A Pad Idea!

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A Pad Idea!
Once upon a time, there was is a man named Arunachalam Muruganantham from Coimbatore in India, who could not bear to see the discomfort and embarrassment that his wife had to go through, just to buy/ wear a sanitary pad / napkin. Risking even his very marriage, Arunachalam’s empathy and resolve lead him to research everything from material to pricing of sanitary pads. And after a long, unrelenting journey, he makes sanitary napkins that become the preferred and highly affordable alternative to what many rural and even urban women were used to for the longest time; cloth. This inspiring story of an Indian hero was recently depicted by way of a Bollywood movie, Padman.
Now consider some Hollywood movies inspired by real-life heroes. Erin Brockovich (played by Julia Roberts), Joy (Jennifer Lawrence starrer), Sully (featuring Tom Hanks), Argo (Ben Affleck playing the cool, brave Antonio J. Mendez of the CIA), etc., etc. Noticed anything in common?
The protagonist always bears the real name of the character it was inspired by. The way I see it, that helps real heroes get the recognition they deserve in their home countries, if not the world. And it helps the masses connect better with the name and great actions of that hero or changemaker. Of course, there are other movies loosely based on some real-world people. In which case, I agree that moviemakers would be wary of incurring the wrath of linked families. And therefore use fictional names. But why the same even with movies completely inspired by one, known person.
Bollywood has been notorious for decades, for being “inspired” by original content from the world over, and repackaging it for our audiences. To add to the plagiarism, is the unimaginative rehashed Bollywood classic songs that regularly make their way back to newer Bollywood movies. The least this multi-billion dollar industry that avoids imagination and innovation like the plague could do, is let real heroes have a share in the limelight. By using the person’s real name in the movie it is inspired by.
They did with Padman. And with Airlift. With Guru, among other movies.

Why do they do it? Are box office proceeds all they care about? Or is it some lawsuit they’re trying to avoid? Or do they want credit for the empathy, innovation and perseverance of another?

‘Arunachalam Muruganantham’ is a tough enough name even for Indians to remember, without it being portrayed by Akshay Kumar but bearing a completely different name. Giving a fictional name takes away the powerful connect it could create among the masses. And this movie could have been the perfect effort to make the real man a household name. To inspire many more such changemakers because of the direct connect to the real person it creates.

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China – The Punishment Due

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China – The Punishment Due

To,
Mr. Xi Jinping
Chairman of the Central Military Commission
People’s Republic of China
Indian politicians have always been soft about matters regarding our country’s borders. You however, should not for a moment, think their encroachments will go unchallenged. Or that our army doesn’t stand a chance.
The Beating Retreat ceremony that happens at our Attari (and Wagah in Pakistan) border should give them some perspective. Look it up online.
The soul-piercing eyes of our Border Security Forces. The fire, the bravery and the love for the country. It isn’t something that can be copied or manufactured like everything else China is notorious for. These traits are inherent. What’s more, that border ceremony is a tradition of brotherhood and cooperation. Imagine dealing with them in the event of a war.
Image: source
So, if Chinese border infiltration continue, surely our politicians will bumble around for a long time. Trying hard to imagine the problem doesn’t exist. Or hoping to push it under the carpet for another government of the future to deal with. But the day one of them decides to take action, and that day will come, I’d hate to think of the plight of those facing the wrath of our armed forces.
In all the wars India has ever fought, it has never been on the offensive. Never once have we, unprovoked, attacked another country. And that should tell the world everything it needs to know that we as a country, hate war more than any other country on earth does.
But there is one thing we hate far more, and do not tolerate. And that is, outsiders encroaching on our land.
It is another, and rather unfortunate matter, that all our politicians since independence, have not reflected the necessary concern for our borders and our people who live near it. But, it would be foolish to continue to push your luck, using the Sino-Indian war as a yardstick to compare powers. Back then, we were a young, relatively unaware, 13-year old country post-independence. If you really need proof of our military prowess, look no further than the Battle of Longewala of 1971. It remains, among the only battles in the history of the world, where an unimaginably outnumbered army faction held on, and won. That, is the Indian defense forces for you.
In the hope that you come to your senses soon, and for your own sake.
Cheers!
Megadeth performing ‘Holy Wars… The Punishment Due’. Hammersmith Odeon. 1992.
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Dr. David Lagrew – Saving Mothers with Empathy & Innovation

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More women in labour and new mothers die in the US than in any other high-income country. And the CDC Foundation estimates that 60% of these deaths are preventable! 60%!! In one of the most developed countries in the world.

