#IconsOfIndia: This Engineer Designed Our First National Mixie for His Wife!!!


The value of a brand is in the imagery it creates in your mind–the stronger the recall, the stronger the brand.

In this day and age of branding noise, I was surprised by the kind of reaction that one particular brand evoked in my 92-year-old grandmother. That, for me, proved the strength of the iconic mixie brand–Sumeet.

With great enthusiasm, she told me about how she had spent about Rs 1,000 in buying the mixie, how it came with steels jars and not plastic ones, as is the case today.

Even today, the Sumeet mixie sits in her kitchen, used by her every day. Her only complaint is that it is a tad noisier than the newer ones in the market.

However, in terms of efficiency, Sumeet wins hands-down.

Not just that, as part of the trousseau that she gave my aunt and mother–this mixie sat right on top.

56 years ago, this iconic brand was born, not out of extensive market research or any other kind of strategic business evaluation but a bare necessity.

Mr Mathur and his son, Mr Ajay Mathur.
Photo Source

No wonder they say that necessity is the mother of inventions.

In most Indian kitchens, the mixie plays a prominent role–whatever the cuisine, we need a good mixer-grinder to get all our masalas pounded well.

As someone who enjoys cooking, I remember my mother cleaning and taking care of the mixie with utmost care. It was one of her prized possessions, after all, and she hated anyone else meddling with it.

This certainly was one brand whose appeal cut across generations of Indian women.

Sumeet – the genesis

Contrary to popular belief that Sumeet was a brand born in Southern India, Sumeet was actually developed and designed in Mumbai.

Mrs Madhuri Mathur used the Braun blender from Germany for most of her cooking. While it was efficient, she noticed that it could not break down the spices used in Indian cooking.

On one such day, the motor burnt out, as it could not take the heavy-duty grinding that Indian cooking needs.

By the early 80s, 50,000 Sumeet mixies were being sold every month!

For the longest time, it was the only available brand in India. One that became the dream possession of every Indian housewife.

Sumeet – a trusted brand since 1963.

Mrs Mathur, unable to find any Braun service centres in India, challenged her husband to repair the machine at the earliest.

Although an engineer, Mr Satya Prakash Mathur was unable to fix the mixie. He, however, took the challenge sportingly and designed a new mixie with a motor powerful enough to withstand the rigours of Indian grinding.

The development of an indie-mixie

In 1963, Mr Mathur floated a company called ‘Power Control and Appliances Company’. Four employees from Siemens India joined him.

Within two years, they had a workable electric motor, and by 1970, they had designed a single jar for dry mixing as well as wet grinding.










What is also interesting is how Mrs and Mr Mathur worked together to build the brand. They put up collateral for an initial loan amount, and with no designers involved, the conceptualisation and the execution were all taken care of by Mr Mathur.

While Mr Mathur provided the engineering inputs, his better half provided the user’s perspective – and thus was born Sumeet, a word which in Sanskrit, means ‘good friend’.

In one of the many testimonials available online, a loyal user says, “Sumeet was my first mixer in 1974, and it is still there. Over the years, while I have used various different makes and models of brands, the comfort and ease of operation my Sumeet mixie gave me was missing. I am strongly of the opinion that Sumeet is the one and only mixer grinder for Indian kitchens, particularly for south Indian dishes.”

For households across the length and breadth of the country, Sumeet has truly been a good friend.

If you have any memories of using this mixie or the brand, do let us know in the comments.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

Source……Vidya Rajan in http://www.the betterindia.com






Charvolant: The Kite-Drawn Carriages….

On 8 January 1822, an extraordinary journey was made from Bristol to Marlborough. An English schoolteacher named George Pocock took his wife and his kids on a 182 km-trip in a carriage drawn not by horses but by a couple of enormous kites. Pocock designed the carriage himself, which he called “Charvolant”.

George Pocock was fascinated with kites from a young age, and as he played and experimented with them, he learned that kites had tremendous lifting power. Young Pocock would tie small stones at the end of the string attached to the kite and watch it soar into the skies. As Pocock grew older, his experiments became bolder and more dangerous, usually involving his own children. In one stunt he put his young daughter in a wicker chair, hoisted her up in to the air with a 30-foot-tall kite and then flew her across the Avon Gorge. Fortunately she survived and went on to become the mother of the cricket legend W. G. Grace. Later the same year—year 1824—he flew his son to the top of a 200-foot-tall cliff outside Bristol.
















