13

A Date to Remember – #TheBlindDate #SayYesToTheWorld

Every day that you live is a blind date with the world. You never know what will come tomorrow. All you can do is live each of them to the fullest. I might not be forever around but whenever you will go out and see the world just remember in all those places that I visited I left a part of me for you to find it and make it your own. Every time you visit a new place It’s like a blind date. Be a traveler and not a tourist. Make a Bucket List, Travel to Explore…Meet people…Speak to them…Live the culture…Eat their food…Celebrate their festivals…Hear their stories…Trust your instincts and the world will be your home and while you are there become one of them. Go and live your passion and #SayYesToTheWorld.

I reminded myself of these words from my father, as I was about to board the flight to a location in Southeast Asia.

It was a pleasant morning and the sky was bright and clear with some scattered white clouds losing their way to home. I thought of taking a nap instead of watching reruns of the pre-installed TV programs and movies as a part of the in-flight entertainment system.

About 30 minutes into the air, the flight started shaking. For a moment or two, I thought this was regular turbulence. But it started to get worse and felt terrible. By my calculations, we should have been over the Indian Ocean. I looked outside the small airline window. The plane was amidst real dark treacherous clouds. There were continues flashes of lightning complemented by resounding thundering. It was something that I had never experienced before.

It was not a nice feeling, the plane was going up and down like a roller coaster and it seemed as if it was already beyond the control of the cockpit crew. I tightened the already fastened seat belt and held onto anything possible. I had this strong eerie feeling that this might be the last trip that I am taking…’I-am-about-to-die’ – the sensation came all over me.

Things started coming off. The plane was beginning to lose chunks of its wings. The overhead luggage started falling here and there. There were shrieking prayers, crying children, hugging families and dying souls. Even the crew was holding on to seats for their lives.

Suddenly a huge flash of light hit the plane. The whitening effect was so bright and blinding that nobody was able to see anything henceforth. I closed my eyes and remembered my loved ones for the last time.

In a couple of minutes, everything went silent. The plane had stopped trembling and the skies had suddenly cleared. In fact, it was clearer than ever before. An unknown force was pulling the plane vertically downwards. The movement felt as if the plane was being maneuvered and controlled from outside. It was slow enough not to cause panic anymore. It finally landed.

The uproar and screaming had mellowed down and was replaced with the tears of joy. Nobody was concerned, including the crew, about what this place was. Everybody just was happy to be alive, breathing and on land. The exit gates finally opened.

The moment I got out the first thing that I saw was a huge snow covered mountain in the backdrop of the landscape. My initial thought was how the hell did they end up making an airport at such a precarious location. Still not completely recovered from our disastrous experience I took each step with caution. I was finally on the unknown land.

There was a crew, which had lined up to receive us and was dressed up in silvery crimson uniform and in a material that I had never seen before, forget about wearing it. Something was peculiarly odd about them. I felt that my senses aren’t in the right condition and hence I was feeling so.

I was not sure whether they would understand my language and still gave it go and asked one of the members, “What place is this? Where are we?”

The person didn’t respond immediately. After proper consideration, she said, “Sir, please follow us. The authorities will answer your queries. We are only allowed to receive you and take you to them”. Her sentences were not flowing…she was speaking word by word without any connotation and tonality as if she had just learned the language.

We walked into the ultra-modern glass structure surround by surreal picturesque natural beauty. We reached a cabin and entered after she did a retina scan. She asked me to sit and wait for the person from the authority. I was feeling scared, lost and thirsty but was too intimated to ask for anything. I quietly sat down.

Someone entered the room. She (I thought so) was tall, bald but had strikingly shiny spotless skin. She was also dressed up in that material, with teal being the only difference instead of crimson.

Before she could say anything, I questioned, “Ma’am! What place is this? Where are we?” ‘Would it be a good idea to ask for some water’, I thought.

She pressed a button; a small portion in the wall separated and a glass of water came out in a tray. I was confused to have it but too thirsty to actually have a choice.

She said, “Hi Sir! Please calm down and have some water. You are safe here. You are in a parallel Universe and this is Planet U or Utopia – an exact replica of the Planet Blue. We were transporting something through our teleportation beam, which was left exposed for some extra milliseconds and that’s how your plane got entrapped in that energy field and you all landed here. Please don’t worry about anything. No harm would be done to anyone.” She too was speaking in a word-by-word format. I was still wondering whether I asked for water loudly and missed half of what she said. I really wanted to ask, “Why are you speaking like that?”

“Sir, we don’t speak here on this planet. We only read minds. All our communication is telepathic, though no one stops us from using words, we believe in saving energy of all kind.”

In shock and awe, I picked up the glass of water with trembling hands and started having it. It was the freshest of liquid I ever had. It did calm me down.

She continued, “I am your chaperone till your stay on our planet. I will be here 24*7 and you just have to remember me and I will be happy to help. We are trying to arrange for your travel back to Planet Blue, till then please consider this as your home. Would you like to have some food or would you like to rest for a while?

I knew that my time was limited here and since it was an unknown land, I wanted to make the best of it. I would like to see some places while I am here.

The Everest

“Definitely Sir. Let me make it easy for you. I know the geography of your Planet and since it is similar we should visit the places you might not be easily able to visit on your planet. We don’t have countries or any borders here on this Planet. You can simply walk and hop on from places to places. For your reference I will use the name of the places that are there on the Planet Blue”, she further added.

“Whatever you get on your planet you will get the same here, may be better. Everybody sees the renowned locations what if I show you places of your own world and make you experience things that will leave you speechless”, she said with a wide smile.

I agreed and said, “Yeah! That’s a wonderful idea. People usually visit those known wonders of the world. Please take me to places which I haven’t been to and let me experience those hidden pleasures and locations.” I handed her a list of places and countries I have been to.

Kashmir

She got up from her seat and signaled me towards a gallery. After the exit, there was a translucent blue colored vehicle without any wheel. It was about 2 feet in the air and it worked on a technology, which depended on the magnetic field of their planet.

For the first time in my life, I was witnessing something as strange as this. Obviously, I had to be the pillion rider of this supersonic vehicle. She asked, “From where would you like to start?”

“I thought you could read the mind”, I replied with a grin and held the backrest tight.

We reached our first destination. Very few Indians can claim that they have experienced something like this. I was viewing Kashmir and its snow-covered peaks from the Pakistan side. It was a mesmerizing sight. I knew I had to see a lot and couldn’t afford to spend too much time at a single location.

Our next destination was the ancient city of Kandahar in Afghanistan. It is a beautiful city. We visited the Blue Mosque and did take out time to try out some of the Afghani bread. The locals were playing the Pashto tunes and some of them were surprisingly dancing to them as well. We too joined in. She did have a humane side to her irrespective of her artificial appearance.

Big Almaty Lake

We then headed further north to Almaty. Flying over the Tien Shan Mountains was a sight I would take to my grave. You can find the last wild apple forest in the world there. In fact, Almaty gets its name from that only – it means ‘Father of Apples’. We decided to pluck a few and have them sitting next to the tranquil Big Almaty Lake.

