வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை ….” கூட்டணி “

கூட்டணி
========
நேற்று வரை அரசியல் எதிரிகள் ! ஒரே நாளில்
தோழர்கள் …கூட்டணி என்னும் புது பெயரில் !
அரங்கேறும் தேர்தல் நேரம் இந்த கூட்டணி பந்தம் !
நிலைக்குமா இந்த பந்தம் ? வெறும் காகித ஒப்பந்தம் !
கூட்டணிக்கு சொல்வார் ஒரு காரணம் .. கூட்டணியின்
பிளவுக்கும் சொல்வார் பல காரணம் ! வாக்கு வங்கி ,
வாக்கு வங்கி, என்று சொல்லி வாக்கு வாங்கி விட்டு
தாக்கு தாக்கு என்று தாக்குவார் அதே வாக்கு வங்கியை
கூட்டணி முறிந்தவுடன் !
தேர்தல் நேரம்தான் கூட்டணி ….தேர்தல் முடிந்ததும்
தனி அணி என்றும் ஒரு கதை சொல்வார் !
கூட்டணிக் கூத்தில்  தம்பி நீ ஒரு “கவுரவ
நடிகன் ” மட்டுமே ! மறக்காதே இதை நீ !
யாருடன் யார் கூட்டணி வைத்தாலும் உன்
கூட்டணி இருக்க வேண்டும் உறுதியாக
உன் வாக்கு யாருக்கு என்னும் தேர்வில் !
உன் கூட்டணி இருக்க வேண்டும் உன்
மனசாட்சியுடன் மட்டும் ! உன் வாக்கு உன் செல்வாக்கு !
தேர்தல் சந்தையில் விலைக்கு வரும் ஒரு
விளை பொருள் அல்ல அது !
உன் மனசாட்சி கூட்டணி தர வேண்டும் ஒரு
நல்லாட்சி உன் வீட்டுக்கும் நாட்டுக்கும் !
மறந்தும் எந்த மாய வலையிலும் நீ சிக்கிவிடாதே!
K.Natarajan
10/02/2019
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Binaca, the Iconic Toothpaste That Lives On Through India’s Most Loved Radio Show!!!

Years before the television set had people glued to it with Doordarshan’s iconic shows like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Buniyad, Humlog and Mungeri Lal Ke Haseen Sapne—one medium ruled the roost.

The radio.

In most middle-class homes, where a TV set was a distant dream, the radio took centre stage. And while the history of this wonderful medium that connected the masses is not something people usually Google about, it is incomplete without the mention of one particular radio programme.

One that aired for over 40 years, reigning over the hearts of millions of listeners. Not just in India, but also beyond borders–in South Asia, parts of the Middle East, East Asia, and Europe.                                                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ameen Sayani live on air. Source: Facebook/Ameen J Sayani

Once a week, on Wednesdays, as the family neared supper time, a member, (often the youngest enthu-cutlet) would tune into Radio Ceylon at 8 PM. When tuned just in time, they would hear the closing lines of the Binaca toothpaste jingle, also the sponsor of the much-awaited programme to follow.

And then, a voice would resound through the radio set. A mix of baritone and warmth that broke away from the monotony of the All-India Radio (AIR) announcers, this living legend’s voice brought life to every household.

“Ji haan bhaiyon aur beheno. Main aapka dost Ameen Sayani bol raha hoon aur aap sun rahe hai Binaca Geetmala.”

A 30-minute programme, Binaca Geetmala was broadcast on Radio Ceylon from 1952–1989, and then on AIR’s Vividh Bharati network from 1989–1994.

Ameen Sayani, who is now 86, narrated the history of its inception on its silver jubilee.

 

Born to a devoted doctor who treated underprivileged patients free of charge and bought them medicines, and a mother who ran the periodical Rahber to propagate Gandhi’s vision, Ameen forayed into this earliest form of radio jockeying in the 1950s.

