The economy will not improve on its own; and this government can’t do much
From a little...
On the occasion of World Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Day, Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (MSSI) has organized a seminar ‘Living with Multiple Sclerosis’ on Wednesday, 30th May 2012 at Bombay Hospital, S P Jain Auditorium from 9.30 am to 1 pm. Issues faced by MS patients and their families at work and in public will be discussed in the seminar. Entry is free of cost RSVP- 022-24037390/7399, Geeta: 9820793288
Advancement in diagnostics has enabled early detection of multiple sclerosis (MS), a rare disease that affects the functioning of the central nervous system and occurs unexpectedly resulting in disability in young people. Four decades ago, the situation was different. For people with MS and their families, lack of awareness of MS meant complete confusion and a huge emotional burden. Take the case of Sheela Chitnis. When her husband was diagnosed with MS in 1977, she was unable to understand his problem. His repeated illness, frequent mood swings and locking of body were symptoms that left her at a loss. “There was no one to understand our situation. I knew he was in pain. But I couldn’t understand,” says Ms Chitnis. Her efforts to help her husband gave her an opportunity to meet many doctors. It was during one such meeting that she learned about AH Tobaccowala, the then chairman of Voltas, who was associated with what is now called the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF). This got her thinking about other families who were also struggling to deal with MS patients and led her to set up the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (MSSI) along with social worker Rehmut Fazalbhoy.
“I was certain that, like me, many people were struggling to understand MS. There was also an apprehension that an organisation like ours wouldn’t work because there weren’t many MS patients. But Rehmut was supportive and we got started in 1984,” explains Ms Chitnis, who firmly believes in the power of collective advocacy.
MSSI was started with only three patients, one being Mr Chitnis. Mr Tobaccowala was the first president of MSSI and helped with office space from Voltas. A year later, it was registered as a trust with the charity commissioner in Mumbai. Its awareness drives and interaction with homebound MS patients and their families saw the number of patients growing to 19 in six months. From one branch in Mumbai, MSSI grew to eight other cities. Soon it rolled out new projects with little help from donations. “I designed programmes based on the problems that I had faced. People needed to know that MS can happen to anyone, but it is manageable and is rarely fatal,” explains Ms Chitnis, the vice-president of MSSI. They organised medical camps, discussed issues and provided wheelchairs and walkers for patients.
In 1993-94, MSSI faced a crisis. Mr Tobaccowala retired from Voltas and MSSI lost its office space; Ms Fazalbhoy also shifted to Pune. “MSSI was on the verge of fizzling out,” says Ms Chitnis. She then decided to move MSSI to her own flat in Dadar, from where it operated for the next eight years, before moving to its current owned office in Sion. During that time, Ms Chitnis also quit her job to dedicate herself full time to the cause. MSSI has now expanded its programmes. It provides home physiotherapy which is free or subsidised for needy patients. MSSI has appointed a nurse to visit patients who need care such as catheterisation, injections, bedsore treatment, etc. It provides medicines and MRI scans at concessional rates at hospitals like Saifee and Nanavati in Mumbai.
MSSI assists patients in getting doctors’ appointments at concessional fees. The NGO provides expensive methylprednisolone injections, used in the treatment of MS, free of cost to needy patients and at subsidised rates for others. Other services include counselling, helping patients to get disability certificates and enabling them to obtain benefits from government schemes. MSSI organises an annual MS Walk to raise fund. MSSI is planning to have its own respite and rehabilitation centre to accommodate patients for one or two months, giving them sufficient care.
You can spread awareness about multiple sclerosis by volunteering at MSSI, apart from helping financially. All donations are exempted under 80(G) of the Income-Tax Act.
Did you hear from Citibank recently about the discontinuance of the 12-year old Citibank-Jet Airways co-branded credit cards? Citibank and Jet Airways are both trying to tug you into their direction. Here are some pointers to make your choice…
Citibank and Jet Airways first came together in the late 90s to offer one of India’s first airline co-branded credit cards. Airline co-branded credit cards help you by offering additional benefits on the airline such as additional check-in baggage allowance, lounge access, discount codes for ticket purchases etc.
The Jet Airways Citibank Credit Card was one long standing partnership in this space which survived for more than 12 years. In this timeframe, Kingfisher Airlines’ partnership with American Express came and went due the bad situation the airline is at this moment, and no other international airline credit card could establish a strong brand franchise and wallet share such as this credit card.
So, last week, an email communication from Citibank went out to all the product holders for this card informing them that the partnership is being discontinued with effect from July 16th 2012. As a result, Citibank is now offering a new credit card called the Citibank Premier Miles Credit Card (Review here: http://bit.ly/CitiPMReviewML) to all the existing card holders. A special offer from Citibank has been extended to all the holders of the Jet Airways card, offering them the new product for discounted fees of Rs1,000 per annum, as compared to the Rs3,000 for all the other customers. In return, they are giving away a welcome bonus of 10,000 Premier Miles for those who sign on.
The benefits of the new Citibank card are numerous, the key one being that you can use these miles against tickets on any airline—domestic or international—rather than just Jet Airways. However, limitations also exist, something which you will be able to read in the review linked above.
If you are a current card holder, I’m sure you are receiving multiple calls from Citibank to switch over to the new product. Here Citibank is trying to rush you and retain current card holders to their best extent possible and acting desperate in a way as well. However, I just hold on to your current card till as far as you can. In a moment, I will tell you why...
Quite clearly, something did not go alright between Citibank and Jet Airways, which is why they went their own separate ways. Jet Airways is apparently working with more than one banks at this point of time to launch another product which will help you earn Jet Airways’ JP Miles on their new product. They have publicly disclosed that they will be announcing their new partnership in the next couple of months (at best by 15th July). In the meanwhile, they have sent out a communication to all the cardholders that they are offering triple JP Miles to cardholders of the Jet Airways Citibank Credit Cards, and asked them to use the current card. This means, you could potentially be earning 16 JP Miles per Rs100 spent as compared to the four JP Miles per Rs100 spent earlier.
Given this tug-of-war for the customer, what should you do? I would recommend you hold on to the current Jet Airways Credit Card for another month or so since the Citibank offer of the new Premier Miles Credit Card at Rs1,000 plus taxes is valid till 30 June 2012. Switch your card after your June billing cycle will be completed and you would hopefully receive the details of the new Jet Airways card by that time.
If you prefer holding multiple credit cards, you will then need to apply for and receive the new Jet Airways co-branded card if you like it. However, if not, you always have the option to cancel your current Citibank credit card or hold on to it. At the end of the day, the call is yours. But don’t just be pushed into making that choice without having heard what is best for you.
(AJ writes a travel and aviation focussed blog from India at www.livefromalounge.com. You can follow him at @livefromalounge on Twitter.)