Tag Archives: Harleen Jabbal

How High Should Drinking Be? Point Blank with Asian Weekly 27th November, 2017

Under Age Drinking by Magarticles

Across the African continent the legal age for consumption and purchase of alcohol is 18 years old. This is generally the case worldwide too.

Kenya has been nicknamed “the drinking nation” and this is not a very cool reputation especially if alcohol is one of the leading causes of road accidents. According to the road safety report for financial year 2016/17 by the National Transport and Safety Authority, 91% of the traffic crashes were attributed to human related factors. They included; speeding, reckless driving, dangerous overtaking, drink driving, drink walking, drink riding, motorists using unfamiliar roads during weekends and lack of use of helmets.

Access to alcohol is fairly easy in Kenya. You can buy it in the supermarket, pop in to a roadside bar or enter a restaurant and drink up. While the age limits in all these places is strict, there remains pilferage. The situation remains grim too at the teenage level in the secondary schools. Over 40% of students in secondary schools are taking alcohol and drugs, according to a recent survey by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA).

More on the report says:

“The students were also asked to mention the period when alcohol and drugs are most likely to be used in schools. Data shows that alcohol and drugs are more likely to be used during school holidays (48.5%) and on their way home (35.1%). Within the school environment, students are more likely to use drugs during weekends (30.4%). Other times mentioned include during inter-school meetings (27.8%), during school outings (27.3%), during entertainment in school (24.4%), during games (23.7%) and during school trips (21.8%).

The students were also asked to mention the possible sources of alcohol and drugs. The most commonly mentioned source of these substances of abuse is from friends (32.2%). The drugs and substances of abuse are also carried from home (29.3%), bought from other students (25.7%), bought from a bar near school (22%) or from a local brew den (19.1%). Other sources are kiosks or shops near school (16.9%), relatives (16.7%), supermarkets (11.3%), non-teaching school workers (7.4%), parents (5.3%), teachers (4.8%) and school canteen (3.9%).”

In the county of Kiambu, Governor Fred Waititu wants to change the legal age to 21 years old. It was on 21st May 2015 that President Uhuru Kenyatta signed The Alcoholic Drinks Control (Amendment) Act, 2015 and declared that alcoholism is a disease in Kenya. Meanwhile it still maintains:

  1. Drunken behaviour

(1) A licensee or an agent or employee of a licensee may refuse to admit to, and shall expel from, the premises to which his licence relates any person who is drunk and disorderly, violent, or quarrelsome, or whose presence would subject the licensee to a fine or penalty under this Act.

  1. Persons not eligible for a licence

(1) The District Committee shall not grant a new licence or transfer a licence to any person who—

(e) is under eighteen years of age;

  1. General penalty

Any person convicted of an offence under this Act for which no other penalty is provided shall be liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred thousand shillings, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both.

Yes alcoholism is a disease. Raising the legal age is an important step into curbing the access to alcohol for the youth of Kenya. However there are several other initiatives that can be taken to help this situation. The youth are at their most vulnerable, with hormones raging, self esteem crisis and even circumstances at home can divert their mind. Thus, the problem is not that they are drinking alcohol, it is what is going on in their lives and how can they be productively distracted. The local schools need to have useful workshops that will allow them to be job ready and use their talents in competitions and accomplishments rather than idling and focusing on unhealthy activities.

Their schools need to be their creative and scholarly sanctuaries and not an arena for the hottest couple in town. Sports are a great way to keep them on track too. When the alcohol is commercially difficult to buy and consume, they will be discouraged but if frustrations persist in school and at home, they will still find a way to buy and use it.

The Kiambu Governor’s idea is a start and that a good one too.

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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Uncategorized


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The Magic of Movies, Point Blank with Asian Weekly, 10th November, 2017

French Film



A long time ago a cinema was one that was an open-air ground with magic lanterns. The first film is Sortie de l’usine Lumière de Lyon and it was made in 1894 by the French Lumière brothers’ (Louis and Auguste Lumière). This was the beginning of the silent film era. The first film to have sound was The Jazz Singer released in 1927 and since then Hollywood has never looked back.

Bollywood started their movie making in 1913 with the film Raja Harishchandra by Dadsaheb Phalke.




When it comes to TV, the word “Television” was coined by Constantin Perskyi in 1900 and today TV remains the go to place for debates more than news and series. The world of digital media has changed the whole viewership concept. Once upon a time one black and white television was sufficient, then came colour, football and Ramayan. Then came a television in every room. Now it has all come down to a small screen in front of you anywhere you are, on a train, in the bathroom or on your bed.

A theatre or cinema is still prominent especially for opening nights. Over 75% of your movie ticket goes back to the Movie studio in Hollywood for their production and a big opening night is a major profit night for them.

Due to inflation the cost of movies has risen exponentially and especially so also because of the new digital effects and mega marketing budgets. Star power still draws the highest part of the business because of remuneration.

The man who created cinematic magic as far as big is beautiful is concerned is director Steven Spielberg. Ever since his JAWS movie and then E.T. the audience wanted more. They wanted to get closer to danger, to fly in the air and see new places. He can be indirectly called the father of 3D cinema which then achieved a new level with the James Cameron AVATAR. These visual effects can not be enjoyed on your iPad or laptop.

The Indian TV and Film industry provides for over 2 million jobs and while it earns the country about $10 billion it also takes a hit of 10% of that every year to piracy. 80% of Tamil films are downloaded so the rush to capture the digital market and secure the accessibility is important to India. Currently India is the 2nd largest online market and has over 400 million users. Bollywood actors have been going to the small screen to earn bigger bucks and fame. Well now they are considering web series and films to do the same. They want to keep up their star ratings and also experiment in this digital space of cinema.

An average person is still not able to buy a relatively large TV and surround sound and have the space in their house to convert into a mini-cinema. A die hard movie fan will remain a cinema goer no matter what. So while the everyday person catches their favourite TV show or movie on internet platforms like Netflix, they will still be a part of the piracy consumers because these platforms may still eat into their monthly budget which is used for school fees or otherwise. Piracy is the menace the cinema business can never get rid of. What they can do is to continue embracing the digital trend but still making the cinema going experience as interesting as possible. For example, imagine one day showing up for your favourite Marvel movie and Batman serves you popcorn. The infrastructure of a cinema should never be compromised and those who want to pay value for the ticket will do so.

Piracy costs jobs and lives but legitimate platforms like Netflix create jobs and awards. The digital space will not stop the cinema experience or kill the TV series fun. It is up to cinemas to be innovative like they have been, for example IMAX to give the audience unbeatable experiences.

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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Uncategorized


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The Level of Education Should Not Define Your Success, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 3rd November, 2017





“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

John Dewey






Education is the most beautiful gift you can give anybody. There is no bigger joy than to see someone use the knowledge and create opportunities, inventions or solve problems. There is no doubt the world has so many unsolved issues, for example, what is dark matter or how to get an unlimited supply of water and so much more.

While it may be the jobs of the scientists, physicists, doctors and economists to really get to the bottom of the mystery, so are other professions crucial to this task. For example if you did not have an able tax man you would not be able to enjoy the profits you are at your business. If you did not have a capable maid/house help then you can not go to your regular work day free minded. Each person is important in this chain where the wheels of life are chugging along as smoothly as possible.

Education in life is two fold. There is your regular school then there is the school of life. There is major debate especially in the developed countries of how education needs a change, the syllabus needs a new look and children need a new way of teaching. They want to be more life skills and aspirational oriented such that the child is prepared for employment. One can argue that are we creating in direct robots to take over or get into the jobs market easily? Well maybe. Imagine if you are now 40 years old and still have not bought your house, but if your teacher when you were 12 years or even 16 years old told you what a mortgage is all about, wouldn’t you have done something about it as soon as you entered the job market?