As a degree student of erstwhile Bombay’s St Xavier’s College, he applied for the role of a Hindi broadcaster on AIR. And as hard as it is for most of his fans to believe, he was rejected.

“Your ability to read from scripts is good but Mr Sayani, your pronunciation is defective with too much Gujarati and English influence in your pronunciation,’ was how he had been turned down, recalled Ameen in an interview with the Times of India.

Shattered, he turned to his guide and guru-his older brother, Hamid Sayani.

Hamid, a producer for Radio Ceylon, told him to listen to the station’s Hindi programmes during the recording.

Coincidentally, these recordings took place at a studio in the technical institute of St Xavier’s itself. Needless to say, the young Ameen would trade classes to learn and emulate the art of broadcasting.

This was also the time when sponsored radio shows made their debut on the medium.

Ameen was first noticed by Radio Ceylon’s Balgovind Shrivastav, the producer of the show-Ovaltine Phulwari. Unhappy with the voice for the Ovaltine advertisement, Shrivastav once got on to the stage and asked if anyone from the studio audience wanted to try reading out the script. Ameen volunteered. When the youngster read the words aloud, Shrivastav shut his ears to block his sound.

“This is not war,” he was chastised.

A second try impressed him. And thus began the young Ameen’s journey. He read advertisements every week. Was he paid? Well, if a small tin of Ovaltine could be considered a payment, then sure. What really marked his breakthrough into commercial radio was the absence of Indian film music on AIR. This vacuum was filled in 1951 by Radio Ceylon.

Using the concept of its already existing show-the Binaca Hit Parade which did a countdown of western songs, the brand decided to do a Hindi version for the masses.

The sponsors started looking for a less experienced individual who would have to write the scripts, present and produce the show. Additionally, he/she would have to read letters by the listeners, tabulate the requests and analyze the popularity of each song, based on the feedback from the listeners. It was a lot of work and the salary was a meagre Rs. 25 a week.

It wasn’t much but certainly more than Ameen’s prior payment of a small tin of Ovaltine.

He took a giant leap of faith. And then there was no looking back.

The first show raked in 200 letters. But into the second week, the number spiked to 9,000 letters and later 60,000 a week. In the year 2000, it also won the Advertising Club’s Golden Abby Award for being the most outstanding Radio Campaign of the Century.

The show 

Binaca Geetmala played seven contemporary songs in no particular order. But soon enough, it started ranking them based on popularity and feedback by the janta. The number of listeners shot up to 20,00,000 from the once 9,00,000. Over the years, the name of the show kept changing from—Binaca Geetmala to Cibaca Geetmala and later Colgate-Cibaca Geetmala—due to brand takeovers and change of sponsors.

But one thing remained constant. Ameen Sayani’s voice. For the lakhs of listeners, Ameen wasn’t just a radio jockey, he was a friend and confidant who played out their favourites, read song dedications, their heart-warming stories and letters. He also entertained the listeners with music trivia. Bets were placed on which song would top the week’s chart.

Every rank was referred to as a ‘paidan’  by Ameen—a staircase that led to the top of the Binaca Geetmala peak. Songs could either step up from one paidan to the other or climb down after losing its rank to newer competitors.

When he would announce, “Binaca Geetmala ke paidan ki choti par hai,” the suspense was built with the sound of a bugle. To be number one on the Binaca list was a sign of pride for music producers and directors.

The show’s popularity made Radio Ceylon extend its running time to 60 minutes from half an hour. And such was the media and public attention that it often caused crowds to gather in parks and traffic jams if someone played their radio loud.

“It was impossible to miss this weekly program on the radio during childhood. Even when outside my home, I could still hear the programme in remarkable continuity while walking, my only concern was to reach home before the top song was played. No other radio or TV programme in the world could have stayed popular for such a long time (four decades!) and in so many countries (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and so many other Asian countries). The magic was in the Indian music, deeply meaningful, heart-touching simple lyrics, fabulous presentation of Amin Sayani and melodious heavenly nostalgic voices of several artists,” writes a fan of the show on YouTube.

