INSIGHTFUL TALKS, QUIRKY WRITINGS ON INDIA…

A BMTC bus ride

A BMTC(local) bus ride! It had been many, many, days since I took a BMTC* bus ride. Not that one doesn’t want to. It’s just that there never seems to be the right combination of available time, a suitable bus route, or leisure that one can find. It just seems so much easier to hop into an auto (and now that Ubers are here, even more so), than wait and take the trouble to get into a bus. It came as a welcome change, when there was the chance to go to Richmond road, which very conveniently , is served by multiple buses on the arterial old airport road. And so, it was the BMTC bus I got into. Not the fancy – airconditioned Vajras, but the regular BMTC ones . The ones that get washed perhaps, once a year. Or maybe its gross exaggeration- more likely to be washed once a month. And having got in, and secured a precious seat ( it was off peak time on Saturday), it was an experience certainly worth its while. For starters, the ride was smooth. No jarring music, no loud mobile phone conversations. Simple folks, looking out of the window, as would be expected in a bus ride.  As it used to be, in the olden days, before the mobiles took over almost every minute of precious existence. I sat there and looked too. And that was what made the bus ride so much more worth the while. I must have travelled along the old airport road at least a thousand times before, but, it was only this time, that...

A happy mother’s day

A happy mother’s day!    This mother’s day, for some reason, a thought came to mind- what about all the mothers out there who are struggling to feed, bring up and grow their children against all odds- poverty, wars and calamities? What can we do as fellow mothers to make their lives a bit easier? An organisation springs to mind. It is an organisation with a story. Many years back, I read this story and for some reason, it just stayed on in memory( some stories are indeed so powerful). Many more years ago, a lady was running a school in Lucknow, educating poor children. She saw a mother of four breaking a piece of bread into four parts to feed all of them. A piece of bread was all she could afford with her sparse earnings, as a chikankari worker. The middlemen took all the profit. The lady educator realised education was not enough. She took it on, to create a self help group for these women, to create and sell their own chikankari work directly to the buyers. Thus augmenting their income. Over years, the Self help group grew by leaps and bounds, and established itself as a known name for chikankari products. Beautifully embroidered kurtis, sarees, Dupattas and more; mostly sold through exhibitions they hold. Training, advocacy,skill building activities- everything came under their banner. Awards and accolades- including the Bharat Ratna poured in for the lady who started it all ; but the biggest award of all – in my view – is the difference she made to the lives of many mothers and their children, The organisation...
“Snow” -another Indian “Innovation”

“Snow” -another Indian “Innovation”

  Here cometh the next post on Indian innovation, after the Blouse piece story. A puzzle – how can it be that a huge country of a billion plus can only showcase a couple of inventions that strike? It does strike me as odd, so, from all the travels in the recent past, I have been looking for nuggets of undiscovered innovation, convinced as I am , that there is a lot more to be found as i amble across this vast, magnificent country.I mean it, you should look for more posts, as I plan to unearth more than you ever thought existed. And sometimes, it strikes, that innovation happens serendipitously- right? Discoveries usually do, but so can innovations. That is how i discovered the innovation called “Snow ” in Bangalore. Who ever thought that it doesnt snow in Bangalore? Even though fairly close to the equator, it does snow in Bangalore, and that too all the year round. In fact, it snows so brilliantly that one doesn’t even feel cold. The snow itself is powdery,fluffy, white and very occasionally dotted with specs of grey. It is an innovation indeed, snow created by waste products . Instead of letting them go to waste, the municipality is actually utilising them well- by allowing them to fester,rot, and ultimately metamorphose into white powdery specs that greet you, flying across so gently, on the wings of the breeze. If you are still wondering what and where this snow is, it is to be found on a gutter that flows from the Belandur lake.Tons of sewage, some detergent filled muck, finds its way everyday into the dregs of the canal, and blossoms and blooms,...
Five innovations for India- A budget wish list

