All posts by Ancy Abraham

Worked as Magazine and Educational Books Editor, Developed industrial websites, brochures and profiles. Writes about lifestyle topics related to health, food, shopping, etc. Presently writing for lifestyletodaynews.com. Many other life-changing projects are in the pipeline, keep reading, Enjoy!

This blind journalist guides those who can see with his wealth of knowledge

Swaminathan Rajappan Pillai, may be congenitally blind, but the moment he begins the conversation with his favorite word to break the ice – “Hello”, we will marvel at his depth of knowledge and brood at our own inner darkness. He is a post graduate from the prestigious London School of Economics and he is MA (History) gold medalist from Kerala University.  He is the winner of cash awards, medals, certificates, books and trophies from voluntary organizations and trade unions for getting first class in all public examinations.

He has traveled to more than two dozen countries and wherever he went people wrote about him in newspapers and magazines. What attracts people to him is his positive attitude to life, and his amazing usage of other faculties to compensate of for the one disability that he has. He achieved every dream like others – he is well educated, married, has a daughter, and has a lot of friends.  He is a blind journalist, which is a rarity in India. And above all, he is a motivator and counselor for friends, students, and colleagues.

We worked together in an Institute, where we worked as IELTS instructors. He is lovingly called as Swami Sir by everyone and his classes were always crowded. We were assigned the task to prepare possible questions and answers for the speaking and writing module of IELTS exam, which was to be published as a book. I used to create the possible questions and Swami Sir gave the answers. No matter what question I created from topics under the Sun, he immediately churned out answers from his wealth of knowledge stored in his mind. Swami sir does not carry any gadgets. Whatever knowledge he shares is extempore. The book that he helped in essaying, ten years back, sells even today like hot cake.

He has extraordinary insight about human abilities and fallacies. So he could help many people solve their family issues. He recommended the CEO of our institute to assign me with the editing task of the IELTS book. Neither I nor the CEO was aware of my book editing abilities. I am indebted to Swami Sir for being the beacon in my writing and editing career.

Here is an interview with Swami Sir who has guided many, those who can see, for a better future in their career and family life.

What do you do nowadays?

I am an academic and freelance journalist. I teach English to students of IELTS, TOEFL, PET, GRE, GMAT, SAT and general English at Centre for American Studies, Vazhuthacaud Trivandrum. I sent articles to various publications such as Daily News and Analysis in Delhi. Moreover, I broadcast on some American radio stations.
British and Indian media organizations have accepted and published all my articles with no change of even one word. Interviewing the then British Education Secretary David Blunkett for my first-ever radio program is a remarkable achievement in my journalistic career. My listeners of BBS RADIO, which is an online radio station based in California like my talk shows very much.

Many girls who had been with me during school and college days were very fond of me.

Tell us something about your childhood and education?

I am the eldest of my parents’ four children. I have a brother and two sisters. All of us are now married and settled.
I began my schooling at the age of eight because my parents were unaware of the existence of special schools for the blind in India. I joined a newly opened blind school at Varkala on July 15, 1968. I was the smallest child. I have never looked back since then. Even now, most blind children study at separate residential schools until they are ready for high school in India. I did that. The blind school at Varkala had no government recognition at that time. So, my parents moved me to a government blind school at Kottayam and I did my primary school there.
I had my high school and early university education up to my BA degree respectively at T.D. High School and S.D. College at Alleppey, which is my hometown. I had my first Master’s degree at the Kerala University Campus at Karyavattam Trivandrum. The rest of my education was in London after working in Lakshadweep as a college lecturer for nearly nine years.

Tell us something about your wife and daughter?

My wife Sunitha is a qualified medical doctor. We have only one daughter and her name is Devi. She is now studying medicine in Russia. She is going to be a fourth-year student.

blind journalist
Swami Sir at his niecies wedding

Where did you meet your wife?

I met my wife at the Alleppey Bus Stand on May 10, 1988. She is a native of Quilon. At that time, she was studying medicine at Alleppey Medical College. We were introduced by some common friends. Gradually, our friendship grew to romance and we got married on September 30, 1991.

Which all countries have you been so far?

I began my overseas journeys with England where I went to do my higher studies at the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science. I have been to 29 countries so far such as the UK, the US, Germany, France, Poland, Holland, Switzerland, the Middle-East, the West Indies, Russia etc.

Which country is the friendliest to people with different abilities?