Binaca, the oral hygiene brand was launched in 1951 by FMCG brand Reckitt Benckiser. Before brands like Pepsodent or Colgate became a household name, in the 1970s, Binaca was one of the country’s favourite toothpaste.

What made the product memorable? Well, apart from the jingle and the radio show, the free toys and waterproof stickers that the brand gave out with the toothpaste and toothbrush packs made it a much-loved product among children.  Another marketing strategy was the free water picture sticker at a time when stickers or self-adhesive tapes had still not entered the market.

One of the brands most remembered print advertisement featured brave-heart Neerja Bhanot.                                                          

The Binaca ad featuring braveheart, Neerja Bhanot. Source: Facebook/Chandigarh : The City Beautiful

And while the brand couldn’t survive competition in the dental hygiene space and was bought by the Indian FMCG company Dabur in 1996 for ₹12 million, it continued to live on in the memories of thousands through the melodies of Geetmala.

(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)

Source…..Javita Aranha in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

         

 

 

 

Ladakh’s ‘Manjhi’: Spent Life Savings, Sold Ancestral Property to Construct 38 km Road!

Everyone knows about the fantastic story of Dashrath Manjhi, the villager from Bihar who carved a path through a hillock using only a hammer and chisel.

It’s a story of resilience, grit, perseverance and dedication that has resonated with every Indian.

Well, 75-year-old Tsultrim Chonjor, fondly known as ‘Meme Chonjor, who comes from the remote village of Stongde in the Zanskar Valley of Ladakh, has a similar story to tell.

The former government employee, who was working with the State handicrafts department from 1965 to 2000, was unhappy at how remote and inaccessible the region was for the rest of the Indian mainland.

As a result of this, the entire region of Zanskar, which falls under the Kargil district and is located at an altitude ranging from 11,500 to 23,000 feet above sea level, was for decades neglected by both the local and State administration.

Earlier this year, the Border Roads Organisation completed the construction of a 140 km-long road between Darcha in Himachal Pradesh to Padum town, the administrative centre of Zanskar, via Shinkula pass perched at 16,500 feet. From Padum, the road goes on through to Nimoo village in Leh district.

Even though, for the time being, only small vehicles can pass, the NPD (Nimoo-Padum-Darcha) road is potentially a critical piece of infrastructure, and not just for civilian purposes.

After the recent Chinese incursions, it had also assumed massive importance for Indian armed forces to connect these areas better to ensure regular movement of troops and supplies.

“Presently there is a single way to reach Kargil via 474 km long Manali-Leh highway. But with the connection of Darcha Road with Shinku la Pass, the road will become an option to reach Kargil sector directly as the shortest route for army vehicles, which at present were forced to ply via Manali-Leh highway,” said a senior BRO officer, to the Hindustan Times, in 2016.

“The safety of Zanskar is also vital to the safety of Leh, Lahaul, and East Punjab… For as long as we hold Leh and Zanskar, we hold the entire district and guard Kashmir, Changthang (in eastern Ladakh) and Lahaul against possible invasion,” wrote historian HN Kaul in a letter to Jawaharlal Nehru.

Back in May 2014, however, the circumstances were very different. One of the most pressing issues was the lack of proper road connectivity that links this area with the rest of the region. The 292-km Darcha-Shinkula-Padam-Nimoo road was planned in 2001.

Despite repeated pleas to the authorities, there was little action on the ground.

However, Meme Chonjor wasn’t one to wait. He was determined to ensure that his efforts would make a difference to the lives of not just his fellow villagers, but also the rest of the region.

From May 2014 to June 2017, he singlehandedly led efforts to construct a 38-km stretch of road from Ramjak, an inhabited area on the Jammu and Kashmir side of Shinkula pass, to Kargyak village, the first properly inhabited village in the Zanskar region.

