Meet the revived Shravana embodied in a father’s soul

He says it was all god’s wonders.

He believes in his son’s vision.

He is a father, not an ordinary one, but he made sure to make his son live, to be A REASON.

An hour passed by, I had to meet this man whom I had been observing from the first day of my college. He entered with an expression of joy and loyalty, his son grabbing his arms for support.

He drops his son to lecture room, waits all day long for his lectures to end, reads something in the library. Son arrives and they leave with conversations  This is his routine.

I grabbed an opportunity hence to strike a conversation with Mr. Dilip Bhatt – father Nikunj Bhatt.

Nikunj is a student of Sanskrit at St. Xavier’s college and practises vocal music. He is visually impaired.

“Mujhe tasveer nahi khinchwani.”

He says rather hesitantly when I ask him if he would be okay if I take his picture. This is not going to be easy, I tell myself. This subject is certainly not a very easy person to talk with.

“I worked at ISRO, retired now”, he says adding that he took his retirement willingly because Nikunj needed him.

“Me and my wife have gone ventures with our son and are constantly on an endeavor to give him everything that a normal child gets. We want to make him just as independent as anyone else is. He has never disappointed us”

Nikunj is a promising student and a polished singer who has won various competitions. He seems zealous and gives me a demo of his singing skills.

“My mother trained me in music”, he says.

“We have no complaints and I am not doing anything extraordinary, really. I am happy to have the opportunity because am sure that my son would have done the same for me if I were him.”

It is time for Nikunj’s practise session.

A story by Priyal Bhatia.

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Knight Gloves, Blind, Visually impaired, disability,

Ahmedabad students design gloves to help blind ‘feel the world around’

As I stroll through the grounds of CEPT university in Ahmedabad, I see various tech geniuses and artists displaying their creation to awe-struck attendees at Maker Fest 2016. Next thing, I find myself drawn to this relatively young boy who is explaining his work to a crowd surrounding him.

Saksham is 16 and a student of class 10th.

“I began working on this device when I was 13”, he said pointing to a pair of gloves designed by Saksham and his team, which allow a blind person in navigating without external help.

Saksham began working on his first product prototype after he was asked by his school teacher to make something that could be put to display at CBSE exhibition.

“I was searching for an idea and that was around the time when I visited Blind People’s Association in Ahmedabad. I saw residents use ultrasound canes that sent them an alert by a beep, every time they were close to any obstacle. This fascinated me”

However, the young Saksham soon realized that the device could be made better.

“I researched on it and realized possible improvisations that could be made to make the device more efficient. My prototype was ready soon and I displayed it at the exhibition. However, it was rejected for its heavy design”

The rejection only made Saksham more intrigued to make something that could be actually used by the end customer – a blind individual.

“I collaborated with Aditya, my senior, who shared the same passion and interest for technology. We assembled a team for the project and began testing our prototypes. Aditya would criticize and suggest modifications and I would build”

Saksham’s parents did have some reservations on his time consumption for the project, but they were quite supportive.

Aditya changed schools in 2014, but stayed in touch and the duo maintained working on the project. They came up with the idea of creating the product in the form of a glove for the blind to wear and use easily.

“Aditya suggested that we should include required functions into the product yet keep it lean, in order to best satisfy the user. He was the key to developing some of the major features of the glove and the belt as well”, Saksham adds.

“To be honest, I have always been a tech-addict. I always wished for everyone to have an access to technology, blind people being no exceptions. That’s what drove me towards Saksham’s idea.”, says Aditya.

Together, the friends participated in a competition at IIT Gandhinagar and won the 2nd prize and some useful suggestions to improve their product’s design.  Vansh Agarwal, a fellow classmate, helped them get material for the project. He coined the name ‘The Knight Glove’.

“You see, knights were, in a way, the ones who protected and helped other folks. And so does our product. That’s how I came up with the name.”, says Vansh, smiling.

The Knight Glove comprises of 5 vibrators, an infrared sensor, a Bluetooth module and an Arduino Board. The team was helped by Anshu Nagpal, a creative designer and a dear friend.

“The functioning of the product is brilliant without a doubt, however I wasn’t really convinced of the visual appearance. The team approached me and I am glad I could do whatever I could”, says Anshu.

The most important function of the glove is that it allows that user to text using a cell phone, a rare privilege for the blind.

“We wrote a code which we plan to open-source and created an app that converts normal letters into Braille”, Saksham adds.

The team is currently working on making the product cost-effective in bulk manufacturing so that it is accessible for everyone in need.

A story by Komal Bansal and Azure Dave. 

Pichkaari, Chaaipani, Design Thinking, Design Studio

Meet these three young turks from Bangalore who will add a creative splash to your communications

When I first interviewed Mr. Vikas Jaiswal, I could hardly contain my excitement. This man, to start with, is a communication Guru! It was only apparent what he chose to do and why.

This is the story of three year old Pichkaari., the design studio that applies design thinking for brands on communication platforms draped in hues that add meaning.

“We were colleagues. Sebastian and I,” Vikas said, referring to his the then peer and now co-founder, Sebastian Jacob.

“We worked as user experience designers and we collaborated on a lot of projects together. And that is how we actually met the third co-founder, Priyanka Jain. She offered us her deep insight in Design as we bonded and worked much more. She completed our team. With time, we realized the utter imbalance in effective communication between target audience and clients. And that’s exactly when we found our calling and decided to start Pichkaari.”

Pichkaari is all about media, advertising and communications. They focus on Design Thinking to apply intelligence in all processes they create. It is a communication boutique, where people and businesses get to express their ideas to the target audience through interesting and innovative formats.

“As part of my professional experience, I have faced many situations, to my utter dismay, where there exists a colossal management crisis for churning out effective communication. From vendor hassles to the absence of an internal corporate communications team, the reasons run long,” says Vikas explaining the need for a clearer method of communication.

Our business objective is to help people communicate better. Through intriguing designs, a compelling copy and creative ideas that are centred on a communication strategy, we bridge the gap between dreams and reality.”

On asking why they named the website Pichkaari.com, he said,

“We love how India’s heritage is interlaced with. Pichkaari was the right fit for the name because it is quirky and signifies splashes of thoughts, ideas, and also talks about giving life to the mundane black-and-white world of corporate.”

Team, Pickaari, Shruti Chaturvedi, Chaaipani, Design Studio, Design Thinking, Entrepreneurship, Creative agency

Pichkaari is not just about getting the message across. It takes great pride in delighting its clients.

“We provide our clients with an experience that is useful, usable and differentiated. It has been an exceptional boon for us to be in the company of gifted designers, copywriters, developers and animators, who bond with us with groundbreaking brainstorming. Apart from the core team, we work with interns, consultants and freelancers who add a lot of value to what we do. Our working principle places the customer first and then we work backwards on how to deliver more than what has been promised. We rejoice our deep attachment for our clients, a connection which lets us tell the world what the heart already knows. We love to dig below the surface and are proud to boast of a work culture where excitement meets a sense of purpose.”

What really differentiates Pichkaari.com from other communication houses is the flexibility with which it works. They expand, recede and stretch in multiple ways to fit into the client’s frame. Being adaptive to change is what the Communication Design Studio believes in.

“I remember the first assignment that we worked on. It was on creating ads for an employee engagement initiative. We conducted a detailed survey on all possible procedures involved and did not miss one detail of our first client’s operations. Such in-depth analysis proved to be invaluable information for the campaign as our creatives mobilized a substantial change in employee participation.”

In the path of following one’s dream one has to overcome fear, struggle on it but the zeal should be to make things happen because you are what you do. With Pichkaari too, things have not been a bit different.

“We believe in not settling for what is just comfortable but is flawless, as we had imagined. As word spread we found ourselves working for way more additional clients. It was surely a time when expectation had to be met reality. The biggest challenge was though, denial for compromising on quality. What really makes me happy today is that we did, and we did it real good. We haven’t let our struggles as a start-up get in the way of our performance. We have been through crests and troughs and have attained the maturity to expand our services to suit into any communication requirement that a brand has.”

With the passion to design and the zeal to excel at what they do, Pichkaari has recently seen a lot of developments with expansions into fields of Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Promotional Videos, and it only speaks volumes about the success of this Communication Design Studio.

A story by Khevana Shah.

Indian railways, Indian trains, trains, Railways, India, republic Day

‘What is Republic Day’, she Google-ed.