Britain and the United States are very much friendly to people with special needs. Asia and Africa are far from friendly. In the Middle-East, they are not in the limelight of society.

Proclamation by ministers and officers are not scarce but many people with disability have a tough life in India.

What is the situation of differently abled people in India?

It is far from friendly in India. Proclamation by ministers and officers are not scarce but many people with disability have a tough life in India. With little or no assistance from the government and a society heedless of the plight of disabled people, their lot is cast in a world of darkness and solitude. They drag out their sterile existence in silent agony. For example, visually impaired people need scribes to appear for various public examinations including university examinations. Government remuneration for such scribes is very poor. People are unwilling to perform this role for such meager wages. Besides, there are several other restrictions such as the scribe should be a less qualified person than the examinee.

What all gadgets assist you in your activities?

In the past Braille was the only available tool for blind people. These days, computers and access technology have improved their lives significantly. I use computers and mobile phones. Android and Apple phones and similar devices are really good. I use them in my life. In the past, a very informed and knowledgeable blind individual could be at least a couple of years behind his/her sighted counterparts even in Britain and the United States. Now that online facilities are accessible thanks to modern technology, it is possible for us to work together comfortably.

I use my other faculties, i.e. my hands and ears. I am a keen observer of everything that happens around me.

Unlike other people with special needs you are a jolly person, you live your life to the fullest. You used to tell us about women in your life in schools, colleges, and family; can you share some of the stories here?

I do believe that men and women are complementary. To like gentlemen is what good women like. I have profound pleasure and pride in being a gentleman. For that reason, I have had several women in my life as friends, colleagues, advisers, well wishers,  and counselors. Many girls who had been with me during school and college days were very fond of me. I had similar feelings towards them as well. With some, the passion was inexplicably deep. However, as a person with a disability, I was unable to give them any promise until I was standing on my own feet. Some of them have not forgotten it.

People around you marvel at some of your extraordinary abilities, which even a normal human being does not possess – your roti and sabzi gets over together, for a normal person either the roti or the sabzi will be left in the end; you can touch and immediately say the model of the bike; and you know every denomination of currency, no one can fool you. What is the secret your success?

I use my other faculties, i.e. my hands and ears. I am a keen observer of everything that happens around me.

How are the new Indian currency notes different from the old ones?

They are less wide. They have some identifiable marks. However, Indian coins are more difficult than notes.

What message do you and your wife have people—able-bodied and disabled?

I would like society to become just and egalitarian. Equality before the law, the equal opportunity before the law and equal protection before the law are the cardinal principles of rule of law. These principles must be practiced everywhere so that the man in the street has room for liberty and justice.

Indian diet 50% short of high-quality Protein

After food shortage in India was resolved by the green revolution, nutrition experts in India found that the Indian diet was inadequate in the intake of good quality protein. According to experts, the diet should be balanced including carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Protein is an essential component for every stage of life.

During pregnancy, the vegetarian mother should take milk for high-quality protein. After birth, the requirement of protein is very high in 0-2 age group and Adolescence. In the old age, people consume less food and proportionately the consumption of protein is also reduced. During the old age, the amount of protein should not be lowered.

There is a misconception in India that protein is for body building only. Protein is required in every stage of human life. On the other hand, if you have a protein only diet and do not exercise then the protein will go out of the body with urine. You must have a balanced diet of high-quality protein, carbohydrates and fats.

For instance, you can have idli with sambar, rice with rajma and a glass of milk. All the three meals in a day and the two snack must include a high-quality protein food. Milk, poultry and meat are sources of high-quality protein which is digestible. Vegetables are less digestible compared to the nonvegetarian sources.

Nutrition experts say that cereals are a good source of protein, and the ideal ratio of consumption of cereals and proteins is 60:40. Too much or too little protein is not good for health. During the healing process of some diseases, protein is essential.

To maintain a healthy lifestyle we must follow the right ratio of protein, energy and exercise.high-quality protein

In order to increase the awareness of protein among the Indians and to clarify the misconceptions, Indian DIetetic Association (IDA), Delhi Chapter on 18th July declared 24th-30th July 2017 as ‘The Protein Week’. Dr B Sesikeran, renowned nutritional pathologist said,  “In India, there are many myths around the sources of protein, people are confused about their dietary protein intake and often assume that it is for body builders only, however, protein is a fundamental nutrient across life stages that helps in maintaining good health and active ageing.”

