Thursday, 8 March 2018

Women's Day 2018

Another year, another Women's Day.
What have we done to honour the women in our life?
If nothing else, thank them.
Thank your mother, grand mother.
Thank your wife, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, grand daughter.
Thank your women teachers, colleagues, students and friends.
For everything that they have done.

Without women, we wouldn't have been here.

Happy Women's Day to all the women of the world! We owe it to them.

We don't mind repeating W.R. Wallace's famous lines:
"The hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world"

You may like to browse Ghumakkad's earlier tributes to the women of the world.
2017: More Power to the women of the world
2016: The most beautiful thing a woman can wear is confidence
2015: May the women of the world remain smiling- always

Hail the women of the world!

Thanks for browsing.

      - Harsh-The-Ghumakkad/ 8th March 2018/ International Women's Day

#WomensDay #HailTheWomen #Dignity #Honour #Wallace #GhumakkadHarsh #GhumakkadHB

Friday, 2 March 2018

“I wouldn’t trade entrepreneurship for anything else”

“I wouldn’t trade entrepreneurship for anything else” replied Anjali Raj when asked about her entrepreneurial journey. Co-founder of 'ILove9Months', Anjali is driven by the passion to make  pregnancy healthy and memorable. 
Anjali belongs to the 1st batch of BBA from IBS Hyderabad where she was my student. Even as a teenager in 2010, she had her focus to do something different. She participated in many events which involved team work.

She went on to do her Masters from University of Warwick, UK. She followed her passion to become an educator. She is a Certified Childbirth Educator,  Lactation Educator, Pre and Postnatal Yoga Instructor, Prenatal Barre Instructor, Infant and Child Feeding Counselor and has been trained in KG HypnoBirthing.
After working as a birth and lactation educator in Bengaluru, Anjali is now driven to empower the women of India through knowledge, advocacy, and evidence-based techniques. Her ultimate goal is to impact as many women as possible through her skill and passion.

Anjali's story is part of the series titled 'Proof of the Pudding'"Proof of the pudding is in the eating" goes the old proverb. For a teacher like Ghumakkad, what is the pudding? 'Pudding' for any teacher is his/her graduating students. Then how  this 'pudding' in the form of former students is to be 'eaten'? 'Eating' can be symbolically equated with the placements or performance of former students in real life. This story is about Ghumakkad's former students who have become entrepreneurs. Most of the 2500 or so MBA, PGDM and BBA graduates taught by me have taken up a job. By embarking on the challenging path of entrepreneurship, few of these former students have proven the proverbial pudding beyond doubt! Who are these ten entrepreneurs? Are their business ventures diverse?

Their enterprises may not be huge, but they have followed their heart. They have pursued their passion. It was such a pleasure to reconnect with these former students and to learn their success stories. Thanks are due to each one of them for sharing their journey after graduation.

MBA Graduation
Business Area
Venture Name & Location
MBA(HR) IBS(2010)
Career Coaching
HRscope Consultants, Patna
MBA(HR) IBS (2010)
Entertainment/ Theatre and Performing Arts
XpressionZ, Bangalore
MBA(Mktg) IBS (2012)
Image Consultant, Corporate Trainer
Tualmagis, Mumbai
MBA(Fin) IBS (2012)
Designer Soaps- manufacture and supply
Soapatite, Indore
MBA(Mktg) IBS(2013)
Designer Apparels and Accessories
Preksha Jain – The Fashionate, Kolkata
Anjali Raj
BBA IBS(2013)
Healthy Mother, Healthy Baby
ILove9Months, Kochi
Ishita Raksha and Nidhi Upadhyay
BBA IBS(2013)
A Gourmet Dessert Studio
17 Sugar Street, Hyderabad
Sriram Gundepudi
Employability Skills Training
Digi Freaks, Hyderabad
Amruth Charan
PGDM(Fin) VVISM (2016)
Digital Marketing, Web/App Development
Aresol India, Visakhapatnam

Anjali shared her entrepreneurial journey with us. Excerpts:

Has your entrepreneurial journey been as exciting as you had expected it to ​be?
My entrepreneurial journey has been a roller coaster ride! It’s definitely been exciting and fun, but this comes with its share of pressure, low times and intensively challenging situations. That said, I wouldn’t trade this for anything else!

