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Mumbai Diary page: Saturday scene

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

No touchy-feely, teacher
Blame it on the increasing cases of child abuse in schools, perhaps; many principals and heads of managements are now seeking expert help to tackle this issue. Most schools are not sure of how they should hire staff, to ensure that their students are safe at all times.

Shikshan Katta, the education wing of Yashwantrao Chavan Shikshan Pratishtan, will soon bring together principals and management trustees from different schools to discuss this issue and look at possible solutions to ensure safety of children.

Basanti Roy, a member of Shikshan Katta, said that most principals are anxious to find a way to ensure that a clear message goes out to the staff, at the time of hiring itself, about the code of conduct and zero tolerance of the school against child abuse.

“Schools will have to hold regular sessions with their staff to explain to them the ramifications of the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act,” she said. The “old ways” may have to be dumped in the new environment. “Many times teachers tend to become like parents and end up holding and hugging students.

We have asked our teachers to refrain from doing so, to ensure that no wrong signal is going to the student or parents,” said the principal of a Navi Mumbai school.

She added that this has been the rule of the school ever since they started the institution. Jesuit Schools of Mumbai recently conducted training sessions in their schools for all staff members on how to handle children without physically touching them.

“We will talk to schools principals as well as other experts about what can be the possible solutions that can be easily implemented in schools to avoid such cases in the future.

Minutes of this meeting will then be shared with the education department as well as other schools,” added Roy. We hope these measures will make schoolgoing such an intrinsic part of childhood safe for kids.

Poster with a sweet message
It may be a few days past Diwali but this poster which caught our attention is still outside Thane Jt Commissioner of Police V V Laxminarayan’s office. It says that people should desist from bringing Diwali gifts.

No Thank You: This notice says in Marathi that no Diwali gifts will be accepted
No Thank You: This notice says in Marathi that no Diwali gifts will be accepted

In an age when it is routine to slam the police for corruption, and hafta has become a word which the entire police force (unfairly) has been smeared with, this comes as an eye-opener, eyebrow-raiser, call it what you will.

One for the girls
A doff of our hat to the women’s magazine which has released a TV commercial, “Start With The Boys”, a hard-hitting look at how society tacitly encourages bullying by reinforcing the message of “manliness”.

It ends with a chilling image of domestic violence, and a statement by actress Madhuri Dixit, saying, “We have taught our boys not to cry. It’s time we teach them not to make girls cry.”

Divide and fool
So we hear that Delhi city’s curbsides and road dividers have been freshly painted - not black and yellow, as international convention decrees, but an iconoclastic pink-and-green combination that has left many seeing red.

While the municipal council there says it is an “aesthetic initiative”, the fact is that black and yellow (or black and white) is internationally accepted and used because it serves a safety function.

When set against each other the colours present a sharp contrast and alert drivers to obstacles. Maybe green and pink are thought to look pretty (in whose book, we would like to know!) but they can be an actual traffic hazard as they simply do not stand out, and can’t be seen at night.

And for the colour-blind they are even more dangerous, as red and green are easily confused colours. Maybe the Delhi municipality thought that since its autorickshaws are yellow and green, instead of yellow and black as in much of the rest of India, the road markings could follow a similarly different path, as it were.

We hope Mumbai does not think of following suit. There are just too many areas in our sprawling metropolis, each with their own “sensibilities”, to make it feasible!

Passing the port
We know how frustrating it can be getting an official document, especially if there is some discrepancy in a date or a spelling. And given the complexity of Indian names, many of which can be spelt in more than one way, this is an all too common problem. For one man seeking to get his passport made, it proved too much to take.

His passport application had been rejected twice due to a spelling inconsistency, and even when he submitted it for the third time, he was told that there was a problem and he would have to go through the process again. Since there had been three “rejects”, it meant he had to initiate the application from scratch.

And by then he was so fed up that he decided not to get his passport made at all - even though he wants to go on the next Haj pilgrimage. He narrated his plight to this diarist, who was next in line at the passport office, and unfortunately we can only sympathise.

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