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Christmas greetings

December 25, 2018 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Dear friends those who celebrate Christmas, wishing you a marry Christmas. This is a festival of love and known to be festival to share gifts.

Image result for christmas

It’s great to see many colleagues at work are celebrating secret Santa and sharing gifts to one another.

May you all be blessed and have a fabulous festival. This will lead to bid farewell to 2018 and welcome 2019.

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Experience with AirAsia

August 30, 2018 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Recently we travelled from Hyderabad to Bangalore with AirAsia and has mixed sense of experience. Check-in was smooth; when we have asked if flight is on schedule, then personnel has mentioned that flight is delayed by 20 minutes. We were given an escort to the gate.

There was no announcement even after said 20 minutes; when we approached the counter, we were told that flight is delayed by another 40 minutes. There was no text or call to customers about the delay. When we have questioned, there was no appropriate response. One person said he would bring in his manager to speak to us. We have waited until the boarding time; but we were not introduced to the manager. When we have tweeted to AirAsia, just an usual sorry response was given. We really found ground personnel of AirAsia a total unresponsive and does not seem to be care about much. Surprisingly, there was no regret announcement for delay by the captain as well during the flight.

However, in-flight personnel were very responsive and helpful. They are indeed cheerful. It’s the ground staff and customer service folks need to be accountable.

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Open letter to Ministry of Railways, Government of India

July 29, 2018 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Dear Minister and concerned personnel of Ministry of Railways, Government of India.

Subject: Lack of timely information to passengers

Recently I have made a reservation on Train Number 17643 to travel from Chennai to Tanuku. I have reached Tambaram Railway station almost one and half hour before. Checked on National Train Enquiry System (NTES) to find platform number and it’s not available.

Called 139; there was no easiest way to reach customer service representative. As you are aware, India has diverse set of users and not all of them are familiar with Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) system and we do prefer to speak to human for assistance. I took a chance and pressed option 5 which is meant for booking rail tickets using debit / credit cards. (By the way, not sure how secure booking over IVR is). So got connected with a representative . When I have provided train number, she was able to retrieve train name instantly, however, without listening to me any further, she said “train is on-time”. when I have asked for platform number, she said that she has no information. I have made this call just about 20 minutes before train’s departure time. She was very casual in saying information may or may not get updated. When I have asked her to register a complaint, she has refused and with a weird laugh, she has said go to the station and report.

Even when coach position was announced, there was no mention about the platform number. Platform number was only announced only when train is about to arrive on the platform. Thanks to shops on the platform who have mentioned usually Circar express comes on Platform number 5. What if their prediction is wrong? How would elderly, people with disabilities, women who are pregnant could reach the platform within 2 minutes of time and locate their coach while train stops only for 2 minutes at many stations.

Indian Railways is such a large organization and I see no reason why things cannot be planned. If it’s ignorant of personnel, that would be absolute blunder and not acceptable.

Even in the train, as soon as we got in, within about less than an hour, we were asked to fill in the feedback form. That is even before Ticket verification has done. And we did not notice anyone did any service for rest of the journey.

While Ministry of Railways claim that there is a lot of care taken for safety and cleanliness of rail travel, it doesn’t seem to have executed across zones. I urge immediate intervention of authorities and review quality of services across railway zones.

Thank you,

Srinivasu Chakravarthula

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Nominations are open for NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Awards 2018

May 16, 2018 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Are you a person with disability and have done incredible work in the area of accessibility and universal design?
Are you a working professional working towards the cause of building an inclusive society?
Are you an organization believes in universal design and working towards it? Are you someone developed a product or service that works for all?

If yes, you surely deserve to get recognized. Do apply / nominate for NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Awards 2018. This is a platform that recognizes those who contribute towards universal design. accessibility etc., Here is a brief note from NCPEDP.

In order to spread awareness on Universal Design and to popularise this concept, NCPEDP, in association with Mphasis, instituted The NCPEDP – Mphasis Universal Design Awards in 2010. These Awards are given away every year to those who have been doing exemplary work towards the cause of accessibility and thus ensuring a life of equality and dignity for people with disabilities.

The Awards cover accessibility in the following fields:

Built Environment
Transport
Information and Communication Technology
Services
Aids and Appliances

The Awards are given under three categories:

CATEGORY A: PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Awards in this category are given to people with disabilities who have created an impact in Accessibility and Universal Design in any of the areas such as built environment, transport infrastructure, service provision, information and communication technology (ICT), universally designed consumer products, mobility & independent living aids, or assistive technology in their personal/professional capacity.

The work that the person has done can be in policy framework, grass-root level implementation, design and development, access audits, or even the rights movement/advocacy.

Every year, Awards in this category are given out to 3 people across the country.