Spending Rs 57 lakh from his own pocket after dipping into life savings and selling his ancestral property, Meme Chonjor pressed a JCB machine into action, set forth with five donkeys and constructed the road.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) later undertook road widening construction on this stretch.

He even received funds from a few other locals, who were in favour of the road—Rs 5 lakh from the local councillor and another 2.5 lakh from a local merchant, among other locals. “Seeing the pain and suffering of others had inspired me to construct this road,” says Meme Chonjor.

There were some initial challenges when the construction process began.

Security forces stationed there enquired about where he was getting the necessary funding from for the construction of this road.

“After I briefed them about my financial source, there was no further objection,” says Meme Chonjor.

There were significant climatic challenges as well.

For starters, constructing the road at an average altitude of 3500 metres (11,500 feet) above sea level took its toll on Meme Chonjor’s health, even though he had lived most of his life in Zanskar.

Other challenges include a short working season of four to five months since there is absolutely no scope for work in the harsh winter months when the temperatures in these parts drop would drop to -30-35 degrees Celsius. However, he was unperturbed by all this.

How does Meme Chonjor sustain himself financially after nearly spending all his life savings?

“I believe in simple living, so I don’t need massive financial support. How much does one really need? I survive on the regular monthly pension I receive from the government,” he says.

On Republic Day, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil, and the district administration honoured him for “playing an extraordinary role to construct the road between Padum to Darcha by himself.” They praised his “unflinching commitment towards public welfare.”

Such volunteerism and philanthropic gestures from the likes of Meme Chonjor are indeed inspirational, and empower others in his village to shape their own destinies.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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

Natarajan

 

 

 

 

How a Brilliant Gujarati Created ‘Sabki Pasand Nirma’ in His Backyard…!!!

Washing powder Nirma
Nirma!

You may or may not use Nirma’s detergent powder to wash your clothes today, but it is highly unlikely that you would be unfamiliar with this jingle, or the advertisement featuring a young girl in a spotless white frock, twirling around playfully.

The catchy jingle and the young girl were exactly what Karsanbhai Patel, the founder of the Nirma brand, used to capture India’s attention to and overtake the big names in the market in the early 1980s.

This is Patel’s story of how he took a new detergent brand from his backyard to every middle-class house in India.

The year was 1969, and a brand named ‘Surf’ by Hindustan Lever Ltd (now Hindustan Unilever) had complete monopoly over the detergent market in India.

Priced between Rs 10 and Rs 15, it removed the stains from your clothes without harming your hands and was better for your clothes than a regular bar of washing soap.

However, the price was a major pain point for middle-class households, who found it to be beyond their budget. So, they continued to use soap bars.

Karsanbhai Patel, a chemist at the Gujarat Government’s Department of Mining and Geology, wanted to enter this very market and provide middle-class families like his, some relief.

He decided to make a detergent from scratch in his backyard in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, keeping in mind that that the price of the product, as well as the production costs, needed to be low.

He developed the formula, manufactured a yellow-coloured detergent powder, and started selling it for Rs 3. The brand was named Nirma, after Nirupama, Patel’s daughter, who had passed away in an accident.

He would go from door to door in each neighbourhood and give a ‘money back’ guarantee with every packet he sold.

A quality product, Nirma was also the lowest-priced branded washing powder at the time and became a huge hit in Ahmedabad.

Soon, Patel quit his job and decided to pursue this venture full time and take on the big players in the market. In those days, credit terms were the norm for retailers to follow. If Patel followed those, he would have been left with a huge cash crunch. Something he could not risk.

So, he devised a brilliant plan. One that would make Nirma a household name across India.

The washing powder was doing fairly well in Ahmedabad so Patel invested a little money in a television advertisement.

The catchy jingle—which stated that Nirma was “sab ki pasand”(everyone’s choice)—and the girl in a frilly white dress, became an instant hit.