The highest level of education to be achieved is a PhD. According to the Princeton Review, they say:

“Each year, some PhD candidates do not meet the requirements of their graduate programs and are asked to leave. Others choose to leave because they are burnt out, or their interests have changed. Some students who don’t complete the PhD leave with a master’s degree; others leave with no degree at all. You should be prepared for these scenarios by making a back-up plan.

Successful PhD students thrive in a highly intellectual environment, are willing to work very hard with only a possible payoff, love their field of study, and don’t mind forgoing impressive paychecks. If this sounds like you, forge ahead!”

Then the question is, will such a candidate be a great professor? It takes 9 years to get a PhD and according to the Commission for University Education (CUE) Kenya, the deadline for professors to get their PhD is early 2018.

This rush is causing panic and leak of fake doctorate degrees in the market. A great professor is not made by a PhD but by character and attitude. If the English mathematician G. H. Hardy at the University of Cambridge, England did not think of giving Srinivasa Ramanujan the chance to travel and appear at the English university, then Ramanujan’s work would never have been recognized. It is the personality of a teacher that can make or break a student. Yes we can not dismiss the teachers and professors who have studied and achieved much academically.

But when the teacher or professor can not improve the running of the institute, give better opportunities to the children, be fair to parents, regardless of race, not make Government changes where required to put children and their future first, then their education is useless.

If you as a PhD professor want the best for your child, then why is it different for other non-related children? Why the bias of being in an elite class? Why not also show your children what is the reality and tell them to support the better for the good of all children? Why the snooty behavior that only you know best? Why is your hard work more important than the taxi driver who is struggling to put food on the table for his family. If the attitude of the education institutes is to raise the standard of qualification, then they too must deliver excellence service at reasonable fees. The right of education should never depend on your financial status or the class of “elite education club” that you come from. Be fair.

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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Horror Days, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 20th October, 2017

Interview With The Vampire Courtesy of FanPop

Interview With The Vampire Courtesy of FanPop


In today’s times the horror films still continue and no matter what happens, we cannot ignore dark subjects.

Interview with the Vampire (1994)

(Lestat): “Drink from me. And live forever.”



There are vampires, zombies, ghosts and the list goes on for what could lie on the other side. While it intrigues some and sells box office tickets, for most it is scary and a place or things they would rather not see. I believe this is the reason why Friday the 13th was invented by the West to create fear and profits. Legend has it, according to Wikipedia:

The fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: “triskaidekaphobia”; and on analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”).

The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, “originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion” in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday. While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.

Thus, this is also where superstitions participate either through myths, religion or pure evidence. It is a matter of belief. Some of the leading superstitions include being born Manglik, black cat crossing your path, looking at a broken mirror is bad luck and so forth. The one that is the most interesting is that masturbation causes impotency and to know that the book of Kama Sutra came from the very nation itself! Actually this book is made up of 7 subjects but while it the chapter on sex was most interesting to the West, the other chapters are about general life, man and wife, their domestic life and what is the union all about especially with the world having courtesans and occult practices.

Friday the 13th is all up to you. If you want to have a party with the theme being witches and vampires, by all means go ahead and enjoy. There is no real proof that if a black cat crosses the road something bad will happen to you. This is all about belief, if motivational speakers can tell you that positivity can kill your cancer, why should you want to belief in negative items around you. Why would you want to invite harm to yourself?

Maybe this interesting conversation will help you, this happened between Yudhisthir and Dharmaraj in the Mahabharta:

The Yaksha asked,

Who is truly happy?

What is most wonderful?

What is the path?

And what is the news?

Yudhishthira answered,

O amphibious creature, a man who cooketh in his own house, on the fifth or the sixth part of the day, with scanty vegetables, but who is not in debt and who stirreth not from home, is truly happy.

Day after day countless creatures are going to the abode of Yama, yet those that remain behind believe themselves to be immortal. What can be more wonderful than this?

Argument leads to no certain conclusion, the Srutis are different from one another; there is not even one Rishi whose opinion can be accepted by all; the truth about dharma and duty is hid in caves: therefore, that alone is the path along which the great have trod.

