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Commoditisation of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

 

So yesterday was Ambedkar Jayanti – a national holiday (on the occasion of his 125th birthday) to mark how instrumental Dr. Ambedkar has been in developing India and for representing dalits.

Let’s first go through what did Dr. Ambedkar do and why do we celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti in the first place and later to how the same has been commoditised.

What did Ambedkar do?

Let me quote from a story I read on Quora by anonymous

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           Once upon a time, In the far-far lands of Middle earth, the species of humans, animals and fairies lived together. Among all, fairies were the strongest, stacked with mythical powers and prowess. All species worshiped the fairies. The far-far land was also called a land of million fairies.

The lands were divided in small states ruled by the human kings and queens. Unless there was some traction between few of these states, the states lived peacefully. For until rulers from others far-far lands came to rage wars upon them and loot their wealth.

As in all other mammal species, the work in humans was divided among different segments in the kingdom. The people were tagged depending upon their work  for ease of identification. And humans in this human society, were identified based on their work. All humans were free to choose there work of interest and pursue it.

All was happy going. People were working, things were progressing, maths was being reinvented, gold was accumulating, temples of the fairies were prospering.

***

But then came the devil dark fairy Evilin. Evilin had the powers to change emotions in a creature of any race, whom she gazed upon at. Soon the far-far lands of middle earth were filled with feelings of Selfishness. It is truly said that none lands can be happy for too long, for them shall be born an evil fairy to corrupt the minds of their creatures and destroy their peace.

Soon the priest of the great temple of Fairies, corrupted by Evilin, banished anyone but the people doing high class work. They closed the gates for the people performing the works of cleaning fields, growing, burrowing as considered lowly by some. To keep the wealth of knowledge only to there offspring’s, to keep the wealth of gold withing the family, devoured by Evilin ,the priests and kings lost their souls.

The chief of temples and kings not only closed the temples gates, but also considered the people not working same job as them as the others. Soon the others were considered trolls and orcs and banished from the main lands of humans to outskirts of the cities and villages. Orcs were the worst hit, banished to enter the main stream and forced to stay in dark forests as forest dueling creatures. The offspring’s of the others were considered others and were not allowed to mingle with normal humans. Such was the strong dark spell cast that it made people blind to apathy of others. Others were mistreated, misused, exploited, and left in their eternal sense of self pity and banished from the lands of knowledge.

The chief goddess fairy said, “The whole world consisted of Humans. I who created you all, the chief Brahma, created you equally.”

     “Neither birth, nor the purification rites, nor learning, nor offspring, can be regarded as grounds for conferring upon one the regenerate status. Its all in the good deeds done by one, and he who shall continue good will constitute me in every part of himself.”

The chief goddess fairy said, “Each man devoted to his own duty, attains perfection and in end meets me.”

But in the midst of Evilins’s devilish mist of selfish clouds, chief priests of the temples and his followers including kings ignored goddess fairies words, manipulated them, and modified them in every new copy of holy manuscripts they created.

Knowledge was scarce, and so was the felling of sharing it.

Generations passed, and knowledge lost and so were the orcs and trolls from the lands of humans. Though created as same beings, humans ostracized the others.

Still the society prospered, though slowly and unequally. And many years later, looking at this wealth came the Whites. In ships and cargoes they came. They came for trade and they came here to trade. But they not only traded, but bought many more and so much that they worshiped Evilin and grew her powers by manifolds. Eviling cast her new learnt spells on all kings and queen and suddenly everyone started fighting in between.

Falling the kings and queen were, cause they were lost. One society of their own banished from mainlands as others, the humans were left but very few. Soon the resistance fell to the Whites and they started ruling humans and giving them same treatment as humans had ruled Orcs and Trolls for centuries !

Humans started complaining and rising again and again. For even one century they could not take this banishment and treatment faced to them by the Whites. Forgetting, the treatment they did to the troll and orcs as others.

After years of breaking their bones, leaving them to die without food, malnourished, collecting heavy taxes, bringing droughts, finally the white’s decided to leave back to their lands.

Humans were happy that they will finally be free. They had never seen same feelings as what The Others felt for many centuries. A feeling even worse than slaves.

The far-far land of Middle Earth was being reconstructed. And this time arose a great leader of The Others, (whom everyone hates) and created the Holy Grail by which all men, women of the Far-Far land of Middle Earth will be ruled upon and must follow to treat every fellow humans equally.

He brought reforms for Women !
He brought reforms for Education !
He brought the Great Land Reforms !
He formed the Great Reserve Bank of India ! (finance commission of India)
He got the state of Kashmir as an integral part of India (article 370 ) !
He was a reputed scholar or his times and remains still !
He followed the Noblest Fairy Spirit of “Buddha” and his principles !
He was the first Indian to pursue Economics degree abroad!
Spilling the seeds of Industrialization and agriculture industry growth!
Stressed on money spending on Agriculture to feed the billion people of India as primary action of Govt of Free India.
Land revenue, tax and excise duty policy.
And many others.

His scholar degrees included :- M.A, PhD, DSc, Bar-at-Law, LLD

He set the seed for building a free, equal India, not only for Gender-equality, but for caste, community, prosperity, education equality.

      He envisioned to make people believe in their thoughts and dreams. He envisioned to bring those dreams to life because no state, no community, no ruler has the rights to kill the dreams of a children, born a girl or a boy, born a untouchable or a touchable, born a black or a white, born on land or on water, born in hut or a palace, but the child himself. And this child is the future of this far-far land in the middle earth.

Why do we celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti?

I’d like to refer to the answer by Ashish Shete on Quora:

1. The conditions of oppressed classes were really worse back then. You sure are underestimating what being Untouchable meant in India. Here is an account what Dr. Ambedkar faced as a little school boy –

 

Although able to attend school, Ambedkar and other untouchable children were segregated and given little attention or assistance by the teachers. They were not allowed to sit inside the class. Even if they needed to drink water, someone from a higher caste would have to pour that water from a height as they were not allowed to touch either the water or the vessel that contained it. This task was usually performed for the young Ambedkar by the school peon, and if the peon was not available then he had to go without water; the situation he later in his writings described as “No peon, No Water”.[20] He was required to sit on a gunny sack which he had to take home with him.[21]


After reading this, could you relate yourself as “Modern Day Untouchable”. You may want to invent a new word for your feelings.

2. You are only seeing him as someone who worked for the untouchables.
No.. try to read wiki page of Dr. Ambedkar. The man was a genius. He had 4 doctorates from top notch colleges in the US and England. Despite of his hardships, he made his way from the bottom tiers of society to the elites. Without Reservations. Isn’t that remarkable?

Ambedkar was a prolific student, earning a law degree and various doctorates fromColumbia University and the London School of Economics, and gained a reputation as a scholar for his research in law, economics and political science. In his early career he was an economist, professor, and lawyer.


3. He was a patriot. He was active in Independence movement and played crucial role in drafting key laws. We all know what a mess Kashmir issue is today.
Ambedkar opposed Article 370 in the Constitution, which gives a special status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and it was put against his wishes.

Balraj Madhok reportedly said, Ambedkar had clearly told Sk. Abdullah: “You wish India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains, and Kashmir should get equal status as India. But Government of India should have only limited powers and Indian people should have no rights in Kashmir. To give consent to this proposal, would be a treacherous thing against the interests of India and I, as the Law Minister of India, will never do it.” Then Sk. Abdullah went to Nehru, who directed him to Gopal Swami Ayyangar, who approached Sardar Patel asking him to do something as it was a matter of prestige of Nehru, who has promised Sk. Abdullah accordingly. Patel got it passed when Nehru was on foreign tour. On the day this article came up for discussion, Ambedkar did not reply to questions on it though he did participate on other articles. All arguments were done by Krishna Swami Ayyangar.


4. He also worked for betterment of Indian women; not only Dalit women but Muslims and Hindus too. He was a strong proponent of  gender equality in the laws of inheritance and marriage. Drafted Hindu Code Bill, which gave equal rights to the women heirs in the ancestral property.

5. I totally agree with you that the root cause of Brain drain in India is Reservations.
But, blaming Dr.Ambedkar for that isn’t fair. Every man has limitations, so did Dr. Ambedkar. He might have not foreseen the full repercussions of reservation system back then. Or he did, but later the vote bank politics screwed up his vision.
I don’t have any proof of this but I have heard this several times that Dr.Ambdekar wanted the reservations to fade away slowly. He had initially made the provisions for 20-30 years, not more than that.
Also, he didn’t show hatred against the higher castes. In fact, in his venture of achieving equality in society many persons from higher castes made their contribution. Shahu of Princely state of Kolhapur, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad were amongst those people.

6. I feel sorry for people who live in the cities and think that ‘practice of untouchability’ has been totally eradicated from India. No.. far from truth.
Still, people mention castes. Marriage in lower caste? you are a blot on the family name. Still some people deliberately avoid breaking bread with persons of scheduled castes.
This is a account of my friend who went to his village for day or two to meet his grandparents –

“Some of my cousins and I was wandering in the fields and we went quite far from our home. It was hot summer afternoon and we desperately wanted to have some water. We went to nearby house and asked for water. The lady at the house asked where we came from. I pointed out our house. She understood that we’d come from Maharwada ( Mahar commune). She brought the water and made us drink it with cupped hands while she poured it from some height. She didn’t want us to touch the vessel. I felt like crap.”

Now, why my friend did not oppose this, is a question for another day. Maybe he didn’t want to create a scene there.
I was shocked to know about this incidence from him. India has long way to go before untouchability is completely finished.

In conclusion, Dr.Ambedkar was a genius, visionary, patriot, reformer and a brave heart who tried to break shackles of untouchability. We celebrate his charisma and his values which we still are trying to achieve.

Celebration of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s 125th Birthday in Mumbai

I was on my way back home from Ghatkopar West to Ghatkopar East in the evening. The road passes through three huge slums on the way.

I turn off the radio and pull up the window glasses as I pass through the first slum. The slum shines in innumerable floodlights put up on the trees and the music raging from the loudspeakers is deafening. People are dancing on the streets to beats of typical item songs. There is a huge banner of a local politician paying his homage to Dr. Ambedkar and beneath it is a huge rack on which a buffet has been arranged for the slum members by the politician. There is a makeshift kitchen just beside the place where they defecate openly where meat is being cooked in a huge vessel by a huge man in his vest and dhoti sweating profusely in darkness. The energy, excitement and hope of the slum members as they wait in queue for this food is unexplainable.

As I proceed ahead, I pass through another slum settlement which has been decorated with chinese lanterns and waterfalls have been installed on the street along with huge rangolis and banners. This arrangement is done by a different politician. The music and food arrangement and type is the same. They offer free bhang to every passerby too!

The situation is so incongruent with the ideology of the man in whose honour they are celebrating the day! I wonder how Babasaheb Ambedkar would feel if he saw what was being done under his name. The essence of his fight has been commoditised and reduced to address the mere purpose of vote banks!

I’d like to urge everyone to revisit his ideology and work hard to progress ahead in life.

baba4486

 

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Home Ministry takes sabbatical

 

It happened on Saturday, 2nd January 2016.

Mom and dad had gone out of town with their friends to Dharampur, Gujarat – for a long due reunion; on their way to sunset point, mom twisted her left leg while walking down the second last step on the way and her entire body weight fell on it. She realised it was something bigger than a sprain. Unable to move her numb ankle, she sat on a chair and dad’s friends took turns to carry the chair up the steps where the cars were parked. After enquiring around, they drove back to Dharampur and got an X Ray done – it was a huge crack.

After talking to our family orthopedist and sharing the X Ray images, he advised dad to leave for Mumbai immediately or get a temporary plaster to support the ankle. It was 9.00 PM and Mumbai was 230 kilometres (roughly six hours) away. Luckily, there was a small hospital in the surrounding area where plaster was done. Friends acted as a huge support throughout the entire day. I got a call from dad informing what had happened; I cleaned the home before they arrived next morning.

They left Dharampur next morning and directly drove towards the orthopedist’s clinic where I was waiting for them. After a quick round of examination and applying proper plaster, the doctor mentioned how bad it was – mom had to be operated within ten days and an iron rod was to be attached to support the ankle on one side and two screws on the other. We had to wait for ten days for the swelling to reduce.

We got her home, lifting her through the stairs. It took time for mom to understand the repercussions. She was in a state of shock! As she rested on the bed, suddenly, it dawned upon me – mom had taken her first vacation since the time I was born! (24 long years!!) And it was going to be a three-four month sabbatical.

First fortnight was the most difficult – we had to deal with the fact that mom was on a holiday. She found herself quite helpless and bored to the core – she was on bedrest and the pain was too much, painkillers subdued it, until it kicked back in. As we arranged for various maids to take care of her, cook and clean the house, managing them became my responsibility. And, it was a task!!

Dad and I had a hard time figuring things out. It was the first time we had taken on household responsibilities. We didn’t have to do much, only things which were not allocated to maids – like warming milk, making yogurt, preparing tea in the morning and serving food during breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to guests. Dad used to help with morning chores, I did the rest.

In the first week, things didn’t go quite well – milk would be spilled, curd wouldn’t set properly, tea didn’t taste that right, running behind the maids drove me mad. A phase came when I would pray every morning that all maids showed up on time and completed their work without any arguments. As days advanced, this became routine and we learnt how to manage things better. Mom was pleasantly surprised with our improved skills.

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After the successful operation, we got her back home; she wasn’t yet given permission to walk; but she could now use the washroom with the help of a walker. She was delighted with the little freedom the doctor had bestowed upon her.

 

Finally, on a lazy Friday, all three maids decided to mass bunk and I had to step into various shoes. Right from helping mom to cooking food and washing clothes in the washing machine to cleaning home. This was the first time I realised the amount of work that has to be done at home. I was astonished how did mom manage all of this on her own for so many years!

I learnt how to make pasta and under her guidance made spinach pasta and sandwiches for the first time. They were delicious – I felt pride when I tasted the pasta. It was perfect – it’s another story that mom helped me with spices and salt content.

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World’s best Pasta! 😀

As I sat there eating pasta along with mom, the spin-cycle sound of the washing machine played in the background. That’s when I wondered – this was the first time I had used the washing machine, it was not that difficult a task as compared to other household chores. If I had a sister, she would have been expected to do all these chores without any appreciation. Since I was doing them, I got praises from mom and guests who came to meet her.

That’s when I realised – where we have failed as a society! A woman is expected to do all household chores in addition to her job without expecting any support from the male members. This mentality has been put into our mindset since childhood. Why is it so?

I learnt all these activities out of compulsion – otherwise I wouldn’t have got present to the amount of time household chores take. Will this type of attitude help the society progress? Especially when women today are equally aspirational and also work like men.

Doing household work made me really appreciate my mom and I feel utmost gratitude for the kind of unconditional love she has kept giving me throughout these years without expecting anything in return! I’m missing food cooked by her like anything, the cook doesn’t add love in her recipes!

Also, I’ve decided to support her henceforth in every small way possible – be it washing utensils, serving food, washing the clothes etc. It’s not what work you do that counts, but your attitude of helping that matters the most. And with time, I’ll keep learning more.

I conclude this post with the following image. Do you feel anything wrong about it? Then it’s time to work on it.

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I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.

The Shy Girl and her Tree Plantation Drive

She gets down from the cab in the afternoon adjusting her scarf to protect her face as she hands over the exact change for the ride and rushes towards the footpath. One look on the screen notifications as she paces towards her office premises – she has an air of urgency around her; the music playing in the headphones block all the noise around and help her be in a different world – a world of silence, solitude and soft melody. Soon, she crosses a signal and is about to enter the entrance of the building her office is located in. Another look on the screen notifications and she slams the phone in her tote bag along with her head phones; searching for her glare case to shove her glares into.

She passes by the watchman and they exchange a warm smile; greetings are so not her! Shit, another day when I couldnt even wish mama on the entrance – tomorrow I’m doing it definitely, she resolves. The lift arrives and she presses the desired floor number. She is running 15 minutes late to work, but is sure she wouldnt be noticed missing. As she enters the reception and passes by the receptionist, she has a grave look of fear on her face – she keeps repeating to herself she isn’t good with conversations and people do not notice her. Satisfied and proven right with her thinking, she walks down the corridor and sheepishly sits down in her cubicle, saying a soft ‘hi’ to her bestie across the floor.  No one else has noticed her coming in!

Two hours into work; she loves what she does and is good at it. Her work is her holy grail – her passion; her motivation to help her get through the day. She is eying promotion as the third quarter appraisals are about to take place but the very idea of asking for a promotion sends chills down her spine.

Suddenly she comes across an article on the depleting forest cover across India and increasing need for citizens to start planting trees for sustainability. As she sips over her cappuccino, something strange happens – everything  slows down 5x – people walking on the corridor seem like a slow motion feature film, she can see the file being dropped by her colleague about to touch the floor, the office phones are ringing hysterically but slowly, the noise of the printer, keyboard keys being punched rythmically, gossip happening over the water cooler, news channel blabbering stuff on the television. Five seconds and it all stops. She is still there, right in her cubicle but there is pin drop silence! She takes a sip of her coffee and decides to do something about aforestation. She thinks about a land full of trees planted by her and how they’ll grow over years! She is enigmatic!!

Excited, she gets up from her cubicle to share the idea across with all her colleagues. Each step she takes, she is hit by 10x noise leaving her dumbfounded and hallucinating! Her mind indulges her into various conversations, ‘How can I share this idea and get trees planted? I cannot even greet my colleagues or mama at the gate! I’m a perfectionist and good at what I do, but I am not good with people – I’ll do this on my own – but I want to make this big – I want everyone to align for this and make it a grand tree plantation drive – But will I be able to do it?!’ Suddenly, she controls her mind and stops those thoughts arriving at a decision – I’m going to make this happen, I’ll raise Rs. 10,000 for the saplings and invite people to be a part of this project!!

It was that moment that transformed her life forever!

After some research, she created her pitch for selling this through – and it was awesome; she was in media after all and that was her day to day work! She printed that pitch and filed it; only to be opened after a fortnight accidentally. The thoughts of inability and fear gripped her again, but she was not going to back down – she checked up some NGOs who work in the field of aforestation and got in touch with Upasana NGO to plant trees in a newly opened school for tribal kids in Vasai. So now she had a venue and a partner; all she needed was participation of people to make this dream come true!

Discussing it with people was where the struggle started – the idea was good and was going to work – but she would have to approach and talk to people for sapling and money donations! She took this task head on and with zeal. In conversation with first colleague, her colleague could feel her passion for aforestation and was totally in for the noble cause! Those five minutes seemed like forever, but after that, a huge bridge was created between them. She opened up a bit that day and felt good about it. That made her realise how wrong she is about herself – I’m not an introvert; I’ve just not given myself enough chances to talk to and be with people. I’m now opening my life for others to contribute to it!

The first conversation was tough, but it happened. After that she kept going on, one conversation at a time and found it pretty easy to do! She just found herself to be unstoppable. Other people realised how creative and lively she was and donated for her cause.

Three days to the scheduled tree plantation drive and she was yet to reach her target of Rs. 10,000. She had exhausted all people she was fine with trying talking to. She mustered the strength and approached her building friends and relatives to chip in!

The night before the drive, she had fulfilled her target and slept in peace, waiting for the sun to rise next day. She had made surprise arrangements for the donors and friends who were going to accompany her to the site.

She met her friends at Vasai, they bought a truck full of saplings with the money collected and gathered in the backyard of the school. School kids looked at them with excitement and curiosity. The NGO of Upasana made a shallow broad planting hole in the soil and asked her to initiate the plantation drive. She placed the sapling inside the hole, covering it gently with soil in a firm manner and watered the sapling. She placed a name tag in the shape of a leaf on the sapling stem – It read ‘Deepa’.

Soon, other friends started planting the saplings and Deepa helped them. She had named each tree on the basis of donors who had contributed for the cause. There was a gleam of joy in her eyes as she stood there imagining a fully grown trees in front of her. Today, she had made an impact in the world- created a better future!

Note – This is a true story of a plantation drive carried out by Deepa Zakade in Tungareshwar Academy Highschool for Tribal kids, Vasai. Deepa is born and brought up in Mumbai. She completed her BMS from Tolani college of commerce and presently works as a media planner and buyer in Lodestar Media Agency. She loves singing and has trained in Indian Classical Music. Music is her energy booster! Her community project helped her get out of the label she had tagged herself with – ‘introvert’ and remove it forever! Talking to various people about her dream helped her discover more things about herself and in the process transform her listening. She believes and requests each one of us to stand for a cause and do it without any doubts!

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Deepa Zakade, with her sapling!
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A sapling with my name!!!

You can check out more such inspiring stories at http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/

Year in Review – Tales of 2015!!

2015 was a roller coaster ride for me! Right from finishing things begun earlier to starting newer things; I did a lot of things for the first time, started inclining gradually up the learning curves; made loads of new friends and discovered newer interests!! I call 2015 as the year of self discovery – I got more persistent in being in inquiry (which was a struggle) and came to know more about myself! I thank each and every one of you readers for being a part of this amazing journey! Here is a fourteen pointer listicle to summarise 2015 along with lots of collages!!
1. CA Convocation & First Half Marathon
Running the half marathon for the first time, getting my Chartered Accountant Degree in Convocation
Running the half marathon for the first time, getting my Chartered Accountant Degree in Convocation
2015 began on a high note – One year after clearing CA examinations and applying for membership, we had our convocation in January. It was a great ceremony; I’ve always awaited this moment when I’d get to wear the graduation cloak and hat and throw it in the air (throwing the hat in the air part didn’t happen though :P). With the convocation, one of the biggest journeys of my life – of being a CA student came to an end and a new journey of being a student of life began!
After practising for two weeks with a do or die attitude, I ran my very first half marathon in Jan 2015 and completed it in 3 hours, 3 minutes. Running the half marathon was an enriching experience – there are so many people out there who do their best in supporting you throughout the route! And believe me, its the best way to see Mumbai – you get to listen to its heart beat in the spirit of every runner and the encouraging words and cheering of all Mumbaikars. It makes you feel a part of a bigger community – everyone is out there to support you to the finish line!
2. Weddings & 2015
 
2015 was a year of weddings – I attended 8 weddings of close friends and cousins! Here are some pictures I could get my hands on –  
Pranav weds Shetal
Pranav weds Shetal
My best friend Pranav got married to Shetal; the best thing about it being we are great friends since 5 long years – we were interning together at a CA firm! It was one of the most coveted event for years – the fun we had preparing for the sangeet performance is beyond words!  
Arpit weds Vidhu
Arpit weds Vidhu
Another fellow colleague from the place we interned got hitched and had a spectacular wedding in Ajmer! It was the first time I attended a marwadi wedding – which is generally after sunset!  
Pratik weds Dhwani
Pratik weds Dhwani
Pratik, a friend from school days tied the knot with Dhwani and became another martyr :P. It was a dream wedding – they both make a terrific couple together and we had a lot of fun being around them during these two days – the pictures say it all!  
Hardip weds Maitri
Hardip weds Maitri
My cousin Hardip married Maitri in Ahmedabad and it was one of the best cousins time we had. Fortunately, everyone was able to make it and we had a blast time together – we met each other after a span of 10 years! From crazy pics to non-stop laughter sessions – we had them all. Inspite of the geographic and time distances, we got glue to each other and the cousin gang got a whole lot bigger this year!
Mother's Day!
Mother’s Day!
Along with the wedding celebrations, we also celebrated Mother’s Day with all our cousins and moms – each one of us held our moms and walked around the society with pride and joy – Watching the happiness on faces of all moms was one of the best moments of 2015!
3. Family Celebrations & 2015
Silver Jubilee Celebrations
Silver Jubilee Celebrations
We started the year on an awesome note – with my mama and mami (mom’s brother and sister-in-law) completing 25 years of togetherness and celebrating it. Deciding on theme of Nehru jackets, planning for dance performances and impromptu gujarati garbas during the orchestra was fun!
Manasvi's Arangetram
Manasvi’s Arangetram
Manasvi, 13, our youngest cousin, performed her Arangetram and it was a sight to behold.  Looking at her dance on the stage put all of my cousins down the memory lane – it just felt a couple of years ago when we held her in our hands when she was born! Youngest ones grow the fastest! An ode to her performance –
Let time freeze in the theatre of darkness,
Illuminate us with the inner radiance you harness.
Lose yourself in the expressions, melody and rhythm,
For we’ll see poetry in motion!!
Diwali, Birthdays and more
Diwali, Birthdays and more
This was one of the rare years when my family was home to celebrate Diwali; thanks to our unplanned spiritual sojourn to Sammed Skhikharji right after that. Diwali pujan is one of my favourite Diwali day – the importance of poojan being conveyed and followed since childhood.

4. Academics & 2015

Clearing CFA Level II was a much anticipated expectation from 2015. Achieving it has made me all the more determined to give my best to the ultimate level in 2016.

5. Friends & 2015

Dancing, Holi, Makar Sankrant, Ganeshotsav, CA Parties!!!
Dancing, Holi, Makar Sankrant, Ganeshotsav, CA Parties!!!
2015 was a year of impromptu meets, celebrations, sharing of happiness and more! It was also the year when most of our planned things didn’t work out 😛 but our bonds strengthened further with time.
Bday
It was the first year I went on a self planned night trek for my birthday with a couple of crazy friends and we have an awesome story to tell – we got lost, never made it to the trek point, took a detour and finally camped at a place we realised we wont be able to walk further from – but it was beautiful – with a surprise cake which fitted in a backpack, music to make our hearts skip a beat and millions of stars above us – the shooting stars were the icing on the cake followed by the magnificient sunrise! 😉
Partying together in full Quorum!
Partying together in full Quorum!
6. Trekking & 2015
We did three back to back treks every weekend in August; out of which one was planned and organised by my friend and myself for 17 college friends! Trekking has been one of the most inspiring and rewarding activities I’ve discovered. Waiting for monsoon showers to hit the mountains and chasing the greenery has made me fitter and happier and left me with a broader perspective! Infact, it has called out the photographer and travel blogger in me to share my experience with friends and motivate them to do it. You can read the following blog posts on various treks I did in 2015 – KalsubaiDudhsagar FallsHarishchandragad and Gorakhgad. Here are some pictures!  
Kalsubai Dobara!
Kalsubai Dobara!
The Story of a Princess, her virtue and modesty!
The Story of a Princess, her virtue and modesty!
Flag Hoisting at 3994 feet!
Flag Hoisting at 3994 feet!

RIP my Black and Yellow wind cheater – we spent a short but adventurous time together! 😛

Sunkissed at Gorakhgad!
Sunkissed at Gorakhgad!
7. Travel & 2015 
Ooty & Coorg Diaries with family
Ooty & Coorg Diaries with family
We had awesome family in June in Ooty & Coorg! Both are beautiful places to visit in South.  Being a kid once again with cousins was fun – right from playing school games to fighting like kids! Check 5 things to do in Ooty here and my road trip experience from Ooty to Coorg here (Where road romances the sky).
Ganapatipule
Ganapatipule
This was followed by a vacation with friends in Ganapatipule on 2nd and 3rd October (do the dates ring a bell :P) – clean water, beautiful beaches and miraculous sunsets!!
 
8. Spiritual Journey to the Heart of India 
Finding the I in me!
Finding the I in me!
Sammed Shikharji in central India is one of the places which holds a lot of significance for Jains – 20 out out 24 Tirthankars ( Jain Monks) attained nirvana or salvation meditating in those range of mountains over various centuries thousands of years ago. Jains ensure to visit this place of purity at least once in their lifetime.
The trip happened in a jiffy and we are extremely happy it happened to us – some last moment cancellations for the trip, some phone calls from family members persuading us to come along and after getting a green signal from the doctor to go, my parents and I got to be part of this special caravan along with 1000 other like minded people. Doing this jatra together is easier as it is difficult to plan a 12 day trip there on your own without knowing much of history or which places to visit.  
With all my friends!
With all my friends!
This trip got me present to so many things in life I take for granted – my parents, family, community, body and I’m now grateful for everything around me – right from my conditioning to small things which have helped me be who I am. I learned a lot of new things about Jainism and also made new friends for life! People I met on this spiritual sojourn were filled with knowledge and were willing to share it with me!
 
9. Navratri & 2015
Coincidentally appearing at item number 9 is Navratri – one of the most colourful festivals of India where lakhs of people dance to a mixture of traditional gujarati folk songs and bollywood songs! This festival which was a society to society affair has been commercialised totally – but its still fun. From learning how to participate in competitions to winning one; from competing to creating a group – participating in 2015 Navratri competition opened up a lot of things for me. You can read more about it here.
Participating in competitions with my group!
Participating in competitions with my group!
This year Navratri was also about experimenting beyond my comfort zone – we competed in three different locations – generally I play only in one area – and learned different things from different places. Late night hang outs, hunger kicks and hogging at joints which remained open specifically during navratri for people like us – I’ll miss everything about it!
Fun with friends!
Fun with friends!
10. Blogging & 2015
 
We write, therefore you are!
We write, therefore we are!
2015 was a year of lots of seminars and events to attend and learn; make new friends, read their blogs, interact and exchange ideas and create models to take blogs ahead! 2015 got me my highest views and hits till date – especially on trekking articles. Blogging is still like a rabbit hole to me where I’m yet to immerse completely; and I’m happy with where I am at the moment. 😉
11. Movies, Series & 2015
Tamasha and Manjhi the mountain man were the best Bollywood movies of 2015. Other mentionable movies include – Baby, Gabbar is Back, Baahubali the Beginning, Drishyam, Badlapur, Piku. 
Inside Out (a must watch animation movie!), The Martian, Avengers – Age of Ultron, The Intern were creative stories.
Quantico was a surprise to me – Priyanka Chopra has done an awesome job and the story is gripping! Game of Thrones, Person of Interest, House of Cards, Da Vinci’s Demons, Fargo, Castle, Big Bang Theory, Shark Tank did good too! Suits, Arrow were disappointing. All said, FRIENDS still is one of the best TV series to binge watch – it is like wine, gets better with age! 😉
 
12. Year of Adding Value
My close friend decided to do Kashmir Great Lakes trek and enrolled 8 of his friends to do the same after reading my experience! It was their first trek!This was later followed by another close friend going on his first trek to Kuari with four friends in Dec 2015. This reiterated the power of writing and the purpose of my blog! Receiving feedback from various friends after going through my articles on travel and trekking made me write more of them to make a difference; glad my blogging was of help – I take pride in saying my writing facilitated close to 50 people to go ahead and try trekking – a whole new world opened up for them and there is no feeling to describe the happiness I get when I listen to what all they accomplished out of this!
13. Experimenting & 2015 
The excitement of doing something you've never done before!
The excitement of doing something you’ve never done before!
Right from growing a beard and shaping it :P, to running, learning hip hop, rediscovering the joy of cycling with free hands, teaching and starting to learn photography and movie making – 2015 was a year of experimenting!! It made me rekindle my curiosity and reaffirm the power of knowledge! Also, it made me feel so tiny and humbled as compared to the magnanimity of mother nature – If earth is an art, a photographer is only a witness, that too restricted to a particular frame! I thank all my friends who allowed me into their worlds and through them I got access to these activities.
14. Vulnerability & 2015 
2015 is the year in which I let others add value to me – this happened after I learned to be vulnerable. You wont get what you want unless you ask for it; put your neck on the line, take ownership and give it your best shot – things are bound to move – people will act the way you want them to. Actions form an extremely important aspect to outcomes – be it success or failure; whether right or wrong I feel deciding and acting is still better than being at the place where you’re just thinking!!
Things lined up for 2016
Bring it on!!
Bring it on!!
I’m extremely excited for 2016 – Bucket list includes learning spanish, cycling from Manali to Leh, backpacking North East India and Europe, starting a travel blog, learn a bit about human behaviour and psychology, meeting passionate people who made a career out of their passion and share their stories on Passion Diaries. Also, I’d be watching Kung Fu Panda III and Baahubali the End – finally we’ll get to know why Katappa killed Baahubali; also the fate of John Snow in Game of Thrones!!
A big thank you to my readers for being my motivators and critiques. It is empowering to know what I’m writing is creating an impact. If this post helps you plan your 2016, my job here is done!!
PS – “I’m sharing my #TalesOf2015 with BlogAdda.”

The Power of Togetherness

Remember the last time you played together in a group? Be it anywhere, your office, sports, family matters etc. When it was about getting to know each other more and playing the best as a group rather than proving who is better. I believe in being unique; as much as that is important, so is being with each other. I experienced something magical this week – the power of togetherness. Read on…

Navratri is one of my favourite festivals – Nine nights of worshipping goddesses in various forms and colours – we dance in circles around a holy pot – called ‘Garbo’. These nine nights are followed by Dussera – the day Lord Ram killed the bad qualities of Ravana and freed him.

Navratri has been commercialised in Mumbai in last decade – with political affiliates hosting the same in huge grounds.

This is the second year when I participated in the competition round. Last year was like how any other competition would be – fierce. Everybody was on his / her own. There were many separate groups and everyone was busy in outdoing the other.

Enter this year and things changed  360 degrees! Based on whatsapp group I made last year, I got to know my competitors post navratri  and as time passed, they became acquaintances. Three months ago, there was a garba class starting in Ghatkopar teaching advanced techniques. After discussion in the group, we decided to enrol together and it was the best decision for us. By meeting each other once every week, these acquaintances became friends. There’s nothing more empowering than meeting like minded people.

Friends who joined Garba Classes together
Friends who joined Garba Classes together

As six days of competition passed, we got to know each other and came more and more closer. And the group kept getting bigger. We played together in a circle, doing steps everyone was comfortable with. Midnight dinners and bike rides was fun! Everyday one of us got qualified for the finals – we supported each other and made our own steps. We even named our group – SELFIEE :P. That’s coz one of our group members is a fan of clicking selfies; for her clicking selfies is like doing prayer before and after an important event – a must!! 😛

The extended group
The extended group

On Day 5 we won the best group award in Powai. It was an awesome feeling! Everyone was at their best, but there was no competition, just being in the space together and having fun! I got my friend Suraj for the first time to play garba in his life and he killed it with the help from everyone in the group!

By end of Day 7, everyone barring me had qualified for the finals. I had rather been inconsistent in showing up everyday at same ground, as I went out with other friends to other places too. While having dinner, Dharmesh said, tomorrow you are going to win the best male dancer and get qualified for the finale. I never expected the same from myself – coz for me competing was for fun – it was a way of self expression and being with friends – and I always thought its great if I make it, but its good even if I don’t.

So Dharmesh and all others decided that I’ll be winning Day 8 of the competition. I found it rather hard to believe – since  dust allergy had deteriorated my health and cough was killing my stamina – in spite of being on 5 days of medication. But the group’s persistence made me believe something I myself didn’t believe would happen this year.

Day 8

All set to play my best!
All set to play my best!

Sunil picked me up from home and gave me tips wrt keeping smiling while playing and keeping the grace quotient consistent throughout. Mansi, Dharmesh helped me choose the right things to wear – from colour to jewellery. Varun constantly kept reminding to be energetic.  The moment I entered the ground and filled the competition form, I knew this was it! My friends are going to make me win and I trust their trust in me. They see a much better me than what me I see in myself. I’m going to be that me today.

I started playing in the circle, everyone joined me and supported me whenever I changed the steps, although some of the steps wasn’t their forte. That helped me put my best in front of the judges. Rest of the group ensured there was space in the circle, not allowing passers by to get in between. Every time I passed through Kenil and Sonal, they gestured to be in peace, take it easy and just enjoy myself. Hardika, Herisha and Dhaval would join in whenever they felt I needed some boost of energy. They would come in, do some bollywood or salsa steps with me. Btw try doing salsa on garba songs, its insane fun!

Dancing with them  made me forget my cough, I felt a rush of adrenaline and unbounded happiness to a point where I couldn’t listen to the words being sung, just dancing on the music. I was in the circle with my friends and everything that happened outside of it didn’t matter anymore!

They left no stone unturned to bring out the best in me. That’s the joy of togetherness; the power of a group! When I won the prize, it wasn’t for me, but it was for the group! Our group won that day!

After winning the competition
After winning the competition

Today we all are dancing together in the mega finals (Day 10) !! I’m super excited to be back in my group and give my best in it! Winning and losing is a part of the game, but being together through the journey, there’s nothing like it! This doesn’t seem like an ending, but rather a new beginning!

Lets rock it today!
Jai Mata Di! Lets Rock! 😀

PS The final competition was amazing! So many group members won best dancer award!!! Attaching some pics as per public demand!

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Selfie group in the finale!
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Our prop in the centre
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With the awards
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With Sunil - best dancer!
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One for the snapstory! With Hardika
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Varun - Midday best dancer winner
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Celebrating Dhaval and Herishas bday
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With Mansi, Sonal, Kenil
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The one with the prop!

In the Moment!

 

Memories of our childhood bring joy on our face,

I was riding my bicycle with pace…

Then came an apocalypse where nothing mattered

I was free, I raised my hands; above all chatter!

Childhood memory of driving through Mumbai streets hands free!
Childhood memory of driving through Mumbai streets hands free!

Today was an amazing day! I came back home from work. Put aside everything, cleaned my bicycle and got it repaired.  It had been ages since I rode it.

My bicycle has been my companion from secondary high school to IPCC classes, so almost about 8 years, with gradually bigger models. I get enchanted by the mere thought of cycling as it has formed an integral part of my life. I used to cycle to school, college tuitions, IPCC classes, run errands for home, go to a friend’s place with it. Basically, everywhere I went locally, I used cycle for commuting.

During school days, what I loved doing the most was cycling fast down a slope and the moment the slope would end, leave my hands off the handle and raise them in the air – like the world is mine and I’m the world! That feeling was a feeling of possibility. In that moment, I could be anything I wanted to be.

When I joined classes for CA Final, I had to start going by rick as the classes were far away and from there I had to run for my internship using public transport. So the cycle always lay chained to the window grill. Often, as weekends passed, I would promise myself – I’ll start cycling regularly. However, it never happened. Many a times, out of moments of absolute resolve like the one I had today, I would get clean it and get it repaired, but end up not using it for a ride.

Off late I’ve been making efforts to ride it atleast twice a week. Today was one such night. I rode it to catch up with a couple of friends passing through floodlit streets (thanks to Ganeshotsav festival in Mumbai – Ganapati Bappa Morya) listening to my favourite music – Coldplay hits, Arijit Singh hits and other soft songs.

Then came a point where I felt like trying leaving my hands off the handle. The first thought which hit me was – ‘ Are you mad!? You havent done it since six years, you cannot do it. You dont have it in you anymore’ I also believed it and continued to drive normally. Then I realised things like these hold me back for years. If I already know something, it’ll be there with me, I cannot forget a skill. And the only downside was falling down on the ground – there was no-one on the streets late night and it was completely safe.

So began a quest to relive my childhood memory. The next song which started was Arijit Singh’s ‘Saawali Si Raat’ (from the movie Barfi) and it totally gripped me. I got my body in sync with the cycle movements, consciously left my hands, but kept them just one inch above the handle, close enough to take control if anything untoward happened. I managed. The song reiterated the environment around – dark night, quiet roads, and me talking to my inner – self! I kept retrying it and managed to get a grip of it. Yay, I still had it in me!! The moment that thought occured, it empowered me as I left my hands and extended them in the air, hugging the winds and being one with the environment. In that moment, there was no past or future, no good or bad, no right or wrong; just me being one with the universe! I felt complete, yet infinite…I felt alive…

Digitizing India, Digitizing Governance II

This is the second part of the two series article on Digitizing India, Digitizing Governance. To read the first part click here.

Government can bring in ease of use and accountability through technology by making an E-Sahaaytaa portal for consumers and business.

Digitizing Governance through E-Sahaaytaa

E-Sahaaytaa for Citizens

E-Sahaaytaa portal can act as a one stop solution for any interaction to be done with the government.  Government can change the way it operates, treat citizens as customers and work towards customer satisfaction. It should have the following facilities –

  1. Application for/ changes to be made in
    • Voter’s ID card,
    • driving licence,
    • PAN card
    • TIN No
    • Directors’ Identification Number
    • Passport Application – scheduling date and time of appointment online
    • Birth Certificate / Death Certificate
    • Refund of Income Tax
    • Vehicle registration
    • Redevelopment of building / Creation of a society
    • Filing disclosures with Registrar of Companies
    • Marriage Certificate
    • Drinks Permit
    • Firearm permit
    • Permits for BMC licences for small shopkeepers etc
  2. Filing petition under Right to Information Act,
  3. Link to Employee Provident Fund portal to check balance in that account
  4. Details of attendance of government employees
  5. Filing a complaint against government employees
  6. Status of projects carried on in citizen’s ward, email ID of person responsible for the project completion
  7. Linking Medical History of Citizens to UID for better administration in case of emergencies
  8. Lodging of an FIR – Police can later call/ meet the citizen and validate the FIR
  9. Payment of Stamp duty on property
  10. A link to make direct payments online etc

How will it work – Setting up a Structure

The portal will act as a frontal for all government related services. Government will have to map various services it offers to respective departments and process for approving or working on requests.Once a citizen logs in a request / complaint, and pays the necessary amount, if required; a ticket/ reference number will be raised and the ticket will move to the workflow of the mapped department – any of the authorised checkers can pick up the ticket from the workflow and work on it. The best thing about this online portal is escalation and grievance redressal via online monitoring of turn around time

For example, if a citizen logs in a request for application of PAN card, it will reach the workflow of PAN division. From there, it will be picked up by an authorised government employee and worked on. The employee can either approve or reject the request giving reasons online. Once he takes an action, it will go in the workflow of the checker (higher authority) who will check details and give approval. The moment it is approved/rejected, citizen will be notified via email and reference number will be closed. If it is rejected for lack of particular documents, citizen can attach those and re-open the ticket. It will follow the same flow again. To ensure timely addressal of requests, each stage will be allotted a particular time. For example, the maker has to check the documents within 4 days of receiving the request. On the fifth day, it will automatically be escalated to his supervisor.

Benefits

  1. Online record of Turn Around Time – Transparency
  2. Automatic Escalation in case where action isn’t taken by the allotted employee
  3. Convenience to the citizens – Ease of Use
  4. Audit trail to monitor efficiency of government employees – Accountability

E-Sahaaytaa for Business

Government can also create a portal for businesses to facilitate ease of doing business in India. While there are a lot of things it can do in this area, it can first start with Land registration information and e-auctions

  1. Land Registration Details – Government can make available details of ownership of plot of land on a payment basis in order to facilitate acquirement of land – the basic pre requisite to start manufacturing
  2. Auctions – Government can start auctions online. In this way, bids cannot be fudged later on due to lack of manual intervention and the integrity of the auction can be validated

Conclusion

Government has to undertake a lot of initiatives to ensure convenience and proper service to its citizens while maintaining accountability. The same goes for facilitating ease of doing business. E-Sahaaytaa portal can be a major step towards achieving this goal.

Note – This article has been written for http://www.intel.in/  #DigitalIndia.

Digitizing India, Digitizing Governance

There are three cornerstones to an economy which work in sync to ensure economy progresses – Government, Business and Consumers.

Narendra Modi framed, ‘Less government; More Governance’ and ‘Pro-People; Good Governance’.He envisions a digitised India by 2020 and is taking massive steps towards it.These steps and Finance Bill 2015 suggests the government’s focus and commitment towards empowering citizens.

Why Digital?

Any change proposed is a result of three factors –

  1. Renewed vision
  2. Economies of scale
  3. Efficiency

Digitising governance also aims to address the same.

  1. Information – Presently government is a source keeper of a lot of data, which is recorded and stored in a fragmented manner, rendering it unusable for decision making. Making this data usable will be a big challenge with magnanimous benefits for the government.
  2. Ease of Use–e-governance will be the platform to collaborate with the government. Citizens will no longer have to go to plead, beg and bribe babus to get their work done – they will be able to do it themselves over the internet;
  3. Transparency – Digitalising governance will help record time stamps and monitor the Turn Around Time (TAT) for resolving consumer and business grievances raised to the government. It can help micro manage the entire process and also provide information about which stage the problem is at and in which government employee’s end is it lying unattended – ensuring proper escalations and desired closure.

Digitizing Governance through Innovation and Technology

The scope of digitization is massive, but one need not be bogged down by the sheer magnanimity of work to be done. One needs to pick up one thing at a time, set a goal and achieve it. This needs to be kept repeating until final vision is achieved. I have the following two proposals to achieve the above three objectives.

In this article, we’ll be focusing on the first objective – Conversion of data into information. The second article will contain proposal to bring in ease of use and accountability through technology. You can read the second article here.

Digitizing Governance through Citizen Profiling

E-governance can help the government internal systems talk to each other through interfaces and convert data into information – which can be used by the government and also businesses. One such step would be in the field of Citizen Profiling.

Purpose

Have one portal which provides entire information of a citizen using various available databases and convert data into information for better administration, generation of revenue to the government and policy making

Citizen Profiling Portal

Government has a lot of database where information of citizens is maintained – It can extract the same and put it together in one place – Citizen Profiling Portal. Thus, each citizen’s PAN No,Unique Identity Number, Mobile number, Address, Voter ID, Birth details, Family details, Employment details, Passport Number and date of expiry, CIBIL details – Loan amount outstanding, repayment history, Bank Balance, spending habits – Credit card details, taxes paid – TDS deducted, income tax return history, ownership of properties, no of government schemes they avail, if any, demat account details, criminal history / arrests/ fines / open cases in courts,  life insurance policies etc should be available at a single place.

Impact

  1. Distribution of Subsidies:
    • Linking Bank Accounts to UID for direct benefit transfer model – Presently, 20% of subsidies granted do not reach the target audience – Citizen Profiling will help make the process transparent – right from identifying citizens who qualify for the subsidy tocrediting their UID linked Bank Accounts. This has become possible with opening of 11.5Crore new bank accounts through PMJDY – government’s initiative towards banking the unbanked (covering 99.74 per cent of the households that were outside the banking system). This will lead to phasing out ghost citizens availing subsidies
    • Non Regulation of Market Prices – Government has deregulated LPG prices, people eligible to buy LPG at subsidy get the money credited to their account and they can use it to buy LPG at market price. This has led to a lot of convenience – Citizens have the discretion on how to use the money. The government can do the same for other subsidies and deregulate prices of fertilizers, urea, foodgrains etc. Post this, government won’t have to bear the subsidy cost for rich farmers who can afford fertilizers on their own
    • Analysing Use of Subsidies – Since UID is granted only to verified individuals, government will be able to link citizens and schemes they avail. It can then identify and stop citizens availing multiple subsidies through various schemes and monitor rules regarding eligibility for subsidies under various schemes through reports generated through the system.
    • Audit Trail – CAG will be able to verify transfer of money to the rightful beneficiary with citizen profiling through digital trail of money
  1. Tax Profiling:

Fullscreen capture 3312015 103136 PM.bmp

Government annually earns Rs. 19 Lakh Crore through direct and indirect taxes. Out of that Rs. 8 Lakh crore (42%)goes to states, Rs. 2 Lakh Crore goes in defence, Rs. 2 Lakh Crore goes in paying employees and Rs. 7 Lakh Crore goes in making interest payments of sum borrowed! Thus, the government is in a position where it isn’t able to repay debts borrowed. Also, it doesn’t have money for any planned or unplanned expenditure. Unplanned expenditure is paid for by disinvesting stake in public limited companies. Now to support infrastructure which is key to growth, it needs to collect more taxes.

  • Identifying Tax Leaks–Government has a lot of fragmented data which if put together can help identify tax leaks leading to revenue losses. Citizen profiling can help the government plug in these loopholes
  • Bringing more people under taxability – Presently, less than 3% of India’s population files tax returns. Out of that, only 2% pay taxes. Our present system of tax administration is thus skewed, leading to more burden on the 2% population. Citizen profiling will help Income Tax Department identify citizens who do not file returns / pay taxes and yet afford spending money, owning properties etc. Income tax department can identify these individuals and take action against them for not filing returns and paying taxes
  • Bringing black money in the system–To identify citizens not paying any taxes will be a difficult task, as there won’t be any properties on their name. The key to identify these individuals will be to gather all public information through their public profiles on social domains – like facebook, linkedin, instagram etc. This will help identify people who appear to be either living beyond their means or not disclosing income for tax purposes. This will bring black money in the ambit of taxation.

Government can also put together analytics in place to identify indirect taxes paid by individuals running proprietary businesses vis a vis their income

  1. Improved Planning:

Availability of cross databases talking to each other will lead to better governance and improved planning.

  • Demographics – Government can analyse region-wise demographics and make 5 year policy plans accordingly. Eg. Government can now find out kids born in a particular area and number of seats available in that region’s school – It can then decide if an additional school needs to be opened there – channelization of money where it is actually required
  • Demand and Supply Gap in Employment – Government can analyse number of jobs available in various regions vs unemployment and give necessary tax cuts or subsidies to businesses to manufacture goods in those regions
  1. Using Mobile numbers to remit money – to reach the unbanked citizens:

We have 97 crore mobile users in India (77.58% of population), thus mobile subscriptions cover entire population other than kids. Out of this 6.7 crore are smart-phone users; the rest of population is yet to shift to smart phones. In order to reach out to these citizens (90.3 crore) government can push services like M-pesa of Vodafone. In this, a person trasnfers money via an SMS and the recipient of the SMS can withdraw cash with a registered M-pesa vendor (It cost more than banking service, but its reach is far greater than ATMs) Money is nothing but a store of value – the same can be done by mobile balance. Pushing mobile payments by giving licences to telecom vendors to act as payment banks will help reduce the transaction commission and help reduce a significant portion of cash transactions.

Mobile money can be used to achive three objectives –

  • Banking the Unbanked
  • Using it for internal remittances – A person working in city transfers money to his parents via sms and they encash it without going to a bank which is very far.
  • Pushing it for merchant banking–Mobile money being accepted as a mode of payment in normal business transactions

Further Scope

Citizen Profiling Portal can later be extended to also cover Public Limited Companies, Private Limited Companies, Partnership Firms via information shared in public domain/ with ROC, MCA and SEBI.

Security

In order to avoid misutlisation of information for political motives, access to this portal should be granted to a body separate from the government – an independent organisation set up by the act of parliament (like the RBI) having its own vision and mission. It can share information with the government on a need to know basis

Conclusion

Citizen profiling has a lot of pros. It can become an empowering tool for government administration and welfare of the citizens. However, the government also needs to ensure privacy or any of constitutional rights of the people aren’t violated.

Note – This article has been written for http://www.intel.in/  #DigitalIndia.

Happiness is Playing with Colours

As a child I always loved drawing class. It was an hour of imagination, discovery and sheer happiness! Drawing lines with pencils, learning how to shade, learning how to draw perfect straight lines without rulers, perfecting shape of faces, giving touches to facial expressions was fun. The sound of pencil moving through paper still awes me. Finally when the drawing was ready, there came the best part – Painting!!

Colours and I have a very intimate relationship. I believe they are one of the best invention of mankind. We can use various colours to express our state of mind! Red, blue and yellow are the primary colours which when added to each other in different proportions create more than 100 billion possibilities!!! Each colour signifies a different tone of life – some are cool colours, some are warm colours.

In pre-school we used to play with crayons – Camlin pastel shades were in vogue. Our life was very sorted, just colouring the mango with yellow colour within the border made our parents proud and us filled with happiness.

Then came primary school where we used pencil colours, cake colours and tube colours. Painting moving water in a river sent a chill down my spine; for I used to get so involved in the process that I could hear the sweet voice of strong water forces cutting their way through the rocks. I participated in a Kite painting competition in Mumbai and won the first place – Getting published in the local newspaper took my love for colours to a different level!

Then came secondary school and we got to lay our hands on water colours. Using water colours was an amazing feeling. The feeling of dipping my fingers in water colours and giving a drawing a new life was awesome. Colours on fingertips represented so many different possibilities.

Drawing is one of the only hobbies I carried after graduating from high school. I still draw and colour whenever I get time. Birthday cards to close friends and family members still are hand coloured and customised! I then channelised my love for colours into learning photography! It is the second best thing that could have happened to me. Understanding colours and light is a gift which you  need to passionately nurture and grow over time. Do this for anything you like and your happiness will know no bounds!!

My favourite colour is Blue!

‘Blue is the sky, blue is the sea,

blue is the colour of happiness, blue is the colour I wanna be!!’

With a colour box and entire day to myself, I’ll be the happiest man in the world!!

Ever wondered what makes you feel happy?

Coca Cola celebrates International Day of Happiness – http://CokeURL.com/96jnc

Coz We’re In It Together

We were two friends made for each other. Rushabh and I were together in school; we shared common interests, be it drawing or sleeping :P. Rushabh was a talented poem writer and singer, while I loved dancing.

We knew each other in school but hadn’t established a great rapport. I used to mind my own business, while Rushabh was happy-go-lucky in nature; mixing with everyone!

We joined the same drawing class and ended up becoming very close friends after two years. It was super fun.. We would paint the furniture, mugs, drawers – basically everything that came in our way. Our teacher encouraged us to experiment! On our way back, we would keep talking until the sun set and it was time to head back home. I used to cycle slowly while Rushabh walked along. Thinking about the walk back home still brings in mind those fond memories of togetherness – it was the road that bound us together; thanking it even a million times wouldn’t suffice!

The road changed with different seasons. While the tall trees on its sides gave shade during summer, they would let water droplets fall through during rainy season! During winter, trees would shed the old leaves and come spring, new gulmohar flowers would blossom. Be it any season, hot, rainy or cold, Rushabh and I enjoyed them all – seasons changed, and friendship thickened. Finally came board exams, the time to get serious and score good to get in colleges of our choice!

Once SSC Board exams got over, our career paths took us separate ways. We both chose commerce, but different colleges. We got new friends, our hangout places changed. We didnt have whatsapp at that time, so we stayed in touch through SMS and annual bday calls. Sometimes we would bump into each other and catch up. It always used to feel like school days.

After five years of college and CA exams, I called up Rushabh. It was almost a year since we last spoke. We decided to stay in touch henceforth and were thinking of ideas in order to do so. Enter morning walk and it became the best part of the entire day!

We decided to meet up every morning for a walk, going through the same roads … For the first day it felt like a walk down the memory lane.. Nothing had changed; or rather everything had – we had grown older, our context was different. The only thing same was the road and our affection for each other. The very fact of being together with Rushabh after almost five years brings me immense happiness.

I look forward to wake up each day and go for a morning walk! Exercise has never excited me this much in life. 😛 As for the day, it goes awesome as it starts with a walk with my best friend. Our common thoughts and dreams drive us through the day and work towards our passion! Its like our second inning of friendship together..!!

Idea for this post – Housing.com‘s ad of Together!