CATEGORY B: WORKING PROFESSIONALS
Awards in this category are given to people who work for the cause of Accessibility and Universal Design in any of the areas such as built environment, transport infrastructure, service provision, information and communication technology (ICT), universally designed consumer products, mobility & independent living aids, or assistive technology.

She/he may be an employee of an education institute/NGO/corporate/ government body that has taken up the cause, or may be a consultant or freelancer who has devoted her/his time for the cause. Her/his individual contribution to the cause is a major reason for the success achieved by the organisation/firm/movement. She/he may also be an individual who is involved in the cause independent of any organisational support and has achieved significant success in the core objective of gaining accessibility for disabled people.

Awards in this category are given out to ensure that many dedicated people who have involved themselves in the cause get due recognition. This will not only help in sensitising the community, but will also encourage young minds to join the cause as a career option.

Every year, Awards in this category are given out to 3 people across the country.

CATEGORY C: COMPANIES/ORGANISATIONS
Awards in this category are given to those companies or organisations who have taken up the cause of Accessibility and Universal Design in any of the areas such as built environment, transport infrastructure, service provision, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), universally designed consumer products, mobility & independent living aids, or assistive technology.

Companies/organisations that have implemented either/all of these within their organisations, which has led to them recruiting or serving people with disabilities and providing them equal opportunities to participate to the best of their abilities. These companies/organisations can be a role model for the rest of the society, and recognising their efforts and giving them the encouragement will help the cause to reach out to many more.

These can be any type of an education institute/NGO/corporate/government body – private sector, public sector, joint sector, SME or even proprietorship/partnership firms. The selection criteria will not only be for adopting accessibility policies, but also for implementing them at the workplace.

Every year, Awards in this category are given out to 4 companies/organisations across the country.

Do apply / nominate! Visit NCPEDP Website for more details.

An appeal from Dr. Kiran for the benefit of universe

May 12, 2018 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Appeal from Dr.Kiran ( +91 8019125547) //sumtrupthi.in
To GROUP CHANT “Shree Ganapathi Atharva Seersha Maha Mantra

By anyone with Sradha & Bhakti. At their OWN CONVENIENCE, daily, preferably before sunrise (06-30 a m), SITTING at a fixed place ( ASANA), facing EAST ( Sun God ), ONCE, TWICE or more.

Starting from 11th May, 2018 Friday, ( Sree Vilambi nama samvatsara, Vaisaka maasa, Bahula Paksha, Ekadashi Tidhi ) till 27th July, 2018 Friday, ( Ashada maasa, GURU POURNIMA).

The requisite SANKALPAM & SAMARPANA of the JAPA along with audio file & text file of the MANTRA will be sent to you separately.

Appeal is to you all to CHANT the MANTRA in low voice, as many times as possible and HANDOVER that JAPAM to Sree GURU CHARANA. As also, send me (Dr.Kiran) at the above whatsapp number, a private message which should include your Gotra, your name, date & time of chant and the number of times chanted immediately after you complete the daily Japam.

Purpose (as would be mentioned in Sankalpam ) is for LOKA KALYANAM. But, we all are included in the same LOKAM. Hence, we all would gain PEACE of mind, health and wealth.
SANKALPAM & SAMARPANA ( at the start of chant, and at the end of chant) for the above group chant. The following is in telugu font. Those who need it in a different language font, please msg me.

This is SANKALPA, to be done before you start your chant. ( The day-to-day panchangam shall be sent to you daily around 5 am … which also works as a reminder and alarm .. Please mute my number, if you do not want to be disturbed around 5 am daily).

Read more on: Group chant Website

Congratulations to all those students who have graduated from 10th Class – here is an advice for you all!

April 30, 2018 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

What a relief for those students and parents waiting anxiously for results of 10th Class; results are out recently and celebrations are happening everywhere. Congratulations to all those who have passed. If you are someone reading this post and not passed, not to worry, you haven’t lost anything. I don’t say failure is pathway to success; analyze what went wrong, work on it and you will get through…

10th Class is considered as a milestone in tenure of education. This is the time where students probably make their first decision in life time. That is to decide what subjects to opt for in college. Either science, arts, commerce etc., Here is how you make that decision.

Celebrate your success in 10th class with family and friends. No matter how much you have scored or what rank you have got; even if you do not get a first rank, that’s OK; there is no need to be first all the time. Celebrate whatever you have achieved.

Then relax for a couple of days thinking what is your area of interest and what would you want to become in life. There is nothing like funny career. I have met a student recently who would like to become a Chef… there is nothing wrong in it. Every job has its value. Do not choose a career just because someone has said that is good for you. You are your own judge. Get inspired by people, seek advice from people but don’t let others plan your life.

Once you make a choice, then choose the stream you would want to study. Even if your career choice doesn’t require any further education, do not hesitate to make that decision as well. For some careers, skill development is more important than formal education. Do not opt for a stream that would not help in your career. For instance, I have seen people who study electrical and electronics engineering, then go for some courses in software engineering and land up in IT industry. That’s waste of time, money and energy.

Dear Parents, help your children identify their own dreams and strengths; do not set comparison. Each child will have his or her own interest and strength. If you cannot encourage their choice, it’s alright, but do not discourage. If you feel they are confused or unable to make a decision, do please spend time and give them experience of different jobs. take them to industries, offices etc., let them observe and make a decision.

Congratulations once again and wishing all students best of luck!

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Open Challenge to all the airlines; specially those who discriminate

March 9, 2018 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Inspite having regulation from Director General of Civil Aviation, Government of India, air carriers display a non-discrimination statement on their websites, we still see discrimination happening on the ground. Very recently, a doctor by profession and a person with disability was asked for a “fit to fly certificate” by Jet Airways customer service.

Here is an open challenge to all the airlines and specially those who choose to discriminate.

Passengers are expected to fill in all their details during booking including some air carriers asks if passengers need assistance. In the same way, if an airline has a problem boarding people with disabilities, display the same prominently on the website. (also inform your agent partners to display on their portals) so we people with disabilities don’t bother to even book a ticket with you.

When a passenger wishes to cancel his / her ticket, you collect huge charges including cancellation charge, fare difference and what not… sometimes, cancellation charges are more than what we have paid for booking.

In the same, if customer service / personnel at the boarding counter has any problem boarding people with disabilities or handling our baggage and/or assistive aids, just give the same in writing and refund full amount + inconvenience charges of 25% + fare difference at that time. This will help us choose to fly with another airline that does not discriminate.

If you do not agree with this challenge, better sensitise your personnel and ensure no discrimination ever takes place.

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Easy way of Re-verification of BSNL Mobile connection using Aadhar with just a phone call

February 20, 2018 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

As we are aware re-verification of mobile SIM subscription by linking Aadhar is mandatory and needs to be done by 31st March, 2018. Here is a easy method for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) subscribers.

One has to just dial 14516 from BSNL mobile phone and follow the instructions. It will ask you to choose a preferred language, then prompt you to enter 12 digit Aadhar number. Upon verification of Aadhar number, user will receive a one time password on the mobile number linked with Aadhar which needs to be entered when prompted.

In a few minutes or sometimes in a day, user will receive a text message asking confirmation if user has requested re-verification. User needs to reply with “Yes” to given number. That’s all process will be completed!

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Visually impaired, will travel!

January 4, 2018 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula
This is a guest post by Divya and Ritu of BAT Travels

The visually impaired also need a holiday. A holiday that treats them like equals. Disability tour or disability travel may not be the answer. Inclusive travel, most likely, may be. The lesser conversation we have about how different the disabled people are from able-bodied, the better it is. In fact, the conversation should be, how alike we all are, disabled or able-bodied. And therefore the need to go to a new destination, unwind in the new vibe, and come back learning a thing or two about an earlier unknown place, is universal. Also is the need to take a break from the people we meet every day and the workplace we mundanely show-up at every day.

Our Indian society and the family structure sure has its own merits. And the demerits are also not less. While the kinship is strong and the support system helps in raising a family. So are the clutches of control. Parents bring up kids to be obedient. Answering back is not appreciated. In their argument, parents garb it all under the cloak of care and for-your-good. But unless you let the child attempt a flight, you won’t know how high it can go. For parents with children having one form disability or the other, there’s a fine line to operate around. Too much protection and the child won’t discover his or her individuality. It will always remain a child and will have to be taken care off. On the other, pull back a hand to let it find its own footing. And of course, not to oversee the emotional toil all this takes on the parent. Amidst all this, letting the child choose a holiday of his or her choice is like passing a bill in a coalition government. Not a smooth sail for many.

You could say that I don’t know anything about disability since I haven’t grown up with a family member who is disabled. Yes, I haven’t. But you know what, am a social underdog, because am a woman. And as a social underdog, I understand the sentiments of other social underdogs. And to win in this society, the underdog has to rise up and claim what is truly his or her. So yes, I get you. Having said that, I know that you have more barriers to cross than me. So no, am in no way mitigating your battle by comparing it to that of mine, a woman.
Coming back to travel. The theory is that pre-historic human beings travelled from one landmass to the other to discover and explore new lands. This slowly led to the inhabitation of the whole planet. This theory, in a way makes us give more credit to the urge to travel. We need not shrug travel away as a luxury. In fact, it’s a basic human need. One that runs in us since pre-historic times.

The travel industry is growing exponentially. It is creating more jobs and more revenue for the government and stakeholders. The social media too is throwing up more photoshopped and filter-added images at us than ever before. We all want to go on that cliff and watch that sunset. Or to that tourist destination and eat that meal. Looks like everyone is travelling. Where are the social-underdogs as far as travelling is concerned? The ideal holiday-er is able-bodied husband-wife with a child or two in tow. Fits the social description of the ‘right kind of people’. They snuggly fit-in in the social weave. We, the ones who are not within the structure created by the society, somehow flutter away the calm of a hotel reception. Because we come in all permutation and combination that disturb the simple minds and ask for a change in the rules. We travel with a group of friends and family hotels see us as hooligans. With a boyfriend and girlfriend we become the immoral ones and forcing the check-in staff to ask, “how are you two related?” As gay/lesbian couples, well, nothing like that exists in India. And as a disabled traveler, how can you be travelling?

Those who feel that visual impairment is a great hindrance when it comes to travel, have surely not heard of James Holman. In 1832, he was the first blind person to circumnavigate the globe. When he set out to circuit the world, it was unheard of a lone traveler to do so. Blind or not. He had what every blind person does, a sense of the surroundings through vibrations. A Sense of the World is the name of the book written on his adventures. The description of the book reads as: He was known simply as the Blind Traveler. A solitary, sightless adventurer, James Holman (1786-1857) fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon, helped chart the Australian outback—and, astonishingly, circumnavigated the globe, becoming one of the greatest wonders of the world he so sagaciously explored. A Sense of the World is a spellbinding and moving rediscovery of one of history’s most epic lives—a story to awaken our own senses of awe and wonder. Holman lost his sight at 25, but he didn’t lose his spirit.
Like James Holman, we all just need to be more open to newer experiences. Most of the time the comfort that familiarity brings is too drawing and warm. One doesn’t want to deviate from the known. But how about testing yourself with the unknown. Try an experience you have always said no to. And not because it is an adventure sports. No. I mean the kinds that you think won’t interest you. Like a drag performance, or a painting exhibition. Or a trip to Siberia. Sign up for it. Newer experiences not just enrich our lives. Here the motive is also to claim our spaces in the world. So go out to places you haven’t been to and own the space. We, the social underdogs, need to be seen more.

Travel has its own set of benefits too. When you travel to newer places and indulge in newer experiences, you are out of your comfort zone. In such situations, the mind gets more creative, developing new neural connections and triggering original and creative thoughts. The new smells, sounds, sights and places require mental processing. You are giving a new puzzle to your brain to play with. As read on TripSavvy: After stepping away from home for a while, you’ll return with renewed energy, a new set of mental filters, and ready to take on the next big project or challenge. Call it a life reboot. Getting away for some time, even though it requires effort, will greatly enhance your attitude and productivity once you return home. Sure, you may have some mail piled up and matters to attend, but those are simple challenges easily knocked out. Breaking up the monotony for a while is a great way to reduce stress and give your life an injection of excitement. Don’t be surprised if shortly after your return, you’re already counting down days until the next trip!
Most travel also doesn’t go as per plan, such situations helps one face the uncertainties of life. It is also a great tool to self-discovery. Know your limit, know your expanding interests and also know the human being you are evolving into. And like Mark Twain has famously said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”, meeting people from different cultures is also a myth-buster. Sometimes for the flair of writing or to make a story sound interesting, certain quirks are added in the process of story-telling. Travelling helps one shed these. Like India is more than a land of snake-charmers and magicians with the rope-trick. There’s a famous movie on this very theme, Ankhon Dekhi. Sanjay Mishra is playing the protagonist not believing everything at face value. It is hilarious, and thought provoking in the same breath.
Also when you travel, you are uninhibited, and will most likely be your real self. The fear of being judged is non-existent. Conversations flow easily and the probability is that you will open up your real self faster too. So the chances of you making real friends are on the higher side.
When we travel in groups, we do a mix of sighted and VI people. More than anything else, we all get travel-pals. All our tours are also designed to be highly sensorial. So the tour is intriguing enough for all onboard. Do check some of our tours on http://battravelsonline.com/tours/ Also, when you go in groups, somehow you become easily acceptable, socially. It’s is like people in mixed groups are no longer a danger to the society. Stereotypes, I tell you.

Chandamama – wealth of stories are now online

December 3, 2017 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

In my childhood or actually during my young age and given a choice, even now, I love the story books like Chandamama, Balamitra, Balabharathi etc.,

Chandamama has started in 1947; it was a monthly magazine that comes with inspiring stories, comics, series of Vikramarka, Bethala stories.

There used to be a section having puzzles, quiz etc.,

For a few years, due to whatever reason, Chandamama has disappeared from the market and I really felt missing. In fact, I wanted to subscribe to that magazine to read for our children.

But now happy moments are back in a different way. They have published all of the past magazines sine beginning on the web. Chandamama is now online and available in English, Telugu and Hindi. Very well organized and each issue is available as a PDF. Now we need to figure out how to get these series in accessible format.

Happy reading!