Independence Day

Every time we celebrate Independence Day, we are reminded of the valiant and selfless efforts of our freedom fighters. However, it is also important to consider Independence from a different perspective. While Independence means that we are no longer under some other country’s rule, perhaps, we can only consider ourselves truly ‘independent’ when we have achieved the following:

When our country’s borders are secure and we no longer fear the possibility of terrorist attacks on our soil. When Freedom of Speech is exercised judiciously, by an upright and courageous media, instead of the kind of media that is forced to kowtow to the powerful and wealthy. When the Law is respected and followed, ensuring safety for one and all. When Discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, religion or financial status no longer exists in Society. When Education, Housing , Food and Employment is within the reach of even the poorest of the poor. When every senior citizen is able to lead his life safely, and with dignity. When a woman is given her due respect and place in society, with the same privileges that are available to a man. When corruption is weeded out, in all forms, in every aspect of our lives. The list could go on…

On the bright side, the above wish list may not be entirely unachievable.

The Gramin Rojgar Hami Yojana will ensure employment to many people. Free education is already available to all those under the age of 14 years, and up to 12th standard for girls. Plans like the Green revolution and White Revolution will increase food and milk production respectively, in an attempt to meet the demands of the nation. Probably our greatest development has been in the field of Software and Information Technology, with Indians surging ahead of the other countries in this field. Our Defence Forces are quite literally, a force to reckon with, for we have the capability of deterring the strongest threats possible. Our economic growth is commendable with a concurrent increase in per capita income. The Media is now less restrained and almost every other day, we hear of some scam being exposed. The Right to Information Act has ensured some form of accountability in the working of the Government.

We have a long way to go before we achieve the goals our forefathers have set for us. In this venture, we could borrow a leaf out of a book from the Far East. The Japanese have a term called ‘kaizen’ which means ‘continuous improvement upon the existing self.’ Incorporating this concept into our development would certainly go a long way in realizing our goals.

With that, I wish to convey my heartfelt wishes to all of you on this Independence Day.

Jai Hind!

RULES OF BICYCLING SAFETY

Bicycle touring has its inherent risks.  It is a sport whose safety is dependent upon the judgement and alertness of the cyclists.  As a cyclist you are responsible for the way you ride and the condition of your bicycle.

For a Safe Bicycle

Your bicycle must be in excellent repair.  Every bicycle needs thorough servicing annually.  If you have not had this done recently, please have it done before your tour.  Special attention should be paid to the functioning of brakes; condition of brake pads and cables, functioning and condition of derailleurs and derailleur cables; headset; cranks; trueness and cones of the wheels; tightness of seatpost, seat and handlebars; condition and pressure of tires.  If you bring a new bicycle, ride it at least 50 times and then have it adjusted by a bicycle mechanic.

For Safety on the Road
  • Follow all traffic regulations as if you were driving a car.
  • Use hand signals for turning, slowing down or stopping.
  • Yield right of way to pedestrians.
  • Ride on the side of the road in the same direction as motorized traffic.
  • Ride a straight course near the side of the road (not too close to the side of the pavement so as not to risk going off the pavement).
  • Ride single file and keep several bicycle lengths between yourself and the cyclist in front of you.  Allow even more room when going downhill.
  • Use Both Brakes at the same time, gently; never stab at them.  On downhills pump both of your brakes.  Do not apply them continuously, for this can cause them to overheat and stop working.
  • Dry your brakes by using them after riding through water on a wet road.
  • Never go faster than you can handle.
  • Never ride on a sidewalk.
  • Consistently check your mirror (if you have one) and listen for motor vehicles coming from behind and prepare to have them pass you.
  • Do not look behind you while riding a bicycle.
  • Do not make a left hand turn while bicycling.  Dismount, look for traffic and walk across.
  • Never bicycle over railroad tracks. Dismount and walk across.
  • Be careful of parked motor vehicles.  They may pull out into your path or a car door may open in front of you.  Watch for exhaust fumes and look for a person sitting in the vehicle. Attempt to establish eye contact.
  • Stay at least five bicycle lengths behind moving motor vehicles.  They can stop and turn more quickly than you on your bicycle.
  • Ride with caution over wet or sandy roads.  They may be slippery and  cause a fall.
  • Potholes, metal grates and other objects in the road must be avoided.
For Safe Bicycling
  • All cyclists must wear ANSI or Snell approved helmets at all times while riding your bicycle or resting on the side of a road.  It is your responsibility to wear your helmet securely buckled.
  • Wear bright clothes to make yourself visible to motorists.
  • Make certain that you wear no loose clothing that can get caught in a bicycle chain or wheel.
  • We recommend using protective eyewear.  If you wear corrective lenses for driving, wear them for bicycling.  Make sure they fit tightly.  We also recommend clear eyewear for cloudy/rainy days.
  • Make sure you are in good health and in sufficiently good physical condition to handle the exertion required by bicycling and other activities you undertake.  A checkup with a doctor six months prior to your trip is advised