What are the key challenges that you are facing in your enterprise and how do you plan to overcome it​? ​
Our biggest challenge is Lack of Awareness and Advocacy at every level of the societal pyramid regarding the importance of maternal wellness and its direct impact on maternal/infant health outcome. Secondly, India being a diverse nation has a lot of age-old tradition and norms including myths. Our challenge is to honour and blend age-old traditions with science, but keep myths at bay. We are managing these challenges by increasing awareness levels at every level and within the multiple stakeholders like the government, hospitals, corporates etc.
Our final challenge remains funding to grow and scale the organization. By proving our concept and increasing traction through our MVP, we aim at raising funds.

What is your message for present students who want to take the entrepreneurial dive​?​
I would always encourage students to take the dive into entrepreneurship. However, know the pros and cons, prepare yourself for extreme hard work, lots of rejection and challenging situations. If someone wants to get into entrepreneurship because they think its easier to be your own boss and work stress is lower, one couldn’t be anymore wrong!

'I love 9 months' is a team of three women dedicated to antenatal and postpartum wellness. In their words "We work towards empowering women to make the right choices during their pregnancy and after. We believe that every woman deserves the right to know how best to take care of her body and mind during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum." 

Anjali and team have won several awards. They were selected to share the stage with the Prime Ministers of India and Israel during recently concluded India-Israel Innovation Bridge. See the pictures below.

Govt of Kerala also honoured them for their outstanding work.
For those readers interested in knowing more about maternal  healthcare and the work done by ILove9Months, here is a short video.
Anjali is not the one to rest on her oars. She is working for her PhD at University of Warwick to assess the benefits of yoga for women who have conceived post a miscarriage. We wish Anjali all the best in her socially relevant endeavours.

Readers may also browse two related stories posted earlier:

Can Startup Management be taught?
Social Entrepreneurship- Learnings

Thanks for browsing. 
More stories of passionate entrepreneurs will follow. Stay connected.

     - Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/2nd March 2018

#StartupIndia #IndiaIsraelInnovationBridge #WomenEntrepreneurs #ProofOfThePudding #IBSHyderabad #ILove9Months #GhumakkadHarsh #GhumakkadHB #AnjaliRaj #MaternalHealth 

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Ruins of Jahajpur Fort

"Is this the way to the fort on hilltop?"
"No this will take you to the Dargah."
"Then how do we go to the Fort?"
"There is no pathway to the Fort. Nobody visits the Fort because it is in ruins." 
"But we would like to visit it."
After some quizzical looks, the 'chacha jaan' responded reluctantly "Turn right after the banyan tree. Once you reach the Dargah try and find your way to the fort". For readers not familiar with India, a Dargah (Persian: درگاه‎ dargâh or درگه dargah, also in Urdu) is a shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure like a sufi saint.
This was the brief conversation we had with an elderly muslim resident of Jahazpur (also spelt as Jahajpur) a tehsil town in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan. Having seen the imposing structure from a long distance, I was keen to hike up the Fort. 
We did not have any data connectivity at the place we were staying. So, googling it was ruled out. Somehow I persuaded Rajveer, the driver of our hired Innova to explore it together. He agreed to take the narrow lanes through Jahazpur basti (like a slum- having small houses or huts of economically weaker sections of the society) to the Dargah (I later found it to be Dargah Gazi Sarkar Ra). 
After we entered the outer gate of Jahajpur town, we had to negotiate through narrow lanes by folding our side view mirrors!
We made it to the bottom of the hill to find a narrow steep climb ahead. Rajveer our driver kept up his motivation and we climbed the steep slope. See the pictures.
After 100 metres of steep climb (partly cemented for the visitors to the dargah) we came across a path with sharp stones on either side. Typical of Aravali hills, the layers of stones looked fractured.

