Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy Ugadi

Wishing a very happy new year to all those following the Lunar Calendar

As a result, two joined more of their homeless companions. Funds invited for a new book shelf ;)

A Heartbreaking work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sixth Sense

A TED talk on some phenomenal research at MIT

Adieu to Premier Book Shop

I had mentioned Premier here before.
I just read this while looking for some proof of the fact that Premier was supposed to close. I was there a couple of days ago and the now familiar board was gone and the shutters down :(

So one more relic of the Bangalore I love is gone.

God bless Mr. Shanbag. I am quite sad that I missed his exit and more so that he is gone. I would have probably made a few frantic purchases and like Ram Guha taken his autograph :(

Despite being the bargain hunter, I would have gladly bought his books at face value if I had known it could help bring him back...

I don't know if one gets sadder or stoic as one grows older.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Buyology by Martin Lindstrom

Book Review here


Sunday, March 15, 2009

In dinon...

The past few weeks have been weird. I didn't get much reading done. I hadn't attended a quiz in almost 3 months or more. No drinking either. Not even much running.

Work had completely taken over my life. I got back to Bangalore after 6 weeks in Orissa y'day. I did manage to run a bit, barely twice a week. Also managed to attend a friend's wedding in a place near Rajamundry a few days ago. Managed a run in the countryside as well while I was there. Due to my friend's generosity, stayed at a riverside resort. Was great fun. Won a little money playing teen patta! But the entertainment value of two of the group was worth a million bucks. Life is returning to normal although the coming week promises turbulence as well.

Went to 2 quizzes today - qualified for both!
Rode my bike after a long time. And it rained today. Wow! Life is lovely with quizzing, running and rain in my favourite city :)

Five Years of Parivaar

This is a long due post. For those of you who I have mailed personally during my fund raising efforts, you would know about Parivaar. But for the rest, the below is a summary of Parivaar. Parivaar completed 5 years recently. Here is wishing the best for their future.

Parivaar : A Photographic Tour

What is Parivaar?

Parivaar is a humanitarian organisation, based in 24 Parganas (S), West Bengal headquartered at Parivaar Ashram, Village- Barkalikapur, P.O. Bakhrahat, District 24 Parganas (South), West Bengal. Parivaar Ashram is a Residential Institution for Education and Overall Development of erstwhile destitute children from categories like orphans, girls vulnerable to exploitation and victimisation, street children, abandoned children, children from highly impoverished tribal areas, and other such highly vulnerable children. Parivaar Ashram is essentially a community of children and Resident Seva-vratis whose only aim is to love and serve the children as their younger brothers and sisters. Starting from scratch (with just 3 resident children) in 2003 and thereafter developed brick by brick, Parivaar Ashram is being continuously developed and moulded into a unique institution transforming the lives of each of its resident members (children as well as adults). At present, Parivaar Ashram’s Residential Institution has 372 resident children (both boys and girls) who have found a new life at Parivaar and are being prepared for bright future through quality education and overall development. Parivaar Ashram at Bakhrahat, about 30 Km from Kolkata city is spread over 8 acres (about 320,000 sq. ft) of land. At the Parivaar Ashram campus is also located Parivaar’s own Formal School ‘Amar Bharat Vidyapeeth’, a quality academic institution, in which the resident children of Parivaar study.

Children are admitted at a young age of 4 to 10 into Parivaar Ashram. Each resident child once admitted into Parivaar will be under the care and custody of Parivaar till higher education (graduation / post-graduation) and subsequent job placement and settlement into future phase of life. Parivaar is and shall be behind each child and pave his/her way into any future career which he/she is aspring for and showing promise of making to, whether it is a stream graduation in humaities, commerce or sciences, or a professional degree education in engineering/medicine. For example, children showing aptitude for meritorious professional lines like engineering or medicine or any other such lines shall be trained and fully supported (just as parents do for their on children) for completion of that higher education and subsequent placement. Our eldest group of children is already in Class 8 and despite the fact that they were late-starters in academic path (trained and initiated straight into Class 4 in 2004) they are outperforming children from educated households in their respective schools, and securing top-bracket ranks.

In the next 2 years, Parivaar is being developed to accommodate 1000 such resident children while ensuring the same high quality. A separate All-Girls Residential Institution is on the way of being developed which will be gradually expanded to accommodate 500 resident girls. Construction for the same is going on. Residential Institutions shall also be started in some of the far-off tribal areas where Parivaar is working.

Parivaar Ashram being the hub of training of Seva-vratis, is also the base for many other projects serving the rural areas in 24 Parganas district as well as far-off tribal areas in districts of Midnapore (West), Bankura, and Purulia in West Bengal and Singhbhum (East) in Jharkhand. Two main tribes, Sabar and Birhore, are the main beneficiaries of Parivaar's tribal service programs. 400 such families from highly impoverished tribal areas are enrolled in Parivaar's regular Foodstock Scheme whereby 9 tonnes (9000 Kg) of foodstock (Rice and Dal) are ferried and distributed by Parivaar Seva-vratis through most inaccessible terrains in these areas every month. 75 children from these tribal areas have also been admitted at Parivaar Ashram Residential Institution.


