Sunday, 20 October 2013

Smart Suraksha Tips




Change is inevitable. But what if the change is for the worse?

Well, just when I was sitting down to pen this post I remembered life till the mid- eighties in Kerala. It was so simple and safe more so my native town i.e. Manjeri. Now before I go further let me explain the scenario then and that now. Till the mid- eighties this small town in Malappuram District of Kerala had large ancestral houses in big plots. The houses were set quite apart. Yet, people knew each other. Apart from the normal roads there were plenty of narrow roads and by- lanes. Ladies and gents alike took bath either in the private pools attached to the houses or the common pool attached to the temples. Of course, there were separate Ghats for the two.   Doors were never locked not even at night. In fact keeping the door locked especially at dusk when the evening lamps were lit, was frowned upon. Girls were not scared to walk alone even at noon when the roads and narrow lanes were deserted. You could see women flaunt their gold ornaments without fear.  Eve- teasing was unheard of.  There were very few banks and the takers for banking services were minimal. People preferred keeping their cash and valuables at home. But with the mass advent of television in the homes, the craving for luxuries increased. Adding to this was the disintegration of the Joint family system.

With the disintegration of the Joint family set-up, the land holdings have gone down. Earlier where there was only a single big house, we now have at least six to ten houses. Homes are near but hearts are mile apart. People barely recognize each other. The exception of course being the older generation whose numbers is dwindling fast. The number of unknown faces by far exceeds the number of known faces. Theft and chain- snatching is on the rise. People fear to talk to strangers, least they harm them. Outsiders are looked upon with suspicion.  Now what would one do in such a situation? Let me on my part try and suggest some tips to ensure a smooth and safe living in my town.

  1. Avail the services of Banks and ATMs. Keep minimum cash at home. Life is precious. More precious than the ornaments we wear. So let us adorn minimum jewellery. Extra jewellery if any can be deposited in Bank lockers.
  2. Get to know all the people (both young and old) in the locality. Look out for unknown faces. Be alert and watch their mannerisms. Anything unusual should ring an alarm bell in you. Do not divulge details of yourself, your family, neighbours and relatives to strangers. 
  3. Avoid walking alone in deserted lanes and bye lanes at odd- hours. If it is inevitable that you walk through them, then make sure not to wear any ornaments nor carry large amounts of money.Walk on the right side of the road/ lane. Chain- snatchers find it difficult to break and get away with your chain when you walk on the right side.
  4.  Ladies would do well not to spend the night alone at home. Call over a relative, friend or neighbor to spend the night at your place or alternatively spend the night at their place. Keep your cell phone by your side at all times. In case you hear anything unusual at night, put on all the lights and make a call to your neighbours. They in turn can also put on all their lights as a warning to the intruder. 
  5. Keep all outer doors locked/ latched 24 hours a day. In most cases, the intruders find access through the kitchen door which is generally left open during the day time. Do not open your door to strangers. Make enquiries from the window. In case you are suspicious about their antecedent, make a call to your neighbor making yourself clearly audible to them or else pretend to call someone in the house. It often works.
  6. Store important mobile numbers like that of Police control room, Police patrol party, neighbours and close relatives on speed dial. Numbers of close relatives/ friends to be contacted first in case of an emergency can be saved as ‘ICE1’, ‘ICE2’, ‘ICE3’ and so on. Here ICE stands for  ‘In case of an emergency.’ It makes things easier.
  7. Go  in for the ‘Smart Suraksha App.’  The Smart Suraksha App is an Android Application that aims at making women feel safe. This App, at the press of a single button, sends your message of help to five pre-chosen contacts from your contact list. An additional feature of this app is that along with your message for help, it also sends across your location even if the GPS on your cell phone is switched off. Thus, one can be reassured that there is help available at all times.
  8. Ensure that things like knives, iron pipes, pick- axe, thick wooden sticks , etc that could possibly be used as a weapon to attack/ overpower you are not left lying around outside/ in the home. Ensure that they are kept in a safe and secure place known only to you and your family members. It has come to light that in most cases of theft and murder, the intruders have had access to weapons onsite itself.
  9. While travelling alone in a taxi/ auto be alert and take in your surroundings. Inform a friend/ relative of your whereabouts and the number of the auto/ taxi. See to it that the driver hears your conversation. In case you feel something amiss, call in police control room or else at least pretend to alert the police. This may save the situation.
  10. Ladies may consider keeping a safety pin or small scissors handy while travelling in a public utility vehicle to keep eve- teasers at bay. Your footwear too can be the silent weapon. In case someone tries to misbehave with you just press down on his feet with your footwear and act as though you are unaware of the pain you are causing him. He will be forced to keep silent and bear the pain lest he be caught. This will also serve as a lesson to him and at the same time you will be taking your sweet revenge.  Also beware of pick-pockets. Do not keep your entire money in one place. You can keep carry them in various places like your shirt/ kurta pocket, jeans/ pant pockets and also keep them in various pouches in your hand bag/ bag. Take note of people who try to pick up a fight unnecessarily / jostle people and crowd you.                                                                                                                                                       


There are many more things that we can do to ensure our safety but what matters most is our presence of mind.


Before I sign out let me share two things though seemingly trivial are in fact great moral boosters (a) Insure your house and valuables. This imparts a sense of security. (b) This one is a joke in our family yet a very practical one. Ensure that minimum number of ladies footwear and maximum number of gents’ footwear are kept out in clear view of others. Ladies are soft targets. So it is better not to advertise the number of ladies at home, whereas by increasing the visibility of gents’ footwear one can misguide the anti- social elements into believing that there are a number of men at home.





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