Two years later, he patented the design of his “Charvolant” buggy. The Charvolant consisted of two kites on a single line that was 1,500 to 1,800 feet long (nearly half a kilometer) and was capable of pulling a carriage with several passengers at a fairly fast speed. Steering was achieved by four control lines attached to the kite, and a T-shaped bar that controlled the direction of the front wheels. Braking was provided by an iron bar that could be pushed down into the road.

Shortly after its invention and after many risky trials, Pocock published a book titled The Aeropleustic Art or Navigation in the Air by the use of Kites, or Buoyant Sails, where he sang the virtues of travelling in a Charvolant.

“This mode of travelling is, of all others, the most pleasant,” he wrote. “Privileged with harnessing the invincible winds, our celestial tandem playfully transpierces the clouds, and our mystic-moving car swiftly glides along the surface of the scarce-indented earth; while beholders, snatching a glance at the rapid but noiseless expedition, are led to regard the novel scene rather as a vision than a reality.”

Pocock mentions that during his trials he timed the Charvolant travelling at 20 miles an hour (32 km/h) over considerable distances, and a mile could frequently be covered even over heavy roads in 2 minutes and three-quarters. Because the weight of the vehicle is partially supported by the kite, the buggy glides over any potholes making the journey considerably less bumpy. “The occasional dips and irregularities in the surface of the road are scarcely perceptible,” he wrote.

Pocock tried hard to interest the public in his invention, mentioning that the Charvolant could pass free at turnpike toll gates because tolls were levied according to the number of horses the carriages were pulled by, and the Charvolant had none. Pocock also advocated numerous other uses for kites, such as as auxiliary sail power for ships, as means of dropping anchor and effecting rescues from shipwrecks.

Despite his attempts, the Charvolant failed to ignite the interest of the public, possibly because controlling the buggy was not easy. Nevertheless, Pocock and his family continued to use the Charvolant for day trips until his death in 1843.

Source…..Kaushik in http://www.amusingplanet.com



Remember the Signature AIR Tune? Meet the Jewish Refugee Who Composed it!!!

For an entire generation, the radio and the All India Radio hold a very cherished place. I remember my grandfather tuning it each evening listening to the news. My mother tells me stories of how she and her sister would huddle around the device to hear the latest songs.

What strings all these memories together is the signature tune that would play at the break of dawn.

Based on raag Shivaranjini, the lilting violin notes playing to the background of a tambura evokes a sense of nostalgia – almost eight decades since its composition.

While millions are familiar with the tune, few are aware that it was created by the most improbable source – a Czech Jewish refugee fleeing the Nazis in Europe!








Shown here performing at the Willingdon Gymkhana with Kaufmann at the piano, Edigio Verga on cello and Mehli Mehta playing the violin.      Photo Source

A Czech national, Walter was born in 1907 in Karlsbad, today known as Karlovy Vary. His father, Julius Kaufmann, was Jewish while his mother had converted to Judaism. Julius died near the Czech border after they fled Karlsbad under the Nazis.

In 1934, after Hitler’s invasion of Prague, 27-year-old Walter Kaufmann arrived in Mumbai. A refugee, Walter perhaps did not intend to stay on in India for as long as he did. He was in India’s city of dreams for fourteen years.

One may wonder why he landed in Mumbai of all places in the world. In one of the letters that were later published, he even says, “I could easily get a visa.”

Early days

However, having come to India, his initial years were not easy. As a trained musician, he was hoping to find takers for his talent, but his initial tryst with Indian music was not pleasant. He found it beyond comprehension.

Undeterred, he founded the Bombay Chamber Music Society within months of his arrival, which performed every Thursday at the Willingdon Gymkhana. Walter’s correspondence with his family back home confirmed that he stayed at Rewa House, a two-storied bungalow off Warden Road (now Bhulabhai Desai Road) towards Mahalaxmi temple.

In one year, the society had performed more than 130 times, while the audience at these performances kept increasing.

According to Scroll, in the same letter, Walter is disarmingly honest in describing his initial reactions to Indian music. The first records he heard were “alien and incomprehensible.”

But he wasn’t willing to give up.