Next came the place of Vodka and stunning women – Russia. After tasting some of the finest Vodkas and getting our spirits high we headed over to the Altai Mountains and Lake Baikal. There was no point in spending too much time in those chilling deserted forests of Siberia and we decided to move on.

Clay pots used to make wine

We reached Georgia – Balcony of Europe. She took me to Mtskheta – a Unesco world heritage site. We met some of the most incredible and warm people in the world. A family hosted a dinner for us; prepared some ‘Khachapuri’ and served some of the finest homemade wine, one can ever taste. We decided to take some rest there.

Next, we headed to Armenia – a country that lost about 1.5 million people in one of the worst genocide in human history and still home to the friendliest people around. It is also home to the oldest winery in the world. It was worth every sip along with ‘Lavash’ – their awesome bread that has successfully found its way in the Unesco list of intangible cultural heritage.

Hot air balloons – Turkey

She then took me to Turkey to show some of the most unrealistic views. ‘Cappadocia’ for its hot air balloon experience against the backdrop of a spellbinding landscape. Then she took it a notch higher; we visited ‘Pamukkale’ – the land of thermal pools – the mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces on a nearby hillside.

Our next stop was Greece and we started with the ancient city of Acropolis, Athens before heading to one of the most visually stunning Greek islands – Santorini. No trip to Greece is complete without visiting Mykonos – the Ibiza of Greece.

Santorini

We then crossed the Dead Sea and headed to a place surrounded by conflicts and chaos – Jordan. It is so amazing that it is a world in itself. After visiting the historic ancient treasures like Petra and Jerash, we went for a true Bedouin experience – camping in the middle of Wadi Rum in yurts made out of wool and gazing at the stars.

We crossed the entire stretch of Sahara desert before heading to the most unique location of the Planet. You don’t realize the perfidious breadth of the desert until you actually fly over it.

I had previously covered a lot of Europe and hence requested her to take me to Iceland. It is a different planet altogether. From geography to topographical features, all are vividly peculiar compared to the rest of the world. She said you are lucky this time of the year and we were able to witness the Northern Aurora.

The Northern Aurora Lights

We moved on to another colder region, spotting a rare polar bear, the home of maple syrup – Canada. There is nothing that would amaze you once you visit Iceland but every sight has its own charm and there is nothing like standing in mist from the Niagara Falls.

We then proceeded towards the land of ‘Mayans’ in the state of Yucatan in Mexico. They are considered to be one of the most intelligent and advanced ancient civilizations. The heart of their culture was in ‘Chichen Itza’. You can also try the Yucatecan food for its Mayan influences.

Everybody speaks about Belgium chocolates – The Mexican ones are equally good. Don’t forget to try a pint of Mexican beer and their tequila – in fact, it is the official drink of the country.

If you are a believer in Aliens and in the fact that they have surely visited the Planet Blue pay a visit to Machu Picchu in Peru, to know what they were really capable of. It is also known as ‘Lost City of the Incas’ and a Unesco world heritage site too.

Machu Picchu – Peru

It was time to head over to the so-called peculiar lands – Australia and New Zealand. They are unique in their habitat, vegetation, animals and nearly everything.

Both of us had a spoon full of Manuka honey – produced by bees rummaging on the flowers of the Manuka tree, a very special tree that only grows in New Zealand. We hogged to some Kiwi fruit before traveling to catch the Southern Lights at Lake Tekapo. It is as majestic and surreal as the Northern Aurora.

If you want to see a white shark or a deadly poisonous snake then Australia is the place to be. Along with its beauty, the eccentric nature of the land has given birth to some really strange animals and features – especially the Great Barrier Reef – the largest coral reef system.

She suggested we should return, as it has been already so many days that we were missing from the base and by now they might have worked out the system for my safe return.

Manuka Flower and Bee

I had lost all count of time…day and night…was awestruck and hypnotized in the entire splendor of the planet and above all her magnificence and simplicity.

She wanted to show me one last place and then head back. We parked our vehicle and decided to take a stroll on the Great Wall of China while sipping at some of their potent teas including the most expensive of them all – The Panda tea. It would have been unfair if we just had Panda tea without actually paying them a visit.

We got back on our vehicle and started on the journey back. She said, “Remember the mountain that you saw when you landed. That was Mt. Everest.”

Great Wall of China

Sitting at the top of it and knowing that everybody else is below you is a pretty ‘high’ feeling in itself. We sat there and chatted for a while before returning to the base.

The next day it was time for me to go back from this enriching experience. A lump formed in the middle of my chest. She was there with her effervescent smile to guide me back to the restored plane. I knew no matter how much I see the world now it would be incomplete without her.

People say that they have made a Bucket list but I can proudly say that I made #TheBlindList

 

For all those who love to Travel,

For all those who believe in Blind Dates,

For all those who Travel to Explore

For all those who are openminded

For all those who #SayYesToTheWorld

And

For all those who love #TheBlindList

It’s not a Goodbye…

But It’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is my entry to #TheBlindList and #SayYesToTheWorld Contest

Watch the Video and Fall in Love with the World again

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30

I wish an Alarm Clock would Ring


Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

 

 

 

Mom was seemingly perturbed by the last call. Her uneasiness was pretty evident and had started sweating profusely. I knew I had to talk to her.

“Mom! What happened? Who was that on the call”, I asked worriedly.

She was in a state of shock. I asked her to sit down, handed her a glass of water and questioned again.

This time she somehow managed to articulate that an aunty in her close set of friends has committed suicide. I was astonished to hear that.

On further probing mom told that the lady was suffering from depression. Depression was successful in claiming the second life in the past two months in my neighbourhood. Mom informed that she had two kids, a loving husband, a well-off background and a perfect happy life. Mom is still not been able to completely come to terms with the suicide.

Such is the beauty of depression. You never know that it is eating you till it suddenly engulfs you completely.

I said to her, “If we were aware that she was suffering from depression…if only we could have got a chance to speak to her…a life could have been saved.”

The WOW Prompt

There are many people who seem completely normal and happy but are suffering from depression and most of the times they themselves don’t know. Their lives may look perfect on the outside and you won’t find a reason as to what’s the cause but depression sneaks in silently. All you need is to talk to someone. If one feels that someone is suffering from depression or exhibiting certain symptoms, please, the first and the best thing you can do is to talk to them.

Some startling facts related to suicide & depression:

  • About 135000 people commit suicide in India per year.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 18-29 age group.
  • Most suicides in India are by people aged below 44 years.
  • Around 57 million people are suffering from Depression, an astonishing 18 % of global estimate, as per WHO.
  • About 15-20% of those who are clinically depressed commit suicide.

Some days ‘I Wish An Alarm Would Ring Loud And Notify Me Whenever someone is about to commit suicide and I could speak to that person and bring a smile to their face and somehow manage to save a life.’

Anybody who feels like they want to talk…just about anything…I am all ears 🙂

For all those who are sad,

For all those who are depressed,

For all those who have these scary thoughts,

And

For all those who consider such steps…

PLEASE SMILE AND TALK TO SOMEONE.

It’s not a Goodbye…

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

 

References:

http://yourdost.com/blog/2017/03/depression-statistics-in-india.html?q=/blog/2017/03/depression-statistics-in-india.html&q=/blog/2017/03/depression-statistics-in-india.html&

http://www.allaboutdepression.com/gen_04.html

https://www.medindia.net/health_statistics/general/suicide-in-india-statistics.asp

From depression to suicide: Why more Indians are falling into the trap

6

Queue Kyu Queue Kyu…and the theatrics continue…

 

Winner of Spicy Saturday Picks

Winner of Spicy Saturday Picks

Queue Kyu Queue Kyu…and the theatrics continue…

On 8th November 2016 around 8 pm, when most of us were finishing up our work for the day, some of us were on our way to home, some were already in the Tuesday temple queues, some were busy purchasing groceries for home, the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his nation-wide address announced that all the 500 and 1000 rupee notes in circulation will no longer be legal tenders from midnight. Almost everyone has termed this as Demonetization but in technical terms this is simply withdrawal of 1000 rupee notes and replacement of 500 rupee denominations. Let’s not get into that.

I don’t question the intention of the government…anyway you would come to know my stand on this by the end of this article. I, personally, am against corruption, unethical and illegal activities. Before you move further I must clarify that I do not belong to any political party and neither I am pro BJP nor pro Congress forget about the Kejriwals of the world. Everybody is the part of the same political system, which has and will continue to loot the nation. Most of the country present on social media has touted this as a bold move…a historic move…and what not. But I personally have my doubts with the vastness of a country like India about the execution required to make a decision a masterstroke.

I will begin by cataloging the four main points listed out by the BJP Government, which they have listed out as pillars for the so called ‘masterstroke’:

Issue of Black Money: This Black-money word in itself is very ambiguous. Even most of the literates don’t understand the difference between black money and black currency or black cash. Black money can be anything ranging from gold to property to stocks to money saved from tax evasion to cash collected without receipts to anything you can imagine gained or gathered illegally or unethically. According to a data from CBI Black money worth more than $500 billion is stashed abroad just in foreign accounts. Imagine what will it amount to if you include all the properties and other things already amassed with black money outside India. No investigative agency could even come close to an approximation for that…though some figures suggest that it is already running into trillions.

Allow me to delve into little stats from the Income Tax department of India. About 5-6% of Black money that is in India is in the form of Black Currency/Cash. This percentage would again lower down since IT dept has included ornaments as well in their calculations. If you put this in comparison with the total Black Money hoarded by Indians it would fall down below an appalling percentage of 0.1%. My first question is; what is the government really after…the 0.1% of the pie and that too at what cost?

Counterfeit Currency: Let’s move to the second argument of counterfeit currency. According to the data from government and agencies the counterfeit notes that are in circulation amount to about Rs. 400-500 crores. I know that in itself is a huge number but compared to a wedding worth Rs 500 crores it looks so miniscule. If you were really after this amount I have to say that the step begins to fall flat.

On many occasions I personally have encountered fake notes being dispensed from ATM machines. Isn’t this a failure of the banks, however small it may be, to at least take care of the notes that they are putting in the machines? Who will make sure that the new notes have features, which cannot be counterfeited? I have looked at the new currency denominations introduced and they do not come with such new features, so the process of counterfeiting will again begin. Wasn’t it a failure of the banks to keep a check whether the photos of these notes do not circulate on the social media because of which you had to take this decision in haste? What about the fake smaller denominations and fake Rs 10 coins? People who are hell bound in coming up with fake currency will find one way or the other to put them into circulation. Isn’t it a failure of the system again that how these sacks of cash on the first place cross the borders and get into the system.

Terror Funding: A lot of gung-ho is created around how this Black cash has a direct impact on terror funding. The PM said that the terrorists bring these with them from across the border. How many of you have ever heard this, that after neutralizing the terrorists, any huge amount of counterfeit cash has been recovered from them. They too are using the most advanced levels of technology. Still I believe that it does have effect on it. How come they use the electronic transfers that mean there are loopholes, which they are very easily able to exploit? Now when every average and poor Indian is standing in queues you have the means and machinery to check for every PAN…every account…every transaction, then why can’t it be used in the first place when the terrorist transactions are taking place.

It literally disgusts me the hypocrisy with which the social media and Alia Bhatt generation use martyrdom of soldiers to win their arguments. You can go and check stats that the highest contributors of terror funding are drugs & weed supply and piracy of Bollywood movies & songs. My question is to these new social media so called patriotic crusaders of India…Can you put your hand across your heart and say that you have never consumed any drugs or haven’t ever downloaded a song from songs.pk (it is a Pakistani website btw)? If you have then you are also part of terror funding, so stop blindly sharing things across social media without having the sense to check the authenticity of these posts. Why does every Bollywood movie release a day before on Thursday in Dubai, when the scheduled release is on Friday? It surely gives them an easy way to access to the content.

I guess it’s pointless to even discuss about drugs because it is one such thing in India that even the most elite and the poorest consume in different forms. You want to build a nation then just change yourself in a constructive and positive sense. What a pity and shame it is for our country that if the PM doesn’t come out with a campaign on cleanliness we aren’t even ready to pick up a broom and clean our houses…roads and cities. Let’s not digress.

Corruption: Moving to the most important issue, which the withdrawal of currency tries to address. Corruption!! Black money is just the end product of Corruption. It is corruption that creates Black Money and not the other way round. Corrupt practices can be done by white and legal money as well. If you try to clean up black currency by these steps and have no process and procedure in place to curb corruption people will find one or the other way to convert the same and come up with newer methods and it will continue to be in a repetitive cycle.

I have heard a lot of experts say that we know who are some of the biggest hoarders in the country, Why haven’t there been a crack down on them? What about those who converted the money into legal forms let’s say a week before the announcement and what about those who will begin to hoard in the denomination of Rs 2000. How many enquiries have you ordered when your own BJP member Gali Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s wedding bill is estimated to be around Rs 500 crores when a common man is fighting a battle of Rs. 4000 on a daily basis? Everybody from media to government to people to agencies knows that he is one of the biggest Mining barons of the country but I haven’t heard any probe against him. Wasn’t this a mockery of the poor and a signal again that no one can touch these people or Does the government wants the country to believe that all that Rs. 500 crores is white money?

The government said it wants to fight against corruption when just the very next day after the announcement it said that no political parties should come under RTI. Why can’t the funding to political parties be transparent? Remember you only said that you want a Black money free India as an agenda of your Election campaign. One of the arguments you have given is that this move will make Elections cheaper. How can I believe a party on this stand when their spending on campaigning and marketing of General elections 2014 was more than the cost of the elections itself? The Indian Premier League is the biggest extravaganza of Business…Black money…drugs…and prostitution. But since it involves the religion cricket, the logic for India becomes everything else can be ignored.

Early this week only you came up with a new policy that would be formulated soon, where no investigative agency like CBI etc. will be allowed to investigate any central government employee without the government’s prior permission. Every Indian at some point in life would have come across a govt employee and hence s/he would be well aware of their honest and uncorrupt practices (sarcasm). Now what’s the guarantee on this that the government wouldn’t ever try to protect their favored employees?

A queue outside an ATM

A queue outside an ATM

Some other points which I would like to highlight here related to the same masterstroke:

Cashless economy: Mr. Arun Jaitley laid a lot of emphasis on how this would drive India towards a cashless economy. I am still trying to understand…a country, where 1/4th of it’s population is still below poverty line, where 55% earn their livelihood through agriculture, where 80% are employed in unorganized sectors, where only 2.6 crores out of 130 crores Indians have credit cards, where below 7% people are computer literate (a computer literate is defined by a person who can just switch on and off a computer), where internet penetration is around 15%, where 80.8% of the rural population is not covered by banks…what magic will be infused where one move will change and move the country towards cashless economy. People these days derive at consensus from social media, which again proves my point that what is the percentage of people that are there on these mediums and how can that be used to decide for whole population.

The first move should be to provide basic infrastructure where all this can be used. We don’t have proper 2G connectivity all across the nation and hence it is too ambitious to think India is ready for cashless economy. It was awesome of Reliance Jio to come up with data prices lower than potato prices, with the PM endorsing in front-page pics on every major newspaper. But wouldn’t it be more appropriate, if the data can be provided at these rates, then the government bodies like BSNL and MTNL should have taken such an initiative? I know most of the people don’t know but government bodies only provide the entire telecommunications infrastructure, then why can’t they enhance their reach first? You want a cashless economy what are the steps you took to increase the landline connections since the cables required and infrastructure was already in place? I guess you are being successful at this, as the poor villagers have gone back to the age-old system of barter.

Mismanagement of the highest order: It has been just 10 days since the announcement and the economic experts have come out in the open how this masterstroke might become nothing but a joke because of the epic proportions of mismanagement. The PM during his address mentioned how they had prepared for this for the past 8-10 months, which in one way explains the ouster of Raghuram Rajan, but it also highlights the sorrowful state of advisors or planners that the PM is surrounded with. If it was so well planned why more Rs. 100 notes were not printed in advance? I understand the secrecy angle but the ATMs could have been calibrated for Rs. 50 denominations or best at least the size of new notes could have remained same. The only thing I fail to understand is that, commoners like us might not have great understanding on these matters but the people in RBI and ministry should have better understanding than what they have displayed.

The time chosen to announce was highly inappropriate as the wedding season and the sowing of the new crop season is about to begin. If you could plan for 10 months then you could have taken couple of more months to counter in the loopholes that might be there rather than asking for 50 more days. On one hand you have allowed post offices to dispense and exchange cash but at the same time not allowed the rural co-operative banks to dispense. Plus all these 10 months you only planned without action since all the new notes have the signature of the newly appointed RBI governor Urjit Patel.

Everybody including some of your supporters has questioned the move to bring in a higher denomination of currency, which, by economics, fails the whole logic of this move. Lower denominations would have prevented people from doing transactions for large sums in cash and it would have ensured people to use the banking way but introducing a similar and a higher value denominations negates the whole move in one go.

You said India has about 200000 ATMs out of which only 120000 are operational. Why wasn’t it made sure that they are all up and running? India has about 678000 villages and almost every village atleast inhabitats about 300-400 person. Even the policy of village panchayat formation is on the basis that there should be a minimum of 1000 people in that village. If you really had thought it through to execute this at such a massive scale why didn’t you come up with elections like arrangements? You couldn’t because you knew there isn’t enough capacity to print this much cash.

The daily press conferences of Mr. Shaktikant Das, economic affairs secretary, should be broadcasted simultaneously on All India Radio and FM channels so that it has the maximum reach and one knows what’s happening on a daily basis. You stand in the queue in the night with some guidelines and by the time you reach the counter the next noon the guidelines have changed without being properly communicated.

I guess this is what happens when you have a very good lawyer taking care of the Finance Ministry.

Banks: Under UPA everybody said that CBI works under the influence of Government. I am shocked to see how the RBI is working under the influence of the current government. If you are a student of law and you know a bit of economics you would definitely know how many laws the government broke just to announce this order. So many legislative and judiciary procedures have been teased at.

The Economy and the banks would have benefitted the most, if major part of black currency that is out there had come back into the system. You could have extended the voluntary income disclosure scheme after the announcement. Why did you openly announce that whosoever declares more than 2.5 L would be scrutinized and about the 200% penalty? You can have done that secretly too, but by making a huge announcement you have shunned more people away and they are ready to burn or throw the cash away in rivers rather than making it a part of the economy.

I know it would make the banks cash rich and may help them clear off some NPAs but don’t forget that the same people whom you have forced to deposit, will withdraw the amount in newer currencies as well and you will get to know the correct picture only after March 2017. In fact one of the most interesting points is the cash that is being accumulated in banks as a part of this exercise, what’s the guarantee that it won’t be further lent out to bigger corporates? Why are the corporates biggest gainers of tax exemptions when they themselves are the biggest defaulters? Wasn’t this a failure of Banks that Vijay Mallya got crores of credits after credits without any repayments? Can a common person in India get loan after loan like this? What were the immigrations at airport doing when such a huge defaulter was leaving the country?

The banks are overloaded with work and I totally sympathize with them. Something has been forced upon them too. But they are happy doing their duties on the name of nationalism. They are saying that no other banking function would be performed in the meanwhile at least for this 50-day period. I want to know what about the other banking functions that have been stopped currently for these days, wouldn’t it be a huge backlog for the banks itself when they will resume normal banking functions? Don’t forget the election duties and the March closing.

Patriotism and Nationalism: There is a new movement started in this country especially from this year where on every instance in your day-to-day activities you have to prove your nationalism and patriotism. For every event there is a social media campaign on what pain the soldier goes through. I totally understand that pain as my father has served in the army for twenty years but this was never done earlier. Nothing pains me more to see a soldier get hurt but that doesn’t mean that for everything you need to bring in the soldiers to win your argument. With all due respect I know the armed forces’ role in the nation building and securing the country but I believe that everybody is important in this chain. You cannot say that a soldier is only important to this country and others are just free riders. A farmer is equally important and so is a bank officer. An administrative officer is equally important and so is a postman. An IT guy is equally important and so is a merchant. Everything in totality makes the whole machinery known as Nation move and function properly. If one wheel goes off…so does the balance. Stop patronizing everyone who has not served the country in armed forces. We all love and respect our armed forces and we are very proud of them.

An even newer trend is accusing anyone of anti-nationalism who questions the government. Democracy is ‘to the people’…’for the people’…’by the people’, so where does the question of anti nationalism arise. Even withdrawal currency move, if you question the execution then you are an anti national. Why does an Indian have to abide by what a certain political party or certain segment of society thinks as patriotism? If questioning the government or PM was a criteria for anti nationalism, then I believe everybody in their lives at some point or the other would have disagreed to a statement or a policy of PM or government. Does that mean everybody is anti national? Why Why Why!!!

I think Muhammad Bin Tughlaq would have also convinced everyone to move from Delhi to Daulatabad on the name of patriotism and nationalism otherwise why would everyone move.

Argument of Poor People: It deeply saddened me today to see a responsible citizen like Anupam Kher retweeting an article where it said that the argument of poor people was a very weak argument. I believe I have shared enough data to tell what and how much the poor and rural population exists in India and it is not a secret what they are going through on daily basis to cope up with this move. It’s very easy to sit in ACs…ordering a pizza online and posting on twitter to ask everyone that the trouble is just ‘a bit’. I challenge those people just to keep a fast for two days and they will understand how would the others be managing in queues. I am afraid; a farmer who survives every year on the crop which he sows for that season, wouldn’t be able to fight this battle till March. Be prepared for more suicides.

What about those who earn their livelihood on daily wages? For some it is a ‘mere’ 50-day period…but for some…it might turn out to be a lifetime. When loans and taxes more than 2 lakh crores can be waived off for the corporates in the past two years then why can’t it be done for poor farmers?

The Hypocritical Side: I have been taught from my childhood that the Supreme Court and Chief Justice of India are the supreme authorities in India. On one hand you want the public to believe in your fight against corruption and on the other hand you are making it sure that the Judiciary comes to a stand still. The SC itself has pulled up the government on multiple occasions including the CJI; who at least twice was very vocal of the same issue or the Bhakts believe that CJI is also a congress agent. But you continue to block…block and block.

You made a lot of uproar about Robert Vadra’s business transactions and security provided. I haven’t seen a single step taken against him. He still enjoys all the privileges, which he got under UPA governments. What are the actions on those whose names have appeared in Panama Papers? The Supreme Court on numerous occasions came down heavily on the Govt and RBI to make public the name of the largest willful defaulters of India…but I am yet to read a single name.

Pakistan is such a huge problem. Why haven’t you officially declared it as an Enemy state and stop all the privileges that it is enjoying on the name of a neighbor? Stop all the business transaction across the border with Pakistan but you also know the truth that thousand of tons of Onions are imported from them. Stop misleading the people how you want to save cows. I also worship cows but can the government explain why has beef export risen by 40% under their regime? Forget about the whole of India why isn’t the hyped Gujarat Development Model being replicated in at least those states where you have the 2nd and 3rd terms of BJP as government. Why was the common man asked to boycott Chinese decorative lights on Diwali worth Rs. 20 when the government is busy distributing contracts worth Rs 3000 crores to Chinese firms? I haven’t seen anyone from the twitter generation to boycott his or her laptops and smartphones.

Political mileage: It is really laughable of the government to say that the opposition does everything for political mileage. Politicians are out there to politicize an issue and use it to their advantage. Didn’t the government do the same with surgical strike when their hoardings in UP showcased the PM as Lord Rama with a bow and arrow without a single word on army or was it the first time that India did any surgical strike against Pakistan? I applaud the government for the same but don’t forget that earlier governments have also fought and won wars for the country with even braver prime ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri.

If this was not about politicizing then why was this announced when you are on the verge of assembly elections in five different states? You could have it announced later, would have given you more time to prepare and would have saved you some indelible ink which now the Election Commission has also said is wrong to use in this case.

Blind Supporters: Won’t write anything under this as the supporters might find it difficult to read.

The people angle: The generation that is shouting the loudest…please go and ask your parents how they saved and saved to make you literate so that you can send a tweet one day. Do you think that everybody who deals in cash and in unorganized sectors is carrying black money? Why does every salaried employee try to save the maximum tax amount through bogus declarations? If everyone is so concerned with nation building then I believe no one should opt for any tax savings. Pay your complete tax and do your bit for the nation.

It’s the people who are corrupt and not the currency one should always remember. Get hold of them and you will curb corruption but not this way. Haven’t we heard about corrupt Income tax officers or sales tax officers? Now you are making them even more powerful without a proper check mechanism. This move ridiculously slaps everyone as hoarders of black money…with the real culprits still finding ways to swindle.

This social media generation is getting fooled time and again cause of marketing tactics, which they aren’t intellectually capable to understand. Biggest examples are Donald Trump getting elected as American President, BREXIT, Kejriwal getting elected. These were the same people who were marching and raising slogans at Jantar Mantar. I have all the rights to believe that the same is happening in this country now at this very moment.

The patriotic crusaders should understand that writing on notes destroys more currency, which amounts to more than the total counterfeit currency. RBI loses currency worth more than 2000 crores just because of notes that become unusable because of scripting on them. Shouldn’t we first change this habit of ours? There is a liquor ban in Gujarat doesn’t the same people who are supporting the move purchase liquor in Gujarat through illegal mediums? According to bhakts everybody is corrupt barring them. They are the biggest Messiahs out there who approve others of their nationalism and patriotism. I guess the government should also come out with AADHAR card like thing where they can have parameters for patriotism and whosoever qualifies can get a card to prove he is a patriot.

And the theatrics continue: I know he has been trained by versatile actors like Anupam Kher and Paresh Rawal and it is certain from the way he takes jibes on others during speeches. Why did the PM shed tears in one of the rallies after announcement? Isn’t it a kind of emotional blackmail? If you said that this is the biggest economic move that will change India then why to shed tears. Be confident and manage the things properly. Or is the value of a PM’s tear more than that of a common man who is taken apart daily by the scathing system? Wasn’t one of the biggest economic moves was Manmohan Singh’s declaration of LPG in 1991 as Finance Minister? I believe there wouldn’t have been an economy today if those steps weren’t taken place back then.

When PM’s 90 years old mother went to the bank wasn’t that publicity stunt? Doesn’t she stay with Modi’s other siblings or were they so busy that their mother had to go out? These are the most dangerous of tactics through which he is making everyone think that whatever life people are spending in queues would eventually turn out in their good and India would become a black money free country. What the people don’t understand is that the rich continues to grow richer and the poor continues to remain poor. This has always happened and in a shocking stat the divide between the rich and poor has increased since the Modi government came into power.

Even Smriti Irani was displaying the same level of theatrics when during a Lok Sabha session, speaking on Rohith Vemula she became more of a mother to him rather than her own mother and was severely criticized by Rohith’s own mother. She wants me to believe that justice has been served by setting up a one-man committee. One man cannot be mentioned as committee unless you are writing a joke.

In one of the latest speeches he even compared the 19-month (actually it was 21 months) period of emergency under Indira Gandhi with this 50-day period. So he himself agrees that the hardships caused, which are sold and packaged on the name of patriotism and nationalism is a kind of economic emergency. What he actually forgot was what happened to Indira Gandhi in the next election after the emergency. He himself has a policy that nobody in his cabinet should be above 70 years of age then I wonder how would he assume office as he would be so close to 70 by the next elections or that would turn out to be another gimmick.

Conclusion:

Stop branding that everybody who is questioning the move has black money. Some people are just not blind. I always thought that the PM, who always speaks about his humble background, would have his sensitivities attached to that class but I guess that is the section of the society which is the most hit.

I hope you will disclose at some point that to bring in these moves what all legal procedures have you skipped to announce the withdrawal of currency notes.

I know people and the blind followers will come and abuse. Some would even try to lynch me if this one goes viral but I am not afraid, instead would request you to try to raise the quality of your arguments.

I will end with simple logic that prevails in law that we can let go of many culprits but no innocent should suffer but I guess you only know your logic.

A quote from Chanakya

A quote from Chanakya

The first day of MBA taught me that every opportunity is not an opportunity until it is totally aligned with your strengths and resources. Similarly every good move is not good until it is implemented properly and serves the larger and common interest of people.

I would be the happiest if whatever I have written above; government proves me wrong in the future.

– A hopeful Indian

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2nd India Affiliate Summit

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2nd India Affiliate Summit

India Affiliate Summit 2016

India Affiliate Summit 2016

The second edition of the annual gathering of affiliates marketing leaders in India – 2nd India Affiliate Summit (IAS16) – hosted by – IAMAIInternet and Mobile Association of India in association with vcommision was held on 1st and 2nd day of September of 2016 at the Leela hotel, Ambience Mall, Gurgaon.

The event gives a unique platform to marketers to discuss the innovations and dissect the implications of Affiliate Marketing. This has been an enriching initiative by IAMAI to bring Affiliate aka Performance Marketing industry together, providing educational sessions on the latest industry issues along with networking opportunities for affiliate marketers.

The India Affiliate Summit 2016 is designed to revolutionize the Affiliate marketplace in India. Spread across 2 days of networking & innovation, the Summit is segregated to provide you the opportunities to hobnob with fellow Affiliates & Brands alike, with the Affiliate Street being the main attraction. The Affiliate Street gave marketers a chance to immerse, converse and disperse insights on performance-based marketing.

Affiliate Street

Affiliate Street

IAMAI itself highlights on its India Affiliate summit website as to why one should attend the summit. Apart from lead talks, keynotes and group discussions, a lot of emphasis was laid on networking as well which was significant from the fact that the during the course of two days there were designated slots for networking.

Why to attend IAS 16

Why to attend IAS 16

The top affiliate marketing leaders addressed a variety of topics including;

  • Demystifying new age Affiliate Marketing
  • Cracking the Affiliate Marketing Code
  • Synergizing Brand building and Affiliate Marketing
  • Importance of data quality and Campaign Optimization
  • Means or the End: Last Click vs Multi Click attribution
  • Reality Check: Pitfalls of Affiliate Marketing
  • Mobile Affiliate Marketing: World of Apps, Pops, re-directs & advertising
  • Ordering its way to growth: Affiliate for ecommerce/food tech
  • Anatomy of perfect Affiliate Marketing
  • Navigating the Affiliate Marketing Ecosystem: Lessons learned and helpful hints
  • Into the crystal ball: New age drivers for Affiliate Marketing
How Shoutmeloud increased its revenue by 200% within an year

How Shoutmeloud increased its revenue by 200% within an year

In between the plenary session a lot of Lead talks were also there. One that stands out, me being from a blogging community, was of Harsh Agarwal, founder shoutmeloud.com. He spoke on how shoutmeloud increased its revenue by 200% within one year. Some of the other big names which were present at the summit were:

  • Parul Bhargava – CEO of vCommission
  • Aasheesh Marina – Search Quality at Google
  • Aashish Bhatnagar – Head of Mobile & Affiliate Marketing Shopclues
  • Abhilash Premanand – Mobile Marketing & Digital Marketing Specialist at BankBazaar.com
  • Amit Sharma – Head of Digital Marketing & E-commerce at Max Life Insurance
  • Ankur Singla – Founder and CEO of Helpchat and OneDirect
  • Anshul Srivastava – Head of Digital Marketing at BigBreaks.com
  • Anurag Gupta – Founder and MD at DGM India
  • Ashwiny Thapliyal – Regional Head of Sales India & Southeast Asia at TUNE
  • Swati Bhargava – Co-Founder at Cashkaro

To summarize the couple of days of India Affiliate summit; It focused on how Affiliate Marketing can help businesses and brands, how you can grow your business, networking with more than 1500 attendees and more than 70 delegates, what are the keys trends and what all things will hold the key to future as far as Performance Marketing is concerned.

I would like to take this as an opportunity to thank IAMAI and Blogadda for making it possible for me to attend the event on both the days.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

1

10th India Digital Summit

10th INDIA DIGITAL SUMMIT – IAMAI

India Digital Summit

India Digital Summit

The biggest annual gathering of Digital leaders in India – 10th India Digital Summit (IDS) hosted by – IAMAIInternet and Mobile Association of India was held on 9th and 10th day of February of 2016 in the heart of our national capital, New Delhi, at the Lalit hotel. The event was a unique opportunity which saw many huge names, the smartest minds in market from the Digital and Marketing Ecosystem along with some new ones that have started surfacing and started knocking on the doors of success.

Continuing with the current government initiative of ‘Start-up India Stand-up India’, the event covered a vast range of topics aligning with the government’s agenda and with the current technological and digital space in the country. The top CEO’s and CMO’s addressed a variety of topics including;

  • Smart Cities Mission: A step towards Smart India
  • First Steps to Entrepreneurship – launching of a start-up
  • How health tech is on a roll?
  • Why Food tech industry is moving towards a new ceiling?
  • What the state of internet in rural India?
  • What is the future of Internet?
  • Education Tech – the revolution has added a new dimension to the education industry
  • Financial Inclusion – Advancing financial inclusion in India
  • How to scale up start up: Analyze, Attract, Implement and Grow
  • Travel Tech – The road ahead
  • What’s the state of Internet and women in India: technology to aid for gender parity
  • Mobile touch points across brand marketing
  • Marketing automation: Transforming the way the marketers work
  • How India is moving towards a cashless economy
  • Apps Development innovation required in India
  • Building a killer team – Ways to Attract, Hire and retain the right people
  • How is the technology giving a leap to financial institutions
  • The power of content marketing to drive Digital Media Campaigns
Deep Kalra, MakeMyTrip with Amarjeet Singh, OLX

Deep Kalra, MakeMyTrip with Amarjeet Singh, OLX

The Lalit provided the perfect setting for the event where the complete Hotel was covered in the flavours of India Digital Summit. There were four major halls where the leadership talks and discussions were taking place and a designated Exhibitors section. This time IAMAI – IDS gave an exciting opportunity to young budding entrepreneurs to come and present and pitch their ideas and start-ups in front of a panel of investors and market leaders.

Chairman TRAI at the 10th IDS

Chairman TRAI at the 10th IDS

The Exhibitors section had stalls of the major sponsors explaining their key offerings but the buzz was majorly generated by the ‘Startup Zone’ which was again a glorious opportunity for some start-up to set up their stalls and explain to visitors what their offerings were. It was great even for the new technology curious visitors as they were complimented with food and tea coupons depending upon the passes they were holding.

The Summit commenced with a welcome address by Kunal Shah, Founder & CEO, FreeCharge & Chairman IAMAI. It was followed by many speakers in different auditoriums including Umang Bedi, MD Adobe, Shri Ram Sewak Sharma, Chairman TRAI, Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO Indiamart, and Deep Kalra, Founder MakeMyTrip. The first day concluded with the CEO’s dinner which posed as a terrific opportunity to connect and network with the key figures in the business.

Dinesh Agarwal of Indiamart at 10th IDS

Dinesh Agarwal of Indiamart at 10th IDS

Second day witnessed equally huge names from the digital ecosystem. Murugavel Janakiraman, founder and CEO CONSIM and Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP Rajya Sabha got the day underway. Nandan Nilekani graced the occasion with his presence and strategic inputs on how he is shaping the future AADHAAR and its inclusion in every aspect of life and hence economy. The day also saw the likes of Dippak Khurana, CEO Vserv, Amit Jain, CEO Cardekho, Kirthiga Reddy, MD Facebook India, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder Paytm, and Rajan Anandan, VP & MD Google SE Asia & India. The valedictory address was given by Shri Jayant Sinha, MoS Finance government of India.

Nandan Nilekani at 10th IDS

Nandan Nilekani at 10th IDS

The second day concluded with the 6th edition of the India Digital awards which definitely glamorized the event along with recognizing the hard work of the techies for their contribution in the Digital universe.

Excerpts from the 10th IDS:

“Every Entrepreneur is a Social Entrepreneur in India. Popularity shouldn’t be a metric for success. Entrepreneurs should create value so that the VCs chase them. Our Favourite sport is jumping to conclusions. Great Entrepreneurship should not be like coaching classes, don’t always look for mentors.” – Kunal Shah, Founder & CEO, FreeCharge & Chairman IAMAI.

Nandan Nilekani with his mission on AADHAAR

Nandan Nilekani with his mission on AADHAAR

“Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. The real differentiator is Customer Experience for products and services. Every Experience should be consistent and continuous. Experience is the new brand and customer journey is the new product.” – Umang Bedi, MD Adobe.

“Software should be made available to everyone as commodities for us to grow. Digital India vision can only be achieved if there would be connectivity all across infrastructure and internet.” – Shri Ram Sewak Sharma, Chairman TRAI.

Dippak Khurana of Vserv at 10th IDS

Dippak Khurana of Vserv at 10th IDS

“Scaling up is very individual and intuitive. Accelerators and Alliances are two very different things. It’s about repeat usage (churn) not new usage. Don’t try to provide solutions to everyone, be focused. It’s not about the ideas… It’s about the execution and Execution is a series of small ideas.” – Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, IndiaMart

“It’s totally about perseverance with your startup. Don’t have a plan B when you embark on your journey of a Start-Up. MakeMyTrip’s success is because of its TEAM. Please be aware of competition but don’t obsess over them. Competition is equally important…If u don’t have competition that means you are in the wrong space”. – Deep Kalra, Founder MakeMyTrip.

Irfan Khan Ceo Blogmint at 10th IDS

Irfan Khan Ceo Blogmint at 10th IDS

“Language support is very crucial for Internet in rural India. Affordable smart devices and affordable data is the key to take the Internet to rural India. We need the REASON for the person to come on Internet in rural India. Problem is content generation in regional language and because the content is in alien language there is very low discoverability Ambiguity is a key issue when it comes to translation. There should be standardization in taxes across country to support Internet in rural India. Consistency in network, spectrum n infra require for proper Internet in rural.” – Internet for Rural India.

Blogmint at work

Blogmint at work

“Constantly remind people of your mission and right Co-Founder is critical.” – Dippak Khurana, Founder & CEO VServ.

Chaaipani stall at StartUp zone

Chaaipani stall at StartUp zone

To summarize the couple of days of Digital summit; It focused on how digital transformation can help and give a tremendous boost to the Indian Economy both in urban as well as rural India,  which was in coherence with the current government’s initiative of ‘Start-up India Stand-up India’.

I would like to take this as an opportunity to thank IAMAI and Blogmint for making it possible for me to attend the event on both the days.

FlockChat at StartUp zone

FlockChat at StartUp zone

Selfie with Umang bedi, Adobe MD

Selfie with Umang bedi, Adobe MD

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

4

To Travel is to Live

To Travel is to Live

Image Ref: Travelimg.org

“To Travel is to live” – Hans Christian Anderson

I have always believed that humans were born to travel… to reach out to places and experience them. But somehow we have found ways to confound ourselves in our lives by making it busier ‘n’ busier with things, which keep us stuck to one location. Some are lucky…their work gives them a chance to travel but then their travel is again restricted to the power-point presentations…hotel check-ins…and catching sleep in their flights. This is not the kind of travel I was referring to.

Travelling to a location is getting a feel of that place in every sense possible…from food to culture…from dressing to mannerism…from meeting new people to actually living with them to experience them. The more you travel the more your soul feels liberated. There is a unique sense of freedom attached to travelling which can only be lived.

Me at Manneken Pis

Me at Manneken Pis

Recently I have been lucky enough to visit countries outside India, which has been a part of conscious effort that I took to simply travel and literally live places after I met a life threatening accident in 2009. It made me realize that one never knows which one is your last day…so why not live each one to the fullest.

This June only I was travelling to Europe for the first time and that is when I realized that we ourselves don’t give respect and weightage to our heritage. I was standing in front of one of the most popular destinations in Brussels – The Manneken Pis and the crowd was going crazy to get them snapped with the creation. I too followed the suite but couldn’t stop myself from giggling at the fact that all these people were going mad for something which was smaller than the size of my head 😀 . The biggest disappointment came when I went to see the Mona-Lisa in person. I thought it would be a huge painting or something bigger than it actually is. I simply kept wondering what wrong did the other 2000 odd paintings do to do not deserve any attention as everybody was running to see ‘The Mona-Lisa’.

Image Ref: irisholidays.com

Munnar – Image Ref: irisholidays.com

The more I travel the more I realize that there is hardly any place in the world like our own country India which gives us so many diverse locations to visit. From world-class beaches in Goa and Pondicherry to the mesmerising Ladakh…from the soul soothing Rameshwaram to the serene honeymooning Munnar…we have it all.