And since 1990, only 13 countries in the world have seen a rise in maternal death rates. The US is one of them. Along with North Korea and Zimbabwe. And shockingly, since 2007, the US National Center for Health Statistics has even been publishing an official maternal mortality rate. Personally, I’m at a loss for words for this kind of indifference.

However, like in most other grim sounding situations, there is a small group of changemakers, who do what it takes to make things better in their area of work.

Recently, I read an article (link below) about Dr. David Lagrew and Stanford’s California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative. (CMQCC). This is an organization committed to ending preventable morbidity, mortality and racial disparities. The doctor and CMQCC have a single, worthy cause. A case of Empathy and innovation working at their best, to dramatically increase the number of lives saved.

Dr. David Lagrew    image: source

Below is the highly recommended article on how, a noble pursuit, is achieving the seemingly impossible. We all have matters that concern or consume our thoughts. What we must realize, is that it doesn’t matter how many other people are indifferent or don’t care enough to do something about it. The real question is, do we?

Article Link: California decided it was tired of women bleeding to death in childbirth

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The Determining Fire

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ITBP - Women contingent

Image: source

The Determining Fire

Late on 15th night, I read a news piece about 500 trained women personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) being the first women contingent to be deployed in high-altitude posts along the India-China border. I was thrilled.

However, I’m also sure many may have asked, ‘would they be able to handle it’; or, ‘can they meet the grueling job expectations? Especially given the conditions, where even their physically stronger male counterparts sometimes find it tough’?

Well, there are capable people, okay ones, and damn good ones, both men and women. On the corporate side, I’ve seen a fair share of men and women who’re below average at their jobs, and those who are really exceptional too.

What makes some truly exceptional, I have come to learn, has a lot to do with the distance they’ve covered, and the resistance they’ve overcome, to get to where they are. Often, it’s also what drives them to go even further.

We all know that both distance and resistance are overcome by sacrifices. Sacrifice being the screening fire. Those who have been through it, come through on the other side with something extra. All they then need to do, is fight complacency.

An incident comes to mind. My office building has good security. Friends, clients and acquaintances who have come to meet me there have always mentioned it. From visitors needing to register at the reception, a picture taken, a gate pass issued, security at the turnstiles, and acknowledgement on the gate pass from the office you’re visiting.

As I entered the building sometime last year, I realized I’d forgotten my access card. A male and female security personnel were at the turnstiles. Many of them are on rotational shifts, and I’m not a particularly regular face there, so they don’t always remember me.

Now anyone working in India knows how we deal with things like forgotten access cards. Many people even know how to deal with breaking laws and rules the same way. Saying it’s a one-time mistake, it happens, everyone else is doing it, and so on.

Anyway, I walked right to the turnstile, and told the chap to let me pass, telling him which floor I worked on. And that he could call and check with my office. He agreed without any hesitation, and was just about to swipe his card to let me pass, when the lady security personnel who was quietly watching us, stopped him. She politely expressed her reluctance to allow it, requested me to go to the reception and get a guest pass.

By this time, I was beaming with admiration. Because, funny as it is, in our country, it is rare that someone sticks to a rule, a law, a process; and not because they’re scared or feel pressured, but because they understand them and their responsibility towards enforcing them. And this lady wasn’t the least bit scared or confused. I know the difference.

