Mumbai has the reputation of a friendly and inclusive city, where most people go out of their way to help others. Why are we especially and uncontrollably angry during our commute? While there may be many factors including long daily commutes and over-crowding, a high level of noise pollution, which directly affects mental health, is a major contributing factor.
“Noise pollution adversely affects mental health, creating feelings of frustration, irritation and even rage. Adrenalin levels increase with noise exposure and short sudden blasts of noise (like those from horns) create spikes in adrenalin levels in the bloodstream. Continuous exposure too alters the biochemistry of the brain and gives rise to stress responses,” Says consultant psychiatrist, Dr Amit Desai.
Road rage and train rage are on the rise and commonly experienced in the daily life of Mumbaikars. Normally sedate persons fight uncontrollably and violently on the road over minor traffic infractions. Women scratching and hitting each other in trains are part of daily commutes and traffic policemen have even been assaulted in the course of their duty and even died. A loud or continuous horn is commonly used as an expression of anger and sometimes precedes a major fight, which can bring other traffic to a standstill.
Honorary traffic wardens and traffic policemen are exposed to high noise levels continuously as the major traffic junctions where they regulate traffic are also among the noisiest. Recently, during peak traffic hour, I observed a vehicle with blue rooftop lights (indicating a politician) jump a traffic signal by loudly blowing his horn to clear the path. The traffic policeman standing next to me expressed his immediate angry but helpless response. He told me how provoking anger and fear through belligerent use of the horn was a large part of bullying to break traffic rules. “If we try to stop them, they become abusive,” he said.
Anita Lobo, an honorary traffic warden who has regulated traffic in Bandra for over 15 years has experienced the use of the horn as a means to intimidate and threaten. She has stood up to political pressure and continues to regulate traffic at some of the busiest and noisiest traffic junctions like the junction of the Holy Family Hospital at Hill Road in Bandra. “Horns are often used to express aggression,” she says. “It is a short step from the prolonged use of a horn to an all-out fight on the road.”
Recently, while conducting an awareness program at two traffic junctions under flyovers, I experienced the uncontrollable distress, which accompanied the loud sounds of near- continuous honking. Directly below the flyover (where the police chowky is placed) the sound was amplified by echo off the concrete on all sides and was even more unbearable. At the JJ Flyover, where the noise levels reached 105dB, I was desperate to leave within 10 minutes. The area under Vakola Flyover was not much better, at 102 dB. While holding placards, it was difficult to speak to drivers to request them not to honk. Traffic Policemen stand at these junctions for over 8 hours every day.
Still think Indians are ‘used’ to noise pollution? Here are some shocking facts which point to the effects of noise pollution according to WHO:
1. 27% of the overall population of India suffers disabling hearing loss as against 11% in High Income countries and 3% in North African countries.
2. 12.3 million children and 18.8 million adults of the region including India, Pakistan, Nepal , Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan suffer disabling hearing loss.
3. Nearly 48% of Indians over 65 years suffer debilitating hearing loss as compared to only 18% in high income countries.
(Environmental activist Sumaira Abdulali is convener of the Awaaz Foundation, which is works against noise pollution.)
This month's epic flooding in Louisiana, which destroyed roughly 60,000 homes, is the worst natural disaster in the United States since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. And just like after Sandy and other disasters, local officials have been troubledby the Red Cross' response.
Louisiana's governor has been so concerned by the charity's relief work that a spokesman said even amidst improvements, the state plans to "reevaluate its partnership" with the organization.
But that hasn't dissuaded Apple, Amazon and T-Mobile from soliciting flood relief donations on behalf of the charity, and, indeed, making the charity the exclusive conduit for giving.
Apple has links on its website, iTunes and App Store allowing users to directly donate to the Red Cross. U.S. Bank has a similar set-up for direct donation using its nearly 5,000 ATMs in two dozen states. T-Mobile allows its customers to donate by texting the word "LAFLOODS" to a five-digit number called a shortcode. Brooks Brothers promises to match customers' donations to the Red Cross, using the clothier's Golden Fleece Foundation.
In each case, the Red Cross is the only charity offered as a way to help.
The exclusive solicitations are problematic, said Doug White, the former director of the nonprofit management program at Columbia University. "They promote the idea that the Red Cross is America's charity and the go-to place for disasters despite its history of fumbles."
None of the companies gets any money from the arrangements. But they do benefit by being seen as companies that care. The Red Cross is one of the country's most recognized and venerable charities. "It speaks to what type of message these corporations want to convey," said White. "It's about branding and image."
Apple and others have long-standing relationships with the Red Cross. Apple, for instance, deployed one-click donation buttons after several disasters, such as last year's earthquake in Nepal.
Apple's exclusive arrangement with the Red Cross is particularly notable since the world's largest tech company has strict guidelines barring nonprofits from collecting donations inside iOS apps. All donations must be handled in a web browser outside the app or via text messages. This is part of Apple's "required user experience," it tells developers. (The latest version of ProPublica's iOS app was initially rejected by Apple's App Store review team earlier this year because it had a native button allowing people to donate to us.)
Apple declined to comment on the special status it gives the Red Cross.
Other companies said they're proud of the work they're doing with the Red Cross. "We've worked with the Red Cross for a number of years because they are trusted and they're able to provide timely emergency relief around the globe," said T-Mobile in a statement. (See each company's response below.)
The Red Cross said in a statement: "Cause marketing partners have a long history of generously supporting the Red Cross." The charity also said 3,200 Red Cross workers and volunteers "have tirelessly supported relief efforts in Louisiana." (Read the Red Cross' full statement.)
Similar problems have surfaced in its more recent disaster relief efforts. In the first 10 days after flooding began, it received roughly $7.8 million in donations and pledges, according to the Red Cross, far short of its $35 million to $40 million estimate for its ongoing relief efforts.
And new crowdsourced upstarts have eaten into its pool of potential donors. The New Orleans Times-Picayune is offering several options for donations on its website and GoFundMe, the world's largest online fundraising website, which allows users to create individual donation pages, has raised $10 million for Louisiana flood victims, a record for disaster relief in the platform's six-year history.
The Red Cross sent out an urgent call for donations to help fill the gap. It got quick support from its vast network of corporate sponsors to encourage donations. But after two weeks, the total donations are still less than half what the Red Cross says it needs.
The Red Cross and its corporate partners declined to provide a breakdown of its contributions. But T-Mobile said it was "very pleased with the results."
Here's a full breakdown of the companies helping the Red Cross, what they're doing, and what the companies say about their work with the charity:
What it's doing: Apple is giving the Red Cross banner advertisements on its website, iTunes and App Store portals, a so-called "frictionless" system that allows users to donate money directly to the Red Cross
Apple's response: Apple declined to comment.
What it's doing: Exclusive banner advertisements on its website and a shopping list of needed supplies, such as globes, trash bags and shovels.
Amazon's response: None.
What it's doing: Exclusive advertisements on its ATMs in the Dallas and Houston metro areas and the state of Mississippi, allowing customers to donate directly to the Red Cross
Wells Fargo's response: Wells Fargo said it had no comment on the criticisms of the Red Cross beyond a statement by its commercial banking head, Doug Kilton, saying the company is "proud to support the hard work of the American Red Cross as it assists those in our community in need of recovery, cleanup and rebuilding."
What it's doing: Exclusive advertisements on its ATMs nationwide, allowing customers using its nearly 5,000 ATMs in two-dozen states to donate directly to the Red Cross
U.S. Bank's response: "The Red Cross is one of many organizations we support, including the United Way and other relief agencies."
What it's doing: Part of the "Text to Give" program, allowing customers to send the shortcode, LAFLOODS, to a five-digit number and donate $10 to the Red Cross by adding the money onto their phone bill.
T-Mobile's response: "We've worked with the Red Cross for a number of years because they are trusted and they're able to provide timely emergency relief around the globe."
What it's doing: Donations made through Brooks Brothers go directly to the Red Cross and the clothier's nonprofit charity, the Golden Fleece Foundation, will match contributions, up to $50,000.
Brooks Brothers' response: None.
ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.
Four days after he complained about corruption in the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, the BMC filed a complaint against comedian Kapil Sharma for alleged illegal construction activities.
A complaint was also filed against actor Irrfan Khan.
BMC Sub-Engineer from South Ward, A.D. Jagtap lodged the complaint with Oshiwara Police Station under various sections of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, said Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Ashok Dudhe.
Sharma lives on a 9th floor flat and Khan stays on 5th floor apartment of DHL Enclave in posh Oshiwara area on New Link Road, said Dudhe.
Last Friday, Kapil stirred a hornet's nest by tweeting to PM Narendra Modi that though he pays Rs crore income tax since five years, he was forced to cough out a bribe of Rs 5 lakh for his office works.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis immediately offered to help in the matter even as it assumed political overtones.
The BMC requested Kapil to name the officials who demanded illegal gratification and also accused him of indulging in unauthorized constructions.
This was stated in a notice to Kapil, and later even Khan came under the BMC spotlight.
Earlier on Monday, Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Ram Kadam led a noisy morcha to Kapil's home demanding he should identify the corrupt officers and help rid BMC of graft, but he has not yet obliged.
Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam meanwhile expressed support to Kapil and wrote to Governor C.V. Rao, seeking directions to Fadnavis to order a probe into the graft allegations.
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.