We have our own ‘Scotlands’ in Coorg and mini France in Auroville. With Russian scribed menus and more Russians holidaying than in Russia we have a lot to offer in Goa. Even the Sunburns and VH1s could not keep Goa off its calendar. The cheap booze just adds the silver lining to Goa and Pondicherry.

Coorg - Image Ref: mouthshut.com

Coorg – Image Ref: mouthshut.com

If you are the spiritual kind then you are in the best country of the world. From Varanasi to Rameshwaram…From Haridwar to Jaggannath Puri…From Dwarka to Amarnath…it’s not about the location but it’s about choosing a deity and you are sure to find a historically beautiful place associated to that deity. There is even a temple in Ujjain where you’ll find liquor being served as ‘prasad’ to ‘Bhairon Baba’.

 

Image Ref: travelandmore.in

Image Ref: travelandmore.in

If you are a mountain lover I will fall short of words but India will not fall short of hill stations and snow capped ranges to take your breathe away. Whether it’s the north where you’ll have the ranges of Leh…Ladakh…Kashmir Valley…n so on…or in the north-east where there is a hill named after nearly every tribe that lives there. You need to be in Sikkim to understand what I mean by when I say ‘Soul Soothing’. In the west we have the sand laden yet chilling ‘Mount-Abu’ while the ‘Nilgiris’ giving an awesome cooling touch to the south.

Gokarna - Image ref: gokarnagreenland.in

Gokarna – Image ref: gokarnagreenland.in

Leave alone the beaches of Goa and Pondy…visit the beaches of Andaman and Lakshwadeep to be spellbound. Or if you simply want to enjoy the view with your chilled beer and no one in close proximity to disturb you then you have places like Gokarna and Kashif beach.

Somewhere in Kerala - Image Ref: www.scoopwhoop.com

Somewhere in Kerala – Image Ref: http://www.scoopwhoop.com

There must be a reason why Kerala is known as ‘God’s Own Country’ and the only reason is because of its natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes, which it holds. The backwaters in Kollam and Kochi are a treat for the solace seeking ones while place like ‘Waynad’ are for the rain lovers.

Talking of the rains how can we forget that India is the home for the place with the highest amount of rainfall in the world. Mawsynram holds this unique record with reainfall almost all round the year, in fact the state in which it is itself known as the ‘land of clouds’, Meghalaya.

Mawsynram - Image Ref: niejedztamjesli.wordpress.com

Mawsynram – Image Ref: niejedztamjesli.wordpress.com

If you talk about monuments and historical places you will be surprised that every other dot on the map of India holds a special place in history with its share of heritage and monuments on India’s timeline. We stand at Eiffel Tower in awe while forgetting our own Wonder of the World, ‘The Taj Mahal’ which makes the foreigners awestruck for ages. Even cities like Jaipur and Lucknow can boast off places like ‘Hawa Mahal’ and ‘Imam Bara’ respectively, which are architectural geniuses in their own way. Its about picking up a city and you are sure to find monuments or places to see at least for a day or two.

The TAJ - image ref: sqmegapolis.wikia.com

The TAJ – image ref: sqmegapolis.wikia.com

To add to all this…each and every place in India has its own Culture…Language…the kind of food we eat and even the colour of the soil. So before you decide to shell your big bucks on foreign lands…try giving India a chance…and I am sure you won’t be disappointed. And the biggest reason why we love our India because this is where our home is.

This blog is part of Blogger Dream Team

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

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The VILLGRO Fellowship

The Villgro Fellowship

Rich-Poor Reality

Rich-Poor Reality

I remember giving a presentation on 11th five-year plan during an academic session as a part of MBA curriculum and I don’t know how but I stumbled upon this pic while searching for an appropriate title slide and used it. I used this pic mainly because it is self-explanatory but how it subtly signifies that the governments have failed over the years to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich. Though for the past several plans one of their underlining objectives was ‘Inclusive Growth’ – Growth of every stratum of the society simultaneously…The rich getting richer but the poor also getting better. But instead of continuous efforts and so called plans I personally believe that we have come to a stage that the middle class has virtually diminished and has gone nearly extinct. The reason for this is that the rich is getting richer while at the same time the poor is getting poorer. Hence one of most prevailing questions arise how can we change this…how can we make the state of poor in our country from the current suffocating one to at least survivable.

Statistically speaking where majority of the poor population resides in our country…it’s mainly in the rural lands. There may be many ways but one of the ways that I believe is by starting more and more rural organizations where we can employ a lot of locals as well as the end beneficiaries at large should also be them. I know that there are many NGOs and government organizations working towards achieving the same but still the work isn’t reflecting in the number of success stories that we should ideally hear. I recently heard a bunch of guys coming up with an initiative of rural BPO and I thought that it was a great move. Neither everyone can be a farmer nor is every land that is rural, futile and fertile enough to bear crops.

There are more and more visionaries who are coming up with social enterprises whose main objective doesn’t lie in creating wealth for just them. They are surrounded by a more holy motive of betterment of the poor and how they can be empowered, how they can become the controller of their destinies than mere the rain gods.

But sadly to say the infrastructure, in every regard, I don’t think is that conducive and encouraging, where we can say that the environment is suited for such entrepreneurs and such enterprises. Most of them struggle with a lot of issues and one such issue is how to move ahead with such an enterprise and such a motive. Since there is not much that has already happened in this area…there are very few mentors and experts in the same field and category. But wouldn’t it be a boon for everyone who wants to dedicate his business and life to such a cause that he gets a platform to showcase his/her enterprise and on top of that get mentors and if possible investors for their mission. Someone to understand their idea and make it kind of their own and incubate it and take it forward like a corporate company.

The Villgro Fellowship

The Villgro Fellowship

Villgro is one such non-profit institution, which is giving a platform for social entrepreneurs and enterprises with innovative and technical ideas, whose underlying theme should be the betterment of society as a whole especially the underprivileged and the poor. They have come up with an awesome Fellowship program where they encourage people from all walks of society to be a part of it and showcase their innovative idea. They will provide total support and whatever guidance is required right from the incubation stage of the idea and project. They will nurture your idea like their own and in return teach you also the key aspects of running a social enterprise so that after the fellowship you can on your own run it in a sustainable manner which achieves its objectives and goals with which you wanted to start on the first place.

Fellow success stories

Fellow success stories

On the other hand in return you will learn a lot, since the program is designed in such a manner that you will get a lot of exposure through the other fellows, which will be a mix of international students with similar passion and such ideas. There is no dearth of recognition also, Villgro has won a lot of awards and appreciation for coming up with such a foundation that instead becomes foundations for other organizations and hence the credibility about Villgro and its Fellowship program automatically follows.

In the end I would like to mention a line from their website…’Change starts with ideas…when ideas become reality, they transform lives’. So, if you have an idea which you believe can change a lot of lives…Villgro is the place to go.

For more info please check out these links about the fellowship:

150318-Fellowship Posts-Rachana

 

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul