Cheaters in paradise: True lies of SpeakAsia's Goa bash

The progress of this MLM company reminds one of the Home Trade scam, where the company spent huge money on advertising and signing mega celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan to gain publicity, before duping several people, including the stars

Many agents of SpeakAsia, the self-proclaimed 'biggest online survey company', have posted comments all over the Internet about the company's 'Gen X Bazaar' event being held in Goa from May 9 to 11 and the special train that was booked to take participants for the programme.

Some agents said, and we quote, "In the entire history of India this has NEVER happened - it's spectacular. SpeakAsia arranging a special train for SpeakAsians only is a BIG news." More about the special train and Goa bash later.

The company or its agents-sorry panellists and distributors-are spending huge money on advertising, social gatherings and trying to buy credibility for its dubious MLM scheme. Over the past few weeks, SpeakAsia or its distributors have published half-page ads in leading dailies and run ad films on TV channels, especially during the ongoing IPL cricket matches. So many more people have started searching for information about the company and its online survey scheme.

The company had also issued a public notice some time back. But despite the notice, many other people are also coming together on the Internet, forming groups and forums to prevent the MLM scheme from spreading further.

Following letters from Moneylife to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the issue, the central bank is said to had discussed it and is contemplating action against the MLM company, according to our sources.

Now to the special train and the Goa bash. There is no doubt that booking a special train for a big bash at a beach resort in Goa was done to attract more eyeballs and so hook more gullible people who might choose to join the MLM scheme. For one, booking a special train is not a big deal and can be done by any one who has the money to pay for it. The Indian Railways charges Rs9 lakh as a minimum registration-cum-security amount and the booking must be done 30 days before the date the train is required.

Also, a special train is nothing so special, as people in and around Mumbai are aware. Every year, hundreds of thousands of of people travel by special trains to Mumbai, to pay tribute to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on 6th December. (About 200,000 people visited Chaityabhoomi, the memorial site, on 6 December 2010.)

Some SpeakAsia agents have been gung-ho about the cheap fare by the special train. On the contrary, we learn that each agent had to pay $170 for a ticket in the three-tier AC and they were required to pay from their e-wallet accounts, for which the currency conversion rate is Rs50 a dollar. This means the agents paid Rs8,500 or equivalent for the journey by the special train as against the scheduled fare of about Rs1,450.

Some agents said that the $170 included ticket charges and meals. However, even if one were to take into account the ticket fare from Delhi to Goa and back along with meals, the charge should not have been more than Rs5,000 per person. So, the agents paid at least Rs3,500 of their hard-earned money over and above the actual charges from their e-wallet. This excludes the cost of accommodation.

Now about the event. As SpeakAsia often said, it was a Gen X Bazaar, where people (its agents) would come together to shop products from companies like Levis, IFB, Maruti, Skoda, etc. As is the practise with many manufacturers and service providers, they offer additional discounts for a group. (Check some group buying sites) The same logic applies to the Goa bazaar as well and there was nothing special for the agents.

How the agents would carry the products they bought, back home, is a different story. Except for the Levis jeans (that they could wear or carry in their bags) and automobiles (they would have to drive back in the vehicle and forget the special train ride back), all other products would have to be transported and this would cost more money. (Try offering money from an e-wallet to the 'truckwallah' or any local goods carrier.) In addition, the goods purchased at a discount at the bazaar would likely attract local levies, like octroi, that would have to be paid in real currency.

Some agents were very excited about the entertainment programmes in the evenings. According to the information obtained from some blogs, Bollywood actor Rani Mukherjee and Neha Dhupia and performers like Mika Singh and Abhijeet Sawant were there to entertain the agents. All the names mentioned are commercial artists who do entertainment shows anywhere and everywhere for a fee. Here again, nothing special.

A gathering of people under the pretext of a seminar or a bazaar is not unusual, especially in MLM circles. In fact, all multi-level marketing (MLM) companies have such gatherings at posh locations regularly to keep their flock intact and growing. Remember, how JapanLIFE and GoldQuest or QuestNet used to invite people to functions at five-star hotels?

Just for reference, a few years ago, Home Trade endorsed mega celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar, Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan to cover up its meticulously planned financial scam. (Read, Home Trade's 'starry' gameplan.) 

You may also want to read...

Special report on SpeakAsia by Star News

(Courtesy: Star News)

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    COMMENTS

    Kishore

    8 years ago

    Dear Sir,

    If u r so convinced abt the Business Model of SpeakAsia and 20 other similar companies operating at present, pls answer the following questions:

    1. U say that the subscription fee of 11,500/- is for the E-zine. Pls let me know u or for that matter who ever has joined SPOL, r they really interested to subscribe the E-zine to gain out of the product OR the objective is to make QUICK money, that too with out any real effort ???

    2. When SPOL promises to give ~500% return (with referral, the returns are astronomical even), the company must be making sure shut return of much more than 500%. Tell me which business in the world make such kind of return ? Even the high risk Equity market generally gives avg. 25-30% p.a. return. Conventional business men target a return of 5 to 30% depending upon the business. If business of SPOL is so lucrative in making hefty returns, should not Mukesh Ambani be thinking of starting this biz, rather than getting standard returns in his risky conventional biz ?

    3. Further u or for that matter any one may be in a conventional job or biz, makes limited hard earned money after toiling hard for 12-15 hrs a day. If SPOL is so lucrative (min 500% return), that too without any real effort, is it not making sense to go out of job/ stopping the conventional biz and put hugh investment in SPOL after selling out assets and make quick money too fast. It will really sort out the prob of unemployment in the world yaar !!!

    My dear friend...pls don't get scared of my hard questions...think with a cool mind, see ur self in the mirror and answer to urself. And in case u really get the answers, pls let us know to the point so that it can really benefit many.

    I'm not against u or SPOL. But just really interested to know the exact answers to the above questions. Country India will really benefit.

    So far I always believed in one thing, there is no result with out hard work. However if the hard work can be channelised in right direction, one can make Big money in short span, which is legal.

    Thanks n regards,

    Kishore
    Prosperity Consultant
    +91 9650991215

    REPLY

    Kishore

    In Reply to Kishore 8 years ago

    Surprising that there is no constructive reply to my questions asked in my earlier post. If any one has, pls post those for larger benefit of the society.

    One request - Pls maintain the decorum of the forum for constructive critism. Whoever thinks of putting any abusive thoughts, he/she shd mind that it is directed to him/herself.

    Rgds

    Kishore

    john

    8 years ago

    *जिंदगी की असली उड़ान अभी बाकि है !*

    *जिंदगी के कई इम्तेहान अभी बाकि है !*

    *अभी तो नापी है मुट्ठी भर जमीं हमने !*

    *अभी तो सारा आसमां बाकि है !!*

    Speak Asia Team

    8 years ago

    Speak Asia is creating a panel community of empowered consumers, which earns rewards points by participating in various companies activities ( e.g. -e-zine sales , surveys filling , product referrals / sales , advertising based surveys , self development training programs ) on the website, including for India market entry activities.

    RP payouts happen when the panelist burns those earned reward points for purchase of products and services from the website. The company’s business model is to make profits from product and service sales after providing for the cost of servicing the reward points.
    Speak Asia gets research done ‘on’ and ‘for’ different companies, products and services; panelists earn reward points (RP) for participating with their valuable opinions in the surveys.
    Effective June- July 2011, advertisement based revenues will start where panelists earn reward points (RP) for watching the ads carefully and giving them feedback on the same.
    Products are available with Speak Asia at special rates; panelists earn through saving on purchase or reselling of products.

    The Reward Points thus earned, are redeemed through consumption of product and services offered by the company .i.e. Panelists can book products ( such as mobile, LCD, white goods etc … aptly demonstrated in recent GenX bazaar at Goa where over 4,00,000 reward points were used by just 3,000 panelists for booking goods ) .

    They can also buy subscription codes for distribution. The left over reward points can be encased on request made on the website. All cash requests are processed through the bank and money is sent from Singapore to respective banks through TT.

    REPLY

    k a prasanna

    In Reply to Speak Asia Team 8 years ago

    Fraudulent schemes. From where does the revenue come from? Stay away from Speak Asia.

    ansari siraj

    8 years ago

    Hi,.....I m really surprised by u r comment....media can get so low...i m really ashamed of media.Madam starnews has started its own survey company.This is nothing but Business rivalry.If one person is corrupt then, it doesn,t mean others r also corrupt............Speakasia is a revolution in the making.....History tells us that any new revolution people has rejected it.......dont worry u will get all ur answer with interest....Dont be baised in writing.

    REPLY

    Khalid

    In Reply to ansari siraj 8 years ago

    You r nothing but empty head Ass hole cant believe one can be so stupid............This bloody company is fraud STAY AWAY.

    ansari siraj

    8 years ago

    I dont unterstand why U people r after a genuine sompany like SPEAKASIA.STARNEWS is also starting thier survey business......why u r not reporting about them.They r paying $7...how they r paying....report about them.This is nothing but CORPORATE RIVALARY nothing else.

    shashi sharma

    8 years ago

    u know that star tv singapore is also non-complaince there in singapore. and star panel which also runs same business is also paying in dollars and there address is also not mentioned properly .so, why u people are jealus of speakasia .. i think u people dont want to see other people happy .

    reetesh

    8 years ago

    Without any office or any legal permission to do business in india...yeah company crores ka chuna laga gayee bhaiya...hindustan mein public ko Chutiya banane ka kafi scope hai...

    REPLY

    Speak Asia Team

    In Reply to reetesh 8 years ago

    Speak Asia is not registered as a company in India as it is not a PE (permanent Establishment). The nature of business is such that legally the need for a PE does not arise as per prevailing laws in India. However to effectively support the business in India, Speak Asia is now going to open a PE in India soon, as has been announced in the press conference by CEO India – Manoj Kumar.

    Kishore

    8 years ago

    Hi folks, Pls get to know the latest develpments on Speakasia. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.. After the press conference by Speakasia in Mumbai, several news agencies have further investigated int o the matter. Especially, in a major revelation, Headlines Today has unearthed the shady ownership pattern of Speak Asia. Headlines Today has learnt that despite established knowledge, Speak Asia is not based in Singapore. The real owner or majority stakeholder is based in British Virgin Island, a known tax haven. Documents in possession of Headlines Today show while Harinder Kaur is a representative director of Speak Asia, the real owners or stakeholders have been identified as Podium Ring International Limited, based in Tortola in Virgin Islands. Headlines Today also visited Speakasia’s Singapore office and found it to be fake with 1-2 staffs only. Tax Authorities in Uttar Pradesh raided two franchisees of Speak Asia.The raids were conducted after allegations of service tax violations against these franchisees.The raids were confirmed to Headlines Today by the office of Commissioner for Excise and Service Tax in Lucknow. The Centre has also now stepped in to ensure that the company’s investors of Speak Asia are not taken for a ride. The Ministry of Company affairs has told Headlines Today that the government will ensure that the company does not indulge in any action which adversely impact the investors who have poured in millions into Speak Asia. D.K. Mittal, Secretary of Ministry of Company Affairs, said that the department will work in close collaboration with the RBI and SEBI to safeguard investors’ interest. The government will now look into the alleged act of irregularities of the market research company. In the Headline Today panel discussions, though CEO of Speakasia had earlier confirmed to participate, at the last moment he choose to avoid the expert panel members for disccussions. You can find all these clippings in Youtube. Pls see these very carefully. SO IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME FOR THE BUBBLE TO GO BUST !!! BEWARE ALL. I ONLY FEEL PITY FOR THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE JOINED SPEAKASIA RECENTLY. THEY ARE BOUND TO LOOSE BIG BIG MONEY. THE SPEAKASIANS THOUGH KNOW ALL THESE DETAILS, STILL FAKE THEIR IGNORANCY, AND OUT OF UTTERSELFISHNESS TO MAKE MONEY THEY ARE STILL MISLEADING PEOPLE. DON’T KNOW WHETHER GOVT. WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE STRONG PENAL ACTION AGAINST THE COMPANY OWNERS/ OFFICIALS AND REALLY PROTECT THE POOR INVESTOR WHO WILL LOOSE THEIR HARD EARNED MONEY. IT IS JUST NOT SPEAKASIA..THERE ARE ATLEAST 15-20 SCHEMES LIKE THIS AT THIS TIME IN INDIA WHO HAVE BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH THIS FRAUD OF MULTILE THOUSAND CRORES. IT IS HIGH TIME THAT GOVT. NEEDS TO FRAME LEGISLATION FOR NETWORK MARKETING BUSINESS SO THAT ALL THESE FAKE, FRAUD, FLY-BY-NIGHT OPERATORS CAN NOT TAKE THE PEOPLE ON A RIDE. NETWORK MKTNG MODEL AS SUCH IS VERY PROVEN MODEL AND IS BUSINESS OF THE 21ST CENTURY. HOWEVER, MOST MATURED MKT. IN COUNTRIES LIKE MALASIA, SINGAPORE, US, ETC. HAVE FRAMED SPECIFIC LAWS TO REGULATE THESE BIZ. THIS HAS BEEN A LONG PENDING DEMAND BY GENUINE & LEGAL NETWORK MAKETING COMPANIES IN INDIA.

    REPLY

    sudeep

    In Reply to Kishore 8 years ago

    hi Kishore,

    I am yet to see fool of first order like u. I am very categorically says that u do not have even 1% knowledge of law with respect to tax heaven iseland and business model of speak asia. The brat like u are non, but the frustrated one in life. Just wait we will make money and u will just keep on crying.

    anubhav

    In Reply to sudeep 8 years ago

    hi jealous buddy ,go to hell wid ur dirty mouth,otherwise i will break all ur teeth

    SHRUTI

    8 years ago

    star tv has aslso entered this survey business...check out starpanel.startv.in

    that is the reason they are trying to bring little inconsistencies of SA to light. ppl ..u will agree there are little inconsistencies in all businesses...even urs maybe...but star tv is making a mountain out of a molehill to remove competition from the market... Down with Star!!!!

    REPLY

    Sameer

    In Reply to SHRUTI 8 years ago

    Ok. So you have a URL... how about this one http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/story/...

    Sameer

    8 years ago

    I have not seen such a huge number (15 lacs) of fools at one place. You people are cheat and you are cheating to your dear friends and relatives or whoever you are telling to join this bloody fraud company... I request everyone to open your eyes... You people are not trying to agree on the fact that this is a fraud company since your own money is into it... Do something useful with your hard earned money rather giving it to those fools... and you are not accepting the fact shown on the news because you don't want to prove yourself wrong... That is it...

    REPLY

    Narayan

    In Reply to Sameer 8 years ago

    Hi,
    We are not as fool as u it's true there is some problem with SAOS but in real it's change my life style and I hope co. come out from this problem than the time come all as u remaning fool come and join at last rember wht i said foolish

    Sameer

    In Reply to Narayan 8 years ago

    Go to this website -
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/54695794/Speak...

    IF you have some understanding of facts (rather some common understanding on things) then you probably would stop cheating your near and dear ones.

    somen

    In Reply to Sameer 8 years ago

    sameerji jid choidia,bachha hein aap,thoda bada ho jao samajme aa a ga.abhi se mat ochilya.

    Sameer

    In Reply to somen 8 years ago

    I don't know what will happen to you in few days of time... RBI, MCA, SEBI were already probing Speak Asia. Today Income Tax is department is after their life... Making their life hell... See the picture... Bachcha main nahi app log hain... Do you know what RBI, MCA and SEBI does... If you would have known you would not have said that... Wait and watch...

    soumen

    In Reply to Sameer 8 years ago

    sameerji,ham to uchal rahehein,aap kuin bina matlab ka itna uchal rahehein,just wait aap mundi me haat deke baith jayange.pahele aap bataea murgi se anda ya ande se murgi,aap sirf ahi sochia,baki ham log samajgaye.

    Sameer

    In Reply to soumen 8 years ago

    Dear Mr. Soumen, Is duniyaa mein ******* ki kami nahi hai... Ek dhundo 19 lakh milte hain... Aisi ki taisi karao apni...

    Sameer

    In Reply to somen 8 years ago

    Dear Somen,
    This is for your information...

    http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/story/...

    Dhyan se padhoge toh uchalna bhul jaoge...

    USMAN

    8 years ago

    I am a speak asian.

    I proud himself.

    STAR NEWS IS NOT GOOD.

    REPLY

    Khalid

    In Reply to USMAN 8 years ago

    Hey you empty head open your eyes dont be a fanatic supporter of SA. There so many empty head like you in our country no surprise we have BABA's TANTRIK, GODMEN, corrupt POLITICIAN's and inspite of living in great country we r still poor.....For centuries we r made fools!!!!

    Prasad

    8 years ago

    One simple thing is if SpeakAsia is fraud , they would not have advertise so much in IPL matches where millions of people watch advertisement.
    I havent seen any fraud company who has advertised on television. :)

    REPLY

    RKSHARMA

    In Reply to Prasad 8 years ago

    I fully agree with comment of Mr.Prasad regarding Speak Asia.Speak Asia are not fraud

    Salim

    In Reply to Prasad 8 years ago

    Read this again, I think you missed it....
    The progress of this MLM company reminds one of the Home Trade scam, where the company spent huge money on advertising and signing mega celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan to gain publicity, before duping several people, including the stars

    Neeraj verma

    In Reply to Prasad 8 years ago

    Remember Free India Concept that used to give advertisement during 2000 Cricket worldcup..

    Brother Ms Haren Kaur( LOL..what a name )has duped so much money from all of you that probably she can ask P Chidambaram to endorse the co.

    Prasad

    In Reply to Neeraj verma 8 years ago

    Dear Neeraj,

    I have recovered my money whatever amount i have invested in SA. Also I have not seen anyone yet who has invested and have not get paid yet. They are paying quite regularly.

    -Prasad

    Anita Shobha

    In Reply to Prasad 8 years ago

    yes I totally agree with you Mr. Neeraj

    SACHIN PRATAP SINGH

    8 years ago

    starnews ne hadd kardi corruption ki . . . .even they can sell their integrity for their own benefit and TRP . . . . . . . .shame on u ppl . . . . .we gave u the responsibility to give the public righteous news and information . . .but u urself has entered into dirty politics and business rivalry!!!!!!!!

    be afraid of GOD atleast . . . .varna tumhare paap ka ghada bhar jaayega bahut jaldi!!!!

    sanjay

    8 years ago

    Few things which did not add up in press conference and I was surprised none of the business journalists were able to do this math. They said they made 325 Crores of which about 250 was given to Panelists and about 50-60 crores were expenses. They also mentioned they paid 68 crores in service tax. Few observations.
    a) if they paid 68 crores in Service tax their income at the minimum should have been 680 crores
    b) Where is this 68 crores accounted in 325 crore income.
    c) Revenue figures are not adding up if they have 1.9 M customer and if 85 percent paid to be a panelist, assuming min a person gave was 10000, we are talking about 1600+ crores. how come they reported only 325 crore.

    REPLY

    Journo

    In Reply to sanjay 8 years ago

    Sanjay,
    325 cr is not income, this is what SAOL remitted to Singapore, out of which they claim to returned 250 cr and this figures are for three quarters and not for Jan10 to 16 May 11. SAOL distributors (as they are not registered or have office in India) paid 68 cr service tax from the money that came back to India.

    harsh

    In Reply to sanjay 8 years ago

    bhai service tax total sales per lagta hai not on income......ok

    sanjay

    In Reply to harsh 8 years ago

    Well my understanding is that service tax is being paid on the subscription fee other than that they are not providing any service. you folks are correct but they did mention on the web cast that 325 crore is the money they got and 250 crore is what they gave back. about 50-60 crore was expense. I am not able to understand where is this 68 crore accounted for.

    Please note that in order to sustain they need either of 2
    1) They need to continue to grow, they might be able to grow for another 5-6 months. Since they are growing right now every one has got money on time as money is being rotated right now. And please note that for first 8 weeks you are getting your money back.
    2) After that if they are not able to make (Number of panelists+sub panelists)*52000 from their ads and selling of survey data where would they get money from to give to people. Lets me set the perspective for 1.9 million people it will be 9880 crore every year. If they don't get it from new panel membership they need to get it from sale of their data else it will not work

    Prashant

    8 years ago

    SHAME ON STARNEWS . . . . .SHAME ON U ALL . . . . STARNEWS CAN GO TO ANY EXTENT FOR THEIR PROFIT . . . . .EVERYTHING IS CLEAR NOW . . . .PRESS CONFERENCE WAS AN EYE OPENER . . . . . . .SPEAKASIA IS AN ELEGANT AND RESPECTABLE ORGANISATION . . . . . .THOSE WHO ARE AGAINST SPEAK ASIA ARE AGAINST THE DEVELOPMENT OF INDIA AND THE INDIANS . . . . . .BEWARE STARNEWS . . . .GOD IS WATCHING YOUR DIRTY KARMA!!!!!!!

    Facebook users’ account details inadvertently leaked: Symantec

    Third parties, in particular advertisers, have accidentally had access to Facebook users’ accounts, including profiles, photographs and chat, and also had the ability to post messages and mine personal information

    New York: Hundreds of thousands of Facebook users’ account details could have been “inadvertently” leaked to third parties, in particular advertisers, over the years, according to data security solutions provider Symantec.

    “Symantec has discovered that in certain cases, Facebook IFRAME applications inadvertently leaked access tokens to third parties like advertisers or analytic platforms,” Symantec Corp said in its official blog.

    According to a PTI report, third parties, in particular advertisers, have accidentally had access to Facebook users’ accounts, including profiles, photographs and chat, and also had the ability to post messages and mine personal information.

    “We estimate that as of April, 2011, close to 100,000 applications were enabling this leakage. We estimate that over the years, hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of ‘access tokens’ to third parties,” the blog post added.

    Access tokens are like ‘spare keys’ granted by a Facebook user to the Facebook application. Applications can use these tokens or keys to perform certain actions on behalf of the user or to access the user’s profile.

    “Fortunately, these third—parties may not have realised their ability to access this information,” the blog post said.

    Facebook has been informed of this development and has taken corrective action to help eliminate this issue. “Facebook was notified of this issue and has confirmed this leakage. Facebook notified us of changes on their end to prevent these tokens from getting leaked,” the blog post said.

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    User

    How unsafe and unhygienic are your restaurants? Use RTI to find out

    If you can’t resist indulging at wayside eateries, or may be even swanky restaurants, you might not know it, but you could be paying for a bout of indigestion or something more serious like hepatitis-B. It’s because we don’t take food safety and hygiene seriously. Section 4 of the RTI Act can help you find out critical details about your favourite food places, so you can be more careful

    Last weekend, I was invited to a birthday lunch at a Gujarati thali restaurant where 'aamras' was being served unlimited! While the guests savoured the delicious feast, I was wondering about the hands that must have squeezed out the pulp!

    Ever since an inspection of files at the health department of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) revealed that even posh restaurants, some of them in five-star hotels, did not adhere to necessary food safety and kitchen and staff hygiene norms, I am cautious when eating out, and I try to spread the word about why one should avoid throwing so much money for poor service that could likely affect one's health, and probably threaten one's life also.

    It all began last year, when we published a report on the increasing cases of gastroenteritis and stomach-related cases in Pune, and a couple of prominent doctors pointed to unhygienic eateries as the culprit. I asked Partha Sarathi Biswas, a young journalist and the bureau chief of Intelligent Pune, the news weekly that I was managing then, to inspect documents pertaining to food inspection reports by food inspectors of the health department who monitor food quality and staff hygiene at restaurants, twice a year.

    Partha invoked Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act five times, and collected inspection reports of nearly 300 restaurants located in different localities of Pune. Food inspectors of the health department, whose sole purpose is to check whether restaurants adhere to food safety and health standards, carry with them a form that is filled during an inspection. It contains a list of 29 items that the restaurant is expected to adhere to strictly under the BPMC (Bombay Provisional Municipal Corporation) Act.

    To our surprise, such big names like Hotel Blue Diamond, Mainland China, Madhouse Grill, Green Plaza (in upper crust Koregaon Park) and Wadeshwar (an extremely popular udipi place on Fergusson College Road that is patronised by youngsters), were among the restaurants which were sent notices for the "area of the kitchen where food was prepared/cooked or sold and the area where utensils were washed-(found to be) not clean.'' (Note: These are inspection reports for various months in 2010. If any of these restaurants have improved their cleanliness, after receiving notices from the PMC, we welcome it.)

    Most shockingly, none of the restaurants (which were inspected) had conducted medical examination of their staff even once, let alone on a regular basis. When asked, most of the restaurant managers had the audacity to say that they could not afford to do it. This means that we could be eating food served by, or even prepared by someone who is suffering from skin disease-let your imagination run if you care to understand the vulnerability of a customer paying good money for probable illnesses.

    Parameters used for inspection

    When the food inspector goes on inspection, he checks on all the 29 parameters. After the inspection, the food inspector also jots down his own observations on the form. Then the establishment is sent a notice, to rectify the shortcomings that could be hazardous for customers who consume the food.

    If it is found on a second inspection that the eatery is continuing to defy norms, the municipal commissioner can suspend the licence for a specific period, or even order the closure of the restaurant in serious cases of food safety violations.

    Here are some jottings that Partha found on the inspector's forms:
    > "Cobwebs noticed on the walls of the kitchen." - This observation was made by the food inspectors who checked the Green Plaza hotel on Baner Road.
    > "Prepared food not covered properly before serving." - Taj Blue Diamond, Mainland China on DP Road and Shingri at Koregaon Park were ticked off for this by food inspectors.
    > "Proper care is not taken to prevent the contamination of food by dust, insects, etc, where food is prepared." - Taj Blue Diamond, Shingri on Boat Club Road, Green Plaza in Koregaon Park and Mainland China on DP Road.
    > "The kitchen and storeroom used for storing raw materials is not located at a safe distance from bathrooms, gutter or urinals, to avoid contamination of food." - Not through inspector's documents, but through word of mouth, Partha stumbled upon two big restaurants, Khyber and Mayur Thali on Jangli Maharaj Road, where the exhaust fans of the toilets opened out into the kitchen. Notices were served to these establishments and they promised to rectify this. (Note that this observation was made in the last quarter of 2010. If they have amended the placement of the exhaust fans, we welcome it.)

    What did we do?

    While surfing the Internet, I stumbled upon an online form (image of the page is reproduced below) called the 'Food Illness Report Page' of the Los Angeles Public Health Department which citizens can fill online, if they believe that they have become sick from eating or drinking something, somewhere, and the department will inquire into the matter.



    We approached the Municipal Commissioner of Pune, Mahesh Zhagde, and requested him to adopt a similar online process on the PMC's website. Mr Zhagde told us that "this is the best form of social audit" and he included it in the PMC's budget for 2010-2011. The online facility has not yet seen the light of day. Mr Zhagde was unceremoniously transferred, recently, for his stern action against illegal encroachments. We must pursue this matter with the new municipal commissioner, Mahesh Pathak.

    You too can replicate this in your city, so that the local government is pressurised to check such practices and take corrective action.

    (Vinita Deshmukh is a senior editor, author and convener of Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She can be reached at [email protected].)

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    User

    COMMENTS

    Gunalan

    8 years ago

    Good approach. There is saying "Cleanliness is next to God. But as the author pointed out cleanliness is lacking in most of the hotels, kitchen cleaning of utensils, Bearer use their bare hands for taking the stuff etc. Owners of hotels should exercise certain controls over their employees and inspect the places, but unfortunately, it never happen. When money becomes important factor, every otherthing goes off. There was a lyric in tamil - Thiefs themselves should reform otherwise thefts could not eradicated.

    Sanjay

    8 years ago

    Hi Vinita
    Thanks for an eye opener. Just want to confirm the RTI process for this.

    1. As per my understanding, I file an RTI app u/s 4 with PIO of BMC in my case.
    2. So Do I ask for Hotels in a specific ward or just ask for the reports by Hotel Names?
    3. I should ask to see the records and make notes/take pics?? I recall the act states that first 30 mins is Free & then chargable for every addl 30 mins. But when the timer starts is not clarified. Can U pl run me through the steps so I don't falter
    Thanks in adv

    REPLY

    Vinita Deshmukh

    In Reply to Sanjay 8 years ago

    1. yes that's right
    2. it's better if you ask locality wise, you can choose one or more neighbourhoods - it's easier to check the records
    3. yes you can take notes but ask for Photostat copies as well for which you will be charged Rs.2 per page. As for charges after 30 mins, until now i have not been charged, officially it is free for one hour and then it is Rs.5 for every 15 mins thereafter. No photographs are permitted though. all the best.

    sanjay

    In Reply to Vinita Deshmukh 8 years ago

    Thanks Vinita.
    Am just wondering - don't the Muni corp give a copy of these reports to Hotels so they are also aware of shortcomings & take corrective action?
    Also why such reports are not posted on the Muni corp website? Nowadays some agencies like ITax, Anti-corruption have started posting names of defaulters on their website. If such steps are taken for hotels etc which are having public as only consumers, they will comply faster. What are ur views?

    Vinita

    In Reply to sanjay 8 years ago

    yes they do give copies of the reports to hotels but hotels take them lights as there is not stringent penalty imposed. Very right - all this information must be posted on the municipal corporation's website - this would indeed force hotels to adhere to safety norms

    sunil

    8 years ago

    very usefull

    Mita Banerjee

    8 years ago

    Once our entire team got food poisoning after eating at one of the five star hotels mentioned in your articles. it only shows how unsafe it is to eat out. it seems we need stomachs of iron!

    malq

    8 years ago

    Great article, thanks, and as a thumb rule, we try to eat at restaurants where we can see the kitchen or the cooking is done in front of you. There is a very simple and solid reason why truckers, who live on dhaba food, would rather eat at dhabas where the cooking is done in front of them and served straight from the tandoor as well as kadhais. Good luck to all of us . . .

    Prakash

    8 years ago

    Excellent and bold article. Eye opener for most of the mumbaikars, majority of whom have an unwritten rule of eating out (mandatory) on weekends, paying heavyily for first waiting endlessly for the turn and then eat junk, unhygienic food. We as a family are completely against this type of norm and eat out only on rare occassions such as birthdays, anniversaries, thus limiting exposure to such unhygienic food. Once at Taj Hotel, Nasik, I had a wooden piece, cut off from wooden spatula, in my omelette. I photographed it and even taped the conversation with F & B Manager when he accepted the mistake. I have several such instances while eating out (even though so rare) and hence hate when it comes to eating out. Unfortunately in such incidences the maximum compensation is just the waiver or reimbursement of the charges.

    Keep it up - Moneylife

    Meenal Mamdani

    8 years ago

    Restaurants must be inspected and the reports should be available to the interested public.
    All violations are not of the same magnitude therefore some countries have a system where a restaurant is rated A to F depending on the number and severity of violations. The restaurants are compelled to display this rating prominently on their premises. If this is adopted in India, then consumers can make an informed decision to patronize the eatery or not.
    Yes, it is true that food inspectors can be bribed and also that food inspectors can extort, but that is no reason to avoid implementing a regulation that affects public hygiene.

    Stephen Wong

    8 years ago

    Hepatitis B is a blood-borne disease and can only be transmitted through blood to blood contact. Next time before I buy your magazine, I will insisted that it is certified clean to be free of germ and I will not shake your hands until you can show me proof that you are free of any skin diseases.

    REPLY

    Hemant Bhatia

    In Reply to Stephen Wong 8 years ago

    Thats why its our tradition to say NAMASTE ,insted of shaking hands (:

    Stephen Wong

    In Reply to Hemant Bhatia 8 years ago

    What a good idea. Namaste. May be we should all wear a mask before talking to each other and have our medical clearance certificate clearly displayed - "I am certified to be GERM free"

    Vinita

    In Reply to Stephen Wong 8 years ago

    My apologies to Stephen and everyone - Please read as Hepatitis A.

    Stephen Wong

    In Reply to Vinita 8 years ago

    Many thanks for the clarification. It is greatly appreciated.

    p k

    8 years ago

    i am not surprised.. in mumbai also once, after eating in five star hotel in nariman point area, one of my swiss guest was sick!! loose motion etc.......

    all these things can be purchased in india for a price.

    best is mouthshut .com kind of network to warn public about quality of food .

    in uae , in spite of hot and humid weather , i have not come accross food poisoning in last 2 years..rule are followed and are same for all restaurents.

    pravin

    8 years ago

    further nonsense from regulator loving moneylife staffers.
    restaurants are in business because people enjoy eating there and not because assorted babus vouch for their safety.do babus inspect your grandma's home to certify it is clean? i am willing to bet,restaurants take a far more care of hygiene-as accepted in by indian society's norms.they risk losing business if even one incident of food poisoning blows out of proportion.it doesnt mean that accidents wont happen or someone will not be sloppy.but we dont need bureaucrats to tell us if the food is good.we can find it for ourselves.

    people like you imagine that everyone is out to loot strangers and only because some big babu is looking over their shoulders,things move smoothly 99% of the time.wake up you remnants of license permit raj.wake up and smell the signs of freedom and responsibility for your actions

    REPLY

    P K

    In Reply to pravin 8 years ago

    hi there..
    in pune on j m road i had cocroach in my idli sambar..place shivsagar...there was no apology from the hotel..it was taken casually. i have stopped going to shivsagar after this incidence.

    it is one of the most crowded place!!

    pravin

    In Reply to P K 8 years ago

    good choice.i too like to avoid shops that sell me bad goods.

    Foodie

    In Reply to pravin 8 years ago

    What your problem, buddy? Agreed, nobody inspected the food prepared by your grandma because there was a trust element. But see how your grandfather has behaved in public places while delivering your food http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oSj-OSXJ... and you will come to know the need have checks on food vendors, including hotels, restaurants etc.

    pravin

    In Reply to Foodie 8 years ago

    my problem is that the author wants babus to determine what is safe for you and me to eat.i say BS.i determine what is safe by a)reading restaurant reviews b)checking out the crowd c)visual inspection of surroundings .the trust factor comes from voluntary private observations and not some taxpayer funded babu inclined to take bribes.
    what amazes me is people like you think that a babu is equipped with knowledge thousands of independent customers like you and me are not. that is naivete beyond belief.
    the "trust" factor is indeed what restaurants thrive on.didnt you get that from my post?
    the trust doesnt come because some MPSC babu told us it is safe.it came from people's observations.and that costs nothing but an ordinarily alert mind.
    you want to know who lobbied for this food health inspection babu? . entrenched restaurants themselves.they wanted to limit and thwart competition and therefore set up an impediment for new start up restaurants/food places.it is always like this.the entrenched players like to get someone in power to serve their interests.and you think the babu is working for the paying customer.what a ludicrous idea

    Vinita

    In Reply to pravin 8 years ago

    Pravin does not seem to have comprehended the gravity of the situation in India regarding food safety norms that are thrown to the winds by restaurants. Well, if an authority like a municipal corporation enforces strict and regular inspection of restaurants, then surely they would all ensure stringent standards of food safety, clean kitchen and medical examination of the kitchen and serving staff. Please don't under rate babus - you cannot generalise that all babus are corrupt or inefficient. Once, during a prestigious anniversary function of a leading newspapers which was held at Hotel Blue Diamond in Pune, 125 of us were down with food poisoning. Neither did the management apologise - instead it was trying to find excuses. So many lodged police complaints. Recently there have been cases of mass food poisoning in hostels of prestigious educational institutes. These should also come under the scanner of the department. I guess this article is ahead of its time in the sense that majority of us are `conditioned' into having full faith in the restaurant managements. How lucky they are as we easily let off our purse strings and fatten theirs. No questions asked! Don't we need to grow?

    pravin

    In Reply to Vinita 8 years ago

    you are not getting my point at all.nobody is asking you to trust hotel managements.if they cheated you and made you sick,then you should take them to the consumer court.now if those silly courts dont work,lets not blame the hotel wallas.
    the babu is NOT working for YOU. please please PUHLEEASE read some basic public choice theory if you want to get rid if your naive faith in babudom and people in power looking after your interests.
    hotel blue diamond must be a fraud.i dont hold any brief for them.125 of you should take them to court.they would rather apologise and reimburse you than face the ignominy of losing reputation ,in most coses.what about those police complaints? they didnt work?
    the municpal babu has NO incentive to work for your benefit.whatever happens properly happens inspite of the system and not because of it.dont try to fix a system that CANNOT work.a dog's tail will remain crooked.

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