Customers flocked to local markets to buy the product. However, the cunning Patel had withdrawn 90% of the stock, to lather up the demand.

For about a month, customers kept watching the advertisement, but when they would head out to purchase the washing powder, they would return home empty-handed.

The retailers pleaded with Patel to resume the supply, and after a month, he obliged and flooded the markets with the product.

The demand was sky high—so much so, in fact, that Nirma overtook Surf’s purchases by a large margin and became the most sold detergent that year. In fact, it managed to keep up its production and sales for a decade after this brilliant move.

While the product was affected by the obvious ups and downs of the market, Patel was not too concerned because he had decided to beyond manufacturing just a detergent. Soon, he launched toilet soaps, beauty soaps, shampoos and toothpaste.

Some products were successful, some not so much. But the brand Nirma never lost its firm hold on the market. Today, it has a 20% market share in soap cakes and about 35% in detergents.

In 1995, Patel established the Nirma Institute of Technology in Ahmedabad, and in 2003, he founded the Institute of Management and the Nirma University of Science and Technology in 2003.

He maintains that the passion for keeping up the business and expanding its branches across markets is rooted in love for his late daughter.

Patel has been presented with several prestigious awards, including the Padma Shri in 2010 and was also featured in the Forbes list of India’s wealthiest (2009 and 2017).

Undeterred by the lack of a management degree, unafraid to go up against big names, and equipped only with a sharp business sense and a brilliant mind, Karsanbhai is a legend in the entrepreneurial fraternity, today.

He has proved that it is not just his brand, but his brilliance which is “sab ki pasand” in India.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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

Natarajan

 

Fort Kochi To Have 100 ‘Lantana’ Elephants. And Here’s Why You Need To See Them…

On February 7, if you are wandering around the popular South Beach in Fort Kochi, you are sure to come across a magnificent herd of 100 Asian elephants.

If you are wondering about the possibility of such a huge congregation of these beings at one place, let us break the news.

These are beautifully sculpted life-size elephants that have been made by tribal artisans from Thorapalli in Gudalur using Lantana camara or Lantana, a toxic invasive weed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlighting the cause of nature and wildlife conservation at a global scale, the Lantana elephants are part of a greater initiative to raise funds for conservation and help people and elephants live together more harmoniously.

The collaborators of the project involve various non-profit organisations from across the world including the UK based Elephant FamilyThe Real Elephant Collective(TREC), the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), and The Shola Trust.

“Our vision is to bring Asia’s elephants and the issues they face out of India and the shadow cast by the African ivory crisis. With Asian elephants numbering only a tenth of their African counterparts, the importance of this unique migration cannot be underplayed. The survival of a species is at stake,” says Ruth Ganesh, principal trustee and the creative force of Elephant Family.

She had conceptualised the Lantana herd along with Shubhra Nayar of TREC.

Modelled on real elephants from the Gudalur-Pandalur region, in its bid to raise awareness and funds for the conservation of Asian elephants, this unique project is also clearing the harmful Lantana from the Nilgiri forests while providing livelihoods to about 70 artisans from the Paniya, Bettakurumba and Soliga communities.

With their inherent knowledge of wild elephants and their exceptional crafting skills with Lantana, these artisans are bringing life to the elephant forms, while earning a dignified income.

Lantana was introduced to the Indian subcontinent as an ornamental shrub by the British.

However, it has taken over forests at a disturbingly fast pace, and is threatening the survival of the pachyderms by reducing their fodder base in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tribal artisans. Courtesy: The Shola Trust.

“Lantana encroachment has a negative impact on the regeneration of native flora, fodder and also non-timber forest products. It pushes animals out of forests, causing crop damage for local people, with a huge negative impact on livelihood of the indigenous communities. This project provides them with a livelihood opportunity and also gradually clears the forests from Lantana,” says Dr. Siddappa Setty, a fellow at ATREE.

