Tag Archives: PM Narendra Modi

Swacch Ghar Abhiyan with Royale Atmos by Asian Paints!

I have always believed in the dictum: Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

As a true Blue Mumbaikar, I always wondered why Mumbai is so polluted, so dirty, ugly sights, garbage dumps, dirty platforms, railway tracks, iconic Gateway of India, lovely Juhu beach full of trash…what not which are immensely contributing to the pollution in our lives. Ironically, we lived with them since, but kept our own houses clean (Really?). Truly inspired by PM Narendra Modi’s campaign, Swacch Bharat, Shrestha Bharat, I started contributing towards cleanliness of the aamchi Mumbai, by taking on social media with élan and tagging MCGM and Govt. of Maharashtra, who promptly acted on my tweets and made those places garbage free.

Going by that, I have always kept my house and surroundings spic and span, which as a writer have immensely contributed to my blogging and other creative sojourns, till…hold on…

I always believed that my house is almost pollution free as it is cleaned and dusted every day properly and I was quite happy about it, till I saw…

…Beautiful Deepika Padukone in a mask in Asian Paints Royale Atmos commercial tip-toeing us in her celebrity life, but making a shocking revelation – – Indoors are 5X more polluted than outdoors!

How come I never thought about it? But could not restrain for long…

I list here Pollution Causing Culprits inside the home:

  1. Smoker husband, though he keeps exhaust fan on, yes, it is causing pollution
  2. House being on roadside, vehicles emissions quietly enter, without me knowing about it
  3. Chimney in the kitchen, which takes out some and brings in some emissions from outside
  4. Dirty Footwear which we park inside the home
  5. Sanitary Napkins disposal methodology
  6. Painting the walls after a gap of two years which unknowingly accumulates host of dust
  7. Carpets in all the rooms which are vacuum cleaned once a month
  8. Curtains in the rooms which are washed occasionally
  9. Dirt in the corners, which house help avoids
  10. Outside Grills & nets, which accumulate outside dirt

I am very happy that now we have an effective ammunition to fight all this and more…

…Royale Atmos by Asian Paints is a first of its kind paint that not only looks beautiful but also cleans the air making it purer than before. It’s Activated Carbon technology reduces harmful pollutants from the air. Additionally, Royale Atmos also absorbs and reduces select foul smells to make the air fresher. Royale Atmos is the first Asian Paints product to have a fragrance, instead of the normal chemical smell of paints. Thus, it also acts like an air freshener by releasing a mild fragrance week after painting.

Prominent features:

Reduces indoor air pollutant: It reduces a harmful air pollutant, formaldehyde, and makes the indoor air healthier to breathe.

Releases fragrance: It emits a soothing fresh fragrance.

Green assure: The promise of Green Assure from Asian Paints, implies that this product conforms to strict international environmental and safety standards.

Teflon™ surface protector: Fortifies your walls against tough stains, increases durability and reinforces the strength of the paint film. Comparable to the best interior emulsions across the world, it protects your walls against the toughest household and water based stains.

Smooth matt finish: It comes in a rich Matt finish which makes your walls look perfect.

Few tips to ensure clean air inside your homes #CleanAirBeautifulHomes

  1. Festive season is on us, get your walls painted with Asian Paints Royal Atmos as a booster shot for Pollution free home: https://www.indiblogger.in/drive/royale-atmos-paint-purifies-air
  2. https://www.asianpaints.com/product/royale.royale-atmos.html
  3. Wash your bedsheets and upholstery regularly
  4. Vacuum Clean the carpets regularly
  5. Get Sanitary Napkins disposal bins in your washrooms
  6. Wash outside grills, nets etc with piped water once a week
  7. Remove grease oil dirt from fans, ACs, Chimney and exhaust fans
  8. Clean footwear outside homes before parking them inside
  9. Not to smoke, chew tobacco etc. inside the house
  10. Get your gadgets serviced from time to time
  11. Have indoor plants which not only provide fragrance but also add to positively inside your home sweet home

What are you thinking, pick – up the shade card of Asian Paints Royale Atmos and get ready to paint your home which will not only keep you Pollution Free but will add to your HAPPINESS QUOTIENT as well.

Loving the product, loving the commercial – hail this initiative of Asian Paints and thank them for contributing towards our healthy and long life, what else do we want?

Kedarnath: Holy abode of Lord Shiva – The Protector, the Destroyer!

Recently PM Narendra Modi offered prayers at Kedarnath temple, the sacred Himalayan Shrine located on Garhwal Himalayan Range near Mandakini River in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand in India. You must be wondering am I following PM? Ah! Yes, though unintentional. His trips are as exceptional as he himself is. His visits take us to various unthinkable destinations which are great enough to generate big curiosity. I personally like to explore places, but it is not possible most of the times, so the best thing is to follow PM and write and spread awareness about those places. The destination of this is week is Kedarnath – where PM paid obeisance as soon as its doors opened after six-month-long winter break.

Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the devout Hindus. It is set amidst the stunning mountainscape of the Garhwal Himalayas at the head of the Mandakini River. Kedar is another name of Lord Shiva, the protector, and the destroyer. Shiva is considered the embodiment of all passions – love, hatred, fear, death and mysticism which are expressed through various forms. The shrine of Kedarnath is very scenically placed and is surrounded by lofty, snow – covered mountains, and during summer grassy meadows covering the valleys. Immediately behind the temple, is the high Kedar dome peak, which can be sighted from great distances. The sight of the temple and the peak with its perpetual snows is simply enthralling.

Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshaya Tritiya) to Kartik Purnima (the autumn full moon, usually November). During the winters, the vigrahas (deities) from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshiped there for six months. Lord Shiva is worshiped as Kedarnath, the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the historical name of the region.

All of us remember Kedarnath to be the worst affected area during the 2013 flash floods in North India. The temple complex, surrounding areas, and Kedarnath town suffered extensive damage, but the temple structure did not suffer any “major” damage, apart from a few cracks on one side of the four walls which was caused by the flowing debris from the higher mountains. A large rock among the debris acted as a barrier, protecting the temple from the flood. The surrounding premises and other buildings in the market area were heavily damaged.

The unstable temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by 14 kilometers (8.7 mi) uphill trek from Gaurikund. Pony and manchan service are available to reach the structure. The temple was built by Pandavas and revived by Adi Sankaracharya and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva. It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, expounded in Tevaram.

Pandavas were supposed to have pleased Shiva by doing penance in Kedarnath. The temple is one of the four major sites in India’s Chota Char Dham pilgrimage of Northern Himalayas. This temple is the highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas.

The presiding image of Kedarnath in the form of lingam is or irregular shape with a pedestal 3.6 m (12 ft) in circumference and 3.6 m (12 ft) in height. There is a small pillared hall in front of the temple, that has images of Parvathi and of the five Pandava princes. There are five temples around namely Badari-year, Madhya Maheswara, Tunganatha, Rudra Nath and Kallesvara. The first hall inside Kedarnath Temple contains statues of the five Pandava brothers, Lord Krishna, Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva and Virabhadra, one of the guards of Shiva. Statue of Draupadi and other deities are also installed in the main hall.  An unusual feature of the temple is the head of a man carved in the triangular stone fascia. Such a head is seen carved in another temple nearby constructed on the site where the marriage of Shiva and Parvati was held. Adi Shankara was believed to have revived this temple, along with Badrinath and other temples of Uttarakhand; he is believed to have attained Mahasamadhi at Kedarnath. Behind the temple is the samādhi mandir of Adi Sankara.

The temple, at a height of 3,583 m (11,755 ft), 223 km from Rishikesh, on the shores of Mandakini river, a tributary of Ganga, is an impressive stone edifice of unknown date. The structure is believed to have been constructed in the 8th century CE when Adi Shankara visited. The present structure is on a site adjacent to where Pandavas are believed to have built the temple. It has one Garbhagriha and a Mandapa and stands on a plateau surrounded by snow clad mountain and glaciers. In front of the temple, directly opposite to the inner shrine, is a Nandi statue carved out of the rock.

You can reach Kedarnath from Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun which is located 260 Km, whereas nearest railhead is at Rishikesh 243 km. Kedarnath is well connected to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun and Delhi.

The ideal time or peak season to go to Char Dham Yatra is from May – October, except monsoons, this is because all the four sacred sites are parched in Garhwal Himalaya, which is prone to heavy rainfall.

 

PM’s visit to Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar, Odisha

On Saturday, April 14 almost all the News Channels were running clippings of PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The detour of Lingaraja temple by Modiji along with temple priests and his entourage generated my excitement in the temple, though I am not a temple person per se, but Lingaraja temple looked very unique and antique. The architecture is timeless and feeling of being there…just divine!  Honestly, I had never heard about this temple before… but if Modiji is visiting the place, then it must be truly special & indeed it is special!

To curb my curiosity about the temple, I dug deep into it to know more about the Lingraj temple which I would like to share with the readers.

Lingaraja Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Harihara, a form of Shiva and Vishnu and is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the East Indian state of Odisha. The temple is the most prominent landmark of the Bhubaneswar city and one of the major tourist attractions of the state.

The Lingaraja temple is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar. The central tower of the temple is 180 ft (55 m) tall. The temple represents the quintessence of the Kalinga Architecture and culminating the medieval stages of the architectural tradition at Bhubaneswar. The temple is believed to be built by the kings of the Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers. The temple is built in the Deula style that has four components namelyVimana (a structure containing the sanctum), Jagamohana (assembly hall), Natamandira (festival hall) and Boga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor. The temple complex has 50 other shrines and is enclosed by a large compound wall.

Bhubaneswar is called the Ekamra Kshetra as the deity of Lingaraj was originally under a mango tree (Ekamra) as noted in Ekamra Purana, a 13th-century Sanskrit treatise. The temple is active in worship practices, unlike most other temples in Bhubaneswar and Shiva is worshiped as Harihara, a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva. The temple has images of Vishnu, possibly because of the rising prominence of Jagannath sect emanating from the Ganga rulers who built the Jagannath Temple in Puri in the 12th century.

Lingaraja temple is maintained by the Temple Trust Board and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The temple has an average of 6,000 visitors per day and receives lakhs of visitors during festivals. Shivaratri festival is the major festival celebrated in the temple and event during 2012 witnessed 200,000 visitors.

