, "firstly, we are not treated properly here and the security checks for the safety of patients is out of question".
Though crores of rupees is sanctioned by the government for the development of state-run hospitals every year, the hospital authorities don't consider security as a priority A hand-held battery operated metal detector costs not more than Rs 15,000, while the walk through metal detectors cost around Rs 1.5 lakh.
"The authorities of all hospitals should have a security personnel for the safety of public. Our department is already working on this and we will discuss this with the authorities of government hospitals and check why they don't have security check", said Mr B Prasada Rao, commissioner of police, Hyderabad.

Youngsters wear Rudraksha to look Trendy yet traditional

Published in Deccan Chronicle on Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Call it faith in fashion or being peppy in praying. One of the most ancient beads in the world, the Rudraksha, the spiritual element sphatika and tavees are now icons of fashion and charm to youngsters.
There are 15 types of Rudraksha from one mukhi to 15 mukhi, according to the inlaying on it. Their price varies according to their rare availability. These are available in different forms of accessories like bracelets, neck pieces and pendants. Rudraksha and spatika bracelets are easily available in city's best selling.
Most of the youngsters buy these as they feel that their fortune would turn positive.
"I wear rudraksha as a pendent in my chain. My grandmother gave it to me saying it would safeguard me from evil. I succeeded in everything I did from the day I wore it. It has been a lucky accessory for me since 2 years. Sometimes I take it off as it doesn't go with some of my outfits but I tie it on my wrist", says Soundarya Shilpa, a manager in Wipro.
Rudrakshas are given to the next generations by parents and also by grandparents as a sign of belief and well wish.Though there are youngsters who wear it as it looks trendy, some wear it because their parents force them to.
"I wear a sphatika ring and a tavees. My family has immense belief in supernatural powers. An unknown person gave this Sphatika to my mom. I have started wearing because my mother forced me to wear but I am happy it is a trend now ", says K Sunil, an MBA graduate from AV College.
Wearing a rudraksha also has a sentiment attached to it say some.
"I have been wearing a rudraksha in my neck since 4 years. Most people wear it on and off as it doesn't go on all outfits. But what I do is change the thread colour according to my outfit. I wear it in the memory of my mom and I feel she is always with me", says Sahana Sri, a graduate in hotel management.
When it comes to astrology, particular rudrakshas are allotted to different sunsigns. People generally prefer to wear panchamukhi(5 faced) rudraksha. Sphatika is nothing but the mineral quartz.
"People who have notions about diseases, bad kharma and evil disturbing them, prefer these" says STG Varadaraju, an astrologer in the city.
These are available in the city's best selling malls and shops in general bazaar, koti, charminar and small stalls outside some temples in the city. Rudraksha and Sphatika are believed to be the favourite accessories of Lord Shiva and that they have a mystique power to safeguard humans.
"These days we get them anywhere in the city but identifying and buying the real ones is important. Elders believe that they these bring luck to humans and make them move in the way of dharma", says Narasimha Sastry, a poojari.
Some college going, wear these as an alternative or as a change from routine.
"I bought a rudraksha an year back on the road side in Secunderabad for Rs 10. I wear a single rudraksha in my neck and I only wear it when I have to attend an exam or any important event otherwise I wear a simple gold chain.", says S Sai Krishna, a final year student of Sai Sudhir college.
Trendy yet traditional, that is the new mantra youth follow these days.
"These accessories are now an alternative to the routine junk jewellery. These go not only with skirts, jeans but also with salwar-kameez for girls and guys can wear it with jeans and T-shirts," says Shirshika kiran, a designer in the city.
It is a win-win scene, while parents are happy that the child is safe, youth are cheerful as they look trendy wearing these accessories.

