December 2008


Indian temples should come under a non-governmental autonomous body for better administration

Of late the number of cases involving corruption in Indian temples because of undue unwarranted political interference has been steadily increasing. Some of the significant cases that are our concern are:

  1. Abolition of token system for safeguard of footwear in temples of Tamil Nadu for the purpose of strenghtening vote banks a few years ago had resulted in illegal contractors playing a bad game. I recently witnessed that in Samayapuram the vendor forces to buy cocunut and garlands and if you don’t buy, the footwear protection is charged premium fee besides an unwanted bargaining before entering the temple, which challenges the mental tranquillity.
  2. The unwarranted law that brings all caste as priests by the current government of Tamil Nadu seems to be injuring the sanctity of various temples. There are distinct and succinct rules and regulations to be observed for each temple and a simple law can be blindly applied to all temples challenging the rich heritage of our society.
  3. Distribution of christian missionary material in Tirumala – Tirupathi with alleged support of Y. Rajasekar Reddy government of Andhra Pradesh.
  4. Misuse of temple funds by Government — A comprehensive report by Hindu Jagruthi.
  5. Unwanted Orations: Besides these, there are people who target pilgrims who exit out of famous temples and pull them into unwanted discussions. Me and my friend who came out of Sholinganullar Pratyankara temple last friday had this incident of meeting one muslim guy who unnecessarily picked up discussion with scores of devotees and suddenly started to raise slogans in support of their religion.

    I called the conductor who pulled the bus to stop to kick him out to avoid unnececessary trouble brewing in the bus.

The best solution to these menace would be to separate administration of temples from government and have an autonomous body to administer them. For example, I really don’t find a valid reason for Hindu temples to be administered by HR&CE department of Tamil Nadu, when others do not come under government control.

Standardization of departments in various states of India is required

Of late, I have just observed that each political party when it comes to power expands or bifurcates its portfolio to create a new department in order that one of their kith/kin can be brought into power. This creates a problem like non-standard departments between the various states of India. The better way to approach would be the central government should create a set of departments like PWD, Health, Finance and each state government should just implement this rule and have ministers appointed for each department.

This way, it would be very easy for central government to compare each states’ functioning, reduce corruption rates and also effectively channelize the tax and income of the government for the welfare of the nation?

Readers: What do you feel?

The need of the day — Merit Minority Institution

Today when you knock at the doors of any engineering or arts/science college for any admission, the only daunting thing that confronts one is the treacherous caste-based reservations and a significant chunk of the colleges posing themselves as ‘Christian Minority’, ‘Muslim Minority’ etc institutions. I was thinking can there be some good samaritan who can bring the concept of ‘Merit Minority Institution’ wherein admissions must be purely on merit basis, without succumbing to any of the caste or religion hiccups without getting entangled in any kind of political spagettis.

I know I am demanding the 100% utopian concept however, at least there should be some move towards the most ideal situation rather than lamenting in the current state/plight of bad reservation systems forever. I am not sure what is the motto or secret behind these reservation systems? I really can not assess the benefits of these reservation systems. God has created everyone equal and all blood in the same red color. He has created brain for all (hope so :)). I am sure that the brain for everyone is made of same tissues and parts like cerebrum and cerebellum. When all these are same and God has demonstrated an extremely meticulous and similar creations, I am not sure why we should cling to all these freaking man-made reservation systems at all? After all, these reservation systems are designed by political bandits to strenghten their vote banks and build up their secret money chest at the cost of our hard-earned money.

Towards this, I love the film ‘Sivaji — The Boss’, which aspires to carry the thought that the NRI (Sivaji) tries to bring up and establish ‘Sivaji Foundation’ serving for the true upliftment of the society.  I really feel that cine field should try bringing up such films more in number to cultivate a renaissance in the minds of public and to help the society conquer the various maladies that are afflicting it.

At least, starting from 2009, let us realise these political tricks and try to work towards a society that is devoid of corruption and love for living beings all over. Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu.