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I was on my way to Surat from Ahmedabad. I woke up from my short nap to a Gayatri Mantra ringtone buzzing in a phone that belonged to this lady sitting next to me. In the middle of high-pitched noises of wailing kids and chattering women, I managed to eavesdrop a conversation between my two fellow passengers.

The middle-aged man, who looked like someone who comes from the clan of Economic Times readers, tried to strike a conversation with a young lady sitting next to him, who had just typed ‘What is Republic Day, Script for Republic Day’ in the Google search bar.

“What are your views on independence?”, he asked beginning the conversation.

“Living life on my own terms”, she replied.

“Interesting. What do your parents want you to be?”

“Never bothered to know. Aur kya farak padta hai? It is my life, I am supposed to decide what I want to be”

The conversation ended there. After some hours, the man figured that he was about to reach his destination when he turned towards the lady and said,

“I am not sure if you are aware, your father and I are good friends. He came to me the other day to loan some money to finance your aspirations. No wonder you have no idea what Republic Day is just like you have no idea about your parent’s sacrifices for you. By the way, today is Republic Day”

She whatever-ed.

Youngsters today are enjoying their freedom of speech and actions without knowing where it comes from. Well, this above mentioned ignorance not only disrespected the significance of this day but also highlighted the undone sole responsibility of the citizens. It all begins at home.
Jai Hind.

Submitted by Priyal Bhatia.

Humans of Bombay, Chaaipani, Disability, Marathon, Mumbai

“I’m not lesser than anyone!”

Source: Humans Of Bombay

“I don’t think of myself as having a disability, so I keep my life as normal as possible. I change two buses everyday from Lokhandwala to Matunga to get to work and like everyone else I work hard to make an honest living.

This is my 4th marathon and I complete it every year because I love to run! I feel so good while running that it’s difficult to explain the in words — when people are cheering and clapping, it makes me believe that I’m like everyone else– that I’m not lesser than anyone. I may be 46 years old and only 3 feet 3 inches in height but right now, I feel like I’m the happiest person in the world!”

Abhishek Jain, Bollywood, Gujarati Films, Kevi Rite Jaish, Chello Divas

Abhishek Jain – Amdavadi film-maker who is giving Gujarati Cinema an urban twist

Remember Kevi Rite Jaish? The peppy, unconventional urban – Gujarati movie that became a topic of discussion and a must-see for practically everyone who understood Gujarati? We meet the soul behind the movie – Abhishek Jain. Here’s the story of the storyteller who made urban Gujarati movies, a thing. 

Abhishek was born and brought up in Ahmedabad, with his roots in Jodhpur.

“My mother encouraged me to pursue performing arts. At 9, I began doing Gujarati plays. I was then expected to join the family business so I decided to pursue the retail management course from Mumbai”

However, for Abhishek, there was always a void. Film-making just filled it. The need to bring forth issues that matter in a compelling way and making an impact drove him to enrol in India’s one of the leading film making institutes. 

“I enrolled at Whistling Woods and that was it. It opened the doors for me in the bling-industry of cinema. When I began, I didn’t even know who Yash Raj, Yash Chopra or Subhash Ghai were. I was made fun of for my ignorance to the industry I was so passionate about.”

For Abhishek, films were always about actors and never the directors or the producers.

“They were never on stage! For 7-8 months, I refused to interact with people at college since I felt inferior and illiterate in the glamorous world of cinema. I spent a lot of time in library, watching lot of films and reading as much as I could on the same”

After completing his film-making studies, Abhishek assisted big shots like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Subhash Ghai in Saawariya and Yuvraj. In a pursuit to fill the void, Abhishek decided to take a leap of some years and shifted back to Ahmedabad.

CineMan, my film-making venture, came into the picture in February 2010. We began with the idea of venturing into the advertising field in order to gather enough funds to make a feature film. So we began with approaching NGOs and requested them to let us make a video. We wanted to prove ourselves in the market and also understand how well we as a team are. We made three advertisements at peanut price and it went well.”

And then onwards, there was no looking back. The team proceeded further with the aim to provide an exposure to the brands established in the town for which every time they needed to rush to Mumbai.

“We were determined to deliver things of good quality at an affordable price” 

Abhishek constantly focused on building a robust team that would stick through all odds.

“We are all young, passionate and have a go-getter attitude. Being young comes with a limitation of lack of commitment. However, it is a long way for us and we are learning how to handle things with maturity”

CineMan has already brought out two feature films, the last hit film – ‘Bey Yaar’ which successfully ran in the theatres for 53 weeks and ‘Kevi Rite Jaish’ which took Gujarati cinema scenes by a storm. It was also screened in several countries overseas. Interestingly with ‘Bey Yaar’ Abhishek Jain brought the concept of in-film branding in Gujarati cinema.

“Initially, the brands were bit apprehensive about the idea. It was not that they were not convinced about the fact that whether we will do justice to their brand or not but they were apprehensive of the fact that whether the amount they are paying will be worth it or not.”

Seven years down the lane, CineMan contributed two major hits to the Gujarat film industry. Abhishek Jain talks about CineMan’s future plans.

“We had a five year plan when we began and we achieved it. Ad films and television commercials are the core areas that we will keep concentrating on. I want to break a perception that everything cool thing related to entertainment industry can only be done in Mumbai”

Talking about his challenges, Abhishek says,

“I think the most difficult part is to have a fair balance of creativity and a business-mind to survive in entertainment business.”

The 28 year old director is already a role model for a number of young film makers; he highlights the fact that if there’s a will, there’s a way.  

“I think the only way one can succeed in this super-competitive industry is by making films and evolving out of it”, he concludes. 

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

This story could be about a woman with physical disability. But it is not.

As I struggle with the scorching sunlight and dust in Berhampur village of Orissa, I see her beaming like a sunshine as she talks to youngsters who are here for a 15 days long Jagriti Yatra, to understand how enterprises – small and big, work.

Meet Chumki Datta, an entrepreneur from Bhubhaneshwar. She lost her legs in an accident but that is not what this story is going to be about. Because that is not what defines Chumki Datta. A brief conversation with her, you immediately realise how she doesn’t entertain pointless sympathy we are naturally conditioned to show to someone with physical disability. And that is what her story is about.

I come from Kolkata. My father was a lawyer and my mother was a home-maker. I was brought up in a very liberal environment, where I began making my own decisions at a very young age.

For Chumki, her father was an inspiration. And the only second person after her dad was her husband, Professor Tathagata.

We were madly in love. I lost him 4 years back. After my accident, I had practically given up but it was him who stood by my side, something very unusual of men. It troubled me thinking how I could never live a normal life anymore, but it was him who actually showed me how everything could just be as it was. And I have to say, he succeeded in doing so.

Before the accident, Chumki was an active sportsperson, an aspiring model and an entrepreneur. She also received offers from a few movies.

After I moved to Bhubhaneshwar after my marriage, I decided to continue with my advertising agency, Mastermind. It was a time when women entrepreneurs were very rare. Our agency has since then ranked as one of the top 10 agencies of Orissa. I was a threat in the male dominated industry of a male dominated state. Interestingly, my biggest support & inspiration was also a male – my husband.

Chumki portrays character that has fire in the belly that most articles on entrepreneurship talk about.

I love gardening! If you came with some spare time, I would have taken you to my house. I live in the middle of the forest on my own.

On your own? I ask, because of my obvious little knowledge about how physically disabled carry out their routine activities. And wait, in the middle of a forest?

She chuckles.

It is fairly simple. I have a driver who drives me to Bhubhaneshwar  where my office is and a help at home. Gardening is an important part of my daily routine post which I am immersed in my work. I shop, exercise and practically do everything any other working professional would do! And about the forest, I chose to live there because trust me there is nothing better than can contain me in peace!

Chumki also manages a guest house, hosting corporate and individual clients. She is also a Board member for SMRC (Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre) which works on empowering with physical disabilities, women violence and rehabilitation of patients with spine injury.

It is very devastating for someone who’s lived fit and active all their life to suddenly become dependent on someone, especially for a woman. Before I preached others that they can still live a normal life and be successful, I decided to be an example.

Chumki is actively involved with initiatives that are working to make India more inclusive of people with physical disabilities.

I can now understand the problems people face much more clearly when I face them myself. To begin with, Indian government needs to seriously work on creating infrastructure that is disabled-friendly.

A story by Shruti Chaturvedi