youth - charity- make up for bad karma

Published in Deccan Chronicle on Friday, June 13, 2008

Call it an internal awakening or awareness of social responsibility or selfishness – youngsters want to do more than just donate once a year to charity.
Some contribute in a small but significant way, like tutoring their housemaids’ kids or spending time with the elderly in old age homes on weekends. Infact they believe that the bad karma that is following them from past lives will be washed away with charity.
"I teach subjects to my maid's kids and I spend money for their education. Call it selfishness or social service, but I feel that my bad deeds will be forgiven by God if I do good things like this", says T Anusha, a BSC graduate from Vasundhra college.
Many educational institutions in the city have started noticing that youth are consciously choosing social work as a career. Hence they’re roping in facilitators and experts in the field to guide the youth.
Some premier institutes, in an effort to make the youth more socially responsible and sensitive, have introduced projects involving contribution to society as part of their curriculum.
"Our college conducts a social service programme called "planet programme" every year, and we distribute books, food and clothes to the kids in slums. I get immense satisfaction by spending money on the poor and I believe that I will reach heaven by doing such good things", says Divya Gomat a BA final year student at Loyola Academy.
These seem to be the signs of growing philanthropic awareness among youngsters.
"I dont do big charities but I provide food to three beggars who regularly come to my street every day. It has become a part of my daily schedule to feed them and they come every day without fail. I feel filling a hungry man's stomach is the most valuable charity", says Sarat Chandra, a tester's analyst at Dell.
Nevertheless are the multi-national companies these days. They also have their employees participating in social service activities every now and then.
"These days youngsters are habituated to a fast life and culture and some of them booze, smoke, have physical relationships which are believed as sinful acts by all religions. So when they feel guilty of what they do, they bribe god by donating money to temples or by giving away some coins to the beggars on streets. I dont think that can wash away their sins. It is the sin suffering mentality they have, which makes them do so", says Kancha Ilaiah, a sociologist and educationist. "If people help poor financially for their education or development, then that can be observed as a positive and good style of real charity," he adds.
Interestingly, Contrary to the general belief that today’s youngsters are self-centered and materialistic, hordes of youth are consciously choosing philanthropy over dazzling careers.
While the older generation ventured into social work only post-retirement, more and more youngsters are contributing towards the social sector while pursuing their careers or even swapping their professions for full-time social causes.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Child beggars - Life is full of bewilderment coupled with fear and hunger

Published in Deccan Chronicle on Thursday, June 12, 2008

The world observes, a day against childlabour once a year.. But we still see many kids live on the platform, in the bus terminus, at way side eating places, shop verandahs, parks, pavements and footpaths, and steal, beg or scavenge from refuse bins enough to eat and stay alive. They move on - by trains, buses and lorries. Most of them are 'rolling stones'.
As per the Government report, the street children in Hyderabad City are more than 30,000. Majority of these street children are below 16 years age, and mostly are migrants from rural or semi-rural areas from all over Andhra Pradesh. These kids are drawn to the city because they dream that they will make good here. But, most come because they are not able to cope with the stark reality of deprivation of food and love in their large, poor and rural families.
Children of drunken fathers, deserted mothers, beaten, tormented and driven out of their homes for petty stealing, quarrels, come looking for a way out - for a break from hurt, pain and hunger. They come by trains, buses, lorries, trucks and trailers, hitch hiking and even walking.
"We have about 10 rescue teams that go around the city to trace out the child beggars or street children. For past two months we have been rescuing around 70 kids everyday. Basically we send them to the social welfare hostels where they are provided with education , food and shelter. We see kids begging with their parents' encouragement. In such cases we taken a written promisory note from parents and release the child. ", says Naveen Mittal, the district collector.
The first few days for the child on the street, out of the village, are days of bewilderment coupled with fear and hunger. Their meager belongings are soon stolen or pawned. Sometimes they are picked up by police and sent to remand homes. They are molested, beaten and sexually abused and with a total break down of coping abilities, still they remain on, only because they have no home to go to!
Needless to say, the vast majority of the innocent children who are on the street are doomed. They are in a system totally hostile to them, with no supports, no motivators, and with no skills other than their animal instinct to survive.
"We seek to be that hand which will draw the these kids out of the dark side of life and support them in their arduous journey of realising their true potential. We are already working on it by tracing child labourers, street kids and sending them to homes by convincing them. Surprisingly, we become uncles for them. They just come hug us when we visit the homes", says B Ajay, Deputy commissioner(labour department).
However, they relish the freedom and independence, and will not easily choose an institution in exchange for the street. When it comes to a child on the street, it cannot be too soon, for his name is "Today".

Pre-occupied minds of Youth



Competition, achievement, success, ranks and marks. These are the only words that are all time there in the minds of youngsters. Sometimes their minds seem to have no place to register new things.
"It always happens with me. Sometimes when am busy with some work and I get a call from my boss asking me to check the new proposal immediately, I just forget about it all together and then I get bad scoulding from my boss. I don't understand why it happens always with me", says M Gopinadh Reddy, software engineer in Lantech Solutions.
Experts say that it is not all about remembering but registering things in mind. When minds are pre occupied by many things, the power of registering new things decreases and so people just listen to things but they never know what it was.
"I have this habit of nodding my head to everything people around me say. But I am in my own world and forget what they actually told me. Once it happened so that I was asked to inform my uncle about an important call and I just forgot. Because of my absent mind, my uncle lost a one lakh business deal", says P Lavanya, final year Btech student of Vatsalya Engineering college.
Educationists explain this scenario as cultural clash and gap between family expectations and youth orientation.
"Youngsters today are just concentrating on the work they do by just keeping aside other things. This might be one reason and secondly, youth these days are practising things of their own interest. So if they don't like doing something, they simply don't register it in their minds", says Kancha Ilaiah, an Educationist and Sociologist.
While some people call it " body present and mind absent", psychiatrists explain that this is a phenomenon that is natural and which occurs due to lack of required concentration and over stress on mind.
"Youngsters these days are attaining early financial independence. So they have no proper relaxation to their minds and they are always busy with something or the other. When they have so many things revolving in their minds, its quite natural that they forget or cannot register", says Dr Purnima Nagaraja, a Psychiatrist.
With the rise in the job opportunities and growing pressure levels, it is only discipline and healthy lifestyle that can prevent youngsters being absent minded.

No-touch therapy energizes aura

Published in Deccan Chronicle on Sunday June 05, 2008

Healing therapies are attracting youngsters these days. Youth believe that these therapies have a capacity to energize the aura in them and help them live life fully and freely. Especially, as these are believed to have a power that can heal relationships, health, financial status and careers, youngsters feel these as a remedy to stress and strain. The objective of these therapies is to utilise the positive energy around us in a right way. Practitioners say that it is a kind of proved science though many ask for evidences.
"If we practice gym, we are just physically fit but these healing therapies help us to obtain mental stability also. I personally feel relaxed when I practice it anytime", says P Phani Srinivasan, an Asst Manager(financial department) at HSBC.
Youngsters feel that, brain - the main organ of the body requires a break from all the stress it takes in our day to day life and these healings act as stress busters.
"Healing therapies are of great use to people in reducing negative suffering and increase positivity in them. You can also prevent the attack of diseases by practising the karmic exercises every day. I personally felt it very beneficial to me", says A Balaji Naidu, an Asst manager, Reliance communications.
Interesting fact is that in karmic healing, there is no physical contact between the healer and the patient. Some patients get instant relief, but those with serious problems may require several sessions to find complete cure.
"Pranic or karmic healing is an ancient science and art of healing using `prana' or life force. It is based on the fact that the human body is capable of healing itself and this process is accelerated by transferring life energy to the affected part or the area where it is needed", says Rohini Khatri, a karmic healing practitioner at Hyderabad.
It is based on the fundamental principle that the body is a "self-repairing" living entity that possesses the innate ability to heal itself.
"Karmic healing is a simple and easy procedure but people should not mistake it to be a trend setter to look super cool, a self motivated approach towards such healings will be of more help", says ferhana Jila, a training and development professional in Dell.
Another interesting fact is that pranic healing can be applied to medicines to reduce their adverse side effects and the healing practitioners believe that there are seven chakras that control one's body.
"I teach both Karmic Healing and Reiki. Interestingly, many of my students are youngsters who get drawn to the healing courses in order to improve their personal, professional and spiritual lives", says Poornima Dayal, a healing therapy practitioner at Banjarahills.
The spiritual thoughts of youth attribute to the "Karma" and they believe that both present as well as future have a direct impact of karma/actions - accumulated over the past lives.

Social phobia in youth



It's just human to develop phobias. But these days it's the social phobia that is bothering youngsters. Though competition and success is all that matters for the youth, they have unknowingly developed fears, which haunt them every now and then.
T Anusha, a BSC graduate, says, "I am scared whenever I see a group of people, but I am not an introvert. Not that I feel shy in expressing my opinion in the public, but I have developed a sort of phobia towards crowds. Recently, I could not clear an interview in GE as I was not vociferous in the group discussion held because of group phobia and I could not get the job."
Psychologists explain that a fear is rational and when it becomes irrational it is a phobia. They say there has been a spurt in the number of cases related to phobia of late.
"Earlier we used to get about 30 cases a month and now it has gone up considerably. We used to deal with cases of depression. But now we are receiving cases of phobia too, particularly social phobia," says Dr Cherukuri Ramana, senior psychiatrist. Explaining the reasons for the emergence of social phobia, he says, "when I come across youth with he problem of social phobia, I identify reasons like variations in their colour complexion, height, weight, appearance and things like communication."
Some people have a particular fear of eating in public. Even though they have social skills, they try to avoid social situations outside their immediate family and so they get used to being very lonely.
Lakshmi Priya, an MCA graduate says, "I have good technical and problem solving skills. But I don't like to go into huge gatherings or functions. I am alergetic to social parties. I just like being alone at home and I am happy being like that."
"Youngsters who come to us often tell us that they have a fear of facing a group of people as they have acne or unwanted hair. They feel that the social phobia can be rectified," says Mrs Anuradha, beauty expert, Anoo's beauty school.
There are several theories about why social phobia develops. But how much this is to do with inheritance through genes is still uncertain.
"Being social is an art. However this does not mean that only those who have the gift of the gab can be social. No dynamic essentials are needed for this though. But I did a simple start off with an evening walk with few neighbours and it really helped." says, Karttick Joseph, a mass communication graduate.
"There are several theories about why social phobia develops. It does seem to run in families. But how much this is to do with inheritance through genes is uncertain.", says Dr N Anita , a psychologist.
Experts say that the best way to get over a phobia is to expose yourself to the feared situation and to tolerate the anxiety until it starts to decrease. Ultimately, it is all about being a professor of happiness.

50 paise has no more face value


Published in Deccan Chronicle on Thursday, May 29, 2008

Five, 10 and 25 paise coins have already been inducted into museums and now it is the turn of 50 paise coins to get enrolled into this list of "heritage" coins.
While grandparents keep recalling their childhood, that one paise had great value, the 50 paise coin now has lost its sheen in the business circles. The biggest of small coins, has no more acceptance in shops, petrol bunks and RTC buses.
Gundu Ramulu, a vegetable and fruit vendor, was offered 50 paise coins worth Rs 3. He refused to take and said, "if you offer this to beggars, they throw it on your face. They are demanding for 2 rupee coins these days. Give me three Re 1 coins or just give me a five rupee coin but no change I accept."
In fact, many a times the 50 paise coins are confined to money collection boxes these days. Keeping them with us or even accepting it is like becoming a laughing stock.
"No vendor will price his product at Rs 3.25 or Rs 7.50, even though that would be a win-win price for both the seller and the buyer. The habit of rounding off amounts, has become common these days" says C Narasimha Rao, a retired bank employee.
While this is the case with retail shop vendors, bus conductors also have given their own spin to the shortage of change.
"If a passenger in a bus pays more than the fare amount, the conductor tells him that the balance amount will be returned later, but that never happens as the passenger either forgets to collect or has to get off the bus in a hurry," says P Madhavi, a government employee.
The autorickshaw fare machines also seem to have magically adapted to the same situation. Irrespective of the distance travelled, the fare always seems to work out to some multiple of five.
"We had denominations like 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 25 paise coins in Indian currency until a decade ago. Its gone out of circulation now and the present generation has not even seen them. I think the 50 paise coin also can be seen only in the coin collection albums in the next five years, as it is no more accepted ", says Sarat Chandra, who loves collecting coins.
Not just in the retail shops or buses that the 50 paise coins have no value but also in cricket says Akhil Raj, a 6th standard student and cricket lover. "I remember seeing not many paisas except the 50 paise as I was a kid then. And interesting fact is that, it would have been an obvious thing that Dhoni was paid Rs 6 crore by the Chennai team though the actual amount was 75 paise less than six crore rupees."
The impression in commercial and trading circles about 50 paise coins being invalid still prevails though all the commercial banks and RBI offices continue to freely accept all the coins for exchange in bank notes. In fact, the Reserve Bank still mints 50 paise coins and also the 25 paise coins for that matter, though apparently nobody accepts them anymore.

Youth follow Astro and Numero logics


Published in Deccan Chronicle on Monday, June o2, 2008

It is all about career and future to the young minds now. Be it love, marriage or settlement, youngsters today are consulting numerologists and astrologers to put on a gem stone and decide their future instead of talking to experts in the field of education.
Numerology is study of the symbolism of numbers. It states that everything in the universe vibrates at its own particular frequency. By finding the vibration rate of any object, you can establish the qualities and energies associated with it. By applying the principles of numerology and using only the name and birth date as the basic data you can determine the major frequencies of different people. A numerological analysis of the calculated frequencies provides significant information on people's personalities and character.
P Sayi, 26, a product analyst at Dell says, "yes now I believe in Numerology and Astrology but not before. I can tell you an incident from my life. I am a Geminian and am supposed to be strong at will but unfortunately I was very weak at mind. That is when my friend and I visited a numerologist. He asked me to put on a ring with a hassonitestone embedded in it. And I did. Trust me, I really couldn't believe myself. I got quick promotion, all my wishes have come true. Now am very happy."
When many people come across the word gemstone, all they think of, is a shiny rock. But there is more to know than that. Gemstones are minerals, stones or organic matter that are cut and polished for many purposes. Gemstones are of course cut and polished for beauty, because of their rare availability. They are in different colours with unique properties. They are believed to have power to control our lives.
G Ramaraju, a Numerology and Palmistry expert says, "most of the people who come to me are below 30 years. They have an ease to know about their future and work hard in the right way. Gemstones are very helpful in increasing positivity in a person's life. But these days due to the demand for gemstones, there are many fake gems selling in the market. So, I advice people to beware of fake gems. Gem stones that suit us and are genuine will really do miracles."
Taking a step ahead, What most people know about astrology is their "sign," which refers to one of the 12 constellations of the zodiac. This is a form of sun-sign astrology, on which newspaper horoscopes are based. It is probably the simplest form, because nothing more than the date of someone's birthday is needed to generate a sun-sign horoscope. But actually, Astrology is study of the influence that distant cosmic objects, usually stars and planets, have on human lives. The position of the sun, stars, moon and planets at the time of people's birth (not their conception) is said to shape their personality, affect their romantic relationships and predict their economic fortunes, among other divinations.
Jatin More, who owns a jewellery shop, Mor Jewellers in Hyderabad says, "now a days I see youth showing more interest in Astrology. They have an anxiety to know about their future. Mostly, people who want to settle abroad or are in search of job, are depending on gemstones. Though gemstones are valuable and cost more, people have no second thought in buying them as they believe that these can control their lives in a positive way. Mostly youngsters visit our outlet to purchase gemstones."
While some People tend to incline towards astrology, numerology and palmistry to get things they want or want to hear things they like or desire, unlike them there are people who blame others who blindly go to just any astrologer to find 'desirable' answers.
There are always a portion of the population who cannot be convinced.

Anti-theft mobile handsets


Published in Deccan Chronicle on Monday, May 26, 2008

After anti-theft systems for cars, now people are looking for anti-theft mobile hand-sets.
Taking a step in this direction, in order to safeguard their mobile customers’ interests, the mobile manufacturers have announced a Mobile Theft Insurance plan for their customers to make it convenient for people to rely on them. The unique features of theft detection software for Mobile Phones: Software would send the thief's mobile contact number to pr-defined phone numbers (maximum five) when your mobile phone is lost or stolen and the SIM is changed.
After installing the software application works quietly in the device by automatically checking on the SIM card information, all without the knowledge of the unauthorised user. It will secretly send out customisable SMS(s) using the thief's SIM card number to alert the pre-defined mobile phone number back to the owner as soon as a new SIM card is inserted. The application will not be visible on phone. It would also send messages to a centralised server where the information would be logged. Support for broad range of hand-sets. Retrieval of Phone Book Content.
According to a mobile technician Vemula Nagaraj, the software can be installed only in symbionic hand-sets and the installation would cost not more than Rs 250. "This software is very useful. There are different anti-theft softwares selling in the market but the anti theft software for mobiles is selling faster than the others" says Nagaraj.
These are the high time days for customers to think before buying an expensive hand-set as, mobile phone thefts are increasingly becoming a constant headache to them. But they can relax and stay cool now, as mobile manufacturers are similarly growing conscious of the problems being faced by their customers.
"Mobile thefts have relatively increased from past few years. Earlier robbers used to go for hand bag and chain snatching but these days robbers are snatching cell phones as they find it easy and convenient for disposal. Cell phone snatching is an offence where the accused will be booked under IPC 379 and IPC 392. My sincere request for all the used cell phone buyers is that hey should ask for a complete set of cell phone along with necessary documents when they buy it from sellers and also the shop owners should ask the person for his ID proof if he wants to sell the used cell phone." says R S Praveen kumar, the Deputy Commissioner of police, City Crime Branch.
It is no doubt a unique facility being availed to the consumers by the manufacturers, but this also can turn out to be a positive note for the manufacturers to promote their company hand-sets and attract customers.