This world full of ignorance is like a pan. The sun is fire, the days and nights are fuel. The months and the seasons constitute the wooden ladle. Time is the cook that is cooking all creatures in that pan with such aids; this is the news.

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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Uncategorized


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The Much Ado About Diwali Holiday, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 13th October, 2017

indian festival diwali

Diwali is a mega celebration around the world now. From the former US President Barack Obama wishing the American Hindus, it has caught the attention of the Kenyan government too. Being the 44th Tribe, the Asians are participating in the arena of rights and requesting that Diwali be declared an Official Holiday.

Other countries apart from India where Diwali is an official holiday include Nepal, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Malaysia, Mauritius, Guyana, Myanmar, Trinidad and Tobago and Pakistan’s Sindh Province.

Diwali is especially significant because it is the festival of lights, the celebration of the battle of good versus evil and of course the Hindu New Year. All these combinations that usually are kicked off with the 9 nights of dancing of Navratri mean this is like a big month full of special days which are of religious significance and they culminate at Diwali date.

This mega event has become popular around the world because of its decorative cultural aspects. Just like Christmas, Diwali is a massive opportunity for many service providers and suppliers to make their gold. For example the leading example being fireworks, which in the countries where it is especially an official holiday are sold in large numbers. The impact of fireworks to the environment is under debate. While their main ingredient which is black powder has not been replaced in the last 1,000 years, fireworks are known to cause harm including give hearing loss, scare pets and disturb the chemical balance on water bodies. In fact India learning from these toxic lessons, has banned the fireworks in Delhi according to a latest Supreme Court ruling delivered on 10th October 2017.

The non-pollutant items include fashion wear that is made up of various clothing styles and especially jewellery. This is the time when most update their traditional wear wardrobe and bring in new items of jewelry of gold, diamonds and more. This is the time to also redecorate a house, room or even office space. It is the time to splash a new layer of paint or get that new car you want. The sale on almost all usual lifestyle items is endless. Also the most popular is the food, where you get a large variety of Indian sweets, lunches, dinner parties and lots more. All this shopping sounds exhausting but alas it must be enjoyed like Boxing Day, so why not over an official holiday?

If each tribe had their own official holiday that is almost one and a half month gone in a productive year. The Employer can be sensitive to the list of significant days that his team can have and this information can come from the Human Resources Department. You may say then why allow Eid? Well the number of Muslims outweighs the rest. Islam usually follows Christianity in most countries and Eid is still not a holiday even in the United Kingdom.

The employer can allow the day off without deducting it as part of the leave, for example Vaisakhi is the Sikh New Year and the Sikhs can take their day off. However there might be a question of dividing up faiths. But then again, Christmas is part of the Roman calendar, which we are all following to maintain our calendar dates. Remember that Christians remained the largest religious group in the world in 2015, making up nearly a third (31%) of Earth’s 7.3 billion people. Until such time there is a major shift can holidays change.

For now Diwali should not be an official holiday in Kenya. Our population is not that of 1 million that if we closed our businesses for that one day there will be a disruption in the economy so why put the entire country off?

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Posted by on October 13, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Love Ain’t Real, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 6th October, 2017


‘Love goes by haps; Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps’-

(William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing – Act 3, Scene 2)

What is this thing called love anyway? You can love your mother, father, dog, neighbour, work or lover. It is more like a potion that is the most expensive to get and the worst to have depending on your personality and situation. For some it is for eternity, for some it has just about worked, for some it simply does not exist. Love is pain, let’s face it.

However do people go searching for it online? You will be surprised to know that it really is the target for most looking for that special person even though they do not admit it. According to the famous online dating site Eharmony, they say online dating statistics show that 20% of those in current, committed relationships began online and 7% of marriages in 2015 were between couples that met on a dating website.”

There is a new trend too happening, because according to the Pew Research Center in the United States, they have noticed an increase of 12% of 55 to 64 year olds using these online dating sites compared to only 6% in just 2013.

They also say that about one-in-five 18- to 24-year olds (22%) now report using mobile dating apps; in 2013, only 5% reported doing so.

