Wednesday March 20, 2019

SDMC makes mandatory for South Delhi Restaurateurs to open their Toilets for General Public

Representational Image, credits: Pixabay

New Delhi, March 24, 2017: Last week on March 14, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) meted out a decision which implies all the restaurants and hotels falling under the jurisdiction area of SDMC, to open their toilets to the general public at a maximum charge of Rs. 5 from 1st April onwards.

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The corporation asserts that the decision has been taken to pay heed towards the unavailability of enough toilets in the market areas of South Delhi. It affects the people with the discomfort to answer their urge of nature’s call. The order was taken in the purview of inconvenience faced especially by women in the market areas.

From the 1st of April, it will be involuntary for the hotels and restaurants coming under the jurisdiction of SDMC.

Moving a step further, SDMC has stated that the condition of opening toilets for the general public will be added as a clause in the health trade license which SDMC issues and is required by required to run eateries and hospitality based businesses.

In a statement released by SDMC, it claims that the decision has been taken with consultations from many restaurants. However, their claim is dismissed by restaurants complaining that they were neither consulted nor informed prior to the decision.

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The SDMC’s order taken in a purview to ease the difficulties of finding toiletries in the market places, especially for women, has not got down very well with many of the restaurant owners, while few food chain restaurants wholeheartedly welcomed the step.

Thomas Fenn, co-founder of Mahabelly restaurant in Saket spoke of the owner’s right to admission. Speaking to Indian Express, he said that the hospitality scenario involves the right to admission, which should remain exclusively with the restaurant.

While talking to NewsGram, a manager of a posh hotel in Kailash colony said, “this is not a rational decision. It’s straight violation of the right to admission. Entry to any individual for using our toilets is up to our discretion. Although, we never deny anyone to use our restroom as it’s nature’s call but making it a mandate poses a threat to our security. How will we tackle a group of drunkards or boorish people who may misbehave with our customers”.

The disagreement of adhering the SDMC’s verdict lies largely with the high end and 5-star hoteliers. In a contrast, many food chain restaurants are gladly supportive of the decision as they see it as the next move of Swaccha Bharat Abhiyaan.

“We generally allow anyone who wishes to use our restroom so we don’t have any problem if it becomes mandatory for all. We are in the business of hospitality and appreciate this move. It will help the Prime Minister’s vision of Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan to get more robust,” an employee at Cafe Coffee Day in Amar colony said while talking to NewsGram.

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Earlier, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) was dismissive towards the decision terming it as populist and a touted move by SDMC in a wake of upcoming elections. But on Wednesday, bringing down its rancor, NRAI agreed to comply the order with a condition that it will only let women use the toilets.

“On a trial basis for the period of four weeks for women, only with the discretion of individual restaurateurs covering the safety and security aspects,” Riyaz Almani, President of NRAI said while speaking to media.

Prior to their current take, NRAI heavily criticized the move of SDMC and alleged the corporation for hiding their failure to provide public sanitation facilities as per the public requirement.

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The data published by mentioned below corroborates the allegations made by NRAI over the corporation.

  • There are total 580 urinals in the administration of SDMC. Out of which, 480 are toilets and only 140 are accessible to women
  • The restaurants and hotels coming under SDMC will provide more than 3500 toilets to the general public
  • Only 40 toilets were constructed by SDMC in the year 2016-17
  • While it’s proposed that 200 more toilets would be constructed in 2017-18

The move has exulted the public, especially women. Sanitation is the basic problem that inhibits women to use the public washrooms; the lack of clean toilet facilities mostly affect them.

Akashi Saxena, who works at a firm near Greater Kailash 1 M Block, said this will help women immensely. “Getting a public toilet can be a big headache at times, and even if you find it, sanitation is a big issue,” she said to Hindustan Times.

While most men and children resort to public urination when they cannot find public toilets, women, and persons with medical conditions land in a terrible fix.

The mandate of SDMC will ease the life of many people outside of the premises of their homes but the contradictions resonating the ordeal from the end of restaurateurs should also be addressed.

Riyaaz Amlani, president of the National Restaurant Association of India, pointed out that providing public toilets was the job of civic bodies and the government.

“That does not mean that a civic body can force us to commit to such a service,” said Amlani, who runs several popular restaurants. “Most restaurants usually do not stop anyone looking out for a washroom or a glass of water. But that is supposed to be out of humanity and not under any guidelines.”

Amlani added: “The other question is of security – we are responsible for the safety and security of our clients. What if we lose our power to exercise control over the admission of people in the property and later something untoward happens? Who shall be accountable for that? So far, we have only read the notification and are trying to arrange a meeting with the municipal body to discuss the matter at the earliest.”

Despite the fact that both the parties have valid points on the argument of following the order, it can’t be subsided that being the richest of the three corporations, the SDMC has failed to comply with its duties in administering sanitation facilities to the public. Also, arrival of the current ordeal at the time of forthcoming municipal elections evokes the suspicion over genuinity of the move.

-reported by Ashish Srivastava of NewsGram Twitter @PhulRetard

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee: A Peace Visionary and a Man Who Believed in India’s Destiny and was Ready To Fight For It

It was precisely this persona of Vajpayee -- one merged in Hindutva ideology yet seemingly not wholly willing to bow to it -- that won him admirers cutting across the political spectrum.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India's peace visionary. Image: Flickr

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a man of moderation in a fraternity of jingoistic nationalists; a peace visionary in a region riven by religious animosity; and a man who believed in India’s destiny and was ready to fight for it.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (93), who died on Thursday, will go down in history as a person who tried to end years of hostility with Pakistan and put development on the front burner of the country’s political agenda. He was also the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full five-year term.

Even though he lived the last 13 years of his life in virtual isolation, dogged by debilitating illnesses and bedridden, he has left an enduring legacy for the nation and the region where he was much loved and respected across the political spectrum and national boundaries, including in Pakistan.

Vajpayee, former Indian Prime Minister
Vajpayee stunned the world by making India a declared nuclear state. Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the tumultuous period he presided over the destiny of the world’s largest democracy, Vajpayee stunned the world by making India a declared nuclear state and then almost went to war with Pakistan before making peace with it in the most dramatic fashion.
In the process, his popularity came to match that of Indira Gandhi, a woman he admired for her guts even as he hated her politics.

He also became the best-known national leader after Indira Gandhi and her father Jawaharlal Nehru.

After despairing for years that he would never become Prime Minister and was destined to remain an opposition leader all his life, he achieved his goal, but only for 13 days, from May 16-28, 1996, after his deputy, L.K. Advani, chose not to contest elections that year.
His second term came on March 19, 1998, and lasted 13 months, a period during which India stunned the world by undertaking a series of nuclear tests that invited global reproach.

Although his tenure again proved short-lived, his and his government’s enhanced stature following the world-defying blasts enabled him to return as Prime Minister for the third time on October 13, 1999, a tenure that lasted a full five-year term.

When finally he stepped down in May 2004, after an election that he was given to believe he would win, it marked the end of a long and eventful political career spanning six decades.

Vajpayee had gone into these elections riding a personality cult that projected him as a man who had brought glory to the nation in unprecedented ways. The BJP’s election strategy rested on seeking a renewed mandate over three broad pillars of achievement that the government claimed — political stability in spite of the pulls and pressures of running a multi-party coalition; a “shining” economy that saw a dizzying 10.4 percent growth in the last quarter of the previous year; and peace with Pakistan that changed the way the two countries looked at each other for over 50 years.

The results of the elections could not have come as a greater shock to a man who was hailed for his achievements and who was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 influential men of the decade.

Success didn’t come easily to the charismatic politician, who was born on Christmas Day in 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, into a family of moderate means. His father was a school teacher and Vajpayee would later recall his early brush with poverty.

He did his Masters in Political Science, studying at the Victoria College in Gwalior and at the DAV College in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, where he first contested, and lost, elections. He began his professional career as a journalist, working with Rashtradharma, a Hindi monthly, Panchjanya, a Hindi weekly, and two Hindi dailies, Swadesh and Veer Arjun. By then he had firmly embraced the ideals of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
But even as he struggled to win electoral battles, his command over Hindi, the lingua franca of the North Indian masses, his conciliatory politics and his riveting oratory brought him into public limelight.

Also read: For Modi, Road To 2019 Will Be Steeper

His first entry into Parliament was in 1962 through the Rajya Sabha, the upper house. It was only in 1971 that he won a Lok Sabha election. He was elected to the lower house seven times and to the Rajya Sabha twice.

Vajpayee spent months in prison when Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency rule in June 1975. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Vajpayee spent months in prison when Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency rule in June 1975 and put her political opponents in jail. When the Janata Party took office in 1977, dethroning the Congress for the first time, he became the foreign minister.

The lowest point in his career came when he lost the 1984 Lok Sabha polls, that too from his birthplace Gwalior, after Rajiv Gandhi won an overwhelming majority following his mother Indira Gandhi’s assassination. And the BJP he led ended up with just two seats in
the 545-member Lok Sabha, in what looked like the end of the road for the right-wing party.

In no time, Vajpayee was replaced and “eclipsed” by his long-time friend L.K. Advani.
Although they were the best of friends publicly, Vajpayee never fully agreed with Advani’s and the assorted Hindu nationalist groups’ strident advocacy of Hindutva, an ideology ranged against the idea of secular India.

Often described as the right man in the wrong party, there were also those who belittled him as a moderate “mask” to a hardline Hindu nationalist ideology. Often he found his convictions and value systems at odds with the party, but the bachelor-politician never went against it.

It was precisely this persona of Vajpayee — one merged in Hindutva ideology yet seemingly not wholly willing to bow to it — that won him admirers cutting across the political spectrum. It was this trait that made him the Prime Minister when the BJP’s allies concluded they needed a moderate to steer a hardliner, pro-Hindu party.

He brought into governance measures that created for India a distinct international status on the diplomatic and economic fronts. In his third prime ministerial stint, Vajpayee launched a widely acclaimed diplomatic initiative by starting a bus service between New Delhi and Pakistan’s Lahore city.

Its inaugural run in February 1999 carried Vajpayee and was welcomed on the border by his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif. It was suspended only after the 2001 terror attack on the Indian Parliament that nearly led to a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The freeze between the two countries, including an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation on the border for nearly a year, was finally cracked in the spring of 2003 when Vajpayee, while in Kashmir, extended a “hand of friendship” to Pakistan. That led to the historic summit in January 2004 with then President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad — a remarkable U-turn after the failed summit in Agra of 2001. Despite the two men being so far apart in every way, Musharraf developed a strong liking for the Indian leader.

His unfinished task, one that he would probably rue, would be the peace process with Pakistan that he had vowed to pursue to its logical conclusion and a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

He was not known as “Atal-Ji”, a name that translates into firmness, for nothing. He could go against the grain of his party if he saw it deviate from its path. When Hindu hardliners celebrated the destruction of the 16th century Babri Mosque at Ayodhya, he was full of personal remorse for the apocalyptic action and called it — in a landmark interview to IANS — the “worst miscalculation” and a “misadventure”. He even despaired that “moderates have no place — who is going to listen to the voice of sanity?”

In his full five-year term, he successively carried forward India’s economic reforms programme with initiatives to improve infrastructure, including flagging off a massive national highway project that has become associated with his vision, went for massive privatisation of unviable state undertakings despite opposition from even within his own party.

While his personal image remained unsullied despite his long innings in the murky politics of this country, his judgment was found wanting when his government was rocked by an arms bribery scandal that sought to expose alleged payoffs to some senior members of his cabinet. His failure to speak up when members of his party and its sister organisations, who are accused of killing more than 1,000 Muslims in Gujarat, was questioned by the liberal fraternity who wondered aloud about his secular proclamations. He wanted then Chief Minister — now Prime Minister, Narendra Modi — to take responsibility for the riots and quit but was prevailed upon by others not to press his decision.

A day before his party lost power, Vajpayee was quoted as saying in a television interview that if and when he stepped down he would like to devote his time to writing and poetry. But fate ruled otherwise. The man who once rued that “I have waited too long to be Prime Minister” found his last days in a world far removed from the adulation and attention — though across the nation people prayed for his well-being — surrounded only by care-givers and close family whom he even failed to recognize. (IANS)