By: Keyur Seta
The controversy regarding the presence of high amount of lead and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in India’s loved snack Maggi Noodles and its subsequent ban in various states (Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Assam soon all over India) has come as a rude shock to many, including me, for two reasons.
Let’s face it, there are many around us who not just love Maggi but are also dependent on it. I know a lot of people (mostly men) who can cook just one dish – Maggi. The snack is also a messiah for people living in remote areas of Himalayas. Secondly, the controversy is completely out of the blue. Seriously, how many of us had expected something of this magnitude to happen with Maggi? None, actually!
As things stand out, we can’t ignore the serious health hazards posed by the snack due to the enormous level of lead and MSG being found in it; lead is around 17 times more than permissible limit. And when the risk is as high as being attacked by Cancer, you really can’t ignore it. Hence, ban on Maggi is the only way to deal with the situation, no matter how painful it is for many of us.
But the issue doesn’t end here, at least for me. In fact, it starts here. The whole controversy surrounding Maggi has opened a can of worms as it has given rise to some very serious questions or pointers:-
1) Was FDA sleeping?: The presence of such high amounts of lead was found unknowingly or randomly by a person who got the noodles tested for something else. If he hadn’t tested, we wouldn’t have realized this incredibly serious issue with the snack. So, this completely exposes the functioning of Food & Drug Administration (FDA) with regards to clearing foodstuffs.
How did they allow such a big scam to ever take place right under their nose? What is the point of having FDA if they are unable to detect such enormously dangerous substances in a snack that is consumed by all, including children? Is their responsibility only limited to testing an item during license renewal that happens just once in 6 months or more?
Therefore, if there is anyone in the firing line due to the controversy it is the FDA. With the presence of lead in such high amounts in Maggi, their failure is proved, which calls for some stringent action against the officers responsible.
2) Celebrities’ Responsibility: Celebrities (Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta) endorsing Maggi shouldn’t be held responsible for promoting such a product. All they need to do is check whether the product is legal and has approval from FDA or any such government body. You can’t expect them to check the ingredients themselves in a laboratory when our authorities themselves have easily cleared the product.
However, this doesn’t give a Clean Chit to our celebrities, at least from me, as they are still guilty of promoting lies in return for crores of rupees. For example, the packet of Maggi says it is high on Vitamins and Proteins. This is a blatant lie as it is junk food. This whole issue should be a wake-up call for our celebs when it comes to endorsing any product and everything that the makers claim.
3) What about other products?: Most importantly, this makes me doubt as to how safe are the thousands of other products that the masses are consuming, right from the time they wake up. As mentioned above, the entire Maggi fiasco came to the surface by fluke after a man got it tested for something else. Who knows? We might be consuming such or similar seriously hazardous products unknowingly.
The need of the hour for our authorities is to check as many products as possible for such dangerous contents and follow it up with regular surprise checks to ensure their safety. Considering the enormous number of products we consume, there is no doubt that this is an almost impossible task. But nothing is more important than the well-being of the citizens.
By: Keyur Seta
The sane citizens of India are furious and frustrated after the Bombay High Court verdict that granted bail to Salman Khan yesterday (the rest are surely insane). This is completely obvious considering Salman’s crime, his shameful twisting of facts and, worse, the manner in which he got Constable Ravindra Patil killed by physically and mentally torturing him through his influence.
Just a couple of days ago, large number of people posted the message ‘Faith in judiciary restored’ across social media. But soon, that faith turned out to be a false alarm. In fact, it has nullified whatever little faith people had with our law system with regards to the conviction of the rich and famous. It has once again reinforced the belief that such category of people are above the law.
But I would like to explore another angle on this issue. While the public outrage is completely justified and necessary, it would be wrong to think that all is well for Salman now. The actor has lost more than he has gained with every bail that he has mastered till now through his influence, power and shoddy tactics.
His life would have been much more pleasant and peaceful had he owned up to the crime at the initial stage itself in 2002. In other words, he would have gained a lot despite getting jailed then.
This is how:-
Uncertainty: Although Salman is a free, the serious charges on him still exist. Hence, his life is completely uncertain. He doesn’t know what would happen to the case and subsequently to him. He will always think about the case before signing a new film. The same would be the case with the filmmakers. Of course, it is easy to bribe your way out but what if the judge is honest like the one in the Sessions Court? In other words, the sword will continue to hang above him.
Lack of Peace: Even if you have the most luxurious materials at your disposal, your life will be far from peaceful if your mind is in complete turmoil. The same is the case with Salman right now. He might appear happy to the outside world but a person who has committed such a crime and later, to save himself, had an eye-witness tortured to death can never have a peaceful sleep. Self-created jail can be more troublesome than real jail.
Golden Opportunity: Salman failed to grab the golden opportunity of becoming a real-life hero by confessing to the crime. Had he done that in 2002 itself, he would have been completely free by 2007 (if he was given a five-year sentence) and the ghosts of uncertainty would have vanished. He would have been free to take any decision regarding his future without a bother about the case and would have won many a hearts, including mine.
Personal Life: It is not right to comment on anybody’s personal life but this is purely from the point of view of what could have happened had Salman confessed. Quite a few times Salman has said that he hasn’t married till date because of the sword of the case hanging above him. So, naturally, had he confessed his crime soon enough, he would have been free long back to get married and started his own family.
Stress: Anybody who has visited court even for a minor issue would agree that court visits are truly stressful. So, it would be all the more stressful in Salman’s case not only because of the fact that it is a serious issue but also due to the chaos considering his celebrity status. He would have been saved from this circus too had he listened to his conscience.
Salim sir’s Plight: This is the most important point. The sorry plight of Salman’s father Salim Khan due to this mess is anybody’s guess. It is clearly visible from his expressions and body language during this whole episode. By not owning up to the crime, Salman has provided great pain to his father in his old age. Had he done that, Salim sir wouldn’t be going through such turmoil in this age.
Although it is clearly a crime to drink-and-drive, Salman can argue that he wasn’t in his senses when the accident happened or things weren’t in his control. However, he was completely in control in what happened after that, as in the manner in which the whole issue shaped up.
Had Salman showed some character and responsibility, his life would have been pleasant and peaceful rightnow. But he resorted to Being Coward than Being Human.
By: Keyur Seta
So the D Day in Salman Khan's 13 year old hit-and-run case has turned the tables for the superstar after he was proved guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment. Although this was expected, we all had our doubts considering how our judiciary has been biased towards the famous and powerful.
However, with Salman being convicted for the crime, the faith in Indian judiciary is restored for a lot of Indians like me. This was a bloody important verdict not because Salman was involved in the crime but simply because it is a big assurance for the Common Man that the Law is equal for all.
The problem we have is that the Law has proved to be equal for all in this case but the huge number of so-called fans of Salman think otherwise. Else, why would their be many prayer events for the actor's release? Ironically, these are the same people who always crib and complain that our Law system or Judiciary is biased in favor of the powerful.
But apart from the point of view of equality of Law, there is another reason why it was absolutely necessary for Salman to be proved guilty. People have forgotten or rather aren't aware how Salman used his influence in torturing honest Constable Ravindra Patil, who had stood by the truth. Read about him by clicking HERE.
Patil's story is heart-wrenching. He refused to budge under the pressure of power and change his statement that Salman was indeed driving the car. Just Google 'Constable Patil Salman Khan' and your heart will break.
The media is hardly giving any importance to the story of Patil for obvious reasons. Worse, a blogger who had fearlessly written about it was pressurized to remove his post. Plus, we all remember the shameless lie of Salman's driver driving the car. One surely deserves the strictest of punishments when he uses such devilishly corrupt tactics to hide the truth.
One could really hope and pray that our Judiciary continues to show such strictness in all such cases. I personally dedicate this verdict to Constable Ravindra Patil. Now, his soul will Rest In Peace.
And to those who are feeling Salman is undone, just try and answer this - Suppose a complete nobody like me had committed the crime and had later tortured the Constable to death, would you have still felt for me the same way you did for Salman? Try answering this.
By: Keyur Seta
The deaths and casualties in the Nepal Earthquake are continuing to go high. According to latest reports, the death toll has now surpassed 4000 with many thousands injured. So, naturally, the help needed should be directly proportional to the magnanimity of the tragedy.
The Indian Army and a whole lot of social groups and independent volunteers are selflessly fighting day in and day out to repair the damage and help out those who are injured and stranded. The Government of India too is taking special care to make sure all the help is provided during Nepal’s hour of crisis.
But when the intensity of the crisis is so high, no help is enough. Hence, it becomes our moral responsibility to make whatever little effort to restore the situation in Nepal. If we can’t visit the affected areas personally, we can surely be there in spirit by donating as much amount as we can.
You can make a contribution to Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund in the following ways:-
The headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission at Belur Math in West Bengal are collecting funds for the Nepal Earthquake.
Phone: (91-33-) 2654-1144/1180/5391/8494/9581/9681
Save The Children, an NGO, is providing help to the many children affected by the earthquake.
Phone: (Toll Free) 1.800.728.3843 (8:00am-5:00pm EST, M-F)
Online Donation: Click HERE
International Association for Human Values (IAHV) is also collecting funds for the tragedy.
Online Donation: http://www.iahv.org/in-en/nepal-earthquake-relief/
Friends Service Council Nepal is an organization situated in Kathmandu, Nepal which is working with respect to the tragedy.
Contact Online: http://www.fscnepal.org/contact-us/
Goonj, an Indian NGO, too is working for the rehabilitation of the victims.
Contact online: http://goonj.org/
Phone: 011 – 41611244 & 9810032527
Facebook is also doing its bit in collection fund for the tragedy.
Visit FB’s Nepal tragedy page here - https://www.facebook.com/nepalearthquakesupport
But what about the long run?
But an ideal way to help in the long run will be by making sure such devastating tragedies never take place ever. This might sound outrageous to some but I feel it is futile to blame Mother Nature for this because such tragedies are an outcome of our own greed. We have destroyed forest after forest and many other aspects of nature in the name of development and progress. Towers after towers are created without paying heed to nature.
Any development at the cost of nature or ecology is not development. It is downright destruction or violence. And since every action has a reaction, incidents like Nepal earthquake, Kashmir and Uttarakhand floods and other such incidents keep happening and, unfortunately, will continue so, if we don’t do anything in this regard.
But, you might ask, what can we do? Well, there is plenty we can do to, at least, make sure the condition of our planet isn’t worsened further.
Here are some ideas:
- Plant trees or saplings anywhere and everywhere you can.
- Avoid Firecrackers as they violently pollute the environment at an enormous level. Parents themselves should sensitize their kids about it.
- Minimize the use of cars. If you are young and fit, use as much of public transport as possible. Many of you might label me crazy but there is no other alternative to reduce traffic and pollution or to, at least, make sure it doesn’t increase further. The traffic and pollution has already crossed insane levels. Use carpooling to the maximum. Metro Rail is a major boon in this regard.
- But the above option is possible only if our government and authorities improve the condition and efficiency of our public transport systems. There should be more local trains with more bogies. Some years ago, a very lengthy B.E.S.T bus used to run on Mumbai roads. But they have stopped it for reasons best known to them. Such buses will prove to be a major boost.
- Ban deforestation or cutting trees completely. We have destroyed forests and trees enough. We should follow the policy of not a single tree being allowed to cut down.
- Make laws to minimize creation of new industries. Preserving nature is more important than making new products and inventions.
- Make sure the industrial waste is properly decomposed and not dumped carelessly into the sea or rivers.
- Ban polluting or littering into rivers even at a micro level.
Only resorting to the above and many other options will help in sustaining Mother Nature. If we ignore these measures, we should be ready for more massive earthquakes, floods, etc. The equation is simple – If we destroy nature, we can’t expect nature to bear it lying down. This is Nature’s Law and not the man-made judicial laws, so it can’t be tweaked as per our whims and fancies.
I recently read on Facebook – Nature doesn’t need us. We need nature.
By: Keyur Seta
The support for Net Neutrality is slowly but surely spreading far and wide around the country. This isn’t surprising because it will be absolutely terrible and capitalistic if TRAI and service providers have their way. However, there are still a large number of netizens who are unaware about the whole issue and the reason for such an uproar against it.
So, here is a simple explanation of the same for them:-
How did everything begin?
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) presented a document on March 27, which proposed that telecom companies would be given a chance to make extra money out of 21 apps like Skype, Facebook Messenger, Whats App, Viber, etc. Basically, this contains all apps through which we chat, buy products and send photos, videos and audio.
The reason for such a proposal, according to TRAI, is that mobile companies are facing huge losses due to these aforementioned apps as people are able to talk, chat and send and receive data for free. For example, using Whats App has cut down on revenue earned through SMS and profit earned through ISD calls has cut down due to Skype and so on.
What will happen if this proposal is passed?
- Telecom operators will categorize internet into different segments. You will have to pay for every segment, apart from paying your normal internet service charge.
- If your telecom operator fixes a deal with an online retailer company X, you would be able to access the website of company X with good speed without any issues. However, this will also mean that the website of another retailer company Y might load slowly since it doesn’t have a deal with your telecom operator. Hence, as the website of company Y will open slowly or maybe won’t open, you will be forced to shop from company X.
- If a new emerging player joins the market, it will be next to impossible for him/her to run business successfully since big players will crush him/her due to their deal with the telecom operator.
- Airtel had recently come up with Airtel Zero service through which it tied up with FlipKart. Through this deal, the public won’t have to pay for the internet. Airtel will receive money from FlipKart. But if you try to use other services like Amazon or SnapDeal, you will have to pay. But due to the huge public outrage, FlipKart has backed out of Airtel Zero plan.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is the freedom to go to any website or use any online service without any restrictions whatsoever. It is a freedom that is provided to netizens and it should remain with them come what may!
What you can do to keep Net Neutrality alive?
- TRAI has put this matter up on their website and has asked for people’s responses. However, it is a barbaric 118 pages long document that is hidden in small font on their home page and that too with a title as ‘Consultancy Paper for Regulatory Framework for OTT (Over the top) Services’. Now, how would a user know that this Sanjay Leela Bhansali-like lengthy title is asking for your response on Net Neutrality? Even if s/he realizes it, do you expect that person to read 118 pages of technical stuff?
- But there are some truly kind souls who have made things terribly easy for us. They have come together and created the website - http://www.savetheinternet.in/. Just visit the site and click on the tab ‘Respond to TRAI now’ and you can send a mail to TRAI demanding Net Neutrality. It takes hardly a minute! Seriously, may God bless them!
- Keep spreading the word about Net Neutrality on social media, blogs, mass mailers, general discussions, etc. So go ahead please, soon!
By: Keyur Seta
Despite the continuous crooked efforts by the enemies and a section of the media, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) managed to win 67 out of the 70 seats in the Delhi Elections, which is an unthinkable feat. Hence, they became politically invincible. But when you are unbreakable, it only means you can’t be broken by an external force. No matter how strong you are, you can’t escape an internal collapse.
This, unfortunately, has come true for AAP. The party’s ugly internal war between Yogendra Yadav-Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal & Company has thrown the party off from the high moral ground it had created for itself. It has shown that AAP hasn’t taken time in becoming like any other political party, something it has always tried to prove otherwise.
It is always difficult to take sides in such tussles. But the events that led to this fight and Kejriwal’s reactions to it compel me to support Yadav and Bhushan. They might be blamed for making the fight public by going directly to the media. But the points raised by them are absolutely logical and give serious indications of the throwing away of principles by AAP High Command (Kejriwal).
I have explained myself through the following points:-
Questionable Candidates: Yadav and Bhushan’s leaked emails show the list of people with dubious past record being included in AAP without any issue. They had even provided details of their past, which showed they indulged in hooliganism, communalism and some other criminal activities. Most of these people are ex-members of other parties.
I have checked the records of the people in the list (listed HERE) and I can say with certainty that Yadav and Bhushan’s concerns surely make sense. This obviously means that the party threw away its basic principles just to get people that can earn votes even if they have a criminal or dubious record. Haven’t Kejriwal and other prominent AAP members time and again criticized other parties for resorting to this very practice?
Sting Affair: Kejriwal’s sting operation where he is speaking of breaking Congress gave further indications. One can argue that he isn’t heard given money, ministerial posts or any kind of favors, which is true. But he is clearly urging his party member to break (todo) Congress’ tally of MLAs so that they can support AAP in forming the government in Delhi.
Plus, Kumar Vishwas’ cunningly reacted to the issue on a news debate. He defended AK saying he isn’t horse-trading but at the same time he maintained that he doesn’t consider the tape to be genuine. So, what exactly is your stand? Later AAP issued a statement that it was ‘political realignment’. But you don’t need to be an expert in politics to understand that such talks about breaking a party’s MLAs can never be termed as ‘realignment’.
Listen to the sting conversation:
AK’s ‘Under the Carpet’ Response: Kejriwal’s response and reaction to the whole issue made it very clear that AAP is just like any other party as far as internal democracy is concerned. Initially, he Tweeted that he doesn’t want to get involved. This was just a drama to show how clean he is despite the fact that the issue concerns him the most. After he returned from his Vipassana treatment, he released a video message on YouTube regarding the issue.
Considering him to be a man of integrity and principles, his supporters felt he will honestly speak his heart out. However, the only thing he said in the video was that ‘some people’ are trying to break the party! That’s it! Isn’t this the response of a typical double-faced politician who buries the issue under the carpet while doing a fake show of ‘All Is Well’? Doesn’t this make him one of those against whom he has waged a war?
See his message:
So-Called NC Meeting: If this wasn’t enough, the video recording of the National Council Meeting some days back became the final nail in the coffin. Kejriwal tried playing a victim by blaming Yadav and Bhushan for all. He didn’t allow the duo and their supporters inside. He saved his best (read: worst) drama for the end where he emotionally blackmailed everyone in choosing either him or ‘them’. This made the meeting into a scripted shoddy reality show. The video is also a smartly edited version.
Watch it yourself below:-
So, the question that is lurking in everyone’s minds is what will happen to AAP now? I also ask myself whether I will continue to be an AAP sympathizer. No, I won’t. Will I vote for them? Yes, I will (provided Yogendra Yadav doesn't form his own party). But this has only to do with the fact that the other big political parties have become highly criminalized, so I am left with no other option. In front of their terrible misdeeds, AAP’s issue is negligible. The party’s performance in Delhi has so far been satisfactory, so it might be saved from completely falling apart.
But considering the ghastly events mentioned above, did we support the party for it being the lesser evil or for the honest and clean politics it always advocated?
Did people support AAP for bringing in new brand of politics or for playing politics differently?
Latest Update: Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan have been sacked/removed/expelled from AAP. I guess the only option Yadav and Bhushan have is that they start their own new political party.
By: Keyur Seta
It would be an understatement to say that the results of 2015 Delhi Elections have surprised Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters. ‘Pleasantly shocked’ is the right phrase to describe their situation right now. Who would have thought AAP will win 67 out of the 70 seats? It still sounds unreal!
Various reasons can be attributed to AAP’s unthinkable success. Here are some of them:-
Apologies: The biggest mistake made by AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal was to quit as the Chief Minister of Delhi last year after just 49 days. This was the major reason for all the flak he received. However, taking it by his stride, he accepted his mistake and sincerely apologized many times over at various rallies and interviews. Remember any other politician ever doing this?
Maturity: After receiving sudden success in the last Delhi Elections, Kejriwal and his party got a bit carried away which was seen in their actions (Dharna), statements and their ambition to go national in last year’s Loksabha Elections. But this time around, we got to see a different mindset of Kejriwal and AAP leaders. There was a lot of maturity and wisdom in all their public speeches.
Winning Trust: 1) After the arrival of gloomy days, the challenge was terribly tough for AAP to win people’s confidence again. It took many rallies and sabhas for them to finally be able to do it. And again, it took a lot of apologizing, which they did with respect.
2) AAP is the first and the only party in India to display accounts of their donations. This also saved them from the wrong hawala accusation. They are also ready to come under RTI for funding whereas other parties are petrified of it. This went a long way in gaining people's trust because before AAP's emergence, nobody gave a thought to the funding of political parties.
Manifesto: AAP had a well-prepared manifesto, which highlighted the biggest problems Delhi is facing currently – women safety, corruption and high electricity bills. Their idea of installing 15 lakh CCTV cameras in the city was the stand out promise. However, it will be left to see how they manage this humongous task.
Not Abusing Back: The BJP insulted, mocked and made fun of Kejriwal and AAP many times over during their campaign. Their cartoons also went to the extent of showing Anna Hazare dead just to insult AK. However, by showing maturity, none of the AAP leaders abused back to BJP.
BJP: This is one of the major reasons. BJP’s blunders during their seven-month-old rule at the Centre sowed the seeds of their downfall. Their blatant lie about bringing back black money was the biggest of all.
No Show Campaign: But the biggest blunder came in the form of BJP's disastrous campaign and strategies during the run up to the Delhi Elections. Roping in Kiran Bedi, who has targeted BJP in the past, was the final nail in the coffin as far as BJP’s chances are concerned.
But despite these many factors in AAP’s favor, winning 67 out of the 70 seats is unthinkable. This is pure miracle!