The Lingaraj temple is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar. James Fergusson (1808–86), a noted critic and historian rated the temple as “one of the finest examples of purely Hindu temple in India”. It is enshrined within a spacious compound wall of laterite measuring 520 ft (160 m) by 465 ft (142 m). The wall is 7.5 ft (2.3 m) thick and surmounted by a plain slant coping. Alongside the inner face of the boundary wall, there is a terrace to protect the compound wall against outside aggression. The tower is 45.11 m (148.0 ft) high and the complex has 150 smaller shrines in its spacious courtyard. Each inch of the 55 m (180 ft) tall tower is sculpted. The door at the gate of the entrance porch is made of sandalwood.

PM also visited the temple of Goddess Bhubaneswari and Parbati before interacting with sevayats and asked about the temple’s history, rituals and architecture. The Prime Minister emphasized the need to keep the temple premises clean and ensure ‘swachhata’ all around.

 

Bye Bye 2016, the year that was…stud or dud?

Circa 2016, the year that was…STUD or DUD?

The year 2016 started on a promising note, looked as if it would turn out to be a landmark year in my life – the STUD year, how I wish, if wishes were horses…

…In today’s times when every single day pops up a new challenge, it is no mean achievement to remain and smile in that grind. If it has been an achievement, let it be! Personally, time moved on, so the happenings, nothing much to talk home about…professionally it was a challenging year…for the industry …for the industrious (like me).

For the first time I closely watched ‘Survival Instinct’ of our member developers, who inspite  of so many negatives, prevalent slowdown, hostile media, developments at Centre & State level, they fought it all with immense zeal, innovation and perseverance. They took it up  constructively at all levels and got many decisions moulded positively…

…Year moved on with its pace and witnessed many industry events, of which I was integral part, which was exciting and tiring both. The zeal to outperform self in every event, on every occasion, sometimes took heavy toll on me. Though I loved taking the toll, whether it was EoDB Seminar, International Women’s Day Celebration, Hosting NYT Bureau Chief, Ellen Barry, Networking event at Smaaash, Two mega Property Expos, RERA Seminar, AGM and not to forget MPL III with round the year media presence. The year would be remembered for receiving three Appreciation Letters and best compliment ever – the “Silent Worker” coming from most unexpected quarters. Though I have been known for raising voices and making noices!! The unflinching belief and strong support was provided by team members – actually they are above that now – Bhagyashree and Reena who graduated in their work sphere and amalgamated well in the organization culture…unlike ME!

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All in all it was year full of action.  The year moved at a pace till Diwali, which I celebrated enthusiastically, and Tanya was home from hostel. It was after this period, I was surrounded by the thoughts that nothing happened during the year, I am stuck wherever I was, no traction in life, complete stagnation or no accomplishment which I can be proud of.

Amidst all this and more…I kept myself very busy and occupied. Still took out time for some heavy duty blogging…book reviews…product reviews…bloggers events. Sudden  brake came to all this due to sudden death of my father –in-law followed by death of my Phoophaji.  Since then I have been feeling restricted in my creative pursuits.

This year we undertook two trips – Udaipur and Ahmedabad which turned out to be quite successful and provided me good amount of fodder for the blog. Truly speaking, I enjoyed most on both the trips especially Fateh Sagar Lake in Udaipur in the night, the lighting, the breeze, the façade, the promenade…everything was in sync and setting was ideal for breezy romance. The lake Pichola, boat ride, Lake City Palace Udaipur, Udaipur Palace and Handicraft Centre are jewels of Udaipur. Dal, Baati, Choorma for Lunch…and some last minute shopping of Batuas for Anuksha for taking it to Netherlands to her friends there, made it all very memorable.

Our stay at Club Mahindra at Udaipur was out of the world experience, the hospitality, the property, the events, the location all was awesome. I had the time of my life there. At Ahmedabad, we did extensive sight- seeing and shopped till we dropped at Law Garden Road. Dinning at Vishala for most authentic Gujrati / Marwari dinner will always be etched in my memory. It was great family time and wonderful hospitality extended by Shashi and children Rishabh and Rashi.

Socio Political Scenario remained quite volatile throughout the year but Demonetisation took the cake. Mother rather Grand Mother of all announcements…It sent lives of Millions of Indians in a tizzy. The move was completely 180 degree opposite for rich and poor. Poor suffered long queues, no cash, no money, no payments, no work and rich no means to hide the cash.  One decision had such wide-spread implications, nobody would have imagined in their weirdest dreams, above all Modiji himself. Kudos to people of our Republic who stood by the decision and supported the move inspite of hardships. Opposition was in full form, fighting tooth and nail against the decision, but no revoking decision was taken. Biggest surprise package was Mamta Bannerji who opposed it no end and finally sat quietly as Modiji was not paying any heed to it. It seems heavy duty cleansing has been done by this move with IT deptt. catching people involved in converting black into white or stashing new currency or even hoarding wealth disproportionate to their incomes. World –Over Economists mulled and culled over this move but could not arrive at answer to the question as basic as why Rs.2000 note was started? Any way this move took the thunder out of Trump’s victory as the President of the United States of America. I did not closely follow the elections but in the last leg I could sense that it is going to be Trump’s triumph undoubtedly! My prediction came true!!

Another prediction – Wherever I had predicted that BJP will win, it won!!!