Five innovations for India- A budget wish list

The much awaited budget has come and gone. But,sadly, my wish-list  or a bucket-list even , of Innovations for India may remain a wish list, unless something different is done, even after the budget is out. For a country so beautiful, so full of promise, but bogged down by the mundane stuff ( or lack of it) deserves more. And, for a billion people so unique, with their own uniqueness, demand something really different. And so, here it is.. the wish list of innovations, for no solution that’s off the cuff can really be enough. 1. Smarter toilets: Even though waste should be the last topic, I bring it to the very top. For smarter ways of human waste management should not have to rely on complex municipal systems to install and operate. Instead, stand- alone, easy-to- fix- cheap , is what is needed. The good news is, a company in Kerala has created something called ë-toilets. Smart and efficient, but needs to go further. What remains to be seen is if they can scale up fast and big-time. And whether our dear Finance Minister can allott more money here. 2. Healthcare at the doorstep : Infrastructure being what it is, lack of easy access healthcare is the next imperative. And it has to be quick, easily available too, Perhaps mobile healthcare vans for the basics, if someone or the Government were upto it? 3. Safe schools : Something that’s a given in many countries, India has yet to come up with a solution that guarantees education with safety. The number of reports of schools that have let down...
The ” Innovative” in “India, IIT& IIM….”

The ” Innovative” in “India, IIT& IIM….”

We IITians and IIMites (hallowed passouts from the Indian Institutes of Technology and Management) must be the one of the most ingenious of all. After all, there is an “I” in both, right , ” I” for ingenious and ” I” for innovative. Last week, I may have discovered how. A chance look at all the linked in email subscriptions for daily digests, weekly digests, hourly updates , minute by minute podcasts and what have you, and some futile attempts to clean up the bulk mail (futile as discovered  much later, for these mails are as abundant as cockroaches. Get rid of one and two more magically appear), led  to the long list that is now proudly displayed below. By the way, this, is only the ” linked-in ” truncated list- by no means can the original, anacondaic one be reproduced here without the post being eaten up. And this does not  even include Facebook and others. Therefore, only a taster of facebook groups appears below. Linked in groups: Entrepreneurs from IIT DelhiDaily Digest EmailWeekly Digest EmailNo Email IIM Jobs  Daily Digest EmailWeekly Digest EmailNo Email IIM Society  Daily Digest EmailWeekly Digest EmailNo Email IIMB Alumni Association  Daily Digest EmailWeekly Digest EmailNo Email IIMNET.COM  Daily Digest EmailWeekly Digest EmailNo Email IIT Alumni  Daily Digest EmailWeekly Digest EmailNo Email IIT Delhi Alumni  Daily Digest EmailWeekly Digest EmailNo Email IIT Women Alumni  Daily Digest EmailWeekly Digest EmailNo Email INDIA MBA FORUM  Daily Digest EmailWeekly Digest EmailNo Email Pan IIM Alumni Association : an IImNet initiative  Daily Digest EmailWeekly Digest EmailNo Email Pan IIT  Daily Digest EmailWeekly Digest EmailNo Email Facebook groups: Women Of IIT Delhi. IIT Delhi-...
The name innovation begins….

The name innovation begins….

What is it about us Indians and names? We don’t just love our names ( and in some cases hate them, especially if they are a tad too long, somewhat like Parvati Venkata Nag Vijaya Rajyashree . err.. the full name of a person well known to the amblingindian), we adore, glorify and worship them too. And too what an extent! No sooner does the Party in power change hands than kicks in the “Ministry of renaming conventions”. All hands to the deck, the invisible ones that is, get busy at spotting and listing all the names of the hitherto politicians, wherever they may be. So, starting from the airports, the roads, the innumerable schemes, the schools, and perhaps even the slums, nothing is to be left behind. For all this naming and shaming is important business you see. I thought the new Government would have enough up its sleeve to sit and work through without actually worrying about these sorry names everywhere. But, how wrong was I in my understanding of the Indian political psyche. This naming is serious business man, especially if you have a history of 50 years of near uninterrupted single party rule (by which nearly every lampole in sight has been named after the party leaders), it demands a lot of hard work to undo all that naming and glorifying business. And not just undo the old ones, but to find new ones too. So, an entire team of historians and researchers is needed to get going, and find all the leaders of yore, and of today too, some of who, need to be...