Sunday, 24 April 2016

Media Professional's Hyundai i20 catches fire in Delhi

New Delhi, 25 April 2016: This weekend was a nightmare for 33-year-old media professional Mukund Prabhakar, because his new car – a one-year-old Hyundai i20 Elite Sportz – went up in flames where it was parked. Mukund, who works for multinational media and communication agency Dentsu Aegis Network at Gurgaon, recounts his ordeal. "I got home early from work around 6 pm on Friday, and parked the car at the nearest possible location from my residence at Khirki Extension, Malviya Nagar. On Saturday, around 2 pm, the person who washes my car called me to say that my car was in flames. When I reached the spot, a big crowd had gathered, including the police. Within minutes, firemen rushed to spot and put out the blaze with water-hoses, leaving behind a junk heap of ashes."

This weekend was a nightmare for 33-year-old media professional Mukund Prabhakar, because his new car – a one-year-old Hyundai i20 Elite Sportz – went up in flames where it was parked. Mukund, who works for multinational media and communication agency Dentsu Aegis Network, recounts his ordeal. "I got home early from work around 6 pm on Friday, and parked the car at the nearest possible location from my residence. On Saturday, around 2 pm, the person who washes my car called me to say that my car was in flames. When I reached the spot, a big crowd had gathered, including the police. Within minutes, firemen rushed to spot and put out the flames with water, leaving behind a junk heap of ashes."
Photo: the burning Hyundai i20 in Malviyanagar, new Delhi, before arrival of the Delhi Fire Brigade.
Thankfully, other cars were not parked too close to this Hyundai i20, otherwise the fire might have spread. And even more fortunately, Mukund and his friends were not in the vehicle when it caught fire, otherwise there is no telling what might have happened.

Needless to say, Mukund (mukundprabhakarapj@gmail.com, 9953998001) is traumatized. "A car is a prized possession and we take it after saving our hard earned money.. I purchased it an year back in March 2015 from Koncept Cars India Pvt Ltd. Something like this is not expected from a brand like Hyundai.. This totally shatters my faith in the brand."
Photo: Mukund Prabhakar took delivery of his cars in March 2015 from Koncept Cars India Pvt Ltd, New Delhi.
See high-resolution photos: http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-120-burns
Video of firemen putting out the flames: https://youtu.be/4tTfn3wqaas
A large number of Hyundai cars have been spontaneously catching fire without any external cause. We wrote about this issue here: http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-Fluidic-Verna-burns
Why? Subcontracting, cost-cutting and unsafe manufacturing practices are evidently behind Hyundai Motor's repeated burnups, putting customers at risk and compromising road safety as well. Read this report: http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-Subcontracting
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Here is a fast-growing list of 18 RECENT HYUNDAI CAR FIRES IN INDIA, with details, photos and videos:
  1. Goa, January 2015: Hyundai i20 started burning on Mumbai-Goa Highway near Mandovi bridge. See video: http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-i20-Goa

  2. Bangalore, November 2014 –Hyundai i20 burnt to ashes at a dealership during bumper replacement. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-i20-Dealer-fire

  3. Mangalore, August 2014 - Hyundai Fluidic Verna Car belonging to Mr Prakash Rao, former managing director of Bhutan-based Tashi Group, spontaneously caught fire after being parked for a few days in his sister's garage. Despite lengthy correspondence, the company did not reveal the contents of its inspection report as to the cause of the fire. In its replies, Hyundai blandly stated, "Your vehicle was inspected by our team at our workshop Advaith Motors on 2/09/2014 & 3/09/2014. Accordingly we would like to confirm to you that the reported concern in your car is not due to manufacturing defect. Please don't have any apprehensions in this regard." http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-Fluidic-Verna-burns
     
  4. June 2013 – Hyundai i10 caught fire while being driven in an Indian city. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-i10-burns
     
  5. Gurgaon, June 2014 – Hyundai Santro spontaneously caught fire on the road, killing two of its three occupants. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-Santro-Gurgaon

  6. Chennai, June 2014: A techie and his uncle had a lucky escape when their luxury sedan plying towards Adyar from Thoraipakkam went up in flames following a fire which reportedly started from the engine. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-Verna-Chennai

  7. Bangalore, November 2013 – A couple had a narrow escape when their Hyundai i20 caught fire. http://tinyurl.com/Bangalore-Hyundai-i20

  8. Mumbai, October 2013 – In two separate incidents, two new Hyundai Eon cars caught fire. http://tinyurl.com/Two-Hyundai-Eon-Mumbai

  9. October 2012 – Hyundai Santro car burst into flames after it hit the rear of a truck in Faridabad. All six occupants were burnt to death. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-Santro-Faridabad
     
  10. Jharkhand, September 2012 – Hyundai i20 developed a fireball under its bonnet while on the road. The occupants narrowly escaped. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-i20-Jharkhand

  11. New Delhi, April 2012 – Hyundai Accent caught fire on Ghazipur flyover. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-Accent-Delhi

  12. Hyderabad, March 2012 – Hyundai i10 caught fire while being taken out of parking. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-i10-Hyderabad

  13. Amritsar, November 2011: A youth had a narrow escape when his new Hyundai i-10 car caught fire on Elevated Road in Amritsar while he was driving it. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-i10-Amritsar
     
  14. Mumbai, August 2011: A Hyundai Santro car caught fire, reportedly due to a short circuit near the fuel tank on Link road, Dahisar West, Mumbai. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-Santro-Mumbai
     
  15. April 2011 – A brand-new Hyundai Verna burst into flames on a highway. The family managed to escape, but lost all their cash, luggage, mobile phones, etc. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-Verna-highway

  16. Kolkata, November 2010 – A Hyundai i20 burst into flames. See video. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-i20-Kolkata

  17. New Delhi – A Hyundai i20 burned in a busy road near ITO in New Delhi. See video http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-i20-New-Delhi

  18. Bangalore, June 2009 – A 10-month-old Hyundai i10 caught fire upon ignition. http://tinyurl.com/Hyundai-10-ignition
Needless to say, many more Hyundai cars are burning up in India, but not being reported. Mainstream media is reluctant to report the full extent of this problem, because the full-page advertisements released by dealerships help to hush up the issue! So, the only hope is  social media.
Are you a victim of Hyundai Motors' profiteering practices? Don't suffer in silence. Please speak out publicly against this criminal multinational which refuses to take responsibility and acts deaf-mute and blind when informed about such accidents. Also, please complain to the Union Ministry of Road Transport, as this gentleman did: http://tinyurl.com/Nitin-Gadkari-Open-Letter
ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Krishnaraj Rao
9821588114
krish.kkphoto@gmail.com

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Open Letter: Beedi Workers V/s Smokers & their family members


21 April 2016, Mumbai: With the backdrop of the Union Labour Ministry's tripartite consultations reported to be happening today to “assess the impact of the mandated larger pictorial warnings covering 85% of packaging space on the livelihood of 1.50 crore bidi workers”, nine bidi smokers who suffered from cancer, and their bereaved relatives, today wrote a letter to Mr Virjesh Upadhyay, Secretary of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, which claims to be the bidi workers' trade union.

Download a copy of the open letter on behalf of bidi victims.

(Incidentally, bidi-rollers are not the enemy of bidi smokers and their  families, although it is in the name of bidi-rollers that Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh is trying to help the bidi industry evade the 85% pictorial warnings. Bidi-rollers are themselves a downtrodden and exploited lot -- largely dirt-poor child labourers, especially girls, often pushed into debt by the bidi industry contractors, and they have no genuine spokesmen. Bidi-rollers are as much victims of the profiteering bidi industry as bidi smokers -- working in hazardous conditions for very long hours for much less than minimum wages, and routinely falling prey to occupational diseases, including tobacco-related diseases like cancer. Read about the exploitative working conditions under which bidi rollers labour, and it will make your blood boil.)

The text of the open letter is reproduced below.

Open Letter from Bidi Smokers and their Familes
To the Trade Union claiming to represent Bidi Workers

“Dear Virjeshji,

We refer to a recent media report wherein you are quoted as having said in a very broadminded way that the government’s recent notification mandating 85% pictorial warning “needs to be understood at various levels. One, bidi is hand made and hand packaged. Second, it is less harmful than cigarettes.” You are reported to have remarked that implementation of 85% warnings on bidi packages was  “a serious issue of livelihood” You are reported to have questioned, “If the notification leads to closure of the bidi making units, what are the government's plans for the rehabilitation of the bidi workers".

Virjeshji, we are specifically referring to this news report which has appeared in several prominent dailies on 19th April, and we trust that you have not been misquoted.

Sir, we wish to discuss with you the “serious issue of livelihood” but not only of bidi workers. We want to talk about the livelihood of bidi smokers also, and we wonder what you have to say on that issue. We wish to ask you what you feel about the families of 5.8 lakh bidi-smokers who die after protracted illness every year. If we agree that most of these bidi smokers are male breadwinners, who have, on average, five dependents, then we are talking about 29 lakh women and children widowed, orphaned and deprived of a breadwinner.

But Virjeshji, it is not so simple. The death of a bidi-smoker is not swift or clean; it involves years of struggle against cancer. The whole family struggles to keep their loved one alive, running from one hospital to another for diagnostics, radiation-therapy, chemotherapy, surgery and what-not. Village people who smoke beedis, accompanied by family members, travel repeatedly to cancer hospitals hundreds of miles away in cities like Mumbai, and stay there for many months. The family burns up its entire life savings and incurs lakhs of rupees in debt. The bidi-smoker’s children typically have to sell their assets and take huge loans!

Virjeshji, does this all sound theoretical to you? We can’t blame you, because, by God’s grace, you are not the son of a man who smoked bidis. But allow us to introduce you to bidi-smokers and their children.

Whenever you find the time, please have a chat with Mallikarjun Jalde. He is the son of a tuar-dal farmer named Shankarappa of Gulbarga, Karnataka. While studying in college,he used to go home from his hostel during the holidays and see his father, Shankarappa, busily smoking bidis. One day in 2007, Shankarappa complained of pain in his throat while eating. After performing an endoscopy in Solapur, they went to a government hospital in Bangalore, and then came to Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) in Mumbai, where Shankarappa underwent radiation therapy. Afterwards, Shankarappa had to be brought to Mumbai every three months for a regular checkup. After five years of this routine, in 2012, Shankarappa was diagnosed with a recurrence of his cancer, and he was admitted to TMH for two months for surgery. Unfortunately, he expired in July 2014, leaving his wife and son scarred for life after the worst two years of their lives.

Virjeshji, do you know how much the Jalde family’s ordeal cost them? In spite of heavily subsidized treatment at government hospitals, Mallikarjun and his mother footed a medical bill of Rs 12 lakh. Mallikarjun, who now works in a private firm as a marketing executive, still has an outstanding loan of Rs 5 lakhs after selling the farm and other assets. He reckons that it will cost him over five years to pay off this debt.

There is another person you should speak to, Virjeshji. His name is Mukkim Mehboob Shaikh and he lives in Jalgaon Tehsil in Maharashtra. Despite having smoked bidis all his life since the tender age of 14, Mukkim is lucky to be alive… but minus his larynx (voice box), which was surgically removed in 2007 due to cancer. So, since 2007, Mukkim is unemployed, as he was no longer able to do what he did for a living – sell salt.

Mukkim, who is now 50 years old, somehow managed to get his two daughters married off, but he still has four unmarried sons… and need we add, no livelihood. Mukkim now speaks in a rasping high-pitched voice, using a device fitted in his throat that he and his wife refers to as “siti” – a whistle. He is now dependent on his son, because, Virjeshji, a man with a “siti” voice finds it difficult to sell salt.

Virjeshji, Mukkim smoked bidis all his life. You really should have a chat with him because for three decades of his life, Mukkim was a source of livelihood for the bidi workers, whom you represent.

Please consider: if 85% of the bidi packet was covered with a pictorial health warning when Mukkim first took up smoking at the tender age of 14, maybe he would not have smoked it at all, and he would still have had a strong voice today, instead of a “siti”? Maybe he wouldn’t have been sitting at home today, unemployed, at the relatively young age of 50?

So, Virjeshji, all the best to you and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) for the tripartite consultations on the notification and its impact on bidi workers being held today (Thursday, 21st April, 2016) as we speak. You will no doubt talk eloquently about the impact of the mandated larger pictorial warnings covering 85% of packaging space on the livelihood of 1.50 crore bidi workers.

But please, Virjeshji, please don’t forget that crores of bidi smokers have livelihoods and families too. Bidi smokers and their families far outnumber bidi workers. For once in your life, lay aside the trade unionist and lobbyist in you, and think like an Indian. Spare a thought for all the 14-year-old boys out there, in the villages and cities of India. Think of these impressionable kids as your sons. And then ask yourself with your hand on your heart whether you want India to avoid giving a strong warning before these kidspick up an addiction to bidi-smoking.

Yours sincerely,

1.      Mallikarjun Jalde
2.      Mukkim Mehboob Shaikh
3.      Narayan Chandra Das
4.      Abdul Rahman
5.      Bhakta Bilash Sarma
6.      Kadam Ali
7.      Rajen Kalita
8.      Son in law of Jatindranath Baru
9.      Wife of Bhavanji Moaji Misar
(Victims of Bidi Smoking and their family members from several states of India)

For further information please contact-
Ashima Sarin
Project Director, VoTV
Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health
501, 5th Floor, Technocity,
Plot X-4/5A, MIDC, T.T.C. Industrial area,
Mahape, Navi Mumbai 400701.
Mobile: +91-8860-786-604 
Email -
 sarina@healis.org


ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Krishnaraj Rao
9821588114