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Inspite of everyone around me cursing Modiji for demonetization for whatever reasons, my faith in his decision remained unwavering; I knew some Amrit will come out of this Manthan. I devoted lot of time watching TV especially after demonetization and reading articles and cartoons, Kejri Ke Bawaal, So Sorry, ROFL RAGA kept me amused throughout the year. With some posts, I laughed my heart out, Pappu became my favourite! I remained glued to TV when he was on screen especially during his earthquake and balloon comments. They should be ashamed of making such comments such well respected and adored PM of India. Frustration loomed large! Hope they take some lessons from Modijis attitude and have some faith in his decisions. They are pulling country backward with all their might!

UP elections and Union Budget would be watched closely in the New Year…

…Our industry – The Real Estate – was bogged down by challenges from all quarters and top it all was hostile media throughout the year. MCHI – CREDAI remained in News throughout the year by way of excellent support provided by agency White Marque Solution’s team and willing presence of our President for media. Many exclusive stories came out which helped industry immensely. Many programs were done throughout India by Industry experts with major focus on Affordable Housing, Smart City and Infra projects. All this and more kept me occupied throughout the year.

Many a times I was bogged down by thought – Not my cup of tea, I Can’t!  But approached every new challenge with renewed zeal and that kept me afloat throughout the year. I did some wonderful pieces for my blog and for my works which were appreciated by one and all, won few contests like – International Women’s Day and Dear Zindagi.  I hardly watched any movies but read quite a few books. I remained quite active on social media and solved one big issue of dump yard in Mangroves through my tweets. Unknowingly I developed good knack for socio-political issues.

As ever, I did not miss single episode of DD Rangoli, Modijis Mann ki Baat and News Hour on Times Now. A jolt came to my social – political routine was when Celebrity Anchor Arnab Goswami left Times Now. News watching has never been the same again. Heard he is coming up with something soon…his passion for news was unflinching!

Jayalalitha’s lost long battle of life and moved to eternity. I always admired her for her courage and strength. In Bollywood, I like to vote for Dear Zindagi and Sultan. The year would be marked for celebrity break –ups, the record in number and many marriages too and signed off with birth of Saif and Kareena’s baby Taimur. The name drew many trolls on social media.

Overall I remained in balanced frame of mind, sometimes felt quitting it all and explore some unconventional ventures …but has the time come for that…not YET!! When it will come, it will come, you will all know it!

Needless to mention, support provided by husband Mukund, cooperation by Tanya, appreciation by Sangeeta, caring & sharing by Anuksha & Ananya, Prabhat for remaining most loving brother, enthusiasm by Hema didi and above all moral support by Mummy! All achievements wouldn’t have been possible without this TEAM!!!

Special thanks to Saxena Couple – Vandana and Aniljijaji who read and commented on all my activities and read my blogposts with lot of interest. Truly motivating! Connected with lost lost friends & brother – Kamal Mathur and Angela D’Cruz after many many years. Thanksgiving not complete without mention of Balwant ji who remained connected through out.

So can it be termed as DUD – Certainly Not! STUD – Neither!!

Stepping into New Year 2017 with renewed energy and hope…

Till then ADIEU…2016!

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Oh yes! The year 2017 rings in my new blogs – www.travelknotsV2.wordpress.com and www.inmodistimes.wordpress.com.

Stay tuned with latest on my blogs – Your blessings & wishes – to be integral part of 2017…forever!

 

 

 

 

Bachpan wali woh Diwali…Aaj Kal ki yeh Diwali!

Day started with receiving Diwali wishes on Whatapp since early morning, followed by early cooking, watching Rangoli – Diwali Special on DD National, house cleaning and preparation for the evening pooja.  But…I did not forget to listen to PM Narendra Modi’s Mann –Ki- Baat on radio which was based on Diwali and Festivities surrounding it! I can safely say it was the Best Diwali described ever!!  He expressed Diwali’s significance in a very unique way; he dedicated this Diwali to Soldiers of the country that guards our borders while we celebrate.

 This year it was a low-key Diwali for Vaghela house-hold as my father in law moved on his eternal journey who immensely loved Diwali followed by Gujarati New Year which was a big celebration in Vaghela House hold with patriarch “Pappa”  and “Dada” who took great interest in all the celebrations.  We all miss his presence this Diwali!! He will always be missed!!!

 Daughter Tanya is here from hostel joined with her friend Dhruvi which brought lot of joy and festivities to the festival.  Festivities started with Dhanteras Pujan at office where like one big happy family we joined hands to celebrate, there was lighting, finery, jewellery, traditional dress, puja, mithai, gifting, receiving, family gathering and what not…followed by Dhanteras Puja at home. Like all years, this year’s Diwali is also big on Laxmi Puja which I would be performing in special Temple Border Kanjeevaram saree received from www.triveniethnics.com for Laxmi Pujan. Thanks Triveni for making festivities even more special…

Saree courtesy: Triveni Ethnics
Saree courtesy: Triveni Ethnics

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 This Diwali was made even more special by fond memories of Diwali celebrations in our childhood by one of the most revered poet by writer & poet Gulzar which I am sharing with you below. What a beautiful expression through –  बचपन वाली वो दिवाली.