This magnificent herd will stay in Kochi for about a month and then travel across the world to be part of exhibitions at different locations for auctioning.

The proceeds will be routed to a newly created Asian Elephant Fund that will be governed by a panel of elephant specialists in Asia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This project is innovative in many ways—it uses traditional indigenous artisanry to create these beautiful forms which can raise both awareness and funds for conservation while contributing significantly to indigenous livelihoods and clearing an invasive species to restore ecosystems,” adds Dr Nitin Pandit, Director of ATREE.

To know more about the Lantana elephants and their global tour, click here.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

Source…….LeksmiPriya.S in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

 

Meet The Incredible, Inspiring Odisha Chaiwala Who Just Won Padma Shri….

For every cup of tea sold at his stall, he used half the amount towards the education and health of the slum kids.

“For 54 years, I was a roadside tea-seller. But today, I am a Padma Shri tea-seller,” beams Odisha-based 61-year-old D Prakash Rao, who was conferred the prestigious award on Republic Day by the Government of India.

How did a tea-seller win the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India, you ask.

His beautiful story will move you.                     D Prakash Rao

Rao was only six-years-old when he started working at his father’s tea-stall. His father served during the second world war. When the war ended, he returned to his hometown, Cuttack. He hoped that his service during the war would help him find an alternate job. But to his disappointment, nobody wanted to employ him.

Pushed by unemployment and poverty, with a meagre capital of Rs 5, he started the tea-stall. One that Rao continued to run for the next five decades.

He tells The Better India, “Living and working in a slum, I witnessed the resistance of parents towards education first-hand. Living in their makeshift jhuggi jhopdis, they thought of their children as means of earning income. Instead of enrolling them in schools, these children were enrolled in menial labour. Working odd jobs and becoming domestic helpers, whatever money they earned was often snatched by the men in the home, who would buy alcohol and turn to domestic violence. It deeply affected me, every single day.”

He continues, “I was a good student. Bright in academics, adept at football. I wanted to become a doctor but landed up becoming a chaiwala. I knew what it was like to not have any opportunities. And I did not want these kids to have the same fate.”

For every cup of tea sold at his stall, he used half the amount towards the education and health of the slum kids.

He first operated from his two-room thatched house, with four children, where he provided them with food and education, completely free of cost.

He faced opposition from the parents who complained, “Yeh bacche kya kar lenge padh ke? Meri ladki ghar kaam karke Rs 700 leke aati hai mahine ka. Aap padhake kyun humaare pet par lat maarna chahte ho? (What will our kids do if they study? My daughter works as a maid and earns Rs 700 monthly. Why are you kicking our stomachs by educating her?)”

But he did not give up.

Slowly, the number of kids rose, and today his school, ‘Asha o Ashwasana’, has transformed the lives of more than a hundred kids.

The same parents who complained about education, gratefully look on as they watch their sons and daughters cycle to their colleges today.

“Every day I cook dalma for them (a preparation of dal, rice and sabji). It gives me immense joy to see them relish the home-cooked meal that is high in nutrition. When the Prime Minister visited Cuttack five months ago, we had a brief meeting where he told me this meal was one of the best, being served in schools.”

The humble tea seller found a mention in the PM’s radio show, Mann Ki Baat where he said that Rao embodied the spirit of ‘Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya’ which means, ‘From darkness, lead me to light.’

The Prime Minister referred to him as a diya (lamp) which guides underprivileged kids to the path of enlightenment.

When asked about his reaction on being bestowed the award, he sayExclusive: Meet The Incredible, Inspiring Odisha Chaiwala Who Just Won Padma Shri

 

He tells The Better India, “Living and working in a slum, I witnessed the resistance of parents towards education first-hand. Living in their makeshift jhuggi jhopdis, they thought of their children as means of earning income. Instead of enrolling them in schools, these children were enrolled in menial labour. Working odd jobs and becoming domestic helpers, whatever money they earned was often snatched by the men in the home, who would buy alcohol and turn to domestic violence. It deeply affected me, every single day.”