Parivaar has also developed a wide field-base in various highly impoverished tribal areas in
West Bengal and Jharkhand in districts of Midnapore (West), Purulia, Bankura in West Bengal, and Singhbhum (East) in Jharkhand.

Parivaar's work has attracted an increasing number of supporters from amongst Indians in varied walks of life, and at the same time has been able to build a cadre of highly dedicated youth Seva-vratis who are initiated into ideals of service and trained at Parivaar Ashram.

In the Financial Year April '07- March '08, Parivaar spent more than Rs 1 Cr on Parivaar Ashram Residential Institution, Amar Bharat Vidyapeeth, and host of the other initiatives in tribal areas in
West Bengal and Jharkhand. About Rs 1.5 Crore were spent on infrastructure expansion at Parivaar Ashram and land purchase and ongoing construction for the separate All Girls' Residential Institution that Parivaar is developing. Towards this Parivaar received more than Rs 3 Cr in the said Financial Year, by Parivaar supporters worldover. Out of this the bulk was from hundreds of individual supporters who inspired by Parivaar contribute to it magnanimously.

The Beginning

Parivaar was started by Shri Vinayak Lohani (an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and IIM Calcutta), who, inspired by spiritual and humanistic ideals of Swami Vivekananda, decided to devote his entire life for serving ‘Divine in Man’ as taught by Swami Vivekananda. Immediately after passing out of IIM in 2003, with just 3 children in a small rented building with almost no financial resources, Shri Vinayak started Parivaar. Till the level of 15 children at Parivaar, he used to take some lectures for students appearing for Management entrance examinations and through that could meet the expenses. Gradually people began to be inspired by this dedicated service and started to support this initiative and the number of children at Parivaar grew. At the end of 2004, Parivaar could purchase its own land to develop its permanent campus called Parivaar Ashram. Parivaar’s mission and theme began to attract dedicated youth, many of whom joined Parivaar Ashram as resident workers and began to become bearers of this mission.

Parivaar Ashram : Building of a Unique family

December ‘03 : Admission of 3 children at rented building at Bonogram near Thakurpukur, Kolkata.
June 30th ‘04: 59 children
Dec 29th ‘04: Purchase of land at Barkalikapur, Bakhrahat in 24 Parganas (South)
Dec 31st ’04: 67 children (all housed at Bonogram Centre)

June 30th ‘05: 110 children.
Dec 31st ‘05: 145 children.
June 30th ‘06: 200 children.
April 15th ‘07: 226 children.
May 15th '07: 250 children.
Oct 15th '07: 275 children.
Feb 15th '08 : 310 children.
Jun 15th '08 : 332 children.

December ’08 : 372 children

The Road Ahead

Parivaar wants to continuously develop its cadre of dedicated Seva-vratis who can take vow of service and work in various neglected parts of India for our unserved brethren and bring light to their lives. Thus in the years to come similar full-fledged Seva-Ashrams shall be started in other places first in West Bengal and then in rest of India.

Parivaar’s Support Base

Indians (and a few foreign nationals too) all over the world have been influenced and inspired by Parivaar’s work. A large no. of working professionals including IIT and IIM alumni (more than 500 of them) the world over support Parivaar. Parivaar received more than Rs 3 Cr in the said Finacial Year, by Parivaar supporters worldover. Out of this the bulk was from individual donors who inspired by Parivaar support it magnanimously.

Institutional Donors

There have been some important institutional donors supporting Parivaar too.

  • CLSA Ltd, world's leading Financial Service firm has donated Rs 48 Lacs towards development of new campus for Girls' Residential Institution in the ongoing FY '08-09.
  • Netherlands based Fortis Investments has donated Rs 13 Lacs to Parivaar in the ongoing FY.
  • Edelweiss Capital ( ), a leading Financial Services company in India, has donated Rs 35 Lacs over the last 3 FYs.
  • The Rohatyn Group, a New York-Singapore based Hedge Firm has donated Rs 15 Lacs over two years as a part of there Corporate Philanthropy Policy over the last 2 FY.
  • Monroe Street Journal of the Michigan University’s Stephen Ross School of Business has donated Rs 13 Lacs over the last 2 FYs.
  • British Telecom plc has donated Rs 11 Lacs to Parivaar in one of the previous FYs.
  • State Bank of India has donated Rs 5 Lacs in the last FY.
  • United Bank of India has donated Rs. 5 Lacs in one of the previous FYs.
  • UCO Bank has donated Rs 5 Lacs in the last FY.
  • Credit Suisse Asia has donated Rs 4.5 Lacs in the last FY.
  • CLSA Ltd. (Calyon Bank) has donated Rs 4 Lacs in the last FY.
  • Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. has donated Rs. 3.5 Lacs in one of the previous FY.
  • Cognizant Technology Solutions has donated Rs 3 Lacs in the last FY.