हफ्तों पहले से साफ़-सफाई में जुट जाते हैं, चूने के कनिस्तर में थोड़ी नील मिलाते हैं,

अलमारी खिसका खोयी चीज़ वापस  पाते हैं, दोछत्ती का कबाड़ बेच कुछ पैसे कमाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं  ….

दौड़-भाग के घर का हर सामान लाते हैं, चवन्नी -अठन्नी  पटाखों के लिए बचाते हैं

सजी बाज़ार की रौनक देखने जाते हैं, सिर्फ दाम पूछने के लिए चीजों को उठाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

बिजली की झालर छत से लटकाते हैं, कुछ में मास्टर  बल्ब भी  लगाते हैं

टेस्टर लिए पूरे इलेक्ट्रीशियन बन जाते हैं, दो-चार बिजली के झटके भी  खाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

दूर थोक की दुकान से पटाखे लाते है, मुर्गा ब्रांड हर पैकेट में खोजते जाते है

दो दिन तक उन्हें छत की धूप में सुखाते हैं, बार-बार बस गिनते जाते है, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

धनतेरस के दिन कटोरदान लाते है, छत के जंगले से कंडील लटकाते हैं

मिठाई के ऊपर लगे काजू-बादाम खाते हैं, प्रसाद की  थाली   पड़ोस में  देने जाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

माँ से खील में से  धान बिनवाते हैं , खांड  के खिलोने के साथ उसे जमके खाते है

अन्नकूट के लिए सब्जियों का ढेर लगाते है, भैया-दूज के दिन दीदी से आशीर्वाद पाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

दिवाली बीत जाने पे दुखी हो जाते हैं , कुछ न फूटे पटाखों का बारूद जलाते हैं

घर की छत पे दगे हुए राकेट पाते हैं , बुझे दीयों को मुंडेर से हटाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

बूढ़े माँ-बाप का एकाकीपन मिटाते हैं, वहीँ पुरानी रौनक फिर से लाते हैं

सामान  से नहीं ,समय देकर सम्मान  जताते हैं, उनके पुराने सुने किस्से फिर से सुनते जाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं …

Best tribute to our bachpan ki diwali!

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Diwali has always been my favourite festival. I start preparing for the festival at least one month in advance with shopping, scouting for gifting ideas, decorations, diya making & buying etc. Diwali brings immense joy to me personally. Entire year I wait for Diwali as it is a great social, religious, religious and festivities oriented festival, I love everything around Diwali…weather also take a turn for the better! Not only this, it is the time of the year when I like to introspect about the year gone by and prepare for the future dreams…wish dreams were horses. No Diwali goes without remembering DIWALI we use to celebrate at our home town Gwalior amidst battery of family members, buas, cha-chas, dadi-dada, bhaiyya, bhabhis, didis…everybody. For female members it was kitchen time all five days whereas we children enjoyed festivities with new dresses, sweets, delicacies, crackers, rangoli…to top it all outstation visits in Diwali vacation.

You can watch PM Narendra Modi’s Manni-ki-Baat here!

Diwali is big Puja time particularly Laxmi Pujan…which I do with lot of enthusiasm and fervour as ever.

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Wish all my readers a very happy Diwali & Prosperous New Year!!

 

 

Dream BIG, Dream #DigitalIndia

MODI-DIGITAL-INDIA-BIGIt was heartening to note that PM Narendra Modi along with Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo recently launched ‘Twitter Samvaad” which is an important step in seeing Indian twitterti exchanging notes with Government agencies on twitter. As part of the Prime Minister’s Digital India initiative, this tweet-powered service enables citizens to be the first to know about the government’s actions by receiving political content in real-time on their mobile devices anywhere in the country. This is indeed like a dream come true!

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As I was in the process of making my mind on writing the blog post on “Digital India” hosted by indiblogger, the news gave me enough fodder for thought. Being a social media junkie, I always of dream of my brigade to expand. Surprisingly even now, at least 50% of the people I interact with are digitally challenged in some way or the other. They can’t be connected on social media platform. They are, where they were from ages…the need is to transform them! The need is to make every Indian citizen “Digitrate” (Digitally literate). My mind goes back to Late PM Shri Rajeev Gandhi who Computerized India on a massive scales in late 80s and accomplished success with that too. But India has come a long way from its baby steps in computerization to India of today. And I must admit that Intel may be credited for this mammoth computerization with their SMART and consumer friendly computers, which took world by storm. I would like to use this platform to hail the Intel’s commitment towards building Digital India through its ‘Digital Skills for India’ and ‘Innovate for India’ initiatives.

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For long Intel has been fostering technology as the enabler for creating a digitized India. Individually Indians are a great success but as a COUNTRY, we need to do lot of catching up.

Now with Modiji initiating the #DigitalIndia project to connect India digitally with a planned allocation of Rs One lakh crore, it will ascertain that a new era ushers in where all citizens will have access to connect with Government Digitally. The plan is to establish a digital platform to digitally connect and deliver government programs and services to individuals across India, thereby harnessing the power of information technology. The project also plans to connect all villages through high speed internet by 2019. Indeed the plan is ambitious, to say the least!

So what dies ‘Digital India’ would actually translate into? E- Governance? What’s that? How Indian Citizens be stake-holders to this program? How it will function? What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? What would be infrastructure needed?