In many situations, people bypass such rules or even the law with a little pat on the shoulder, a little bribe here, a nonchalant ‘chalta hai yaar’ there, and so on. But not this lady.She was polite, but was in no uncertain terms, following the procedure, and simply expected me to too.

How often do we stop at a red signal light when the streets are empty? And if we do, how often do we still jump the light if someone behind us honks, or other cars drive past without waiting? How frequently does name-dropping happen, or do we feel entitled without having earned something? How often do we throw our weight on people who stand no chance of defending against it? Do waiters, security, small shop employees, and peons among others, come to mind?

The lady security personnel is one of those concerningly rare individuals we have in our country today, who isn’t afraid, or doesn’t feel awkward about being fully responsible for what she’s been entrusted with. Now all we need are more such people. Many, many more.

The ITBP women, as indicated by the news itself, are the first women contingent ever. Which means there’s a mountain of ice and glass they’ve already overcome to be where they are today. It is also why would they be just as strong, if not far stronger, and more effective than their male counterparts who’ve been guarding that region till date.

Koi shuck?

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A Rural Electric Ride

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Hemalatha-Annamalai- Ampere Vehicles

A Rural Electric Ride

While a lot of us are busy in our world of self-indulgence, it’s reassuring to know there are Indians like Ratan Tata, who’d go the distance with regard to businesses that positively impact to one or more segments of the population.

I’m speaking about the Nano in particular here, the world’s cheapest car that was inspired by the concern Mr. Tata had for a number of Indian families that traveled with their spouse and children on two-wheelers, and the risk that posed to their safety.

Now I’ve written a few posts mentioning the Nano, though I don’t think I’ve written enough about that business and engineering marvel.

Anyway, here’s a relatively unheard of company in the field of ‘affordable’ AND ‘electric’ cycles, scooters & load carriers from India.

Hemalatha Annamalai of Coimbatore, the founder of Ampere Vehicles Pvt. Ltd., has been making affordable electric vehicles since 2008. What’s better, is that she has a focus on rural transportation. And it gets better. She is backed by Kris Gopalakrishnan, one of the co-founders of Infosys. And none other than the original king of low-cost vehicles in India, Mr. Ratan Tata himself.

May there be more entrepreneurs like her.

Read more about her and her vehicles here: link

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Think A-Team: For the Design & Strategy needs of Young Businesses

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Think A-Team: For the Design & Strategy needs of Young Businesses

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Image: link

Hi, all you enterprising entrepreneurs,

I am pleased to give to you, ‘Think A-Team’, a growth partnering service for all your business strategy needs.

The intention behind it, is to help you make your business challenges a little less challenging. And to work with you on growing your business faster & better.

The services I have selected to offer, are a result of nearly a decade of close working with entrepreneurs and young businesses. While the portfolio of services will evolve with time, what will remain constant is reliability, effectiveness, accessibility and affordability to young businesses that have had few, if any options as far as growth partners go.

Think A-Team

Give it a try today! And I’ll look forward to working with some of you enterprising folks on building your businesses for you.
Have an awesome weekend!!

R,
Shrutin

Look forward to connecting with y’all on LinkedIn and/or on Twitter.

Attention!

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Attention!

Allan Massie said, “Do you know what a soldier is, young man? He’s the chap who makes it possible for civilized folk to despise war.”

Last night I watched a movie called Holiday‘. An action thriller about a soldier on vacation who uncovers a dangerous plot.

I noticed something rather shameful with the crowd at the theatre during the last 3 odd minutes of the movie. And it was more offensive than the people who speak or scratch their haunches when the national anthem is playing. The last scene showed soldiers on their way back from vacation. The scene has families and loved ones spending a few emotion-filled moments with the soldiers before they leave for another long, trying stint away from home, to guard the country.

During this bit, over 60% of the people at the theatre got up and started leaving. You might argue that it is a movie after all. Or that it was past 1:30 am, or even that the climax scene was done. But aren’t we the same people who buy into, and believe the absurdity that is sold to us in the name of Bollywood? Then is this representation of reality so unimportant that we choose to ignore it?

I read some articles a few months ago, that might give some perspective to this. Some random American citizens were at a burger joint, when they noticed a few soldiers standing in line behind them. They got to the counter and paid for their order. They then handed some money and instructed the person at the counter that it was towards everything the soldiers ordered. And that if the money fell short, to let them know and they’d pay the balance as well.

Then there was another story of how someone left some money and a note on the car of a soldier, thanking them for serving their country, and asking them to take their loved one to a nice restaurant with the money, saying it was just a small token of their gratitude. While these don’t seem like fictional stories, surely they might sound a little dramatic, or like we Indians say, ‘filmy’. Citizens in the US have always acknowledged the futility of sending their soldiers to fight unnecessary wars, and they are grateful and acknowledge this huge sacrifice soldiers make for them, and sometimes try to express this gratitude in their own small ways.

We Indians are aware of the tainted reputation of some cricketers and even some cricketing events, but yet will watch the game with undeterred reverence and willful ignorance, but a few minutes that offer a glimpse into the lives of the very people whose sacrifice enables us to enjoy these trivial and meaningless luxuries, and we get easily bored and leave.

This attitude of educated fellow Indians begs me to wonder what exactly our soldiers are sacrificing their lives to guard. A thankless, money and pleasure-seeking race of self-centered robots?

q141

Image link

“Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.” ~ Pericles

We don’t defend our freedom in any way, at least let us learn to respect it.

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Your Time Will Come

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Your Time Will Come

Three days ago, I was rushing to office after a meeting. The day somehow seemed very different. Special, in an inexplicable way. The meeting had gone well too. While waiting at a signal light, lost in the magical voice of the very beautiful Amy MacDonald singing ‘Your time will come’, when I suddenly noticed a teacher of mine from school, standing on the other side of the road. I recognized her instantly, despite not having seen her in over sixteen years. She seemed to be waiting for a cab.

She was one of a few favorite teachers I had in school, which is why I perhaps recognized her instantly. Not that I was her favorite student, or that she was lenient and kind. It was, in fact the contrary. She was one of the few teachers who was really strict; the no-nonsense kind. She used to be notorious, if I may, for her habit of twisting the ear of students who created trouble or didn’t finish homework. I had been on the receiving end of this treatment on several occasions.

Over the years, I often wondered why I have so much respect for her and a few other teachers who too, happened to be equally strict if not more. And one strong logical reason that emerged, seemed to be something to do with how they taught. It had something to do with the sheer passion the had for the work they did. Teaching. And I guess that’s what made them great teachers.

These few teachers showed a resolute and relentlessly effort towards educating a somewhat difficult-to-handle bunch of children. What set them apart was probably that they never diverted their purpose from teaching, nor give up on us students, however much we tested their patience. They never held grudges. And best of all, their efforts towards their objective was unwavering and true.

A lot has changed over the years when it comes to teaching, discipline, not hitting children, and so on. And I’m not really am expert on the rights, wrongs and different methods to teach, discipline and mould growing children. But I think the focus and dedication these few teachers showed, had effectiveness written all over it.

I was to take a right turn at the signal, but quickly made a u-turn instead. I stopped the car beside her, lowered the window and said, “ma’am, you probably wouldn’t recognize me, but I’m a student of yours, Shrutin Shetty“. She said she remembered the name. After some insisting, she gave me the privilege of driving her home. It seemed insignificant a gesture for the efforts of a great teacher.

Had I ever enlisted in the army, teachers like her would have been akin to a commanding officer. I had read somewhere about how soldiers are the true salt of the land, and how the training broke them down and rebuilt them into the refined beings they are. That’s exactly what teachers like her had been doing over the years, batch after batch.

As I dropped her off, she asked me why I didn’t visit school. I had only been there once in the sixteen years. All I could tell her was, that I will. The real reason I hadn’t gone there, however, has been because in my head, I had set an expectation that my teachers would have of us students. Expectations in terms of us reaching our full potential, making a mark for ourselves. And I still have a long way to go to achieve expectations I felt my teachers would expect from me, ones that would make them proud.

What I didn’t realize in these sixteen years though, is that while I have been busy working on my dreams, and much time will have passed before I get there, but time had not been waiting. This teacher of mine said she’s retiring soon. Not sure how many of the other teachers already had retired. When, where and how would I meet them. Be able to share stories of my trials and experiences from my journey, hear their stories about this long and disconnected gap in time. Such was the predicament that held my thoughts on my drive back.

And through the numerous people in life that I have had the pleasure of knowing, I will always be grateful and indebted to this small elite set of them, people like this teacher of mine. For however insignificant I may still be, they have played a crucial role in making me who I am today. Their undivided efforts towards teaching, indirectly taught me the type of focus it will take to achieve my dreams. And my estimation of their expectation of me will always keep me aiming higher.

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Let’s Go Back to the Future

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Let’s Go Back to the Future

Last night, on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi‘s birth anniversary, I came across an article titled ‘Where was Gandhiji born? Only 4 out of 10 gave the correct answer.’ [link]

What was the big deal anyway? While my outlook is not even half as non-violent as the Mahatma’s,  I have utmost respect for him.

But for questions like when was someone born, or where? History? I always seemed to have had a problem with History. Beyond doubt, History has a lot to offer us. After all, we cannot afford to figure out, experiment, and make all the mistakes ourselves. Things that have worked, or that haven’t; how lives have evolved, etc. all help us with decisions of today. History also inspires us. It tells us about something that has probably never been done before. Or, that people have tried but have all failed. It indirectly challenges people like you and me to prove History wrong. By knowing what is impossible, we can strive to make it possible.

History #1

On the flip side, I guess we humans also saw in History, that the problem of global warming did not exist till the late 19th century; and unfortunately, we seem to have taken it upon ourselves to change that too.

While growing up, what we were often taught in the name of History, was little short of nothing. I remember being scared before history tests. Struggling to remember dates and events. That is what was most focused upon. Who was someone’s husband or wife; or third wife or fourth husband of the second son or daughter? More confusing than my own family tree, which I still have a lot of trouble figuring out. Or when was this battle fought? Would you care, if you have trouble remembering your own spouse’s birthday. If not for family and friends, I’d probably have forgotten my birthday a long time ago.

History #2

Instead, History is actually a brilliant opportunity to teach children about life, the evolution of life, and so on. Teach them more about various cultures and religions; so that we come to respect cultures and religions better. To cultivate better understanding in them by asking them what they would have done in a similar situations from history. To encourage ideas and challenge children about things that were considered impossible up until now. 

And all the energy and brain-space we would save by not having to remember the ‘whats’ and ‘whens’ of history, can then be focused to understand the ‘why’ and ‘why not’ instead. Isn’t that what the Mahatma did? Change History?

History #3 - lego-gandhi

Image: Link

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The Indian Land Rocket

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The Indian Land Rocket

I recently watched a movie called Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, a biographical based on the early life of ‘The Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh, an Indian track and field sprinter who took the sprinting world by storm in the ’50s and ’60s. He is, according to me, one of the finest heroes the nation has ever produced. ‘Bhaag’ is Hindi for ‘run’, essentially a phrase encouraging Milkha to run.

The movie, was so powerful, I ended up watching it again, two days later. I just had to soak in more of the energy. I hope to write more about the movie soon; soon as I can calm my head from the overwhelming impact of the life of the legend. Milkha Singh’s hard-to-imagine life and his resolve to overcome challenges of unimaginable proportions. A true inspiration.

Anyway, for now, I’ll leave you with this short prayer used in the movie, that is really relaxing to listen to, and has a simple meaning as well.

And yes, I strongly urge you to do whatever it takes to watch the movie. It will change your perspective of life, I assure you that.

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#MilkhaSingh,#TheFlyingSikh,#BMB,#BhaagMilkhaBhaag