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Lockdown in India continues to fight against COVID-19

April 14, 2020 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra has appreciated all citizens for following lockdown to fight against Corna virus (COVID19). He recalled that when there were no single case of Carona Virus, India has decided to screen every traveller, when there were just 550 COVID19 cases, India has decided to mandate 14 day quarantine for those who returned from different countries. When deaths due to COVID 19 are not even 100, India has taken step to lockdown completely for 21 days. Although, it has caused difficulties to citizens, it has certainly shown great results. There are many countries where Carona virus has spread to people in lakh. Countries across the world are appreciating steps taken by India.

Prime Minister was in regular discussions with Chief Ministers of all the states and reviewing situation on regular basis. Most state officials and even citizens have recommended extension of lockdown for few more weeks. While steps are being taken to minimize discomfort to people, it has been decided to extend lockdown for another 19 days; i.e. till 3rd May, 2020. Situation will be reviewed and further decisions will be made.

Prime Minister urged people to follow seven things:

  • Take of elders at home specially those have earlier record of illness to ensure tht they do not get affected with Carona Virus
  • Maintain lockdown and social distancing. Use home made masks
  • Follow Ministry of Ayush’s instructions to boost immunity.
  • Download Aarogya Setu mobile App that will alert when you are close proximity unknowingly to someone who tests positive. Encourage others to install too.
  • Feed the poor
  • Don’t fire people in your office (I add don’t fire your maid and other daily helpers too)
  • Respect those frontline of this battle like Doctors, Police, Cleaning staff etc.,

Let’s together win this battle; remember to help the needy. Help children understand the situation. Stay safe.

Categories: COVID-19 • Tags:

Cricket World Cup: All teams are playing quite well!

June 24, 2019 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

This is the second time (first was in 2008), I’m following Cricket World Cup. I am thrilled to see that all teams are playing with zeal and doing their best to make their country proud of them. All teams are putting such an effort that even if they loose, no one will blame them.

As far as India is concerned, except the match on 22nd June, 2019 against Afganisthan, they have played all the matches very well. Rohit Sharma has made centuries in all of the matches except with Afghanisthan. During match with Afghanisthan, all the players have wasted a lot of balls; but fielding saved India. I just sensed that Indian team has under-estimated Aghanisthan. But Afghanisthan team have done a great job as well. It’s sad that Shikhar Dhawan is away for a few matches due to injury but I am hopeful, he would return soon. KL Rahul wastes a lot of balls initially but contributes in the later part of the game.

I wish all the teams best of luck. No matter who wins, it’s matter of sport spirit.

Categories: Cricket World Cup • Tags: ,

Recent experience in obtaining passport for our daughter

June 14, 2017 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

As advertised by the Government, Passport services have been improved to great extent. Recently we have obtained passport for our daughter and experience is quite good.

We have filled in application form online Passport portal. Scheduled the appointment (dates are just available; we got it for very next day). Printed application form and fee receipt. Since our daughter is minor, we have signed on all forms and address proof which is our passports, copies of our daughter’s birth certificate. As a safe side, we have also included her her Aadhar card. One tip to get work done at Passport office is that ensure you have all required documents in place.

Our daughter and I have reached Passport office, by showing our appointment receipt, we were directed to a counter where personnel inspected if all documents (not the content) are in place, issued us a token and guided to the Counter A – where all the details are confirmed and documents were scanned. they have taken thumb impression of our daughter and sent us to Counter B. At that counter, all the documents were checked with verification of original documents. Then sent us to Counter C which is final step who decides if Passport should be granted. Then we are proceeded to exit gate which issues an acknowledgement.

Though personnel were very helpful, a few things would make experience more accessible. At all of the counters, token numbers were displayed but it would be good to have them announced too. It would be good to to have one or two counters dedicated to proces applications of children, people with disabilities and elderly. Specially it’s important to have such counters for very small kids. At least there should be a mechanism to attend to these cases exactly at the time printed on the appointment. Exit gate could be a little bigger and have better lighting.

By the time we came out of the Passport office (which is not even 10 minutes), received a text message saying passport has been granted and within just four days, we have received our daughters passport.

Really appreciate the great experience!

Categories: Experience • Tags: , ,

India’s 70th Independence Day

August 15, 2016 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Greetings to fellow citizens of India on the eve of 70th Independence Day! It’s highly inspiring to see celebrations have already started across the country and especially on social media! I still remember the enthusiasm we used to have during our childhood towards independence day. Celebration planning used to begin at least a week before. Our first job was to collect money from parents to bring material for decorating our school. Well, we used to collect 50 paisa or so from each parent and that money used be huge at that time (around 1988 etc.,), On 14th August, classes were conducted only half a day and remaining half day all of us used to be busy decorating our own class rooms (elder kids used to help younger kids) and we also used to decorate the entire school.

Next day morning, all of us kids, used to come along with a flag and stand in respective lines for flag hosting. Event go on for a couple of hours with songs, performances etc., and finally we used to get prizes for competitions that were conducted and of course sweets!

Today there is a lot of progress in India and a lot of more is happening. It’s each one of us to be committed, responsible and lead the country to move forward. Instead of just blaming that someone is not doing right thing, let’s make sure we do the right thing and point out when something is going wrong.

Enjoy the independence day and on this occasion, I sincerely bow my head and pay tributes to all those leaders who played a key role and struggled a lot to bring freedom to India.

Categories: Events • Tags: ,

Greetings on the eve of 69th India’s Independence day

August 15, 2015 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Indian Flag inside India map

Indian Flag inside India map

It was on the 14th August, 1947 midnight when India got freedom British ruling and since then India has progressed indeed in a great way and we have a long way to go. I join every fellow citizen of the country in celebrating this auspicious day and wish a glorious future to India.

Often times I get disappointed when people say we in India are not progressing, our products does not have great quality, our Government is lazy etc., It’s partially true because that’s what we get to see forefront but unfortunately we miss witnessing a lot of great achievements that takes place. For instance, let’s talk about recent Godavari Pushakaramulu (auspecious 12 days for Godavari river); there were tremendous efforts made by Government to ensure comfort of pilgrims and I have seen personnel and volunteers were so helpful and offering support to all needy and elderly. They were monitoring and guiding at every ghats; this was not published much nor appreciated but when there were unfortunate incidents such as stamped took place in Rajhamundry, it was fully highlighted. In reality, it was fault of pilgrims to some extent. Following a discipline brings comfort to everyone.

One of the problems I se in India is with service providers. It’s understandable that there would be problems for everyone but an appropriate planning, focus on what one is doing brings not only success but also smile on customer’s face. Quite often I see service providers commit a particular time to resolve an issue and never turns up without escalations. This not only gets customer annoyed but chances of loosing trust.

We are a country that is known for great values and tradition and well respected by people across the world. It’s our own responsibility that we remain maintain our values and tradition. I’m sure every value and tradition of our country is meaningful and adds success to life.

I have a huge problem with politicians in general and Members of our respected houses (may it be Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha or assembly of any state); quite often we see disruption in respected houses and that leads to waste a lot of resources, energy and above all auspicious time. Dear Politicians, you are all elected to drive India on right path and you wasting time is indeed not acceptable. We have a lots of great things to contribute.

Love you all and greetings on the eve of 69th year of India’s independence. Let’s pledge to make India prosper, be a shining star among other countries and be an inspiration.

Below is the speech of our beloved Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi on the occasion of 69th India’s Independence Day.

Text of Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi’s speech on India’s 69th Independence Day (External link)

Jai Hind

Categories: Events • Tags: ,

Greetings on the eve of India’s independence day!

August 15, 2014 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Indian National Flag

Indian National Flag

I extend warm greetings to all my fellow Indian and non-resident Indians on the auspicious occasion of India’s independence day! As we know India got its freedom in the year 1947 and thus far we have made a tremendous progress but we are a long way to go! While we celebrate the Independence day and pay our tributes to everyone who were part of the freedom movement, let’s also pledge to put in best efforts towards growth of our country and neighbors. Remember we, Indians, are responsible for our own growth. As Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India says in one of his parliament speeches, let’s do everything with a spirit that we are doing for our country. Let’s be committed and values time of everyone. Let’s make best use of opportunities and be accountable.

What Hema and I would be doing starting this independence day is that take part of a few initiatives that helps to develop newly formed states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. This includes establishing The Andhra Pradesh state Branch of The National Association for the Blind. Should you wish to help us doing this, feel free to reach out to me. Thanks to Annavaram, Vamshi, Rakesh and a few others who are already on-board.

Have wonderful celebrations and let’s help India grow! Growth doesn’t mean only from financial express but also about well being of everyone.

Read more about India’s independence Day (External link)

Categories: General • Tags: , ,

Thousands of Websites; all are citizen centric; but are they accessible to all citizens – a review

October 17, 2011 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Reproduced from CIS Accessibility Blog Thanks CIS for the opportunity.

Today, there are about 7800 Central and state government websites hosted by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). They are all certainly citizen centric – whether it is the Ministry of Finance, banks, the passport authority, educational board, transport, consumer affairs, or the most important website that generates revenue for the government – the Income Tax Department.

However, the question which we need to ask is whether these websites are up-to-date and accessible to everyone? Internet is often more useful to people who are elderly and for people having disabilities.

What does accessibility really mean? Accessibility is nothing but ensuring that information and functionality is available to all users including people with disabilities. The Accessibility Guidelines identify an accessible website as one which can be perceived, operated, understood and is robust. Today, thanks to the advancement of technology, people with disabilities are able to use computers and perform every task that others do. For example, a visually impaired person uses the screen reader to access the computer; a deaf blind user uses a refreshable Braille display, hearing impaired persons rely on captions to understand the multimedia, learning disabled users rely on image based content and elderly people prefer to see large fonts and so on. In addition, there are lots of features available in the browser itself. For instance, in Firefox, we can increase the font size by using key combination of CTRL and Plus and can also change the contrast of the page.

Having said that, website owners need to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 to enable people having disabilities and elderly persons to surf the web more effectively. In India, the Government of India and the state governments need to follow the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW) formulated by NIC.

A brief survey of some 1500 of these websites revealed that barely one per cent of these meet the requirements of the above guidelines. Many of them are not up-to-date and some don’t even reflect government identity that could actually make users think of authentication.

The websites were checked for their elements and their mark-up; which means, audit was conducted to see text alternatives for non-text elements such as images, videos, buttons, etc. Other criteria were the presence of heading structures, associated labels for form fields, grouping of form elements, keyboard access for navigation, slide shows and other media, links and image maps. The test also checked to see if rich functionality works with keyboard and on text browsers; whether flash content works well with screen readers and documents are verified for accessibility; in addition, websites were checked for the color contrast.

The methodology used to test the websites was a combination of automated and manual testing. The initial testing was done using the automated evaluation tool WAVE, a Firefox add-on which checked for errors and features, structure, outline of the website, simulation of text version and simulation with no styles. This was followed by a manual check for appropriate text alternatives, heading structure, form labels, colour contrast, etc. The test revealed that most of the websites were not accessible, merely due to the lack of semantic mark up and common errors, some of which are described below:

  • No text alternatives for images – Without text alternatives, neither screen reader users nor search engines and those who disable display of the images on the browser can perceive information about the image.
  • No associated labels for form fields – Without associated labels, screen readers will treat the form fields as orphan form fields with no labels and read them as “unlabelled”fields. Hence, it will be impossible for visually impaired users to fill in those forms.
  • No heading structure defined – This would create an issue both for search engines as well as persons with disabilities. Assistive technologies such as screen readers usually have access keys for users to quickly navigate a page, which rely on the mark-up.
  • Deprecated Marquee has been used – This is a deprecated element in HTML and ought not be used anymore.
  • No keyboard functionality for flash content and drop down menus – Without keyboard support, people with mobility limitations and visually impaired or elderly users and those who do not wish to use the mouse cannot perceive the information.
  • Not enough government identity is present – It is GIGW’s requirement that all government websites should display government’s identity through emblems.
  • Several websites have poor color contrast – This will prevent people who are elderly and persons with low vision from easily identifying the content of a web page.
  • Several websites have used table based layouts – This is not the best practice to control the layout; one should use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
  • Information is cluttered in some well known websites such as that of the Income Tax department – It will be difficult to perceive information easily by people who are elderly, who have low vision, have learning disabilities and those who surf the web through mobile devices.
  • Several websites do not have a mechanism to send feedback – It is again a GIGW requirement that every website should have such a mechanism.
  • There is no mechanism to skip the navigational module – This is an extremely useful feature to help screen readers and keyboard users to skip navigational links and directly access the main content.
  • No accessibility options such as large text or color schemes are provided – This would be helpful to less experienced users who are as yet unaware of in-built browser options.
  • Several forms do not have a mechanism for error handling – It is necessary to inform users about errors before submitting the form.
  • Several websites do not have appropriate page titles – Page titles help users to know where they are on their computer.
  • Many websites do not have site map – This is an easy way to have access to all the pages at one place.

Hence, there is a lot to be done to actually enable every citizen to use these citizen centric websites. There are guidelines in place at and it’s time for every ministry to ensure successful implementation and to make their portals accessible to all.

Categories: Articles • Tags: , ,

Census Experience by people with disabilities

February 22, 2011 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

During Census 2001, there were only about 21 million people with disabilities were counted and whereas, there are about 70 million people with different disabilities in India. It is so important that every person with disability get counted and only then it will be easy to approach for reasonable accommodation, accessibility and equal opportunities. So let’s get counted. Remember that Question 9 of Census 2011 is answered effectively and that question is about disability. Here are some of the instances faced by different individuals during the counting.

  • Enumerator did not ask about disability
  • Enumerator visited home during the absence of member with disability in family
  • Enumerator skipped the question 9 but addressed when a member with disability reminds them
  • Enumerator did not bother even a family member points out the same

Get counted and share your experience here! Let’s send a collective document to authorities.

Categories: Experience • Tags: , ,

Online Banking Exam and need of a scribe?

June 23, 2010 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Today, I saw a posting on one of the mailing lists in India requesting for a scribe to write an examination for visually impaired. There’s no surprise in it, but what made me to feel surprised is that the candidates has to appear a bank examination conducted online!! If the examination is conducted online, why should there be a need for a scribe?

While I have investigated further, I am yet to get complete information but it appears either bank examination centre do not equip with Assistive Technologies or Examination system is not accessible and hence candidate is looking for a scribe!

I feel, at such scenario, the change needs to come at both bank authorities, candidate and individual / organizations who would be putting efforts to help respective candidate.

As far as bank is concerned, they should ensure to provide assistive technologies to the candidate. I know, some of the assistive technologies like JAWS External Website, that most users are comfortable but the software is expensive. One way to deal with this is to use evaluation copy of the same, if examination do not exceed 40 minutes. If not, bank should provide open source screen reader NVDA External Website, that is equally a powerful screen reader.

Second thing banker should ensure that examination system is accessible as per Web Content Accessibility Guidelines External Website and comply with Guidelines for Indian Government Websites External Website.

As far the candidates are concerned, they should be comfortable in taking up online exams and be able to explain the authorities about assistive technologies. Most often, bank authorities would be willing to make necessary accommodation, but they would not aware of about advancement of technologies.

Today, unfortunately, most of the visually impaired candidates are not comfortable to take up online exams and it’s due to lack of qualitative training, although, there are several organization claim they impart computer training, it’s sad that except a very few of them, most organization do not have quality training programs. So again, I would urge that all the organization working in the disability sector need to keep track of advancement of technology and offer appropriate training programs.

How would I want to see disability organizations in India? – a personal prospective

May 22, 2010 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Disclaimer: Views expressed on this post are of my personal and does not reflect views of my employer and do not intend to hurt anyone.

Update: Although, still there are many organizations who need to improve way they function, it’s heartening to see there are several organizations that are putting in great efforts in spite of pendamic situation of COVID-19. Many organizations are leveraging on technology and doing their best to empower people with disabilities. There are a lot of innovations taking place by organization. For example, The National Association for the Blind, India have published videos about how one can offer support to people with vision impairment keeping social distance in mind. NAB Delhi hosted series of webinars on variety of innovative topics. Deeksuchi for Persons with Disabilities are hosting webinars to aid students with disabilities introducing various career opportunities. Many more organizations are doing wonderful initiatives despite they are struggling to meet saliries of their employees. While some organizations are unfortunately given a paid holiday to their employees just because their employees are resistant to accept new normal.

In general, disability organizations play an innovative role in the rehabilitation process of persons with disabilities. Let’s analyze the situations for last two decades.

Early 90’s there was almost no awareness towards disability and when someone see a disability, they just show sympathy towards them and go away. Lately, a few organizations started working to rehabilitate people with disabilities by providing self employment activities such as re-caning of the chairs, candle making etc. Late 90’s a few organizations started teaching how to use Coputers with assistive technologies such as screen readers but at a very basic level such as word processing. Then the problem was where to get employment for them. Those days, I have seen many companies who didn’t even let people with disabilities appear for the interview. Seen so circumstances, where people called in for interview, but actually, when they reach respective office, they have been sent back by security personnel by saying “you are blind, you cannot attend an interview”.

I must say, 2000 onwards there is a rapid development in the araa of technology and there’s almost nothing that a person with disability cannot do. They can write software, work in banking sector, corporate industry, education sector and you name it, they work on it. Even there is a blind person who is a pilot, there are people with mobility impairment, who design fantastic graphics, there are blind people who does the photography. What more, people who are deaf blind uses computer… What a rapid development.

On the other side, the problem is that in spite having enough technology that a person with disability can work with the integral community, most of the office infrastructure and intranet is not accessible. Hence, many people do not get jobs that they can actually perform.

In my humble opinion, it’s the responsibility of all of us including the disability organizations to create awareness about accessibility and assistive technologies. This is the space where NGOs need to be more active and desciminate information about accessibility and keep track of the progress. For instance, National Federation of the Blind does a fantastic work in this space where they go and sensitize companies towards accessibility and as well they file law suits on issues related to accessibility.

So folks, this is what kind of NGOs I would like to see in India! I want organizations to move on from the history and run main stream activities.

Can I see this change? comments welcome.