Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Things to do in and around Mumbai

Tons of them in fact, have started compiling a list of “low cost – great fun” activities you can enjoy…Readers can share their list to be added as comments.
  • Star ,  Artificial Satellites, Solar-System Planets Gazing: -
Sky gazing is my favourite, since i discovered that it is so easy, and requires almost Zero Investment. Couple of my favourite sightings are.
  1. You can actually spot Our neighbouring planets as Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury easily with naked eyes.  Just download a free and reliable software from http://www.stellarium.org/, specify your location as mumbai/(or your City) in Settings.
  2. Also most of the star signs (Virgo, Scorpio, Leo are what i have manged to spot so far). ( Stellarium will help you with the same for all Zodiacs). You can try your luck to spot Polaris from a hill top.
  3. The Icing is the spotting of ISS . . Just register your location http://www.heavens-above.com/. ISS is the International Space Station. The Largest and possibly the best Space station made by Mankind till date. What is ISS
  4. With little efforts you can spot Iridium Flares. Check the same in http://www.heavens-above.com/. These are a group of Artificial Satellites, which produce a sparkle in the sky. A Timetable is available which shows when you can see bright flashes in the Sky. What is Iridium.
  5. Wanna Spot Meteor-Showers and other exotic events in Sky. Join for a Trek with an experienced group of Astronomers. Low cost, Great frills. http://www.khagolmandal.com/. Typical Treks are organized during Clear Sky days from Dec to May.
  • Kanheri Caves near Borivili. Great Place to See Budhist Caves, Trek, Swim in River. I spotted deers crossing the main road near the final steep climb to caves once. Go ahead try your luck.
  • Tungareshwar – Near Vasai. Lowest cost Treks during Monsoon.
  • Visit to Salt Pan – Bhyender East and other stations after Mira Road.
  • Haji Ali. Watch the spectacle of High-Tide and Low-Tide. Every 6 Hours, the Sea will cover the Bridge, and then open up after 6 hours. The Bridge opens twice in a day.
  • Warli Village – The 10th Century Art and Tribal Culture. Must see near Dhanu/Palghar. For group bookings. Check http://Grassroutes.co.in
  • Million Fireflies in June. You actually can see the complete Mountain range covered with millions of Fireflies. This wonder happens only in June. We call them Taare Zameen Par. Check out http://grassroutes.co.in
  • Nehru Science Centre & Planetarium : Must see for Kids over 10 years.
Readers can kindly leave comments with their favourite activities and places.

From Technology to Tourism

The Story so far….Transition from Technology to Tourism….

All the limits are of the Mind…There are infact no limits……Author Unknown…

One year, has passed since the move from Technology to Social Sector. Currently am working with an organization called Grassroutes. These good people (Inir, John and Darren) are experimenting to improve the Tribal Livelihoods through Rural Tourism. One good aspect in this organization is that we consciously avoid using the terms as “Reducing/Eliminating Poverty”. The key mindset is to enable the trials to improve their livelihoods by their own efforts. We do not believe in Donating money to any one. The poor want enabling environment, and then they blossom of their own efforts.

This blog is for my friends who want to know how different it is changing the field from IT to Social sector.
For me personally, there has not been much of a change in the kind of work i have been doing..This seems bit contradictory…let me explain.

1. I am still involved with Technology. We still use Excel for Business Plans, What If Scenarios. PPT’s for Village Communities, Investors. Internet for Marketing (Facebook and Google Ads).
2. We still have processes. Checklists, Review meetings, Post project analysis.
3. We have pilots. We experiment with new tools/techniques and then evaluate the projects.
4. We have Goals. We carry “Sales Targets”.
5. I still have to use Laptop and Reply to Emails….
6. The concept of Customer and Sales remain same. “Our Organization has to create value for Guests”. Now “This” is one of the “most critical thing” i have learn’t here. No Matter what business you are in IT or Tourism or any other thing. If you don’t add significant Value for the Customer, you have no right to stay in the business.
7. Here too we have Stakeholders (Investors, Media, Village Committees and Guests). Need to constantly have review and feedback discussions, keep all stakeholders updated.
8. We have time bound projects. Each theme is a project by itself, and undergoes conception, brain storming, planning, checklists, execution and evaluation phase. Wow.. Even the words we use are same as we use in IT.
So to summarize, from the outside it seems that i have changed my field, but at the core, i am still continuing the same stuff i was doing in Wipro.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why Millennium Development Goals….

In September 2000, world leaders at UN Headquarters adopted the UN Millennium Declaration to reduce extreme poverty. The time bound targets – with a deadline of 2015 – have become known as the Millennium Development Goals.

(Ref : http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/)
Why are these Goals so important.
  • What goes around – Comes around. The more the low income people earn, the more will be their spending power, the more will the richer people earn eventually.
  • If People continue to remain selfish, and be self centered, the time is not far when the 4 Billion “Have-Not’s” declare an uprising, and ‘Take away’ from the “Have’s”. You cannot expect 60% of World Population to keep watching the TV’s, Malls, Media about the lifestyles of ‘Rich and Famous’ and not get frustrated at their inability to live a ‘Humane lifestyle’.
Universal Brotherhood.
  • All Religions ask us to do Charity. And wants people to promote peace and harmony.
  • All Spiritual books tell us to take care of other humans.
  • The underlying essence of religion is to make mankind love and care for each other
  • Yes. The latest Scientific discoveries are going to “Open the Eyes” of every one. It will happen sooner than later.
  • People who are tracking the CERN / LHC experiments / String Theory will understand better the meaning of ‘Universal Consciousness’ and ‘Universal Brotherhood’. (For beginners, this is one of the largest Experiments mankind has ever undertaken as a joint initiative. The scientists are trying to find the ‘God Particle’. All major countries are contributing towards this. So far the World has spent 15 Bn $ on the experiment (INR 75,000 Crores !!!)
  • Some Interesting Experiments in Particle Physics / Quantum gravity
Not yet convinced (Some friendly suggestions),
  • Watch the movie Matrix
  • Read ‘The Secret’ and try it for some time.
  • Read the book ‘Lost Symbol’.
  • Attend Vipassana Course
  • Read ‘Tao of Physics’
  • Read something on ‘String Theory’
  • My friends from Management can read “The Fifth Discipline”
  • Read Scriptures as ‘Dhamapada’, ‘Upanishads – Isavasya’, Bible, Samkhya & Yogasutras (I am not trying to promote any single religion here, so please don’t get me wrong or misquote me.)
  • Those not yet still convinced. ……God Still loves you…..
The Point i am trying to make is that soon Science will proclaim what the Scriptures have been telling us since ages, That the whole of universe is connected via a Supreme Consciousness (or you may call it the Super-String.)
Like a human body, each organ needs to perform and contribute to the welness of complete Being. All individuals are connected to each other and are part of common God.
So it makes sense that we help all the fellow beings, so that we ultimately help ‘Ourselves’.

Working with Grassroutes Journeys

It has been a great journey so far.
Left the corporate job in April 2010, with lots of enthusiasm. Basic premise was to be able to design scalable solutions to improve rural livelihoods.
Spent one year roaming across different parts of India (From Madurai to Wardha to Rishikesh).
Met individuals and organizations working towards similar goals (From Gandhigram, Dhan to NGO’s to Religious organizations)
Upgraded myself on Theory of Social Development work through Trainings, Courses and lots of relevant books (Enrolled for courses as Micro ventures of Tata Dhan, MA in Rural Development – CSW, Social Entrepreneurship thru EDI).
Now i seem to understand the issues with better perspective.
Currently working with Grassroutes, and feel that we can implement corporate practices in Social Organizations as well. There seems to be a good scope to experiment and tune lots of concepts (From operations management, Cash Flow, Sales, Social Media marketing to project management) for this sector.
Feel lucky to have found this organization and connect with the wonderful team here.
The existing team
  1. Inir my Boss, is a great guy to work with, gives lots of responsibilities and is focused to improve livelihoods of Rural communities through Rural Tourism. Has got lots of awards for his work in the social field.
  2. John. Our Operations and Sales champ. Is Happy-go-Lucky person. Who incidentally is also “Ex-Wipro”. Has worked for 5 years with Wipro before deciding to jump into social field. (Seems to be some coincidence in Wipro’ites joining Grassroutes) .Very disciplined and hard working.
  3. Darren. The youngest in the team. Full of Energy (Is a National level Hockey player), discipline and self control.
About the Organization
We are Motivated by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Primarily we endeavour to reduce poverty through Rural Tourism. http://www.unwto.org/step/mechanisms/en/ms.php
The way the organization operates is
  1. Take Loan/Grants from Other organizations.
  2. Tie up with NGO. Identify Villages with low income levels.
  3. Explain the Village community benefits of rural tourism. Take their concurrence.
  4. Train the Villagers as Guides, cooks, Service providers, etc. Training on communication skills, operations, Checklists, Quality processes etc.
  5. Sales and Marketing for the village trips.
  6. Distribute the Revenue amongst the stakeholders
    1. 40% – Villagers and Community
    2. 30% – Debt repayments
    3. 30% – Towards Marketing, Salaries and Administration overheads of Grassroutes.

So far Grassroutes has setup two villages, and plan to reach 200 over next 10 years.
We endeavour towards Connecting Urban World to Rural Communities and ‘Unveiling Hidden India’.
Each trip enables people to explore their roots while indulging from over 101+ Activities
  • Agriculture: Ploughing, Harvesting, Sowing, Chaffing…….
  • Authentic Village Experience: Local Cuisine, Sleep in Village Homes, Village Festivals…….
  • Live the Rural Life: Draw water from well, Milk the Goat, Chop Wood……..
  • Rural Games: Sling shots, Swings, Tyre Race……..
  • Learn: Warli Art, Paper Mask Making, Optimal use of Natural Resources, Simplicity, Local Customs…….
  • Village Sports: Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Wrestling……..
  • Explore Nature: Trek in Mountains, Swim in River……..
  • Relax: Bird Watching, Watch Sunrise, Meditate in Hills, Laze in Shade on the Hills…….
And by the virtue of your holiday experience, enable the Village community to
  • Improve Livelihoods and Reduce Migration
  • Improve self confidence and preserve Local Culture
  • Maintain Bio-Diversity

My Favourite Poems

Some of my Favourite Poems
Little Deeds of Kindness, Little Deeds of Love, Makes the earth a paradise, Like the Heaven above.
—-Julia A. Fletcher Carney
लहरों से डर कर नौका पार नहीं होती,
कोशिश करने वालों की कभी हार नहीं होती।

नन्हीं चींटी जब दाना लेकर चलती है,
चढ़ती दीवारों पर, सौ बार फिसलती है।
मन का विश्वास रगों में साहस भरता है,
चढ़कर गिरना, गिरकर चढ़ना न अखरता है।
आख़िर उसकी मेहनत बेकार नहीं होती,
कोशिश करने वालों की कभी हार नहीं होती।

डुबकियां सिंधु में गोताखोर लगाता है,
जा जा कर खाली हाथ लौटकर आता है।
मिलते नहीं सहज ही मोती गहरे पानी में,
बढ़ता दुगना उत्साह इसी हैरानी में।
मुट्ठी उसकी खाली हर बार नहीं होती,
कोशिश करने वालों की कभी हार नहीं होती।

असफलता एक चुनौती है, इसे स्वीकार करो,
क्या कमी रह गई, देखो और सुधार करो।
जब तक न सफल हो, नींद चैन को त्यागो तुम,
संघर्ष का मैदान छोड़ कर मत भागो तुम।

कुछ किये बिना ही जय जय कार नहीं होती,
कोशिश करने वालों की कभी हार नहीं होती।
——–हरिवंशराय बच्चन (Harivansh Rai Bachchan) (few people claim that it is from सूर्यकांत त्रिपाठी “निराला”) . Never mind, so long as it Inspires us…..

Monday, January 17, 2011

One more perspective

Of late have been traveling a lot and meeting new people. Want to share some new perspectives gathered from some good people i met recently. And i feel there is a good amount of truth in it.

1. Humans are basically good, and want to be helpful. The systems around us make us feel incomplete, and induce a sense of competition & "Race to own the Limited Resources Mind set". This leads all of us to try to prove our worth, compete for limited resources. The fact is there is enough in the universe for each of us.

Have met so many people who are working selflessly for the development of Mankind, I can safely bet that there is more good happening than bad. Look around and you will see.
In fact i will run into couple of hundred pages, if i type the good stuff i have seen in past 7 months alone, and plan to setup a separate blog site for highlighting the same.

I am convinced that the Popular Media should highlight the good work happening in the world, instead of only highlighting Scams and Corruption.

2. Maybe what we are learning in Schools is not a Right/Complete perspective.
The Bees do not "give" us honey, the Cows do not "give" us Leather.

We Humans "Steal" & "Kill" to get these things. (and I know i am equally guilty to have generated a demand and market for these things).

Now these examples are only to get a point across, i m not saying we should ban these things. But moderation in consumption is a possible solution.

But look around, and see the exploitation happening of all Natural resources, Massive Mining, Tigers being killed, and you see the extreme

Basically, we should learn to respect Nature, and live in harmony.

When i used to work very late non stop for days, My Boss and Mentor (Mr. Sanjay Shah-Wipro), used to ask me sometimes, "Kahe ki Jaldi hai, Kahan Jana Hai ?". Means, why the hurry, where do you have to go ?

I couldn't get the meaning then, but i feel we need to slow down, appreciate the Journey, do a quality work than only accelerating towards some Goals.