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Bata fined Rs 9000 for asking customer to pay Rs 3 for carry bag

The complainant told a Chandigarh consumer forum that by charging him for the bag, Bata was also endorsing its brand on the bag which was not justified.

Manjeet Sehgal ChandigarhApril 14, 2019UPDATED: April 14, 2019 17:06 IST

The forum observed that if companies were really worried about the environment, they should provide environment-friendly bags for free to their customers. (Photo: Wikipedia)


Consumer forum said compelling a customer to pay for a paper bag was a clear deficiency in service

Forum said it was the store's duty to provide a free bag to the customer

Bata India has been directed to provide free paper bags to its customers

Bata India Limited has been told to pay Rs 9,000 to a consumer for deficiency in services. Acting on a complaint filed by the customer, a Chandigarh consumer forum has slammed Bata for asking the customer to pay Rs 3 for a paper bag.

In his complaint, Chandigarh resident Dinesh Prasad Raturi, told the consumer forum that he had purchased a pair of shoes on February 5 from a Bata store located in Sector 22D. The store charged him Rs 402 which also included charges for the paper bag. Raturi told the forum that by charging him for the bag, Bata was also endorsing its brand on the bag which was not justified.

The complainant sought a refund of Rs 3 and compensation for deficiency in services. Countering this, Bata India refuted the allegations of deficiency in services. The forum said compelling a customer to pay for a paper bag was a clear deficiency in service as it was the store's duty to provide a free bag to the customer who had purchased their product.

The consumer forum has also directed Bata India to provide free paper bags to its customers. It also observed that if the companies were really worried about the environment, they should provide free environment-friendly bags to their customers.

The forum in its decision has directed Bata India Limited to refund the cost of the bag (Rs 3) and litigation charges, i.e. Rs 1000.

Besides asking Bata to pay Rs 3000 as compensation to the customer for the mental agony caused by deficiency in services, the forum has also directed the leading shoe brand to deposit Rs 5,000 in the legal aid account of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

The Chandigarh consumer forum's decision is an eye opener for stores that compel customers to pay up to Rs five for carry bags.



This 16-year-old girl is turning plastic bottles into warm clothes for the poor

This 16-year-old girl is turning plastic bottles into warm clothes for the poor

School student Devika Chhabra came up with an idea to address two of the most significant issues in our country -- degrading environment and poverty -- with one simple move.



Roshni Chakrabarty India Today Web DeskNew DelhiDecember 19, 2018UPDATED: December 20, 2018 08:51 IST


What can you do at the age of just 16? Devika Chhabra is tackling the twin issues of environmental degradation and poverty, and showing us that age doesn't matter if you really want to make a difference.

We humans have this incredible capacity to ignore the bad things going around us -- degrading environment, steadily climbing extinction list, millions without food and shelter -- and live life in this privileged cocoon we build for ourselves. Sixteen-year-old Devika Chhabra wasn't any different.

Then one quiet afternoon, Devika, a student of GD Goenka Public School, looked out the window of her school bus while deep in her thoughts and noticed a huge pile of garbage lying on one corner of the road. She ignored the sight.

A similar sight came across the bus again, and once more, she turned away her face in disgust, repulsed by the number of plastic bottles in the trash.

The same afternoon, she noticed something else -- a group of barely clothed 3-4-year-olds playing with sticks and mud beneath a flyover, their "shelter". Something twitched inside her and she turned away again.

In the next few days, several such incidents took place and she continued the blame game on different leaders and politicians.

"However, one night I woke up around 3:15 am aimless. I felt restless as though I had forgotten something. I stressed over it but couldn't think of anything, so I randomly started reading about the northern lights, when an article popped in- 'Intriguing facts about plastic pollution'," says Devika.

One fact led to another, and from the rage and shock on seeing the numbers, a different question came to her mind - "What have I done to help?"

"A part of me thought, 'Well, you're only 16 years old. What can you possibly do?' The other part of me thought, 'Well, you're 16 years old and that means you comprise the youth of this country. If you won't, who will?'" says Devika.

It was as a result of these random 3 am thoughts that the idea for the Replasteco project was born.


Each plastic bottle can take up to 450 years or more to decompose

Two problems, one stone: Solving environment degradation and poverty

The two key problems of poverty and degrading environment have forever haunted India. Over 2 lakh people are homeless just in Delhi the capital of India, which is choking with air pollution.

According to the World Economic Forum, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. As it is, microplastic is already present in all of our bottled water and even in the salt we eat.

Read: Microplastics are even present in table salt now, reveals an IIT-Bombay study

Water scarcity is looming upon us with groundwater slated to run out in Delhi in just two years apart from other cities in the country. The clock is surely ticking for India.

Read: Cape Town is running out ofwater by May: India and other countries to soon face water shortage

"Unfortunately, the situation has only worsened over the past couple of years. I've always believed in the phrase -- 'killing two birds with a single stone'. In a nutshell, I knew that I had to discover a mechanism to address both these issues with one simple move," says Devika.

After hours of brainstorming, Devika finally had her Eureka moment. She discovered a technology that could be used to help achieve her goal.

"REPLASTECO aims to kill two birds with a single stone: Prevent PET bottles from polluting the oceans and protecting the poor from the harsh winters," she explains.

The plan was to collect PET (ppolyethyleneterephthate) bottles or plastic bottles of cold drinks and juices such as Coke, Pepsi, or Mazaa from all communities and recycle them into warm layers such as sweaters and blankets.

These would be distributed to the homeless across Delhi thereby protecting them from the harsh winter season.


How are PET bottles turned into warm clothes?

"Unfortunately, about a million plastic bottles are bought every minute across the world and only 7% are recycled," says Devika.

"The process of recycling is quite complex and costly as it includes various steps; however, a degraded environment would cost us much more in my opinion," she adds.

The process of recycling PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) bottles into warm clothes is as follows:

1. The post consumer bottles are collected from different locations.

2. They are washed and shredded into flakes once the labels and caps are removed.

3. The flakes are melted and filtered to remove any remaining impurities and the formed into pellets.

4. Further, the chips are melted again and extruded into micro-holes to make strands of yarn.

5. The plastic yarn is then woven/ knitted into fabric. It can also be woven with natural fibres.

Raising funds for Replasteco and distributing warm clothes

Replasteco is still in its initial stages. Devika had launched a fund-raising campaign earlier this month through a crowfunding organisation named Ketto, which enabled me to to turn her innovative idea into a reality.

Meanwhile, she has been collecting post-consumer PET bottles or plastic bottles from her neighbourhood, roads, donations in school, and her friends and family members on a weekly basis.

She is also fixing some collection points so as to accept donations in the coming weeks.

"I hope to launch my initiative in a full-fledged manner by the end of December 2018. After all, what could be a better way to bring in the new than to help those in need?" she asks.

She aims to distribute the clothes made from recycled PET before the harsh winter introduces itself in January.

"For the distribution process, my main areas of focus are the slums and homeless beneath the flyovers. I also hope to seek the guidance and support of my mentors in school and the organisations I've volunteered for in the past such as SEVA BHARTI and Robinhood Army," says Devika, belying her interest in social work.


REPLASTECO aims to kill two birds with a single stone: Prevent PET bottles from polluting the oceans and protecting the poor from the harsh winters.

'We're the leaders of tomorrow, but our job starts today'

The 16-year-old is very aware of the fact that most of us tend to complain more than act to remove problems. She knows that till recently, she was in the same zone.

"It's a phase where in one wishes to bring about change, but due to lack of self confidence, or some other reason, one chooses to play the blame game, or make excuses by complaining," she explains.

"We need to realise that we comprise the youth of our country; we're the leaders of tomorrow, but our job starts today. We need to let go of the fear of failure, in order to succeed," she says.

"We must also remember that as we climb that ladder of success, it is imperative we fall. So don't be afraid to fall, my fellow peers! Instead, as Mahatma Gandhi once said, 'You must be the change you wish to see in the world'," advises Devika.

Read: These Class 11 students from a Gurugram school invented an intelligent traffic light that reacts to real-time traffic



These Class 11 students from a Gurugram school invented an intelligent traffic light that reacts to real-time traffic

Four Class 11 students from Shiv Nadar School in Gurugram invented an intelligent traffic light that could significantly cut traffic congestion in India.

Roshni Chakrabarty India Today Web DeskNew DelhiOctober 23, 2018UPDATED: October 23, 2018 14:09 IST

ongestion on Indian roads is such a routine experience that people take the time wasted on the road as granted.

As per a recent report released by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and commissioned by Uber,commuters in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata spend 1.5 hours more than their counterparts in other Asian cities during peak traffic times.

So when the time came to create a project that could tackle a real-life problem using technology, four Class 11 students from Gurugram’s Shiv Nadar School decided to come up with a solution that had the potential to address the never-ending problem of traffic congestion in our city.

Om Shelat, Ira Sidhu, Soumya Juneja and Shreya Raju thus created an intelligent traffic light that reacts to real time traffic density using image processing and so, reduces fleet time.

The best part about the innovation is that it is compatible with the existing traffic lights, thus cutting down the costs and time required for its implementation.

The students are the first to develop a system that is meant to work on Indian roads, keeping in mind the Indian traffic situation.

India Today Education got talking to them to find more about their innovative project.


Two students from the team working on the intelligent traffic light project.

How did the students come up with such a complex idea?

The annual Colloquium Conference, organized by Shiv Nadar School, showcases the very best projects of their students that address a social problem by integrating the use of technology.

This is where the students came up with their unique idea.

"We already had some idea about using the micro controllers and image processing systems from our Robotics classes at school and hence, we decided to use our knowledge to create a solution that had the potential to address the never-ending problem of traffic congestion in our city," says Om Shelat.

Based on their research, the team found that most traffic signals work on preset algorithms and timers. These are probably customized for each junction but stay static once configured.

However, the traffic situation in any city or junction doesn’t always stay the same.

"This leads not only to a high amount of traffic congestion but a large number of traffic violators as well. We believe that to solve the problem of the entire city we must solve the problem of the individual junctions," says Ira Sidhu.

Once the idea was in place, the IT teachers at Shiv Nadar School guided and mentored the students throughout the journey of ideating and executing this project.

Read: How the Carbon Zero Challenge at IIT Madras is creating job makers to solve the planet’s environment problems

How does the Intelligent Traffic Light Management System’ work?

The Intelligent Traffic Light Management System’ makes one simple change in the traffic light, i.e. it shifts the nature of the traffic system from reactive to proactive, explains the students.

The intelligent traffic light uses a high-quality, night vision camera and a microcontroller to calculate how much traffic is present on the road. Then, according to the information, it modifies the red/green distribution time at each junction dynamically.

"The camera connected to the pi microcontroller acts as the main local processing unit of the entire system, and captures an image of the traffic lane at an interval of every five seconds," explains Juneja.


Students working on the project with the help of a teacher.

The captured image will then be processed by the pi microcontroller and a polygon mask will be applied to remove the unwanted area in such a way that only the image of the lane will be visible.

The intelligent traffic light system also uses a Canny Edge Detection Tool’ which converts the image of the lane into black and white pixels. The system calculates the ratio of the white pixels (that will represent all the vehicles in the lane) to the total number of pixels in the image.

This data is then sent to the master who compares the data based on which it will modify the timer as well as light (red/ green) at the traffic junction.

Read: This organisation is trying to build India’s first sign language college for deaf children

Awarded at the CSIR Innovation Awards for School Children-2018

The project bagged the fifth prize at the recently concluded CSIR Innovation Award for School Children-2018. The award was given by Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan, and NITI Aayog member, Vijay Kumar Saraswat in Vigyan Bhawan.

"We got an opportunity to interact with the dignitaries present at the ceremony and they gave us valuable insights on our project. We feel extremely honored and humbled to have received this appreciation from the highly credited Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India," says Soumya Juneja.

Earlier, they have also received the Astitva Samman from the Ministry of Women and Child Development.


The student innovators with Minister of Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan at the recently concluded CSIR Innovation Award for School Children-2018 where the intelligent traffic light project bagged the fifth prize.

Will we see the intelligent traffic light in the Indian market soon?

The Intelligent Traffic Light Management System’ is an innovation that aims to tackle an important problem in a cost-effective manner.

"Our hope is that given the simplicity of the solution combined with minimal costs it can be easily implemented across major intersections in the metros to begin with," says Shreya Raju.

"If with the help of our solution we can improve the overall experience of commuters on road and reduce the traffic congestion as well as air pollution, our job would be done," she adds.

The students aim is to start the implementation initially in their own city -- Gurugram -- as it requires minimal investment. They are in conversation with some government officials to explore opportunities for the implementation of their innovative solution.



Haji Public School, the mountain-cut village school that speaks of education red tapes in the stereo

Haji Public School, the mountain-cut village school that speaks of education red tapes in the stereotypically 'terror-ridden' Kashmir

Haji Public School is trying to provide quality education in a place where motorable roads do not exist. School Director Sabaah Haji speaks about the education red tapes in Jammu and Kashmir and the number of state governments schools that exist only on paper.

Roshni Chakrabarty

India Today Web Desk
Newest DelhiDecember 15, 2017
UPDATED: February 28, 2019 16:25 IST

Haji Public School

It was in late 2008 that the Haji family sat huddled over a family dinner in Doda district, eastern Jammu, and almost impulsively started the Haji Public School. Nasir Haji was in town for a holiday. As they sat talking over the family dinner, the topic of the village came up. The family knew that the village needed to see a drastic change that would uplift it. But how could this be done?

"Uncle Nasir suggested we start a school there because really, what better way to change people's lives than to educate them. And just like that, out of nowhere, we started talking about it," says Sabaah Haji, Director of Haji Public School, who spoke to India Today Education about the struggles of keeping a school like this afloat in Jammu and Kashmir.

[https://smedia2]Haji Public school nestled among mountains

Nasir Haji is the main man behind Haji Public School. "He's the money, he had the vision," says Sabbah.

The Haji family saw the dismal state of schooling around them and realised that quality education was missing in the area. "The reason we started Haji Public School was that the state of schooling that we saw in front of us was so very dismal. It was the same twenty years ago, it is the same now, if not worse in the state schools in these remote areas," she says.


Brothers Nasir and Saleem Haji - Sabaah's father -- wanted to start from their roots. "They asked if my mother and I (the two of us actually run the school) if we were willing to move to the village and live there. We were more than agreeable, but with a few conditions. We said we'd run a school, but it would have to be our way. High standards, no compromises, and that we'd grow at a pace we were comfortable with. One class a year," says Sabaah.

And that's how Haji Public School came about a few months later, with only two kindergarten classes in its first year, 2009. Last year, Haji Public School's first batch, who had joined in KG in 2009, cleared their Class 8 Board exams with excellent marks. This year the second kindergarten batch is through.


Stereotype of 'terror ridden Kashmir' blocks in-flow of quality teachers

India is a vast country and remote areas barely have access to daily life resources. In villages like Breswana, which do not have motorable access to city areas, lack of quality education and good teachers is a massive problem. This makes children grow up with poor education, staring at a bleak future. With years, lack of education in certain localised areas turns social issues into vicious cycles that citizens find impossible to come out of.

[https://smedia2]Director Sabaah Haji with students just before race

"The primary problem facing any school is availability of good teachers, and us being where we are -- a remote mountain the middle Himalayas, plus the inaccurate stereotype of 'terror-ridden Kashmir' -- this particular problem is just compounded," says Sabaah.

Haji Public Schools looks for high standard teachers who can keep the education quality high. Most of the local applicants for the job are turned down because they aren't good enough for the required standards. Thus, the Volunteer Programme was started two years ago, and it became very successful.


However, recruiting volunteer teachers comes with its own problems: "Volunteer stints are always up in the air and the coordination and scheduling, plus the repeated orientation and handholding period is a very tedious undertaking," says Sabaah.

[https://smedia2]ParRock climing practice and planting trees

'Education system in Jammu Kashmir is a real cesspool'

Obtaining permission and getting paperwork done in Jammu and Kashmir is one of the greatest problems if one wants to start a school. "The education system as a whole in Jammu Kashmir is a real cesspool," says Sabaah, who has been in the village for nine years, working for Haji Public School."I know first-hand how the Education Department works, or, for the most part, doesn't. Policies are made up in the air, but what happens on the ground is a whole different ballgame," she says.


While India is getting multiple Smart Cities in various states, here, the old fashioned way of running the administration with layers upon layers of red tapes still continues.

"Reporting, documentation, getting permissions and so on has been a real nightmare for me personally. Everything is still done the old fashioned, infuriating way, with feudal minded officers, smarmy clerks, red tape, unbelievable rules and regulations and red tape to swim through at every stage," says Sabaah.


In such a system which works at a glacial pace, Sabaah finds it a miracle that the school has been standing for so long. "It's a struggle to keep my school alive what with permissions and recognition and racing against time to get all of this done in a cumbersome system that works at a glacial pace," she says.

'Inefficient, incompetent and callous running of schools by the State'

Villages and small towns in remote locations suffer from lack of access to good education. So, how will the children here develop into model future citizens?"Really, all that is needed is intent from the State. Every little village and hamlet in the remotest area here seems to have a government school with staff on its rosters. Whether that staff actually shows up or not is a different matter," says Sabaah.


Government schools run by the state government of Jammu and Kashmir seem to be running only in name, as per Haji's experience. "My arch nemesis is the inefficient, incompetent and callous running of schools by the State," she says.


"What are the teachers teaching? Who is checking quality of teaching? Are these highly paid government employees doing their jobs? Are they accountable? What are the consequences if they are not showing up, or just not teaching children and teaching them well? If the government schools have such reach, why are there generations and generations of students flunking out of school without even bare minimum literacy?" -- Sabaah unleashes a barrage of questions all of which seek an answer to the casual manner the state government handles the concerns of education in a state where unrest and violence frequently keeps children away from studies.


"The state of education here is beyond horrific, and nothing is being done to rectify the situation. The Government needs to wake up (doesn't matter who is in power), and the education department needs to shake itself out of its complacency and fix the many, many problems in its functioning," urges Haji.

Providing proper education to remote areas and backward communities can change the face of the locality just within one generation. But that can only happen if the higher authorities in the education and related departments grow a conscience and make sure the needs of children are prioritised over others."In summary, fix the government schools and you fix almost everything," says Sabaah.

[https://smedia2]Basketball game in progress

Minimal fee structure, competent teachers, and fun learning at Haji Public School

Haji Public School started with 28 children from the village; now, it is a K-8 school with 400 students from 15 villages, who walk hours across mountains every day to attend school.

"We have had families move from cities to the village for the school, because we provide good quality education. All of this is because we have kept it simple. Minimal fee structure, very competent teachers, good infrastructure and teaching aids and fun learning," says Sabaah.

This is what the Haji family wanted to give the children around them, and the Director is more than happy to see these children getting the same opportunities as their counterparts in cities or towns.

"The aim was to provide these kids the chance to put a foot in the door. We have been able to do that so far. Now we need to take them all the way through," says Sabaah.

[https://smedia2]Garbage collection drive to keep surroundings clean

Children from marginalised areas, especially in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East states, do not experience life the same way as city kids do. Many need to travel for hours to go to school, and education is so hard to come by, that they do it anyway.


"I cannot fully express how satisfying it is to see the very palpable changes in our children over the past few years - a whole new level of confidence, hope and happiness in the kids as well as their families," Subaah gushes.

Expanding the school: Literally carving out mountains

Plans are on to make Haji Public School a K-12 school in Breswana itself. The infrastructure is being changed by adding more labs, libraries and playgrounds in order to admit more students.

"We are continuously tweaking our curriculum and teaching methodology as we grow in experience, to be able to deliver the best learning to students -- the kind that would benefit them in their real lives and be relatable to them coming from their particular lifestyles and skill sets," says Director Sabaah Haji.


Financing such a big project isn't easy and all of this work requires heavy funding. "Currently, my Uncle Nasir is the only one financing the operations. So, fund generation, especially via crowdfunding which we did through Ketto and viable investments, are what we are looking at to keep the school going," she says.

Crowdfunding becomes more viable when the school is kept in the news. Sabaah tells us how, as the school's Director, she also needs to run their official website, and the Facebook, Instagram and Tumbler accounts. She updates whatever is happening at school and posts funny pictures and videos centred around it.


"I also keep tweeting from my handle to keep the school hovering in people's minds. All of this helps as we have had increasing donations from kind strangers as well as friends and acquaintances who know of the school," she says.

"We are literally carving out the mountains to build the school. Operating a good quality teaching programme means high running expenses as well. I am always working on further permissions and recognition from the Education Dept as well," adds Sabaah.

[https://smedia2]Helping out in school and sorting crayons

How can you volunteer at Haji Public School?

Sabaah tells us how young men and women from across India or other countries have to come in and committed to stay long term in the village and teach the kids and help out at school.

The proper volunteer programme was started in 2012, mainly because of a serious lack of suitable or qualified teachers who could teach the kids at the high standard Sabaah was comfortable with. The plan turned out to be a great success and today, Haji Public School today runs almost entirely on its volunteers.


"The Volunteer Programme is not easy to get through though," says Sabaah Haji. "On an average, I reject nine out of ten applications right off the bat. You really have to wow me with your first communication. Your application should be complete, well written, and you should match all requirements for the volunteer profile."

Sabaah warns that the volunteer programme is not a "chill volun-tourism gig" but quite the opposite. To be a volunteer and click at Haji Public School, you need to be very serious, hard-working, patient and a sincere worker. You will be provided with food and stay for the time you are here. But all that is asked in return is that you give 100 per cent to the students, and follow school instructions and cultural guidelines in your time here.

Haji Public School is currently seeking applications for volunteers for Spring 2018, March onward, for a minimum period of five months. You can check out the complete details of their Volunteer Programme here. Click here to see how you can help Haji Public School.(Photos fromFacebook)



Hackers had access to certain Outlook email accounts for months.

Microsoft says the hackers could have viewed account email addresses, folder names, and subject lines of emails, but not the content of emails or attachments.



*Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are back online after outages across parts of the world*

Facebook refrained from specifying the cause or scope of the outages though. Facebook said it restored services on Sunday after some users could not access its social networking site, photo-sharing network Instagram and messaging app WhatsApp.



*Facebook spent more than $20 million on personal security for Mark Zuckerberg in 2018*

It takes a lot of money to protect yourself if you're Mark Zuckerberg.