He continues, “I was a good student. Bright in academics, adept at football. I wanted to become a doctor but landed up becoming a chaiwala. I knew what it was like to not have any opportunities. And I did not want these kids to have the same fate.”

For every cup of tea sold at his stall, he used half the amount towards the education and health of the slum kids.

He first operated from his two-room thatched house, with four children, where he provided them with food and education, completely free of cost.

He faced opposition from the parents who complained, “Yeh bacche kya kar lenge padh ke? Meri ladki ghar kaam karke Rs 700 leke aati hai mahine ka. Aap padhake kyun humaare pet par lat maarna chahte ho? (What will our kids do if they study? My daughter works as a maid and earns Rs 700 monthly. Why are you kicking our stomachs by educating her?)”

But he did not give up.

Slowly, the number of kids rose, and today his school, ‘Asha o Ashwasana’, has transformed the lives of more than a hundred kids.

The same parents who complained about education, gratefully look on as they watch their sons and daughters cycle to their colleges today.

“Every day I cook dalma for them (a preparation of dal, rice and sabji). It gives me immense joy to see them relish the home-cooked meal that is high in nutrition. When the Prime Minister visited Cuttack five months ago, we had a brief meeting where he told me this meal was one of the best, being served in schools.”


 


The humble tea seller found a mention in the PM’s radio show, Mann Ki Baat where he said that Rao embodied the spirit of ‘Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya’ which means, ‘From darkness, lead me to light.’

The Prime Minister referred to him as a diya (lamp) which guides underprivileged kids to the path of enlightenment.

When asked about his reaction on being bestowed the award, he says,

“The adulation and support that people have extended is overwhelming. I am honoured and humbled all at once by their warmth and the place they gave me in their hearts. When people say that I have transformed the lives of these kids, I say that it is these 100 children who have helped me reach this point and improved the quality of my life. Today, my small school has become a temple of education, where I serve these living gods (children). Even at 61, I am as fit as a fiddle and consider myself the richest man in the world, because serving them gives me the joy that no bundles of cash or jewels in the world can buy.”

Apart from the people of Cuttack and Odisha, who have supported his initiative, Rao also attributes his success to the media, which he says has been highly instrumental in taking his story to the masses.

He signs off with a message to the youth and aspiring social workers:

“In today’s fast-paced world, where many youths are driven by the passion for becoming rich overnight, remember that money is not everything. There is no shortcut to success. You will encounter several obstacles, but only when you serve selflessly will you attain success. Live your own lives but don’t shy away from extending a helping hand to those less privileged than you. It is only when we join hands to uplift the downtrodden, will India really become the sone ki chidiya (golden bird) that we sing odes to.”

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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

Natarajan

 

How an Idea, …and an Ad … and Some Italians Got us the Auto Rickshaw!!!

After that glorious stroke at midnight in August 1947, following two centuries under the colonial yoke, India finally became free.

While citizens reeled under the after-effects of a hurried partition, leaders had a mammoth task at hand. They needed to plan and act towards the development of the new nation—economically and socially—and her people as producers and consumers.

“Correcting the disequilibrium” in the economy and an improvement in “the living standards” of the people featured in the objectives for the First Five Year Plan(1951-52 to 1955-56).

In a February 1947 session of then Bombay’s legislative assembly, a member raised the inhuman conditions of rickshaw pullers. This discussion set many wheels in motion.

Morarji Desai, then Home Minister of Bombay province, suggested that cycle rickshaws be discontinued.

Cycle Rickshaws. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Navalmal Kundalmal Firodia, a freedom fighter, saw in this an opportunity to provide low-cost public transport to the country. The image of a three-wheeler “goods carrier” from a trade paper caught his eye and inspiration.