The initiative is supported by Protein Foods Nutrition Development Association of India (PFNDAI). Protein intake impacts every life stage. “Our vegetarian diets are already deficient in protein both in quantity and quality, so we need to supplement with protein which not only fills up the gap but is high quality enough to ensure our cereal and pulse-based protein quality would be elevated,” said Dr J S Pai, Executive Director, PFNDAI.

Speaking at first such initiative in the country, to spread awareness and discuss myths and realities of protein, Ms Anuj Agarwala, Nutritionist, Department of Pediatrics, AIIMS and Former President, IDA Delhi Chapter, said “It is important to begin early and focus on a protein rich diet right from the start, which should be continued through all the life stages of development and growth. Children particularly have high protein demand to propel their growth during growing years, as they grow in spurts. Demands for protein among children is particularly high during preteen and teen phases of growth spurts.”

During The Protein Week, IDA with PFNDAI, will hold educational seminars across the country to spread awareness and discuss myths and realities of protein.

Nadia writes about her experience of interview with Lifestyle Today News

Remember the smiling Nadia Clarke’s interview with Lifestyle Today News two months back. Nadia wrote a blog about her visit to Anchal. She narrates beautifully about how she felt about Being interviewed by me for Lifestyle Today News. You can also watch the video of the interview here. Given below is the quote from her blog.

I was interviewed by a lady and I cannot remember what I said as I panicked when she asked if my Dynavox could say ‘Namaste’ I tried but it could not pronounce the word.  Imagine it, lots of people watching, camera crews, children excited and my Dynavox won’t speak Hindi. How embarrassing!. Even though Sam Spelt it to me in sign language, I then typed it correctly but the lady who was interviewing me for Lifestyle Today  news did not recognise the word when she heard it. I panicked, and was swearing inside my head! I was on the Indian TV news! Argh!!! Luckily Sam saw the panic in my face and helped out, phew!!

Journey of a Traditional Kerala House from Kerala to Delhi

A 300-year-old traditional Kerala house, beautifully built with stones and wood was moved,1300 km from Kerala to Delhi. The house that belonged to a traditional agrarian family, was handed over from one generation to another to the youngest son of the family. And so the house finally was inherited by Oommen George, an Architect and Artist who now stays in the US. He had no plans to stay in his ancestral home.

What he wanted to be done with the house…..

When Mr. Oommen tried to sell the house, called Meda, in Mepral, Thirvulla, he realised that everyone was interested in the plot and the wooden antiques in the house which could be sold. None was interested in restoring and staying in the house. There was only one option before him which was to dismantle the house which was in a dilapidated state.

Traditional Kerala House

Who came to his rescue……….

His friend and Famous architect Pradeep Sachdeva came to his rescue at this moment. Well known for his projects like the Delhi Haat and the Garden of five senses. He is also the architect of offices and hotels like Taj.

How could Sachdeva dismantle the building unscathed?

What Sachdeva did next was to get the local traditional carpenter, Narayan Achari who knew about the wood works.  Commonly known as Achari, the Acharis are carpenters and they pass on their tradition from generation to generation. Narayan Achari and his local group of workers worked like professionals to systematically remove all the wood pieces of Meda and to number them and to pack them in groups.

What is unique about the traditional Kerala house?

Traditional Kerala House
Meda in 1900

Fifty years back in Kerala there used to be only a few pucca houses in a village, and the rest will be thatched huts. Hence the entire village had an emotional attachment to the palatial landmarks of their village. The arapura,  is the wooden room which is a granary, and has a granary box (pathayam) and ostensibly built at the entrance of the house with wooden carved door, gold platings and sophisticated locking system. The arapura was the storing place for the rice and other food items.

Why are Keralites emotional about traditional houses?

Every village has some kind of traditional stories related to the tharavad (ancestral home) and to the arapura of the tharavad. In my grandmother’s childhood home, a tradition is followed even now. The preparation for the temple celebration begins from that village ( know as kara) only after the karnavar (head of the family) of the tharavad opens the arapura and gives two bottles of coconut oil to the temple authorities. ‘Meda’, it is said was located above sea level, hence the villagers found shelter here during floods.

Traditional Kerala House

 

 

 

 

 

Role of an Acharis’ in the construction of a traditional Kerala house

The acharis, have got an important place in the Kerala architecture. They hand down their trade secret to the next generation. The role of an Achari is immense in traditional Kerala house construction. In olden days they were the consultant architects, engineers, carpenter and astrologer for any construction project.  Narayan Achari started mastering the skills at a very young age.

Features of a wooden room or Ara………….

Traditional Kerala house rooms of woods are known as Ara and Nira. Nira means panels. The walls, ceilings and the floors are made of wooden panels which are joined without nuts and bolts. The wooden panels are joined like jigsaw puzzles.Traditional Kerala House

Achari’s role in dismantling the house…….

Naryan Achari, dexterously removed the panels and packed them in groups so that when the package reached Gurugram, the panels could be easily unpacked and joined.

Did they use new materials in reconstruction in Gurugram?

Some of the wood was unusable, so Pradeep Sachedeva made a few new panels using similar wood in Gurugram. And only the wooden rooms of upstairs was brought to Delhi. Instead of the stones used for the ground floor walls, bricks were used in gurugram.

How long was the reconstruction……

Achari and his team were brought to Gurugram where the assembling and reconstruction were done within six weeks.

Traditional Kerala House

Traditional Kerala House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What were the additions made to the traditional building?

John Bowman, a British architect created a cast iron spiral steps to the upper floor. Initially, the staircase was of wood. In addition, a bathroom and a kitchen were constructed on the ground floor. In addition, electricity and plumbing were installed.

How is the house after eight years of shifting………..

Mr. Sachdeva says the house seems to belong to the place, and wood will be fine for a long time.

Is the upkeep of the wood structure difficult

He says maintenance of the structure is not difficult and the house is cleaned and kept well maintained.

How economical is it to shift a traditional house?

Mr. Sachdeva says that shifting the house is not a costly affair.

Traditional Kerala House

What is the house being used as in Gurugram?

Meda is being used as a weekend home by Mr. Sachdeva and it is also  used as  a guesthouse.

What do the guests say about the house?

They are absolutely thrilled!!!

Sajeev Sarathie: This Keralite is a well-known Hindi Lyricist, Poet and Writer

He speaks such scholarly Hindi, that you will never imagine that Sajeev Sarathie was born to Malayalee parents in Kerala. He grew up in Delhi from the age of four and he became more familiar with Hindi than Malayalam. Now he is a connoisseur of Hindi Language and Literature. He has carved a niche for himself as a Hindi Poet, Writer and Lyricist. He is a much-loved writer the Hindi media to write of Hindi songs, poems and screenplays. He is doing tremendous teamwork to promote unknown talents. He is also part of radioplaybackindia.com a leading Hindi blog in podcasting. He also worked with Late President Honourable DrAPJ Abdul Kalam. He also wrote songs for Honourable Prime Minister Narender Modi’s Beti Bachao, Beti Bachao movement.  After the release of his latest song Bekhud, I had a voice interview with Sajeev.

1.     Tell us something about the latest song Bekhud?
Bekhud is my latest single, it is a romantic song which has an Arabic feel to it, Composed by very talented Krishnaraj and beautifully rendered by International pop sensation Biswajit Nanda along with super singer Hema Sardesai who need no introduction at all, the voice behind songs like Awara Bhanvare, Badal pe paun hai and many more Bollywood hits. She worked with the likes of ARR, Salim Suleimaan, Anu Malik etc, she is indeed a living legend, and we are fortunate to have her voice for the duet…
Sajeev Sarathie hindi lyricist

2.     Tell us about your life as a songwriter?

I am writing lyrics for the last 10 years collaborating virtually with many national and international composers and singers. Since most of them are placed in different cities of the world, we connect through the internet and do a lot of online jamming to create music. I started with an online platform called “Hind Yugm”, and in 2008 released our very first and literally a zero budget album called “Pahla Sur”, which has 9 songs, all done through our online jamming process. It was an experimental album released in the World Book Fair and became the second largest sold product of the event. 6 songs in this album were written by me and the kind of response I got really pushed me to go further and to take new challenges in this field.  After that, I produced two more unique albums called “kaavyanaad” and “Suno Kahani”. In Kavyanaad, we gave an opportunity to new generation music composers to compose great work of legends of Hindi Literature like Nirala, Pant, Jaishankar Prasad, Mahadevi Verma and more. While in Suno Kahani we compiled 15 stories of the great Munshi Premchand in an album.
Another album of mine, “Beat of Indian Youth” which has 13 songs in 9 different Indian languages was released in 2013. This unique feature of this album has 13 songs in 9 different languages on one single theme saw it enter into The Limca Book of Records. Though I penned lyrics only for 3 songs, this album gave me the honour to share the lyrical space with our National icon and Ex-President Late Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Ji in the song “Hindustan”.
One of my song from Pehla Sur, “Baat yeh kya hai jo” was recreated and featured in the movie Dam999, which was released in the year 2011.
Apart from my 96 singles which have been released so far, I have also penned for various initiatives/ movements by our Govt or other institutions. For example, one of my song “Druzba” was featured in Indo-Russian Friendship festival in Moscow. In 2015, I wrote a song for the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” movement started by our Honourable Prime Minister Shri Modi Ji. “Hindi Meri Awaaz Hai”, one of my poems is part of the 10th standard curriculum in Maharashtra.
An anthology of poems, “Ek Pal Ki Umr Le Kar” has been published by Heavenly Baby Books.
Apart from lyrics I have also written a lot of screenplays for various production houses. So, overall it has been a very satisfying journey so far.
Sajeev Sarathie hindi lyricist

 4.     You are from Kerala, then how did you get interested in Hindi poems and songs?

 Yes, I was born in Kerala and while I was 4 we shifted to Delhi. So, both the places are a part of my childhood. My schooling began in Hindi medium while at home we communicated in Malayalam. However since all my friends spoke Hindi, so probably that’s why Hindi became the dominating medium for me to express myself.

 5.     You are doing tremendous work online for promoting unknown singers and songwriters,  Tell us something about your online web radio radioplaybackindia.com?

 Well, radioplaybackindia is doing very well and is a leading Hindi blog in podcasting. We promote original songs, involving amateur artists. We have a weekly programme called “Bolti Kahaniya” through which we podcast Hindi stories and is a huge hit among our audience. The blog is rich in information on Indian Classical music, Film and Non-Film music.
I host a programme called, “Ek Mulakat Zaruri Hai” which recently completed 50 episodes, featuring several famous Bollywood artists like Shubha Mudgal, Amit Khanna, Ritu Pathak, Shriram Ayyar, Ibrahim Ashq and many more.
There is another programme I host, “Geet Ateet” which takes the audience into an unknown or lesser known story behind the song; using some artist associated with that song.
Programmes like “Old is Gold”, “Mehfil-e-Ghazal”, “”Podcast Kavi Sammelan” etc are big hits of our channel.
I am one of the 6 founding members of the channel and though I have been given the honour of being Chief Editor; but to tell the truth I have not been able to devote much time to radioplaybackindia.
Sajeev Sarathie hindi lyricist

 6.     Your songs are different from the Bollywood film music or mainstream albums. Your songs have the nostalgia of the yesteryears. Do you have a huge fan following for your kind of songs and music?

 Of course, there is a huge audience for my kind of lyrics. Actually, I got a little surprised by your query on following for different style of lyrics and music. As a matter of fact, I am open to all form of music. Old, new, Indie, western…for me music is music and it’s my way to connect with the God almighty.

 7.     You were affected by polio from the age of one, Has the disability been a hindrance or an inspiration for your successful career in Hindi literature?

 We all have weakness and shortcomings, as no one is perfect in this world. Life. I would say that God has been kind that my disability is only at a physical level and I am very well aware of that; otherwise many people don’t even get to know what their weakness is and therefore find it difficult to move ahead in life.
As a matter of fact, now I don’t even consciously think of it until someone points it out. I think, when people talk about my progress despite my physical disability, I feel God is presenting me as an example for many others who have no physical disability; that they can achieve so much more in life if they only follow their passion with dedication.

 8.     Tell us something about your family and those who are behind your success?

 My parents always supported me. I have an understanding wife and two beautiful and gifted children, and all of them have contributed immensely in more than one way in all that I have achieved so far.
Apart from my family, I got strong support from my friends. I am really blessed to have such nice friends. And above all, its God, my best friend; who is always holding my hand.

 9.     Please recite one of your poem for us?

 Sure….this poem is titled “punar-janm” which means ‘Rebirth’
sangsaari kii had se pare,
Duniya kii jadd se door,
wo jiddi paak bedaag sa khwaab,
Dekha tha use jaate,
shaam ke dhundhalke men,
Doobte sooraj ke paar,
jahan samunder toot ke girta hai,
Kisi Anjaan si khala men…
Fir se lautne ko kabhi,
Kinhin a-janmi aankhon men….

10.            Have your written in English or any other language?

 No, I think I am not that versatile. So, for me, one language is sufficient for this life.

Start-up Stories of 24 entrepreneurs by a start-up author for start-up aspirants

In this age when most employees nurture a dream of starting a business of their own, and search for inspiring stories and ideas to begin a venture, Renji George Amballoor wrote a book about 24 successful start-up entrepreneurs in Goa. All of them conceptualised and began their unique business ventures before the start-up became a buzzword in India.  Renji George, a Professor in a Start-up college wrote the start-up stories to inspire student to take up start-up ventures. Since parents are unenthusiastic to allow their children to take a plunge into the risky start-up ventures, Amballoor felt the book will give the parents the courage to support their children. He put in lot of effort to meet the 24 entrepreneurs and to write about their success stories. Here is an interview with the author of ‘Driven by Passion’Renji George Amballoor, about the writing of the book and about start-ups in India:

Tell us something about yourself

Myself, Dr. Renji George Amballoor is a non resident Keralite (NRK), currently associated as Associate Professor & HoD, Department of Economics, with   Government College, Quepem, Goa, for last 26 years. Has a Doctorate degree in Economics from M G University, Kottayam and an Executive MBA from Goa Institute of Management (GIM). Was appointed as the officiating principal of a start-up Government College for setting up the institution.  I am also the recipient of the D D Kosambi Research Fellowship-2013 ( Sr. Category) awarded by Department of Art & Culture, Govt. of Goa & Dempo Research Fellowship- 2008  awarded by Vasantrao Dempo Education & Research Foundation, Goa.

What is the book about; and how did you start writing the book?

In all the stories, entrepreneurship grew out of their passion and dream to do something different.

The book is about 24 first generation entrepreneurs of Goa for sectors from sectors like agriculture, dairy farming, hospitality, drama, music, health care, culture, artwork, waste management, industrial designing, manufacturing, corporate training, information enabled services, etc. None of them had any family background in business. In all the stories, entrepreneurship grew out of their passion and dream to do something different. Their underlying philosophy is that of determination, positive attitude, simplicity and creativity. The narratives of almost all of them highlight the need for creative out-of the box thinking for transforming their challenges into new business opportunities. The objective of this book is to motivate and infuse students and youth into a culture of entrepreneurship & start-ups with local stories from their catchment areas.

After interacting with most of the students, who were first time learners, as the officiating principal of a start-up Government College, I felt the need for pushing them into the mainstream. Internship programme was something close to my heart and decided to implement it. It was easy assignment to convince the students into internship but the stumbling block was their parents. Their argument was that their ward had to travel additional 10 to 15 kms to avail the internship. The dissenting parents were made the champions of internship programme by identifying and narrating the local success stories. In a short period of five years, I had lot of stories to entertain the parents. With these stories in my inventory, I felt the need for documenting these stories for deeper penetration and wider reach.

Driven by passion Book by Ranji George Amballoor

Who are your target audience?

My target audience includes students and youth who generally queue up in front of government offices, industrial estates and foreign embassies. Many a times, they end up being employed at places, institutions and departments with no scope for expressing their creativity. By introducing them into the world of start-ups and entrepreneurship, the optimal utilization of demographic dividend can be ensured.

Give an example of one of the entrepreneurs from this book?

Stories of all the 24 first generation entrepreneurs are interesting but the outstanding among them is that of Late Prashant Shinde.  After securing a Diploma in Production, joined Pentair as an engineer, but his aim was to go to US. But his dreams were shattered with India test firing the Pokhran-II nuclear bomb.

Many times, he would be the delivery boy riding on the two-wheeler. As time passed by, he had clientele including Trans-National Corporation and today provides livelihood to about 54 families.

Disappointed at the turn of the events, he decided to do something of his own. Along with his friend Supriya, who later on became his life partner, carried out an extensive market survey and zeroed in on packaging industry but both were clueless about the sector. Prashant took a train to Dharavi, which had lot of informal packaging unit. He got employed in one of them as helper with an objective of mastering the machinery and its process. Impressed by his enthusiasm and efficiency, the owner of the unit made him an operator. After spending six months in Dharavi, he returned back with rich experience and exposure.  With a small bank loan, he purchased machinery but had to search for about 3 months to get a place to install it.  Along with his assistant, he started taking labour jobs for other printing units.  Many times, he would be the delivery boy riding on the two-wheeler. As time passed by, he had clientele including Trans-National Corporation and today provides livelihood to about 54 families.

He later became the president of Verna Industries Association, a period during which the infrastructural facilities expanded in the industrial estate. He was also instrumental in organising the first edition of business idea contest- ‘Kaun Banega Udyogpati’. He became a star campaigner for entrepreneurship awareness programme in colleges. His energy and dynamism would force students to wake from their deep slumber and on many occasions, he was asked to continue speaking which always extended into a standing ovation.

He had also expanded his business into areas like real estate, mining, etc. He had to wind up his dream project of constructing a low-income housing township. Without remaining disappointed, he continued his entrepreneurial journey with greater vigour and determination. While celebrating his 38th birthday, he had a massive heart attack and the state of Goa lost a champion of   entrepreneurship. Today, his legacy is carried forward by his wife Supriya Shinde.

Driven by passion Book by Ranji George Amballoor

Did they all begin their venture before the beginning of start-up culture in India?

The 24 entrepreneurs in my book started their entrepreneurial journey even before the winds of start-up culture could be felt. They started at a time when the thinking was orthodox and the society did not accept entrepreneurship as a viable source of employment.

What is the situation of start-up culture in Goa?

The start-up culture is slowly building up in Goa but the eco-system needs to be more conducive. The start-up culture which is getting popular in professional colleges should percolate into conventional non-professional campuses.

The schools should include success stories of entrepreneurs along with chapters on Saints, Scientists, Social Reformers & Political Leaders for inculcating the values of entrepreneurship from early ages.

The establishment of Centre for Incubation &  Business Acceleration (CIBA) at two locations, BITS Pilani Campus in Goa, Goa Engineering College &  Goa Information Technology Innovation Centre (GITS) have enhanced and nurtured the incubation facilities in Goa especially for the IT sector.

Policy reforms needs to be made to ensure our academic process and faculty are more start-up friendly. Incentive system and mentoring facility needs to be built in to our curriculum for attracting students into start-ups.

The schools should include success stories of entrepreneurs along with chapters on Saints, Scientists, Social Reformers & Political Leaders for inculcating the values of entrepreneurship from early ages.

What is the future of start-ups globally & particularly in India?

According to the Economic Survey released in 2016, India has 19,000 technology enabled start-ups. The future of start-ups is bright in India. With a population of more than one billion, the opportunities for start-ups are many. Over the census period, the rate of urbanization has skyrocket. With the increasing urbanization, problems have also witnessed an amoebic expansion. Problems needs solutions and this opens the floodgates of opportunities for start-ups.

The captains of the industry should come forward to mentor and guide start-ups into sustainable take-off. Further, it has become a craze among youngsters to tell that they are into start-ups without any tangible outcomes. Such a trend is also dangerous.

The global slowdown can actually boost the start-ups. With low and negative economic growth in many countries, the consumers are giving up their costly life style and looking for alternatives. The surge for options can fuel the start-ups globally.

You are the principal of a start-up college, a start-up writer writing about start-up and published by a start-up publishing? Was it a coincidence?

After interacting with most of the students, who were first time learners, as the officiating principal of a start-up Government College, I felt the need for pushing them into the mainstream. Internship programme was something close to my heart and decided to implement it. It was easy assignment to convince the students into internship but the stumbling block was their parents. Their argument was that their ward had to travel additional 10 to 15 kms to avail the internship. The dissenting parents were made the champions of internship programme by identifying and narrating the local success stories. In a short period of five years, I had lot of stories to entertain the parents.

At that point I felt the need of documenting them for reaching a wider audience and in the process became a start-up writer. Very soon, I realized that these stories were about how the entrepreneurs made their start-ups sustainable.

While scouting for a publisher, it was observed that their terms and conditions were unfavourable to start-up writers. A start-up writer is ignored, neglected and squeezed by established publishers. At home, almost every day we used to discuss my interactions with the entrepreneurs, their business model, problems, creative solutions, etc. Excited about the stories, my son decided to publish my book through his start-up – Rean Publication.

At the end of this journey, I strongly feel that it is a mere coincidence that the entire assignment revolved around start-ups.

What are your future plans?

The joy, satisfaction and a new identity emerging from writing the book is great. Writing takes one into a new world of networks and challenges.

Writing this book was a part of my academic social responsibility to the state of Goa and its institutions which has showered me with opportunities and nurtured me into what I am today. As a part of giving back to the society, my next venture will be to document the first time women entrepreneurs of Goa.