“As I knew that this music was created by people with heart and intellect, one could assume that many, in fact, millions would be appreciating or in fact loving this music…I concluded that the fault was all mine and the right way would be to undertake a study tour to the place of its origin,” he wrote

From 1936 to 1946, Walter worked at AIR as the director of music, and it was here that he composed the iconic signature tune with noted Indian orchestra conductor Mehli Mehta, who played the violin for it.

It is amazing that the tune that generations of Indians grew listening to was created by a European – proving that music knows no boundaries, and is truly a universal language.

Connection to the Hindi film industry

Walter moved to Mumbai at a time when there was a shift from silent movies. His adept mastery over western music helped him in the Indian film industry as well. He composed the background score for several films by Mohan Bhavnani (a friend he had met in Berlin).

Albert Einstein, in a letter dated 23 January 1938, wrote a recommendation letter for Walter Kaufmann.

In that letter in German, he wrote, “Mr Walter Kaufmann of Prague, currently in Bombay (India), has been known to me for years as an inventive and gifted musician. He has already written many compositions, he is an authority on Eastern music, and he has had extensive experience as a teacher as well. With his youthful energy and likeable nature, he would be eminently suited for the position of director of choirs and orchestras in schools or universities.”

After India

In 1946, Walter left India and went on to spend a year in England, where he was a guest conductor at the BBC. From 1948 to 1957, he was the Musical Director and Conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

It was in 1957 that Walter moved to the United States permanently with his second wife, Freda.

He joined the School of Music at Indiana University in Bloomington as Professor of Music in the Department of Musicology, where he taught till 1977. He died there in 1984.

While it has been over three decades to Walter Kaufmann’s demise, he has been immortalised through his signature tune that millions of Indians continue to wake up to.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

Source…..Vidya Raja in http://www.the betterindia.com


IconsOfIndia: Murphy Radio & the Baby That Got All of India Glued to News!!!


This Republic Day, we take a look at the iconic objects that collectively defined the Indian experience over the past 68 years. From things that brought the world to our living rooms to tasty treats, take a nostalgic journey down memory lane!

Members of the Joshi family would gather around their prized possession at 7 every evening. The main door of the house was open–it wouldn’t be long before the neighbouring kids, their parents and maybe even grandparents joined the regular party.

A beautifully knit blue-green cover protects the wooden radio box which is only taken off when the radio is switched on and tuned in. One member of the family reaches the top shelf to pull out the long antenna of the radio and turns the two knobs till the radio frequency sets perfectly.

In the 1960s and 70s, when the television was still a rich man’s luxury, it was Murphy Radio that brought people together.

Although the radio set was a device even the upper-middle-class boasted on owning, it was still more accessible and affordable than the TV.

Source: India Design Museum/ Facebook.

The Murphy Radio was founded by Frank Murphy and E J Power in 1929. The radio company had manufactured sets for the British Armed Forces to use during the Second World War, but they aimed to make radio sets “a homely gadget”, one that did not need military expertise to operate.

In a 1931 advertisement, Murphy had said, “Your wireless set should not be a “gadget” which only “Father” can work. It should be something which can be used and enjoyed by everybody in the family. That is why, I made it my business to see that all Murphy sets are extremely simple to use, cheap to maintain and always reliable. The constant high standard of reproduction is an outstanding feature of all Murphy sets.”

Although the founder left his company in 1937 to establish another called the Frank Murphy Radio or FM Radio, the name ‘Murphy’ stayed.

This brand debuted in Indian households in 1948–just a year after we got independence and even before we became a republic!

Immediately, it became a popular source of news and entertainment.

Source: Murphy Radio.

Jyoti Sohini, a 70-year-old homemaker from Pune, fondly recollects the ‘Murphy days’. “It was a very popular brand in those days. The Murphy Baby calendar especially was very famous. The radio set was a common possession where I lived, but even then, there would be a huge crowd at our place, eager to listen to the cricket commentary,” she tells The Better India.

Adding to the programmes that they listened to in that era, Jyoti says Radio Ceylon, Binaca Geetmala, Vividh Bharati and Pune Kendra (a local news bulletin) were popular.

Much like this family in Pune, India fell in love with the brand and its adorable mascot–the Murphy baby or Murphy Munna. Print ads featured the chubby-cheeked Rinpoche, looking inquisitively, with a finger placed near his lip, instantly garnering the adoration of Indian families.

The three-year-old Kagyur Tulku Rinpoche fascinated many mothers or expectant mothers of that era. For millennials like me, the perfect reference point is Anurag Basu’s 2012 film, Barfi, where Ranbir Kapoor’s reel life mother names him after the Murphy because “Murphy Munna jaisa lalla, Amma ka tha sapna” (Mother wanted a baby just like the Murphy’s).

Speaking to the Hindustan Times about this shot to fame, Rinpoche said, “I was three years old and used to reside in Manali. Everyone in Manali knew about the ad.

Source: Veena Bhat/ Pinterest.

The makers wanted me in the ad, as the original Murphy baby who was a girl, had died. They were looking for someone identical.”

Rinpoche went on to become a monk for about 20 years before marrying Mandakini, an actress. But that is a story for another time.

Much like Rinpoche, Mohammed Rafi composed a tagline jingle for the brand to attract more customers.

Murphy ghar ghar ki rounak, tarah tarah ke Murphy radio, la deten hain ghar mein jaan (Murphy is the pride of homes, different kinds of Murphys bring life to the home),” played as an advertisement while superstars like Sharmila Tagore, featured in print ads.

68-year-old Kamlesh Chawla speaks to The Print about his childhood when he threw a tantrum to get a Murphy Radio after the Sharmila Tagore ad.

Source: Veena Bhat/ Pinterest.

Catchy phrases that spoke of the Murphy Radio as something that “delights the home” and “sets the standard” added to the aspirational sentiment.

Kamlesh says, “I used to be a calm child. But I can only recall one instance where I had cried for many days insisting [that] my father buy a radio. He bought the radio set on Diwali. I still have a memory of placing the radio right next to the black-and-white Keltron TV set in our sitting room.”

Writing for the Caleidoscope, Levine Lawrence says, “Those were the glory days of BBC, Voice of America, Radio Moscow and our own All India Radio. Vividh Bharati, the colourful movie songs and trivia programme was transmitted by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation due to a ban on film songs on Akashvani!”

Eventually, the radio gave way for black-and-white TV, which in turn, was replaced by the colour TV and now, the Internet.

Even as we surf the web to find such fascinating stories about the times and technologies of the past, the simplicity of the radio and the magnificent events it covered–right from Nehru declaring India’s independence in the speech that still gives us goosebumps to the wars that India fought later–can hardly be replaced.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

Source……Tanvi Patel  in http://www.the better india.com



Message for the Day …..” Once jealousy takes root in your mind, in due course, it will destroy all your other achievements. It promotes demonic qualities, dehumanises an individual and reduces one to the condition of an animal. “

Jealousy manifests itself in many forms, including the form of finding fault even in the Divine. People are jealous if someone earned a better name than themselves. Some are jealous of those who are more good looking than themselves. Students envy others who secure more marks in the examination. A jealous person cannot bear to see the other person who is better placed, more beautiful or more prosperous. This is a sign of human weakness. Once jealousy takes root in your mind, in due course, it will destroy all your other achievements. It promotes demonic qualities, dehumanises an individual and reduces one to the condition of an animal. Because of its egregious evil tendency, jealousy should be rooted out from the very beginning. You must learn to enjoy another’s prosperity and happiness. This is a great virtue.

Source…. http://media.radiosai.org/

Message for the Day…..” The message of Sankranti is the promotion of love among one’s kith and kin and friends by all of them coming together to celebrate this festival. Develop harmony towards everyone.”

On Sankranti, it is a custom to offer a mixture of jaggery and sesame seeds (til) to all. Jaggery is sweet and is a symbol of love. Til is also known as sneha, which means friendship. Therefore, the offer of the jaggery-tilmixture means offering ‘love surcharged with friendliness’ to people. The message of Sankranti is the promotion of love among one’s kith and kin and friends by all of them coming together to celebrate this festival. Develop harmony towards everyone. Much of what passes for friendship today consists in associating with persons when they are affluent and benefiting from their wealth. When they are in distress, the same persons will not even look at them. This is not true friendship. True friendship must emanate from the heart and should remain unaffected by weal or woe. In fact, God alone can be an unfailing friend in all situations. He is with you, above you, below you, beside you and around you.