Waste of papers by private banks in India
 
While each of the bank and service provider in India is trying to bring out a paperless administration and billing besides even serving advertisements like ‘Get into paperless eBilling’, I just thought whether they are oriented truly towards saving the environment and conservative. There are little shocking truths which we can understand, if we delve a little deeper into their billing styles:
 

  1. Bharti Airtel Chennai for example offers INR 200 IndiaTimes shopping coupon for getting into eBill and discontinuing paper bills. However, as the pamplet says ‘find coupon inside’, there is no coupon inside the cover at all.  Also with each month bill, they stuff one flashy advertisement of some crappy service which is mostly unsolicited and unneeded by most of us. Even if they save by not printing that crappy paper they can save tonnage of paper.
  2. Once waiting at the HSBC, Adyar lobby, I just observed a sales representative opening the cupboard next to me. It was packed beyond space with handout of Personal Loans etc. They say it is just for the period of one month and they would complete the entire printouts.  Now I realise why these guys depute scores of collection agents in front of our offices brandishing some sick old municipality paper flashing with the words ‘Personal Loans’ and there would be a rubber stamp ‘Call some cell number’. Ethically, they should be giving only the official contact number of the bank but they would be giving some weird cell number of an agent.

 
Because of such reckless use of paper advertisements which about 95 per cent of the cases is unsolicited and which we just throw off after being squeezed onto us forcibly, the entire area also gets littered.
 
I just thought I would suggest the following workarounds to this menace:
 

  1. We should avoid throwing these papers. Take a bit of time to collect these advertisements, cut them into three or four and donate them to the nearest temple. In temples of India, they give KumKum (holy powder to put in our foreheads). People have the habit of collecting some for their homes also. During this process, most people would search for papers. At least, these otherwise rubbish would be turned into constructive use.
  2. Banks and service providers should consider using recycled paper instead of using actual full-quality papers unless and otherwise it is mandatorily required.

 Whilst discussing this with one of my friend, he was giving another little sarcastic suggestion. But after thinking a bit, I just felt there is an embedded reality utility value in the same. He was telling that each week he used to purchase tissue papers from his neighborhood grocery or supermarket. If the banks put their advertisement in tissue papers, he can first see whether the advertisement is of any interest to him. If not, instead of littering the environment, he can at least use it in his restroom thus saving a few bucks. Doesn’t it sound a good deal?

Illegal Travel Operator in Chennai (T. Nagar) restricting people from approaching Consumer Forums …
 
Following up with my Sabarimala trip this year, I just came across some of the unscrupulous business practices of Sri Surya Travels, operating from T. Nagar. To make the best of the season and to fleece the Ayyappa devotees, these guys resort to the following cheap business tactics:
 
  1. They spin off a seasonal travel organization called ‘Sri Dharmasastha Travels’, possibly for evading Income Tax (?)
  2. They promise pushback 2×2 but on the tour day an old bus of ordinary 3×2 is being brought by them. The differential fare per passenger between the bus types and hence the accumulated profit difference becomes a good booty for the travel operator.
  3. In the reciept, they mention the following rule in the reciept that is issued by them to pilgrims:
        “The passengers should not confront them in consumer courts in occasions where the service provider fails to keep up the quality of the service. The exact Tamil word in the reciept is as follows:

15. டூரில் ஏற்படும் அசௌகரியங்களை மேனேஜ்மெண்ட்டாரிடம் தெரியப்படுத்தி முறையான சலுகைகளை பெற்றுக்கொள்ள வேண்டுமே தவிர கன்ஸ்யூமர் கோர்ட் போன்ற வழக்குக்கு வியாக்கியஙகள் செய்யக்கூடாது என்பது எங்கள் டூரில் கலந்துகொள்ளும் அனைவருக்கும் ஒப்புக்கொள்ளப்பட்ட விதியாகும்

 
The head of Surya travels is Lion Balan. I just had a quick chat with him and found out that he belongs to Lions Club of Anna Nagar. I am just trying to investigate regarding the following:
 
  1. He is maliciously using his Lions Club membership to protect himself from any legal effects of the unscrupulous business practices that he is currently busy involved in. I am trying to get in touch with Lions Club chennai to investigate on this front.
  2. He also offers passport services besides tourist visa to various countries like Singapore. Given the cheap mentality, we also need to watch them for any possible illegal passport racket.
  3. His employees also seem to be sharing the same mean thoughts. When the bus was starting when a couple of us went to the office to fill waters, his assistant refused and was heard quoting ‘Water can is purchased for internal use. Please fill water from outside hotels’.
While we were waiting in the evening for the bus, there was one customer of Surya Travels who was talking long time in Balan’s cabin and he was coming out shouting because there were difference of opinion between some promised package tour services offered by them to him.
Unethical use of CellInfo Display — Cheap Marketing Ploy by Airtel
 
The other day I had a trip from Chengalput to Pazhaya Seevaram Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple en route Kanchipuram. Since it is a little out of city, I just thought I can try to make use of CellInfo to see if the place has arrived by the place name that is being displayed. While my BSNL CellOne properly displayed the place (tower) names, Airtel seems to deploying a cheap marketing ploy of advertising a 3 INR music calls advertisements through CellInfo display.
 
I have been observing this attitude of Airtel during my Sabarimala trip too. The whole of Palani to Trichy, Airtel Tamil Nadu was just showing these 3 INR music call advertisements through CellInfo display.
 
Would telephone operators in India understand the ethics of advertising and stop misusing the CellInfo features for their cheap profit-making initiatives?
ICICI Mount Road Chennai, starting contributor to Mission Hilarity
 
Not long after we launched the Mission Hilarity, I just got a telemarketing call from ICICI Bank, Anna Salai branch on 22nd December, 2008. I could not control my laughter but somehow managed to pickup an interesting conversation with the starting contributor (telemarketer). The rest of the post would in a conversation format:
 
Background Information on the Call:
  1. Telephone Number: +914439878265
  2. Date: 22nd December 2008
  3. Time: 12:45
  4. Call Duration: 2 mins 31 seconds

Conversation Progress (Mission Hilarity):

Telemarketer (TM): Good morning. This is Ramana calling from ICICI Bank, Anna Salai branch. Since you are holding a platinum credit card, we are proud to offer you another credit without any application forms. Is this address of yours correct? <reads the address>
Me (Views and Reviews, for Mission Hilarity): Greetings. What is your name told?
TM: Ramana
VR4MH: Ramana (I gave a little expression and intonation expression similar to the one Inspector Govindan would give in Pokkiri whilst telling the rowdy Thamba name). What is your qualification?
TM: Why sir?
VR4MH: You are trying to help me with a nice new credit card. I just thought if I know you better, I can help you too.
TM: MCA
VR4MH: English medium or Tamil Medium
TM: English Medium
VR4MH: How did you join ICICI?
TM: I saw the job posting in ICICI Bank website and applied for the same.
VR4MH: Do you know that you should lookup some registry on ‘not to be disturbed numbers’ before calling. You may be penalised for crossing that lakshman rekha.
TM: No sir. I don’t know any such thing
VR4MH: Didn’t your supervisor guide you before starting the task?
TM: No. He didn’t tell anything about that.
VR4MH: Well. Thanks for the conversation. Have a great afternoon ahead.
 
Inferences:
 
This particular telemarketing call has two offences concealed in it. They are:
 
  1. Unsolicited Telemarketing Call is an offence in India and is a violation of DoT guidelines (http://ndncregistry.gov.in/ndncregistry/index.jsp)
  2. Unsolicited Credit Card is an offence as per circular from Reserve Bank of India [RBI / 2005-06 / 211]
 
Report Proceeds:
 
This issue has been reported to the following as part of statutory compliance. I would keep you posted regarding updates from them.
 
  1. Airtel CustomerCare (Telephone Operator to register and serve a warning/legal action to ICICI)
  2. ICICI Team
    1. Customer Care
    2. Do Not Call Cell
    3. Head Service Quality
    4. Escalations

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