He submitted a plan to Desai and was told that if the vehicle was satisfactory from “a technical viewpoint”, it could be permitted under the public conveyance plan.

Firodia’s Jaya Hind Industries, set up a joint venture with Bachhraj Trading Corporation (later Bajaj Auto Private Limited), to replicate the vehicle in the image. It was manufactured by Italy’s Piaggio.

To better understand the nuances, Firodia bought a scooter and two three-wheeler goods carriers from the Italian company, studying the models and making several modifications to arrive at the final product.

Painted in hues of green and yellow, it was a mix of the hand-drawn carriages of the time and the automated two-wheeler. This contraption would soon become commonplace on Indian roads and affix its reliability on the Indian psyche.

The industrialist in Firodia had perhaps foreseen how it would enable independent Indians to undertake convenient and affordable trips around the country’s myriad cities and towns.

With the approval in the Bombay province, he saw and used another opportunity to popularise his vehicle—the prohibition of cycle rickshaws in Pune.

By December 1950, N Keshava Iyengar, the Mayor of Bangalore, approved the licenses of ten auto rickshaws in the capital of the princely state of Mysore. These vehicles “resembled a scooter pulling a passenger cabin attached to its rear”.

 

Iyengar inaugurated the first auto and is even said to have volunteered to take the vehicle’s owners, a Bangalorean man and his Italian wife, on its maiden journey!

While people hailed the autos, the jatka union (hand-drawn cart) in Bangalore and the tongawallahs in Pune were unimpressed; the last-mile connectivity to and from public transport that auto rickshaws provided stood in their way.

As did the restrictions from the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969.

A coffee-table about Kamalnayan Bajaj, the pioneer of Bajaj Auto, highlights this in the following words.

“In the beginning, we were licensed to make 1,000 scooters and auto rickshaws per month. In 1962, we applied to increase manufacturing capacity to 30,000 and 6,000 auto rickshaws per year. In 1963, we applied to increase capacity from 24,000 scooters to 48,000. In 1970, we asked for 100,000. Eventually, in 1971, the government approved an increase to 48,000.”

While the Bajajs and Firodias went their separate ways, with the auto rickshaw coming under the Bajaj Group, Bangalore’s ten auto rickshaws grew to 40.

The fact that middle-class Indians did not yet have enough disposable income to own vehicles furthered the popularity of the auto rickshaw, and it became the symbol of affordable urban transport.

This was true not only for India, but also for other developing countries. By 1973, Bajaj Auto was exporting three-wheelers to Nigeria, Bangladesh, Australia, Sudan, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Yemen.

In the financial year 1977, the company introduced rear engine auto rickshaws and sold 100,000 vehicles.

Until 1980, the vehicles were only allowed to carry two passengers at a time. However, this changed in the next two decades, and today, autos can transport as many as can fit themselves on the seats!

As per data from EMBARQ, auto rickshaws in tier-2 cities (population between 1 and 4 million) number between 15,000 and 30,000, to more than 50,000 in tier-1 cities (population more than 4 million).

The sector also employs an estimated 5 million people!

Additionally, the auto rickshaw union is one of the most organised labour groups in the country. They follow the latest trends—from unitedly aping a favourite actor’s haircut to expressing their thoughts on the vehicle.

While auto drivers have been criticised for irregularities in the fare system, and their disregard to the safety of passengers, autos remain the quintessential mode of intermediate or even end-to-end transport for an Indian.

Taxi aggregators born in India and abroad have take note of this, and as a result, co-opted the vehicle in their business models.

Interestingly, Firodia was not just responsible for bringing the three-wheeler goods chassis from Italy and converting it into a passenger vehicle in India, but also coined the term ‘auto-rickshaw’.

The word now finds a place in the Oxford Dictionary, and since its introduction in 1949, the auto has not gone off the road.

Featured image: Pxhere

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

Source…..Shruti Singhal in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan