Friday, December 31, 2010

Jagriti Yatra Diary - Seeking inspiration from Swami Vivekananda

Dec 28 - We reached Nagercoil by the TJY train and then proceeded to Kanyakumari via buses. After a long wait in the queue to get on the boats, we finally reached the Vivekananda Rock memorial - not just the southernmost tip of the the Indian mainland, also the very place where he had spent three days meditating exactly 118 years ago :)

Acharya Sachidananda Bharathi, a Catholic by birth and an IAF pilot who had a near fatal crash before he explored his own spiritual beliefs and now advocates the second freedom struggle for spiritual unity and the regeneration of India. After his talk on the rock, we took a group pic on the steps of the rock memorial with all of us in TJY T-shirts, it was quite a sight, wait for the pic update :)

We then proceeded to the Vivekananda Ashram, where we had lunch followed by the televised panel discussion on 'Starting an enterprise - Making a difference' the panelists were Shaffi Mather, Vijay Pratap Singh Aditya and Vishal Talreja. Food King Sarath Babu, who was supposed to make the fourth panelist, we later learnt, cancelled at the last minute.

Shaffi Mather is into several for profit initiatives including - 'Dial 1298 for Ambualnce', 'Moksha-Yug access' into micro-finance, 'The education initiative', which is involved in e-learning and 'bribe busters'

V.P.Singh through EkGaon Technologies provides mobile phone based platforms for financial services delivery and personalised VAS for farmers and small entrepreneurs in remote under-served markets.

Vishal Talreja, of Dream-A-Dream promotes life-skill education for under-privileged children in Bengaluru. Their idea 'uncrumple a Dream' made me sit up in rapt attention. Shortly after the end of the session, he had already agreed to bringing the concept to Chennai via Bhumi :D Check

We then returned to Nagercoil, we sat through an extremely boring presentation by group A on Thanal, my group then sat up till 3AM preparing for their parts for the presentation. The kind of bonding we had developed over the last few days was helping us shape something really crazy - we had lots of fun making it :D

PS: I'll update the blog with some pictures later

Jagriti Yatra Diary - G.Vijayaraghavan (Technopark) and Usha.S & Jay Kumar (Thanal)

Dec 27 - We travelled to Trivandrum by buses where we interacted with two role models.

G.Vijayaraghavan founder of India's first and currently the third largest IT park - Technopark, Trivandrum narrated the story of how he founded technopark, his experience of dealing with the bureaucrats and his further ventures. He also had some pearls of wisdom for young entrepreneurs.
What was striking was the man's resolve and value systems. My group also had a separate interaction with him as were supposed to make a short presentation on him on Dec 29.

This was followed by a session on Jay Kumar and then Usha.S of Thanal, a non-profit dealing with various environmental issues. Mr.Jay Kumar made a presentation on their Zero-waste management initiatives and support to various local women self-help groups. I didn't find it very interesting probably because I was hungry :P

Post lunch, Ms.Usha held us in rapt attention with her commentary on the status of Indian agriculture.
She covered various topics including GM foods, Organic farming, the downside of aping the western world for our green revolution, the ill effects of increasing urbanisation etc. She delivered a captivating lecture while painting an extremely bleak picture on the status of Indian Agriculture, which enlightened us on the way forward and the scope of youth entrepreneurs in the same. Check

We ended the visit with a drive through Technopark followed by a brief session with V.P.Singh of EkGaon Tech. and Acharya Sachidananda Bharathi followed by dinner. My group then kick started our planning for our presentation which went on till 1 AM

PS: I'll update the blog with some pictures later

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jagriti Yatra Diary - Bonding with the team

Dec 25 - We started off with a game of Dumb Charades into the wee hours of Saturday before sleep finally caught up. Around 8, we were woken up to the Jagriti Geet blaring over the PA system. Some logistical problems caused most of us to skip our baths on day 1 itself :)

We then went into a session at the AC chair car (200 yatris at a time) where the team driving the yatra was introduced to us followed by an activity 'timeline' - in which we had to introduce ourselves to the rest of the group by tracing the ups and downs in our lives. All 19 of our group got together in one of the cabins and we ended up having a lot of fun with the 'love life' parts of each other in the time line followed by Dumb Charades and Antakshari.

Dec 26 - We were still on the train between Mumbai and Thiruvanathapuram while we went through moderated sessions on Middle India, Youth Entrepreneurship and how we could impact Middle India.

Post lunch me group got together to bond further with another round of Antakshari but hardly any meaningful discussion as I started to worry a bit. We finally started discussing about Middle India, alas, we reached our destination Kochuvelli (near Trivandrum) and had to stop. :(

We then walked to a nearby beach to catch the sunset before returning to the station where all 400 spent the rest of the evening having random fun.

PS: I'll update the blog with some pictures later

Tata Jagriti Yatra Facilitators' Workshop & Induction

Dec 23, 2010 - Shashank Mani, Revathy Prabhu, and Raj Krishnamoorty the board members of Tata Jagriti Yatra (TJY) did a round of introductions to the precursor of the TJY - the Azad Bharat Rail Yatra, TJY, middle India (people who live on $1-$3/day) and Enterprise led development.

Each of the 40 facilitators including myself (30 men and 10 women aged over 26 who would mentor the 360 participants aged 21-25) introduced themselves. A common thread seemed to be that many of them had quit their jobs which they were dissatisfied with and were looking to start their own businesses or more satisfying jobs.

This was followed by lunch and a session by theatre artist Rashmi Bani - I won't attempt to describe it in words but I guess we all let go and had fun. Then a session on Psychology - a look into ourselves and what would make us better facilitators. We ended the day with final instructions.

Dec 24 - Registration, medicals and induction were done for all 400 Yatris followed by which we were taught Jagriti Geet along with the actions that go along with it - Another song in a language I don't understand completely (Related Blog coming up). Some eminent personalities flagged off the yatra at a ceremony with an impressive stage setup. We were then packed off to Kurla station where we celebrated Christmas by singing Carols and cutting a cake before boarding the train.

My group consisted of 11 Male participants, 6 female participants, two facilitators including myself.

PS: I'll update the blog with some pictures and about my group mates later

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tata Jagiriti Yatra 2010

I'm travelling on the Tata Jagirti Yatra 2010. The journey is supposed to awaken young men and women to enterprise led development, I wonder what it's gonna do to me.

Unlike the regular Yatris I'm travelling as a facilitator. I hope to record my 'journey of awakening' through regular updates. Do try to keep up :)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Why I didn't enjoy Endhiran


Every Tamil film (Well almost) has just one basic story boy meets girl, falls in love, faces his villain and lives with the heroine happily ever after.

Enthiran starts with Rajni the scientist perfecting his creation an android robot that looks like him, talks like him etc. Aishwarya is calling Rajni, who ignores all her calls, it later turns out they're already going steady. (Oops where's our love story?)

Rajni presents his creation the robot to widespread acclaim; he stated aim being to give the technology to the Indian Army so as to reduce loss of human life. But, his professor and the boss of the Robotics Bureau refuse to certify his creation stating that it's just an 'idiotic machine that has no feelings'. We are also shown the professor's other side where he's trying to sell his own imperfect robots to foreign terrorist organisations (Ah, we have our villain! So all the scenes from the trailer would mean it's gonna be Indian robot vs. foreign terrorists? Yum!)

So Scientist Rajni gives feelings and hormones programming to Robot Rajni (Arghh!) and the Robot does some good deeds which earn him the required certification. But along the way Aishwarya kisses the Robot once and the Robot falls in love with her (GOD!) The Robot even dances with Aishwarya, steps which Rajni couldn't have been managed even when he was 20! (Shankar effect!)

The Robot fails the Indian Army evaluation because he starts talking about love peace etc in front of senior army officers. In a fit of rage Rajni destroys the Robot and dumps him in garbage.

Post interval, the villain rescues the robot re-assembles him and gives him an extra red chip that turns him evil. The Robot starts creating more Robots like itself, and soon we have hundreds of Rajni clones who start committing multiple crimes, Aishwarya is kidnapped during her marriage, hundreds of policemen are killed along the way and Robot Rajni starts trying to woo Aishwarya! The rest of the movie is about how the scientist defeats his creation and rescues the damsel in distress.

In the climax when Rajni disables all the Robot clones and removes the red chip from Robot Rajni, the Robot immediately realises all his mistakes (Perplexing stupidity from the movie maker!) As for the poor villain, we learn that he was murdered by the Robot Rajni soon after the interval itself.

The songs are shot spectacularly and there's a lot of graphics thrown in where Shankar excels and one too many forgettable Robot songs where Rajni excels with his Robotic dances moves :P Rajni looks younger than in Sivaji! Aishwarya has been made to look older?? Rajni excels in the negative role!

I'm sure Rajni's pull and the marketing might of the Sun Network would've already ensured the return of investment and maybe a big hit. Shankar has spent 150 Crores to take a world class movie with a typical Tamil movie story line, if only he had spent a little more time on the story than the budget...