We pressed on and then suddenly the gravel path seemed to end and lead nowhere. There was hardly any place to reverse the car. We decided to park on the hill side and got down to hike up the fortress which was now visible through the keekar trees and other shrubs. 

We passed by a bastion of the fortress. Picture.
As we hiked a few hundred feet we came upon a broken wall and few steps leading to a door. We kept going and found a pair of shoes outside the dilapidated door frame. With no sign of animal or human habitation around, it was quite a discovery! An interesting find to put it differently.
We entered the door only to find a man lighting some Agarbattis on the mazar मज़ार (grave) of some departed soul buried there. We asked him if there was a way to the Fort. He said "you are already standing in one part of the fort and this is the Dargah". He then pointed to an abandoned water tank of the olden days.
"We want to go further up. Is there a path to the fort", we asked.
"There is no path, but you can follow the fallen walls and stones and find your way up to the Fort", he replied. However, he cautioned us to be careful.

As we made our way through the thorny shrubs Rajveer the driver looked up to the ruins and remarked "Sir yeh toh Bhoot Mahal lagta hai!" (It looks like a haunted palace). I comforted Rajveer and told him that he should not worry as I am with him and let's press on. He agreed albeit reluctantly.
We kept going up the rubble while maintaining our balance. The ruins glowed in the evening sun. Pause for a picture.
One bend after the other, one stair after the other, the fortress in ruins kept surprising us with its architectural beauty. As the old Hindi proverb goes "खंडहर बतातें हैं कि इमारत भी कितनी बुलंद थी" which means 'the ruins tell us how robust and majestic the original structure was'.  Pictures.

Although we could not ascertain the dates when the fort was built, but since most forts in Mewar region were built in 14th-15th Century AD, Jahajpur would also belong to that period. Any reader or historian is welcome to enlighten us in this regard.
A short 45-second video clip shows the Palace in the fort.

The view from the fort was simply breathtaking. See the two pictures of the town below.

Will some reader or historian decipher the inscriptions pictured below?
How the fort walls and its interiors have been vandalised,was a shock. Perhaps visitors could access the fort in the past. Their 'art' work!

 Here is a short one-minute video that shows the panorama from the fort in Aravali hills.

 William Blake had once said "The ruins of time build mansions in eternity". How true? See the picturesque quote below.

Recently the Quli Qutabshahi Tombs in Hyderabad were restored by The Aga Khan Foundation. Wonder why priceless treasures such as Jahajpur Fort are not being protected and restored by the Govt of India or the State Government?

Talking of the valour of the Rajputana kingdoms, Kumbhalgarh needs special mention. You may browse Ghumakkad's story titled Kumbhalgarh- The Pride of Mewar.
Taking a DSLR selfie is not as simple. But we managed to get the fort in the background as the sun was going down!
I have always felt that rural India is a perfect example of peaceful co-existence. People of different faiths live happily in the same village. Jahajpur was no exception. While returning from the fort, light was fading. Yet from the moving car on a rocky patch, I took this picture. Result-- pretty bad. But the two objects though blurred-- a mandir atop a hill and a masjid in the town-- say it all.
 Where exactly is this Jahajpur? About 200 kms south of Jaipur in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan. We drove via Ajmer. See the route map courtesy Google Maps below.
For all the netizens, below is an extract of Jahajpur map around the fort. Notice there is no road to the fort. Location of the fort is approximate. 

Ghumakkad's earlier stories on some other forts of India can be browsed by clicking the links below:

Hope you enjoyed 'hiking' to Jahajpur with Ghumakkad. Venturing into unknown is what Ghumakkad thrives on.

Thanks for browsing. Do share your feedback.

     -  Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/15th Feb 2018

#Forts #HillForts #Mewar #Rajasthan #TravelIndia #NatGeoIndia #LonelyPlanetIndia #WanderLust #WanderTrails #IncredibleIndia #IndiaTourism #GhumakkadHarsh #GhumakkadHB