Monday, 19 September 2016

CONSUMER AS KING - Courier company should return consignment if not delivered
Jehangir B Gai

Courier services are more popular in urban areas, but of ten lack the profes sionalism of the postal department.Case Study: Captain Vinit Bindal of Indian Army, was posted at Tinsukhia in Arunachal Pradesh. He wanted all his original academic and technical qualification certificates. His father, Deep Chand Gupta sent them through Trackon Couriers who charged Rs 43.
When the consignment was When the consignment was not delivered even after a week, Gupta inquired and also sent a written complaint, which yielded no response. Gupta inquired with the educational authorities about issuance of duplicate certificates. He was informed that duplicates could be issued at a charge of Rs1,500 per document, and would take time too. Gupta filed a complaint against Trackon Courier before the district forum, alleging negligence and deficiency in service.He sought a direction to the courier company to return the original documents which had been couriered. He also claimed damages of Rs 70,000.
Trackon contested the case, stating that the consignment could not be delivered as Bindal was located in the Armed Forces area where private couriers are not allowed. The courier claimed that at the time of accepting the booking of the consignment, Gupta had stated that his son would collect the consignment from Trackon's office at Itanagar within 30 days. Since Bindal had failed to collect it within the stipulated period, Trackon said that it had destroyed the consignment.
The Ambala district forum observed that the courier had failed to produce any evidence to show that the consignment had been booked on the condition that Vinit would have to collect it from their office. So it refused to accept Trackon's defence.The forum also observed that Trackon's reply made it evident that the company was fully aware that the consignment had to be delivered in a military area where courier entry was prohibited. The Forum held that the acceptance of the consignment for delivery in a non-serviceable location constituted an unfair trade practice. So it ordered the courier company to pay a lumpsum amount of Rs 65,000 towards expenses for obtaining duplicates of 13 documents and for causing harassment and tension. Additionally , litigation costs of Rs10,000 were also awarded. Compliance of the order was to be made within 30 days, else it would carry 12% interest for the period of delay.
Trackon challenged this or der in appeal. The Haryana State Commission observed that the courier ought to have returned the consignment to the sender as the delivery address was located in a nonservicable area.The state commission dismissed it.
The courier company challenged these orders through a revision petition. The National Commission questioned the co urier company why it had not responded to Gupta's complaints. The courier company was also questioned why the consignment was not returned to Gupta even though his address was available with the company .
So the National Commission, through its order of September 14 delivered by Rekha Gupta for the Bench along with Anup Thakur, held that the courier company had rightly been held liable for negligence, deficiency in service, and unfair trade practice. the order passed in Gupta's favour was upheld.
A courier must appreciate that a consignment can contain something valuable, and must return it to the sender if it cannot be delivered.
(The author is a consumer activist and has won the Govt. of India's National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His email is

Source::: Sep 19 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai). p.09.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Certificates Lost? DeitY to save You from Hardships

CHENNAI: Digital depository for school and college certificates, announced in the Union Budget, would act as a one-stop shop for storing, retrieving and verifying all educational certificates whenever necessary. 

A top scientist with the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) told Express that digital libraries would be set up on a pilot basis, which would be soon expanded into a national library. 

Experts believed that the digital depository launched as part of the Centre’s Digital India would eliminate the necessity for physically storing education certificates and be a solution to the increasing fake educational certificate scams across various states. 

“DeitY would be providing technical assistance to this initiative to be primarily taken by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD)”, the scientist working in the e-governance group of DeitY told Express. 

The scientist added, “At present we are planning to set up a digital library on a pilot basis, which we had earlier developed for research purpose and this would be expanded later.
The MHRD had begun collecting necessary data and at subsequent meetings with the officials they would decide the location for the pilot scheme. “This would save a lot of time, particularly when someone lost their certificates and tried to get a duplicate copy from the authorities”, said M Saravanan, an IT employee. Saravanan had lost all his original certificates on his way to Chennai to attend an interview and was made to run from pillar to post at the TN Directorate of Government Examinations Headquarters, Chennai.
Sources from the School Education department said that this might be linked with the Digital Locker facility introduced earlier to ensure safe online storage and easy access of documents anytime.  

“But, this portable locker linked the students’ certificates with their respective personal Aadhaar card identity numbers and despite special camps, several students were left out and yet to receive their cards,” sources added. 

E Link | Click Here

Monday, 29 February 2016

President to declare Kerala as first digital state today

President Pranab Mukherjee will declare Kerala as the first digital state of the country on Saturday, pinning another feather on the cap of the southern state that boasts of many firsts in the human development index.

With high e-literacy rate and mobile penetration (32 m connections) it will be the first fully digitised state. It is also the first to complete the national optic fiber network project which helps to provide high-speed internet in all gram panchayats and remote areas. Many key government offices will be paperless soon. More than 3000 offices in the state, including motor vehicles and land registration departments, have achieved this feat.

At a function to be held in Kozhikkode, the President will also launch a digital empowerment campaign aimed at bridging the digital divide by 2020. For this services of Student Police Cadets (SPCs) will be used.

As part of the campaign 40,000 student police cadets will train 10 lakh people in panchayats and remote areas of the state. Tablets will be provided to these cadets and a committee will monitor their training sessions on real-time basis. 

“As a pilot project in Thiruvananthapuram we trained student cadets from 10 schools and distributed 100 tablets to them. Results are really encouraging_ in three months these cadets made 10,000 people e literate,” said state IT Mission director Mohammed Safirulla.

Two projects started by the government in 2002 -‘Akshaya and IT@School’ - helped it to attain e literacy. Over 2.500 Akshaya service centres functioning in rural and urban areas have helped generate awareness in e-governance.

The President will unveil a cyber park in Kozhikkode.

E Link | Click Here

Thursday, 18 February 2016

          United Nations iLibrary launch

United Nations Publications is pleased to announce the launch of the United Nations iLibrary, the first comprehensive global search, discovery, and dissemination platform for digital content created by the United Nations.

Available from February 2016, the United Nations iLibrary provides librarians, information specialists, scholars, policy makers and the general public with a single online destination for seamlessly accessing knowledge products created by the United Nations Secretariat, and its funds and programs.

To begin with, United Nations iLibrary includes publications, journals and series comprising facts and expertise on international peace and security, human rights, economic and social development, climate change, international law, governance, public health, and statistics. In future releases, the platform will also provide access to other resources such as working papers series and statistical databases.
The United Nations iLibrary  is optimised for use on both desktop and mobile devices, allowing all users to read, share and embed United Nations content. Premium functionality and downloadable editions are available as part of a subscription service.

At launch, United Nations iLibrary comprises 750 titles in English, and 250 in other official languages of the United Nations: French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic. This initial scope covers most of the content published under the United Nations Publications banner between 2013 and 2015. A scope of around 3,000 titles is expected to be available by the end of 2016, corresponding to most titles published between 2010 and 2015. The content of the United Nations iLibrary will be regularly updated with approximately 500 new titles published every year on the key topics reflecting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations.

The United Nations iLibrary was created in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) using its highly functional online library platform, which offers an extensive list of features that deliver flexibility, speed, and efficiency such as intuitive navigation, integrated search results, granular content, citation tool, DOI identification, and multilingual content. Subscribers also benefit from a range of enhanced discovery services, including provision of MARC records, and COUNTER compliant usage reports.

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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Over 40% of people living with HIV in India are women

In what could pose a significant challenge for India to meet its ambitious target of ending AIDS by 2030, women continue to account for more than 40% of people living with HIV infection in the country .The share of women is crucial because of risk of transmission from pregnant women, uneducated and unaware women as well as among vulnerable groups including sex workers.
The latest HIV estimates by the government shows a 66% decline in new HIV cases in last five years with India recording an average of 86,000 new infections in 2015.
The total number of people living with HIV is estimated at 21.17 lakh in 2015 compared with 22.26 lakh in 2007.While two-fifth of the total HIV infections are among women, children under 15 years of age accounted for 6.54% of the total cases.
According to Nochiketa Mohanty , country program me manager, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, while there are programmes to prevent parent-to-child transmission of the virus, there is greater need to focus on women.
“There is huge need to ramp up education and awarnessness about HIV infection among women besides upgrading the social status of women in order to empower her to make choices related to her sexual partner,“ Mohanty said.
Experts also say HIV tes ting is not much prevalent among women, especially in rural areas and even among the migrating population in both urban and rural settings. Data shows only 2030% of tests are conducted among women which is mostly by those who are pregnant or urban youth.
These indicators assume significance also because India is halfway through the implementation of the fourth phase of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP-IV) and is at a critical juncture to achieve its goals for 2017 when the programme is scheduled to get over.
This would also mean complete withdrawal of international funding for AIDS control in India and the government will have fund its initiatives on its own.
Estimates show that undivided Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had the highest estimated number of people living with HIV , followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Source| Times of India, 08.02.2016, p.15,
A Maha village can show the world how to beat Zika

Magic pits help several Nanded villages become mosquito-free
At a time when the world is reeling under an outbreak of the Zika virus, several villages in Nanded district of Maharashtra have successfully drowned out the mosquito buzz with underground soak pits that suck in waste water. The four-foot-deep pits dug behind every house in the villages are making the usually overflowing open drains redundant, thus depriving mosquitoes of their breeding grounds.The project has roots in a decade-long successful experiment in Tembhurni village in Himayat Nagar taluka. Adopting the Gandhian principle of shramdaan (voluntary contribution for a cause), sar panch Pralhad Patil carried out construction of soak pits behind every house to collect waste water. When they began, Patil recalls, government funds were hard to come by . So villagers pooled funds. They dug pits which are covered with a cement pipe that has four equidistant holes at the top. A layer of sand and fine gravel is spread under and around the pipe to allow waste water to percolate slowly into the ground. “Within a year of all houses getting the new soak pits, the village became free of mosquitoes,“ says Patil, who gave up a career in engineering in the 1980s to carry out sustainable development in his village. The step assumes significance against the backdrop of dengue, malaria and other mosquitoborne diseases plaguing Maharashtra.
The project had an unexpected additional benefit. The village, which was heavily dependent on tankers for water supply till 2002, became self-sufficient after half-a-dozen handpumps in different parts began spewing water. “Water flowing into the 200 soak pits gradually drains down into aquifers, thereby recharging groundwater. Our village hasn't faced water scarcity in recent years,“ Patil says.
Nanded zilla parishad chief executive officer Abhimanyu Kale stumbled upon the Tembhurni project in 2014 and decided to replicate it across the district.Funds from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) are being used to construct the pits, which the locals call magic pits. “We set up the pits using Rs 2,000 for each under the scheme,“ says Kale. The effect of the pits on mosquitoes was evident in Kamlaj village in Mudkhed taluka, where a TOI team stayed overnight. The all too familiar buzz was absent from 11pm till dawn on the terrace of a centrally-located house. The drains are dry and clean. As a result, stagnant water around houses, on streets, and choked drains has become a thing of the past. The zilla parishad plans to achieve similar results in over 1,300 villages of the district.
The pits have also affected the villagers' social lives. Draupada Wadvare, a homemaker in Dhanyachi wadi, a hamlet in Hadgaon taluka of Nanded, now limits her visits to her mother's place to a couple of days. Wadyavare's village is virtually mosquito-free, with all 133 houses equipped with the magic pits, but her mother's village hasn't implemented the plan. “I feel my children are safer at their own home,“ she says. Scientific studies in the area have also supported the project's claims. Nanded district health officer Balaji Shinde says the transmission rate of mosquito-borne and water-borne diseases has decreased by nearly 75%. “We have done several rounds of surveys through the villages, but have not been able to find mosquitobreeding sites,“ he says.
Though the campaign received tremendous public response, there remained several skeptics. Ganesh More, a farmer who owns nearly 15 acres of land near Sonkhed village in Loha taluka, ridiculed officials promoting the pits. All that changed when the dry well in his farm had water trickling in through natural channels a few weeks ago. “Our village does not have any trace of stagnant water in winter and summer. As a result, the rainwater percolates easily into the dry ground and fills the aquifers during monsoon,“ says Tembhurni sarpanch Patil.Nearly 50,000 soak pits in different villages of Nanded are now recharging groundwater in the area.
Word has spread about the magic pits and now, government teams from Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka and Odisha have begun camping in Nanded to see the model at work. The state rural development department too has endorsed the model and asked other districts to emulate it. At his official residence, Kale's enthusiasm to ensure a mosquito-free district is palpable. In one conversation, he addresses the malaria officer and says, “I want your post to become extinct. A progressing country like ours does not need such a department.“

Source| Times of India, 08.02.2016, p.12,

Thursday, 4 February 2016

20% of Delhi's lung cancer patients are non-smokers: Docs

But `Smoking Still Causes Almost 80% Of Cases'

In what could be an alarming fallout of air pollution, top cancer doctors say they have noted a significant rise in lung cancer among non-smokers in recent years. Roughly one in every five persons diagnosed with the disease does not smoke, they said.“Till about a decade ago, less than 10% of all lung cancer patients were nonsmokers. This percentage has now gone up to around 20%, which is significantly high. Rising pollution levels may be playing a role,“ said Dr P K Julka, professor of oncology at AIIMS, on the eve of World Cancer Day .
Dr Vinod Raina, director of medical oncology at Fortis Memorial, affirmed the trend. “The link between lung cancer and air pollution is a conjecture but it is being seen in studies conducted worldwide. Further research is needed to prove the cause and effect relation between the two,“ he said.
Dr Randeep Guleria, professor and head of pulmonology division at AIIMS, recounted a case to underline the trend. “A few years ago, I diagnosed a young woman in her late 30s with lung cancer.She was a non-smoker.Throughout her treatment, she kept saying, `Why me?' Such cases are becoming more common now,“ he said.“The role of air pollution in metros such as Delhi as a risk factor cannot be ruled out,“ Guleria added. According to figures released by the Delhi Cancer Registry , lung cancer cases have shown the highest spurt among all cancers afflicting men, going up from 14 cases per 1,00,000 population in 2008 to 15.5 per 100,000 population in 2010.
Delhi Cancer Registry data shows lung cancer cases have been increasing among women too -from 4.2 cases per 1,00,000 population in 2008 to 4.6 in 2010. DCR, which compiles data from all big hospitals in Delhi, is yet to release data beyond 2010. While the data is based on cases in Delhi, doctors said it represents a wider trend because a significant number of cancer patients being treated in city hospitals are from outside.
In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organisation (WHO), classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic. It issued a statement saying there was sufficient evidence that exposure to outdoorair pollution causes lung cancer and increases risk of bladder cancer. Particulate Matter (PM), a major component of outdoor air pollution, was evaluated separately and also classified as carcinogenic by IARC the same year. “The predominant sources of outdoor air pollution are transportation, power generation, industrial and agricultural emissions, and residential heating and cooking,“ the IARC stated.
According to Dr Nitesh Rohtagi, a senior medical oncologist at Max hospital in Saket, persons suffering from cough for more than three weeks, or prolonged pain in chest or bone, should see a doctor immediately . “Smoking still causes nearly 80% of all lung cancers. Smokers should quit the habit to reduce the risk for themselves and their families since passive smoking can also cause the disease,“ he said.

SOURCE::: Feb 04 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai), p.19