But what about the in-betweens of 25 year olds up to the mid-40 year olds? What are they up to? They are certainly using especially Tinder to get their quick hook up. Tinder is an app where you swipe on a photo whether you like or not and the understanding is that this is primarily for a one nightstand literally. It is very common and popular especially in the UK. Tinder reached India in 2013 and it completely changed the dating scene there too at the expense of compromising on the Indian culture which is known to hold the institution of marriage as its highest form of society rank.


“Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs,

Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes,

Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers’ tears.

What is it else? A madness most discreet,

A choking gall and a preserving sweet.”

(William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet – Act 1, Scene 1)

Online dating can be fun if there is population, well enough of it anyway. You can’t be 5 women to 30 men, then the men are lucky, and unfortunately women usually are looking for more longer-term relationships then the men. It can be interesting if you want to meet people of different cultures, it will get dangerous when you do fall in love and want to commit and you are on different sides of a border. It is a flaky way for busy people to date because they most likely will not take their date seriously and break-up over a text or email. They love their work or business more rather than sit down quietly with someone they could love or loves them.

For the millenials it is their natural point of introduction or invitation but they are missing out on the old fashioned charm of asking someone out. They may end up having the casual sex but building a long term relationship will be a heart breaker because they are already slightly poor in maintaining regular relationships or the line between obsession and possessiveness can be dangerous.

Online dating makes money for the providers, it scores successes but mostly failures. It is up to you to make the relationship work for you, whatever your objective may be.

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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Nairobi’s Road to Success, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 29th September, 2017

Kenya's Matatus

The world has a population of over 7 billion people and it is moving in different modes of transport daily to get to work, school or to their preferred destination.

For example, in Soweto the taxi system is popular while in Rio de Janeiro cable cars carry 30,000 commuters from the slums to the city.

Newly elected Governor Mike Sonko issued a gazette notice for all matatus to be banned from the CBD and soon it was revoked after the Matatus Owners Association said that it is not working out for them. The aim was to reduce congestion in the CBD area but the thing to note here is that where is congestion coming from, what is it doing there and how to get it out. This can mean congestion from the matatus, personal vehicles and the taxis, why single out the matatus only?

The planning of Nairobi city can not be altered drastically to accommodate the decongestion programme, but what can be done is how best to use the present road routes for all to get to their destinations within a reasonable amount of time. For example children should not be subjected to a 90 minutes ride to school in the morning, so either change the school or live closer to the school. The same goes for the office, live closer to your office or arrange flexible timings if your employer is reasonable enough to understand. Remember you are better off having a happy and efficient employee than one who is dealing with road rage and lack of interest at work eventually. Private vehicles are not able to successfully do a car pool system, so they need stricter regulations in obtaining driver licenses and penalties for overlapping or obstruction of traffic need to be higher. There needs to be a points system that can be digitally monitored and curb the nuisance of private drivers blocking traffic at times or holding up a situation. Sometimes the accident is on the opposite side of the road, but your lane is slowing down, really!

The buildings in the CBD should either become all related to Government work or NGOs or certain types of industries or services only. This can create a new circle of movement and jobs circulation that can alter the transportation system. There are no doubt the top 10 cities in the world with the best commuter system all have a metro or tube system. Nairobi will need this system, having millions of commuters walk and take the train will certainly decongest the roads. However there must be an incentive for a commuter to take the train versus using their car, perhaps higher taxes like in London to use your vehicle within the city. Luckily there are no shopping malls within the CBD so private vehicle owners can enjoy their time with their vehicles on the outskirts where the malls are located.

The Matatus Owners Association usually complains that they have not been consulted before a change of route is declared. How about they come up with their own plan and let the city try it out and see if it works better. Unless you build more roads or stop the sale of cars and make the matatus system formal then there can be a difference. This formality means having a ticket stop, which can control price and number of tickets and have a pass system, with digital devices that swipe the ticket. The technological advancements are possible but how users friendly on both parties will it be or willing they will be will be the one to watch for.

This debate will continue.


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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Uncategorized


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