We have to find the answers to these questions and many more…
So primarily E –Governance focuses on making the process of Governance, Service delivery digital, i.e. through the use of Information and Communication Technology thus adding up non-repudiation to the paradigm of Accountability. It means that whatever work you want to get done or service you want to avail, it would be carried out and backed by sound technological infrastructure making processes thus fast and efficient. This technology enabled process is not far from us to seek, but…

What does this entail? Here every individual’s personal record will be stored in a virtual central repository or Digital Locker, which can be accessed by government officials anywhere anytime, through established protocols. For example, an individual’s certificates from school or college, birth certificates, medical records etc are all stored in the individual’s folder and these can be accessed by any government official to confirm or verify the individual’s claims without the need for the individual to present the hard copy. The purpose is to free the individual from the need to physically present the hard copy for verification in any government office. This will save a lot of time for the individual and the government officials, as also reduce the opportunity for bribes being demanded. Of course this not an easy task and to achieve this, data-centres of massive capacity are needed. It is huge opportunity but it has its own threats too.

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We as Indians are quite casual about our security measures, accidents are most common place in India and Insurance penetration being lowest in the world is ample proof of my statement. With this digitization program where Government will be custodian of every citizen’s personal data, the chances of theft and misuse would also be there. Implanting high security measure will be a major task in the way of E-Governance. What happens if the system doesn’t respond or crashes when data access is needed the most. Challenge is to ensure smooth functioning of all this and more.
Today India prides itself with “Software Wizardry” – providing software solutions to the world. But it is high time that we use this wizardry for our nation and countrymen. I know challenges are many but opportunities are huge. Who would like to give upon this opportunity? I would like to see India digitized sooner than later, where we too can pride ourselves on this parameter. If Intel could empower us, why can’t we empower our own countrymen?

#DigitalIndia should be every “Digitrate” person’s dream, then only we will able to give shape to Modiji’s dream project.
The clock is ticking for the #DigitalIndia program and opportunity is there to develop the digital backbone of the country.

This post is part of Indiblogger contest for Intel #DigitalIndia.

Red Fort, Delhi, India – An epitome of historical & political significance

Red Fort is witness to the dawn of August 15, 1947 when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, First PM of Independent India made the historical speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Delhi and since then it has been the permanent venue for the big speech i.e. Independence day address to citizens of free India. The Red Fort stood for the sovereign authority of the Mughal badshah, even when actual control of the territories had passed to others. For independent India, the Red Fort came to epitomise the sovereignty of Delhi and, by extension, the unity of India. The Red Fort is an iconic symbol of India. On Independence Day, the prime minister hoists the national flag at the main gate of the fort and delivers a nationally-broadcast speech from its ramparts.

This year’s Independence Day evoked the keen interest not only amongst Indian citizens but Indians all over the world, head of states, diplomats…alike! After all it was first address of newly elected Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi from ramparts of Red Fort on August 15, 2014. Excitement was palpable amidst people who had gathered at Red Fort to get the glimpse of Tri Colour unfurled by Mr Modi and his eagerly awaited speech. Not just India but the whole world was keen to know the mind of the first Indian PM born after Indian independence. This was reflected by the fact that the MEA was pleasantly surprised as it was inundated by requests for passes from an unprecedented large number of Heads of Foreign Missions posted in Delhi. Normally, out of the 153 Foreign Missions in New Delhi, just about 50-60 Missions approach the MEA for passes to attend the Independence Day ceremony at Red Fort. But this time the MEA received requests for passes from a record number 150 diplomatic missions. Given the enormous interest shown by foreign diplomatic missions, the MEA had to stretch itself further and made arrangements for simultaneous English translation for the benefit of the foreign diplomatic corps, yet another first.

Yet, there was one facet of national life that has defied the intrusions of the new Republic: Popular memory. Despite many attempts to impose some order into India’s myriad past, there remains a fundamental gulf between ‘history’ and memory. The sanitised version sees Independence as a seamless journey from darkness to light. But that’s not how most Indians recall narrations of the past by grandparents and elders. & thus making the Red Fort even more significant. Anybody who has been to Delhi or has lived in Delhi has not missed an opportunity to visit Red Fort and I am sure has great memories attached to his visit.

Besides political significance which Red Fort enjoys, it has special significance as historical monument, UNESCO heritage site and tourist destination. It has been a mute witness to various political and historical event which unfurled in Delhi. The Red Fort was the residence of the Mughal emperors of India for nearly 200 years, until 1857. It is located in the centre of Delhi and houses a number of museums. In addition to accommodating the emperors and their households, it was the ceremonial and political centre of Mughal government and the setting for events critically impacting the region.

Undoubtedly it has great significance for tourists visiting Delhi not just from India but across the globe to visit Red Fort which stands on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road, close to Jama Masjid and extends upto Chandani Chowk. It is famous for its light and sound show which is being held at 7:30 3every evening and is a big draw amidst tourists. The long and short of story is that we all love visiting Red Fort – Old generations, New generations. It is a must visit on our itinery. I have some very special memories attached to it when I used to go there for Independence Day celebration with my father to watch Mrs. Indira Gandhi, PM of India who exuded great power then, what a delight it was to watch her speech from ramparts of Red Fort. Not only this, after this we would move to Nai Sarak to pick up some lovely second hand books which I loved to read. Cherish memories of my father who is no more…and his frequent visits to Red Fort on some pretext or the other.

For my tourist friends who would not like to give a miss to Red Fort while in Delhi, I present here an historical account of Red Fort.
The Red Fort was built as the fortified palace of Shahjahanabad, capital of the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, in 1648. Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone, it is adjacent to the older Salimgarh Fort, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546. The imperial apartments consist of a row of pavilions, connected by a water channel known as the Stream of Paradise (Nahr-i-Behisht). The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity under Shah Jahan. Although the palace was planned according to Islamic prototypes, each pavilion contains architectural elements typical of Mughal buildings, reflecting a fusion of Timurid, Persian and Hindu traditions. The Red Fort’s innovative architectural style, including its garden design, influenced later buildings and gardens in Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kashmir, Braj, Rohilkhand and elsewhere.

Shah Jahan commissioned construction of the Red Fort in 1638, when he decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi. Its design is credited to architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. The fort lies along the Yamuna River, which fed the moats surrounding most of the walls. Construction began in the sacred month of Muharram, on 13 May 1638. Supervised by Shah Jahan, it was completed in 1648. Unlike other Mughal forts, the Red Fort’s boundary walls are asymmetrical to contain the older Salimgarh Fort. The fortress-palace was a focal point of the medieval city of Shahjahanabad, which is present-day Old Delhi. It’s planning and aesthetics represent the zenith of Mughal creativity prevailing during Shah Jahan’s reign. His successor Aurangzeb added the Pearl Mosque to the emperor’s private quarters, constructing barbicans in front of the two main gates to make the entrance to the palace more circuitous.

After witnessing rise and fall of many Mughal emperors, 1911 saw the visit of the British king and queen for the Delhi Durbar. In preparation of the visit, some buildings were restored. The Red Fort Archaeological Museum was also moved from the drum house to the Mumtaz Mahal. With the Salimgarh Fort, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 as part of the Red Fort Complex.

Zip, Zap, Zoom with ZEST in life…

I believe ‘Zest’ is the most powerful & wonderful emotions for any sensible human being. What is life without zest? According to me it is like living life of a vegetable where you are in dud routine, and have nothing to look forward to. Excitement, enthusiasm, zest are spices of life which makes lives around us worth relishing. With zest you can make other’s lives worth living too…and not just yours!

Being a woman, a home – maker, working professional ( Chief Editor – media house), mother of a teenager, thoughtful, responsible…life is proving to be a trapeze act which requires smart balancing in all my roles. And the biggest challenge is I want to do this with élan, and I am doing it too. (Check with my husband, daughter & boss). Indeed this multiple roles keep the zest of life but these add to depressing moments too and life is going on like that. But amidst all this, it is not difficult for me think of some things which can really add some zest to my life and I so want them very much. Besides, adding ZEST, they will do immense value addition to my life.

If wishes were horses…I would like to ride on these wishes:

1. Meeting Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India who changed the face of Indian politics. He comes as a very positive person and because of this quality he could see such meteoric rise. Today whole world is at his feet…He has the charisma and dynamism to move the 1 billion population of India and established great connect with his countrymen. He is impeccable with his speeches and his dressing, styling sense is worth emulating. A meeting with him will surely add zest to my life.

2. Having a very intellectually stimulating conversation with someone where I can freely discuss what is happening across the globe, lives of people, wars, terrorism, gloom, doom, politics, diplomacy going on all over…it will certainly add ZEST to my life which I will cherish for ever. It will be a great mental massage for my grey cells which I feel have been lying dormant in want of one. Here I can exchange notes with that person, have his/her views and share my views with him/ her. Really look forward to having one such date…

3. Sharing a platform with the likes of Ms. Kiran Bedi, Smriti Irani, Hillary Clinton where I can share my views on Women Empowerment that why it is important to have powerful women to make any country powerful, resourceful. Till now I have been listening, now I feel time has come that world listens to my views on the topic. It will certainly give me a new high, world becoming privy to my views on this most relevant & topical topic. It will certainly add great Zest to my life.

4. Visit a place which is laden with natural beauty, greenery, cottages, sea-shores, and exciting night life, cuisines, where my thought process is aligned with nature and I am able to give concrete shape to my book which is constantly spinning in my head from quite some time. May be zest is not enough to concretise my thoughts. May be such surroundings infuse much needed fresh enthusiasm for me to make some headway in this venture.

5. Possessing a Mean machine – a beautiful CAR which can literally take me places. Laden with good looks, great performance, smart features…it will give feathers to my imagination. I can visit those places which I have been aspiring to from a very long time like some interiors of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Goa may be. Possessing one will certainly add zest to my life.

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The list is long, but for now this will suffice. You at blogadda have taken the initiative of adding Zest to we bloggers life and I am thankful for that. Writing this piece has already added some zest to my life. With @tatazest my zest would zip to another level, amen!

This post is a part of the #ZestUpYourLife activity in association with TATA Zest and
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Kutch Nahin Dekha to Kutch Nahin Dekha…

Rann, Indo-Pak Border, Mandvi Village…fascinating, mesmerizing!

Indeed the December 2013’s outing was planned by watching heavy duty advertising by Gujarat Tourism featuring Amitabh Bachchan taking viewers all across Gujarat be it Somnath Mandir, Gir Forest, Adalaj or Rann of Kutch. What caught my fancy in a big way was white Rann of Kutch with Amitabh Bachchan taking stroll on a moonlit Rann which couldn’t have looked whiter than that.

The trip was planned by good amount of research done on Kutch particularly Rann for which not much information was available to firm up my decision of going to Kutch. After lot of research and based on whatever information was available I made up my mind to shun foreign locale and instead head out for rustic, rural, rann…in Gujarat And I am very proud to say it turned out to be an incredible experience. Not knowing anything about this part of India, I had to start from the scratch right from searching the nearest station, airport for Kutch.

Incidentally I interacted with lot of people in my circle to check if they had visited Rann and believe me none of them had, not even their relatives. Hence, the thought, why have I chosen this God forsaken place for my outing this year? Now I started interacting with Gujarat Tourism people who erected this tent city on Rann and offered stay as package to the tourists. After chasing them for two months and getting the same reply, bookings not open yet…I made up my mind to chuck them. As I was unable to decide on some other destination as well. If not this, then what?

I made one last attempt and came across Mr Mahendra Bheda of Kutch Travels who was most prompt in responding to my query and there I was on December 21, 2013. All credit goes to Mahendra Bhai and his daughter Prachi who made it a very pleasing experience. Now I started interacting with Mahendra Bhai who offered me a package of 3 Nights and 4 days which included stay, transportation, sight-seeing and food etc. He worked out an itinery for us which I changed many times but he did it smilingly, not even once complained. When we reached Bhuj station Mahendra Bhai was there with his daughter Prachi to receive us and an Indigo car was waiting for us there. Now the excitement was palpable… we had nice Gujarati Thali in a posh restaurant in Bhuj and set out for Hoduko village in the resort. It will be a misnomer to call it a resort, it was a Bhunga – mud house with modern amenities inside and attached bath etc. The Bhunga was exactly as per our specifications…spacious, airy, well-lit, big sleeping places. The owner and his family members were really nice and accommodated us for all our genuine and sometimes ingeniune demands – like a cup of tea in the midnight due to cold etc.

The weather was breezy but pleasant, after all the sultry weather of Mumbai, it was a great welcome. Mornings and nights were excessively cold where as day was pleasant. Unable to contain our excitement, we headed for Rann same evening which was good 20 Kms ahead in Dhordo village which is the last village on Gujarat Border. It gave us good insight into the village life of Kutch which was something novel for us, experienced by us for the first time.

I must mention that roads are smooth, village was well electrified and Gujarat Tourism had done a wonderful job of creating the ambience there. As we entered Rann, we were just mesmerised by the whiteness and expanse of place where we could see endless white salt. It looked as if the land was covered with white bed sheet with moonlight falling on it. The weather became colder with setting sun and breeze stronger. When sun was setting we could see the horizon…

I remembered the lines from Hindi Movie: Yeh Aasma Jhuk raha hai zameen par, yeh Milan hamne dekha yahin par!

My daughter Tanya was highly excited about Camel rides on the Rann which had heavy booking and she was disappointed instead she opted for mule ride and in the meantime our time came for camel ride. Even I was so excited…to watch Rann from such a height…incredible. We had walked for over 30-minutes and had come very far away on Rann. By the time it had turned quite dark and cold. Now tired and exhausted we walked towards the parking lot though with a heavy heart as 5 hours spent there looked not good enough. Now we drove to Craft Bazaar and Food Courts erected for tourists selling Kutchy embroidered stuff like shawls, Kurtas, Jholas, clutches, jewellery what not…mesmerising. I wanted to buy many more…but what advised to buy from the villages outside. While in the food court, we saw camel carts parading…what a sight it was. Camels decked up in all finery were ferrying tourists to Gujarat Pavilion which had on display all tourist places of Gujarat.

This was an experience of a lifetime which I will always treasure, most significant part was closely watching Indo-Pak border which is high security zone, thought why these borders, why these dividing lines, why so much hullabullo on visiting our brothers and sisters across borders. Now with http://www.zindagitv.in and #jodedilonko we can share our world’s / lives with them.  Eagerly look forward to June 23 when we will able to catch the glimpse. Kudos to this initiative of Zee Media Corp.

Personally very much appreciative of initiative of our newly appointed PM Narendra Modi on inviting Pak PM to India and work he is doing towards improving Indo-Pak relations so that both countrymen can rejoice!

Now we were back to Bhungas…where nice hot delicious Kutchy dinner was ready for us along with Bonfire on the side. We were really feeling cold, eating in the open but meal made for all that cold. Other families in neighbouring bhungas played antakshri whole night ….

Contrary to our expectations, stay at Bhungas was really warm…we did not feel cold in the night thus we were ready for the next morning’s adventure…

I was accompanied by my husband Mukund and daughter Tanya.

Our driver Prakash bhai needs a special mention here who tirelessly took us all over the place smilingly…more of a guide for the tour and friend for life. Drove incessantly and made sure that we don’t miss any destination which we would like to visit.

Hamne bhi Guzaare kutch din Gujarat mein…

Photo-Essay of our wonderful trip to Kutch…enjoy!

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Wait for more updates later!