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How to Self Publish for Indian Market
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Table of contents
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Last Rights ...............................................................................9
Return of Acharya ..................................................................18
Right in the Middle ................................................................25
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo ...............................................27
Analyze All Parameters ..........................................................41
A Toy for the Little Princess ..................................................57
Lalitha Bilgi (Social Enterprise) Venture: Swayam .................66
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Marriage, Kids and other Problems ........................................84
Correspondences With An Unknown Mystic .........................88
The Moon’s Complexion .........................................................97
Of Education, Learnings & Knowledge ...............................109
The harmony in my life .........................................................114
How to Self Publish for
What is Self Publishing? ......................................................129
What Every Self Publisher Should Know .............................145
Self Publishing at Pothi.com ................................................150
L ast year we decided to boldly go where no Indian company had
gone before. Pothi.com was founded to offer the independent
Indian authors a platform to publish their works easily and
economically. More than a year and 250 titles down the line, the
concept of Print On Demand (POD) and self publishing is catching
on fast amongst the Indians. The journey so far has been interesting,
exciting and at times scary. We faced numerous new challenges which
had no precedence and needed ingenious, innovative solutions. But
we learnt, we innovated and we remain focused on our goals.
Today, we are one of the very few established POD players in
the market. Apart from POD, we offer a wide array of services like
editing, formatting, illustrations etc. We set up an online bookstore
for independent authors to be able to reach out to a wider audience.
You can submit your raw manuscript and leave the rest to us – from
editing to printing and online marketing. We offer you the flexibility
of choosing all or any of our services to suit your convenience.
In past one year, more than 150 authors have chosen Pothi.com
as their partner in self-publishing. Through them, we have come to
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better understand the problems faced by independent authors. Since
these individuals lack the marketing muscle of traditional publishing
houses, more often than not they fail to get the kind of visibility
that their works deserve. The books don’t get reviewed in mainstream
media, they don’t get interviewed by journalists and only few readers
get to see their work.
Through this collection, we have attempted to ameliorate the
situation by choosing to showcase a few select works of self published
authors which are available with us. The selection represents a diverse
genre of books including fiction, humour, children’s book and self
improvement. These authors have explored their creative side and
have a charming tale or an important thought to share with you.
The format provides for a brief description of the book and
author followed by a chapter from the books. These make for a
tantalizing and enticing reading. They whet your appetite without
satiating the hunger. In order to satisfy your hunger, you are invited
for the complete buffet at Pothi.com for buying these books and
exploring others too.
W e finally moved from King Edward Road Mess to a house on
Tughlak Road in November 1947.
It was a traumatic time for me. Hordes of refugees were streaming
in from West Punjab and refugee camps had been set up all over the
city. Often refugee families would go from house to house asking
for food and shelter. It made me very disturbed to see entire families
dispossessed of their homes and reduced to paupers.
Over a million people would be killed in the mass migrations
that took place after the partition of India. There were Hindus fleeing
from Pakistan into India and Muslims going in the other direction.
Many would never make it to their destination. One apostle of non-
violence – Mahatma Gandhi – repeatedly went on fast to protest
against this communal violence. It did not help.
At the age of eight I was aware of Mahatma Gandhi but only
vaguely knew the reasons for his greatness.
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My mother was my main source of my information about Gandhi.
She had purchased a children’s book about the life of Gandhi for me.
I read about his early life and efforts in India’s freedom movement.
The one fact that impressed me was that he only travelled in the third
class in Indian trains. Even at my age, I was aware of the tribulations
of persons who travelled by third class. It was an era when the Indian
Railways had four classes – first, second, intermediate and third –
and the third class compartments had simple wooden benches and
were invariably overcrowded. I was moved by Gandhi’s gesture of
enduring personal discomfort to focus on a social injustice.
When living on Tughlak Road, we were fortunate to be within
walking distance of Birla House. This sumptuous mansion belonged
to the Birla family who had placed it at Gandhi’s disposal. Whenever
in Delhi, Gandhi would stay at Birla House and hold his daily prayer
meetings at around 5 p.m. in the evenings. My mother would go to
these prayer meetings and I sometimes accompanied her.
It was a short walk from our Tughlak Road home to Birla House.
There would already be a crowd outside the Birla House gate. We
would join the stream of people walking down the drive to the prayer
ground at the end of the garden. By the time we reached the prayer
ground, the first rows were already occupied. My mother and I were
obliged to find places a few rows behind. I can now only estimate but
there must have been more than a few hundred people at each prayer
Gandhi was always punctual. At 5 p.m. he would arrive at
the prayer ground followed by some members of his family. After
mounting the steps to the level of the prayer ground, he would take
his place on a wooden platform. The winter evenings were cool and
he was wrapped in a couple of homespun shawls. The first thing that
struck me was that he was completely bald and had a shining dark
brown head. It was much larger in proportion to his lean body.
I do not remember what actually took place during the prayer
meeting. I can only remember the pin-drop silence when he spoke.
He did not look at the audience. He spoke with his head down as
if he were contemplating aloud. Even as a child, I could sense the
anguish in his voice. We were living in tumultuous times. It was
now three months after partition and some communities were still
embroiled in communal carnage. The Mahatma was pleading against
this senseless violence.
Like many of the others in the congregation, I had come for a
darshan of the Mahatma. I did not understand what he was saying
but I sensed that I was in the presence of a great man. It was as if all
of us were getting an uplift while in communion with a noble spirit.
There was singing and I would join my mother when the
congregation sang the Mahatma’s favourite refrain:
Raghupati raghavan raja Ram
Patita pavan Sitaram
A month later the Mahatma was assassinated. It happened just
before a prayer meeting on 30 January 1948. My mother was not
present at the meeting. She was coming back from an errand when
she heard somebody on the road say that Gandhi had been shot
dead. Another person then commented that the world would not
come to an end if Gandhi was dead. That comment indicated that
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Gandhi’s message of non-violence was not being taken kindly by the
thousands of refugees from Punjab now living in camps in Delhi.
Among neighbours there was speculation that a disgruntled refugee
might have killed Gandhi.
The next morning it turned out that a Hindu fanatic had
assassinated Gandhi. In school we recounted the details of how
Gandhi was shot at point blank range by Nathuram Godse. It was
at the nearby Tughlak Road police station where the FIR (first
information report) on Gandhi’s death was filed, the report written
in Urdu. Everything had taken place so close to where we lived. I felt
that history was being played out around me.
Gandhi’s cremation took place on the banks of the River Jamuna
near Delhi. About twenty urns were filled with ashes were sent
to various places in India to comply with Gandhi’s wish that his
remains be immersed in the rivers of the country. One urn was sent
to Allahabad for the ashes to be immersed at the confluence of the
Jamuna and the Ganges, a sacred place for Hindus.
My father was deputed on 12 February 1948 to attend the last
rites in Allahabad. He was away for a day and, when he returned,
gave us a moving account. He told us of the huge crowds around
the cortège that took the urn to the point of immersion and of an
aeroplane that showered rose petals on the crowds near the banks of
the river. He gave us some rose petals as well as a small copper vessel
containing water from the Ganges.
Later we saw scenes of the cortège on the Indian News Re-
view feature that used to precede a film in cinema houses. Ne-
hru and other leaders were seated on the open carriage carry-
ing the urn. In front and behind the carriage, there were huge
crowds. I briefly saw images of two naval officers walking behind
the carriage and thought that one might have been my father.
Years later I saw Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi. In the film,
there is a scene showing Gandhi’s cortège with soldiers marching
with slow and solemn precision to the beat of funeral drums. It was
impressive but the reality was slightly different.
I consider myself lucky. Even though I was only a boy, I had seen
the actual Mahatma. Not a Mahatma invented for films or history.
Excerpts from ‘Permanent Ghosts - A Memoir’
(Genre: Biographies and Memoirs) by Nitin Shankar.
In his autobiography, Nitin Shankar describes his
experiences of living in towns such as Bombay in forties,
Berlin in ﬁfties, Warsaw and Milan in sixties and Tabriz
in seventies. He provides an interesting insight into the
personality of the people he has come across and also
gives a peep into historical events like Indian Independence
and Iranian turmoil from the eyes of an individual.
K avita hummed to herself as she cleaned the kitchen after lunch.
Outside, it was drizzling lightly, the rain drumming rap-a tap-
tap on the roof. Kavita loved the sound of the rains, and she breathed
in deeply, to smell the wet mud and the scent of flowers…
Kavita was just going to relax and complete the last few pages
of an exciting novel, when Mohan the gardener’s anxious voice was
heard. “Kavitaji! Kavitaji! When I opened the garage a huge black
dog pounced upon me. He’s vicious! He nearly bit my hand when I
went to collect the garden pipe.” “How did this dog slip in?” Kavita
inquired. “Maybe he lost his way, and slipped inside at night,”
suggested Mohan. “Or perhaps the dog is black in colour, so our
driver didn’t notice him,” put in the old gardener thinking deeply “for
he must have hidden underneath the warmth of the engine.” “Come
on Mohan. Let us go and check the dog out.” Kavita said putting
a book-mark in her book. “Will you lead the way please?” Kavita
It was soon discovered that it was a beautiful she dog, with a
shinning black coat of hair. Kavita loved dogs… and that is how
Blackie, as Kavita called her, got her name.
Blackie was very hot-tempered! To make matters worse, this
fierce and irritable nature had developed mainly because Blackie had
just given birth to four lovable puppies. “Blackie will leave as soon
as her puppies have grown older,” Vinay, Kavita’s husband explained.
“So don’t disturb her set-up.” Blackie howled, barked and snarled at
whoever tried to disturb or make friends with her; whether it was the
milkman, the enthusiastic newspaper boy, the dhobi who had a way
with dogs, or the servants. Surprisingly whenever Kavita paid her a
visit, Blackie instantly gave in - and danced, barked and licked her
from head to toe! Kavita thoroughly enjoyed herself and provided
Blackie with tit-bits like biscuits, bread, milk and sometimes with a
chunk of meat.
Since Mohan was the first person to meet Blackie, he
soon narrated her ill-tempered ways of growling around the
neighbourhood. Scratch marks were still visible on his arms and legs.
The other incident really took place by accident. A few children living
next doors were playing cricket when their ball rolled into Kavita’s
compound. The garage door was ajar and Siddharth and Michael- not
knowing about Blackie’s whereabouts ventured right in. Siddharth
managed to escape with bruises and torn jeans, but Michael, who
was younger, was badly bitten. Although Kavita felt extremely guilty
about Blackie’s behaviour, she still felt protective towards her. “She
came seeking for shelter and chose our home, didn’t she Vinay? Then,
on humanitarian grounds, I feel that I too should shield her.” The
main reason behind Kavita’s logic was that she knew that she would
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never become a mother. Therefore, Kavita felt like caring and loving
Blackie just like her own child…
It had just stopped raining that night but the sky still looked dark
and frightening. Kavita stood in the balcony waiting for her husband
who was going to come from Delhi. Just an hour ago, Blackie had
been given a bowl of warm milk and bread and Kavita had made
sure that she was made comfortable in that little garage. “I’ll warm
up some milk till then”, she thought. Just then, Kavita heard a soft
whine and peered out, knowing that it was Blackie. The mournful
whine continued, now growing louder and louder, and Kavita grew
restless. In panic, she rushed downstairs to investigate…
An astonishing sight met her eyes. Blackie was kneeling in
front of the steps, calling out again and again to her puppy that
lay still and calm on the steps. Kavita’s eyes filled with tears as she
watched in silence as Blackie whined and pawed her baby trying to
lick her– trying her best to revive her lost puppy. Dogs are the only
animals who display their emotions so well. Today, Kavita saw the
real Blackie- a Blackie with feelings… Then, when all plans failed,
Blackie sat besides her lovely white and black puppy and howled
Kavita had never experienced a dog crying… She was so
mesmerized by this scene that she stood still, with hot tears rolling
down her cheeks… The pup must have died only a few minutes ago.
Maybe it had ventured out of the gate by mistake and possibly was
hit by a car or a motor bike. “I think I heard a sound of abrupt braking
when I was in the kitchen,” recalled Kavita.
She stood long enough to see that Blackie gave one last lick to
her pup, then picked it up and ran silently down the road. Digging
a small pit inside the soft mud, Blackie then buried her puppy
Excerpts from ‘Over a Cup of Coffee
(Genre: Literature & Fiction) by Madhavi Hadker.
The book is a collection of charming short stories on
everyday subjects. The stories are simple yet poignant
and touch an emotional cord. Madhavi’s narration paints
an imagery which any reader can relate to instantly.
Madhavi Hadker is pursuing a career as a school
Return of Acharya
A s dawn broke, so did the news about the ‘junior’ acharya’s return
to the mutt. It spread like wildfire and people were thronging
about his quarters just to have a glimpse of him and his usual retinue,
the people who used to attend on him and assist him and make the
necessary arrangements for the morning Puja etc – they were all there
and by 7 AM, there was an expectant crowd outside his quarters
wanting to see him. He obliged them and came out but did not speak
a word, and with a benevolent smile, and a gesture with the hand of
benediction, he went back in. Then his retinue of assistants came in
and he gave instructions for the Puja as usual. The amazing thing was,
it all appeared as though nothing had happened in between. There
was no sign of any disruption or whatever that had happened – that
was a great testimony to the elder acharya’s organizing capability
that even during the young acharya’s absence everything went on
smoothly and when he came back and took over again, there was no
break whatsoever. So the arrangements for the Puja were on. Then
sometime later, one assistant came to him and whispered something
Return of Acharya
in his ear. He said the Press has come. Somehow they had got wind
of his return and within an hour there was this horde of people from
the press waiting outside, wanting to see and have a word with the
Now, normally, in this mutt, which was very orthodox and
traditional, the Press was not given free entry into the mutt premises.
There was no regular or organized briefing for the press either in
this mutt – so cloistered and exclusive was the atmosphere. Even if
occasionally some news, which they wanted to be spread was given
to the press, in general the mutt always preferred to be not in the
news at all. But today the press have come in strength and how is it
going to be dealt with? It was an unprecedented situation. But the
young acharya took it all in his stride. In fact, this was the beginning
of a new era in public relations in the mutt. He just instructed his
assistants “Ask the press people to come in”. The assistants were
shocked; it was not the done thing in this mutt! Then a hurried press
meet was called and the hall was full. Of course, in deference to the
sanctity of the premises, all of them have removed their footwear
and were barefoot, but all the appurtenances of the media were
in full display. Hurried questions were hurled at the acharya and
there were a couple of woman reporters too – the questions were
coming thick and fast. All about his absence, why he left, why has
he returned, when did he return, where had he been, and was it true
that there was a difference of opinion between him and the ‘senior’
acharya, was it true that he was disillusioned with the way the mutt
was functioning, was it true that he had his own ideas of running
the mutt etc. The acharya was unfazed and he fielded them all one
by one. To such questions as to the difference of opinion between
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him and the senior acharya, he said, “Well, you are free to imagine
what you want. But if you are asking me, I must tell you there is no
such thing.” To the others about his possible disillusionment with
the way things were run in the mutt he said “It is not a question
of disillusionment; it is a question of understanding. I am learning
like all others, and efficiency is the key word. The goal is the same,
but there may be better ways, and it is a team effort and we are all
exploring. It is not all my doing!” Like that he answered quite affably,
and even such questions which normally could have rubbed anyone
on the wrong side, the acharya deftly handled unctuously and with a
smile. So, the press meet ended amicably; the only question to which
he did not give a straightforward answer was as to why he left the
mutt. Finally, when it was pressed upon him again and again, he said:
“I did not leave the mutt in the sense you all think. It is all like astral
travel, a question of finding myself and reorienting myself. It is not
just a question of corporeal shifting”. When some of the skeptical
reporters laughed at this reply with derision, he let them and did not
try to intimidate them with a steely glare or something like that. In
fact he joined them in their laughter. That was how the press meet
At the appointed hour of 9 AM, all the preparations for the daily
Puja were ready and the devotees who had thronged to witness this
highlight of the day, a beautiful celebration akin to the High Mass in
a basilica, were all seated orderly – men on one side and the women
on the other. The acharya came and took his position in front of the
idol of the presiding deity of the mutt and the Puja began. For the
past one week when this acharya was away, the senior acharya was
doing this Puja, which was a rare sight indeed and to witness which
Return of Acharya
people from all over the land had come. Today also, they had not
expected the junior acharya to have returned and resume the Puja,
and they had come believing that the Senior would be conducting
the Puja, and when they saw the junior instead, it was a surprise to
them, and not entirely without disappointment either, for some of
them. Anyhow, the excitement and expectation was high and they
all settled down to watching the Puja in silence and reverence. Even
as the acharya was going through the Puja routine flawlessly, he was
thinking ‘ I am doing this whole heartedly and not just as my duty.
Because from today, I am not praying to some idol but to the Self, for
the welfare of the whole of humanity. So, to that extent, my soulful
prayers are radiating, and these idols in front of me to whom I am
apparently addressing these prayers are but lenses that concentrate
and bring my prayers to an intense focus.’ So he went through the
motions of all the rituals involved in the Puja, but with the single
concentrated aim and goal of the happiness of the whole of humanity.
And the final act was the lighting of a ceremonial lamp and waving
this at the idols as a mark if reverence and worship, bringing the Puja
to a close.
It was at this precise moment, when everyone was deeply
immersed in the grandeur and aura of this closing ceremony of the
Puja, that a loud shout came from one man of the congregation. He
was an old man, coming from a far off place, and he just stood up
and shrieked in rage, shouting at the acharya: “You scoundrel, you
imposter, what right do you have to come here and conduct the Puja
today? You traitor, you abandoned this mutt, leaving the grand old
man to shame and misery, and now you have turned up and have
the effrontery to resume the Puja, violating the holy orthodoxy
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of this ancient mutt. How dare you….” etc he was shouting. His
frail body was shaking in his uncontrolled rage, and the rest of the
congregation was dumbfounded at this spectacle. The acharya too
was shocked first, but then looked at the old man and the sight of
that wretch shivering like a leaf in his righteous indignation moved
him to compassion. Meanwhile, the mutt assistants were rushing at
the man to make him shut up and also bodily remove him from the
audience. The acharya signaled to them to leave the man alone, and
the old man having finished his tirade was breathing heavily, still
standing. There was pindrop silence as the acharya looked at him
and said to him:”Sir, Please sit down”. The man though he heard him
clearly, was still standing. The acharya addressed him further: “You
are old enough to be my father. Your body is racked not only by rage
but anguish also, I am sure. Because you feel that the sanctity and
holy tradition of this mutt had been violated by my absence from
here for the past few days. But then, I want you to know that a very
similar thing happened to me too. I too left this mutt in anguish and
not in anger. And you are outraged with me for my deed, whereas I
was outraged with myself. I wanted to find myself so that I could be
worthy of sitting here and doing this time honored Puja, instead of
merely being one doing this by force of habit or by an edict. I wanted
to find my place in the scheme of things, where do I fit in, in what
way am I fit to be your guru and mentor, in what way can I be of help
to you all – it was on this soul searching journey that I embarked
on. I am sure, it is not blasphemy, in your eyes is it? Yes, outwardly
it looked I deserted the mutt, but how can I ever, sir? As I told you,
you are like my father. And my heavenly and earthly father is none
but the revered senior acharya. How can I ever desert my father and
go anywhere? No, I did not abandon this mutt. And if you think you
Return of Acharya
have the right to stand up in this devout congregation to shout at me
in anger and anguish, then I too had such a right and responsibility
really, to let my anguish find its solace and answer. I did find it and
you will all come to know the effects by and by.” With those words,
as the acharya began reciting the concluding verses of the Puja, the
old man was apparently mollified and he sat down shamefacedly. At
the conclusion of the Puja, the devotees silently dispersed.
Thus began a renaissance in the annals of this august mutt. From
that day, things began to move in the otherwise stagnant affairs of
the mutt – there was to be no more obscurantist, tradition bound
‘right or wrong’ inflexibility, inertia. The acharya infused dynamism
into the place and its working. The senior acharya has already given
up the whole charge of the affairs of the mutt to him, and therefore
he could take control without let or hindrance. The mutt had a lot of
properties, various valuable endowments to it, from philanthropists
and well wishers in the past. In the days past, big landlords used to
bequeath vast acreage and lands to the mutt, and some of these lands
were lying fallow, some cultivated – but not fetching sizeable income
to the mutt which was its due. Today, in today’s prices, these lands
have greatly enhanced in value, though remaining as non-performing
assets. The acharya constituted experts to go into maximizing returns
from these assets and consulted them as to how to put these to
productive use with recurrent returns to the mutt. He made one
thing crystal clear from the beginning. The funds so generated for
the mutt should go towards spreading not merely Hindu culture and
spiritual and religious lore, but should be utilized for the welfare of
everyone, irrespective of religion. So let schools, colleges, Hospitals
and institutions be built with the funds, where every one can benefit.
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Of course they will be run on a quasi-commercial basis, to the extent
to be self sustaining as far as possible once in existence and running,
but at nominal costs and there shall be no discrimination.
Excerpts from Memsahib
(Genre: Literature & Fiction) by Paul Gopal.
The book is a political thriller cum love story set in southern
India. The happenings and the characters in the book are
based on prominent Indian events and personalities. At
the end, the reader is left wondering whether this ﬁction
could actually be a part of an untold reality.
Right in the Middle
W hen my wife subtly reminded me to cut my overgrown
toenails, little did I imagine that the task would be a
challenge in itself. Armed with the nail-cutter, I tried to reach the
superfluous growth at the extreme end of my body, but to no avail.
While I could take care of my fingernails from time to time, it was
the toenails that eluded my attention. Was it due to the shoes, which
covered the sight of my toenails for most part of the day, shielding
them from the onslaught of the implement?
The real culprit lay between the position of my eyes and the
position of my toenails, right in the middle. I have come across several
obstacles, but never one that grew on me! The central growth, often
attributed to prosperity, was the cause of my predicament. Several
tidbits regularly made their way into my mouth between sumptuous
meals, and were the cause of my “all-round” growth. Help began
pouring in from well-wishers. “Let me tell you a simple yoga for this,”
said one. “When you are offered some more food... look the person in
the eye, shake your head sideways, until the offer is withdrawn.” How
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could I overcome my cravings for all things sinfully sweet? After
Oscar Wilde, “I can resist anything, but temptation.”
My sedentary lifestyle! The only time I walked was when I
“walked through” a Powerpoint presentation, and the only time I
“jumped”, was when I was in a queue. “Aerobic exercises. Turn on
your music system and dance vigorously, as though no one is seeing
you,” prescribed a fitness expert. After a couple of days of the near-
hysterical workout, I was hurting in parts of my body that I never
knew existed. The deeper meaning of “dard-e-disco” dawned on me.
My next well-wisher, a salesperson by profession, urged me to buy
a treadmill and some exercise accessories, which he could offer at a
“special price”, so that I could burn my fat at home. After learning of
the damage it would cause to my bank balance, I decided to go for a
brisk walk around the neighbourhood, instead. At last, my first step
in my long brisk walk has been taken. It is said that a journey of a
thousand miles begins with a small step. I have miles to go before I
reach my own toenails!
Excerpts from The ArTicKles Collection
(Genre: Humour) by Gopinath Mavinkurve.
The book is a collection of select articles. The author has
converted everyday mundane happenings and activities
into a rib tickling narration of humour. The short piece
presented below is a perfect example of his writing where
the expanding waistline of the author has been dealt with
in an extremely humourous manner.
Gopinath M. Mavinkurve is a professional management
expert in the ﬁeld of foreign trade policy and procedures.
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
A s the plane touched down in San Francisco, Julia could not
contain her excitement. Descending over the Bay Area was
exhilarating, and Julia was astounded at the beauty of the hills, the
Pacific Ocean, and the skyline of the city. It was her first trip to San
Francisco, and she was here on vacation visiting Jerry, whom she’d
met over five years ago when he was an exchange student at her
university in London. Jerry and Julia hadn’t seen each other for over
Julia was very excited to reach San Francisco and immediately
wanted to share her excitement with her family back home in
London. She had promised her parents that she would be in touch
when she reached the United States. She also wanted to let Jerry
know that she had arrived safely and on time. Her cell phone worked
only in the UK, not here in the U.S. So she couldn’t contact Jerry or
her family, and they couldn’t contact her. Indeed, she realized it was
silly to have brought her cell phone at all.
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Once inside the airport and through customs, Julia located a
pay phone. Fortunately, she had exchanged some Euros into dollars
back in London, but had to go into a restaurant to change a dollar
into quarters. She called Jerry, who was just pulling up outside the
baggage claim. Elated to see each other, they told stories over dinner
and drinks at a Mexican restaurant in Palo Alto, where Jerry lived.
Unfortunately, Jerry had to work the day following Julia’s arrival.
He was fairly new at his job with a technology firm in Palo Alto
and hadn’t been able to get the day off. Over dinner, Julia decided that
she would go to the San Francisco Zoo by herself the following day.
She would take public transportation because she didn’t want to take
Jerry’s car, or rent a car, as she was nervous about driving on the other
side of the road, especially in the middle of the city. Jerry didn’t have
a clue how to give her advice on public transit, as he always drove his
car, though he knew it was possible to get to the zoo by taking buses
and trains. After dinner, back at Jerry’s apartment, they looked up the
San Francisco Zoo from Jerry’s computer in order to plan Julia’s trip.
They were happy to discover that the SF Zoo Web site encouraged
people to take public transportation, and even offered a discount to
those customers who brought their receipt. Jerry and Julia logged on
to the 511.org website to get help with what public transportation
was available. They entered the address of Jerry’s apartment as the
starting point, and the address of the zoo as the ending point. The
Web site offered them a detailed itinerary, telling Julia exactly what
to do. They printed this out; Julia felt confident that she’d be able to
do it by herself.
Cell Phones Don’t Work in Other Countries
In the morning, Jerry rushed to the office early for a meeting. Julia
made herself an omelette and phoned her parents from Jerry’s
landline. She checked her e-mail on his computer, packed a bag with
a water bottle and some fruit, and set off to find the zoo. All the
buses and trains were on schedule, and she arrived there without
a problem. Julia was thrilled to be in the city. She thought about a
friend in London, whom she would have loved to talk to right now,
but she couldn’t figure out how, other than to use a pay phone, and
she knew that would be ridiculously expensive. Jerry had asked her
to call and let him know that she had arrived safely. After a bit of
searching she found a pay phone and called him. He didn’t pick up,
as he was having coffee with his boss, but she left him a message
letting him know that everything had gone well. Julia bought the
entrance ticket and got a map for the zoo. She wanted a cup of coffee,
so she looked at the zoo map and found a restaurant. While having
coffee, she looked over the map and planned out her trip inside the
zoo. First she saw the birds, then the monkeys. She went to the big
cats’ exhibit and then stood for a long time watching a zebra eating.
There was a theatre at the zoo that offered daily “wildlife theatre.”
The next show would begin in fifteen minutes. She was looking for
the theatre location on her map, trying to figure out how to reach it
from where she was. She was proceeding in one direction, looking at
the signposts along the side of the pathways.
After a few minutes, she realized that the other route would
probably be shorter. She got a bit lost and flustered, and arrived at
the theatre after the show had started.
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Nonetheless, Julia had a fantastic trip to the zoo. She spent a
long time watching the tigers lounging around in the shade and
took a bunch of pictures with her digital camera that she would later
upload to her Picasa account so that her friends and family could
check them out. She enjoyed the California sunshine, and ate her
lunch outside. She was still feeling very proud of herself for finding
the zoo all by herself in a foreign country. Now it was 5 o’clock, and
the zoo was about to close, but it was too early to head back to Jerry’s
apartment. He had said that he’d probably be home around 7:30.
Julia decided to try to find the Golden Gate Bridge. It seemed
like a daunting task, however, and Julia really wasn’t quite sure how
to get there. She had no Internet access or else she would have
logged on to the 511 Web site and printed out an itinerary similar
to last night. When she finally found a pay phone, she dialled Jerry’s
number again. Luckily, he answered and she asked if he could look
up directions from the 511 Web site from the zoo to the Golden
Gate Bridge. Jerry was having a very busy day at work, and really
didn’t have the time to dictate the directions to Julia over the phone.
Nor did he have much faith or interest in public transportation.
“Take a cab,” he said, “It will be way easier.” Jerry explained.
“Is there a phonebook there?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Julia.
“Turn to the back pages and look up ‘Taxi,’” said Jerry.
The pages of the phone book were old and tattered; many pages
were missing. Julia found a company called Yellow Cab.
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
“You’ve got to call them, tell them where you are, and they’ll
come pick you up,” said Jerry.
Web Not Available On-The-Go
Julia hung up and called a cab. She waited about 10 minutes, and the
cab showed up in front of the zoo. The cab driver was very friendly,
and chatted with Julia while driving her towards the bridge. At her
request, he dropped her off at the north end of the bridge, and then
charged her what seemed like an arm and a leg for the ride.
Julia was very excited to see the bridge in-person, after seeing it
in photographs ever since childhood. It was such a magnificent feat
of engineering excellence! She walked from the north end of the
bridge back toward the city, stopping for a while in the middle to
admire the bay, the water underneath the bridge, the sailboats, and
the view of San Francisco. It was sunny and windy, and there were a
lot of other tourists and bikers enjoying the view. She took tons of
pictures. Then she again found herself looking for a pay phone and
discovered one near the rest room on the south side of the bridge.
“Here I am at the bridge!” she said to Jerry. “It’s so beautiful!”
“Nice,” said Jerry. “I wish I were there. I get off work in a few
minutes. Have you figured out how to get home from there?”
“Well, I’ve got my itinerary,” answered Julia.
“Yeah, but that was from the zoo. Now you’re at the bridge. Do
you know how to get back?”
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“Oh, shoot,” said Julia. “I didn’t even think about that! Oh, man,
this might get complicated. I guess I’ll have to call the cab again, and
they’ll take me to the train station.”
“How ‘bout this,” said Jerry. “I’ll pick you up and we can drive
into Sausalito for dinner. It’s right on the other side of the bridge,
and there are some fantastic places to eat there.”
Julia was thrilled.
“So, it might be an hour before I get there. Wait close to the rest-
rooms and the pay phones at 7:30. I should be there by then.”
Julia was very happy to spend another hour in that beautiful spot,
and quite relieved that she didn’t have to worry about taking public
transportation back to Jerry’s house. Julia returned near the restrooms
at 7:30 and waited. Fifteen minutes went by, but there was no sign of
Jerry. Julia had no way of knowing that he was stuck in traffic. Finally
he showed up around 8:00. They were both starving. After a bit of
searching, they found a sushi restaurant in Sausalito and then took a
stroll along the beach. Afterwards, they drove back to his home.
It is a few years in the future. In a very short time, Web on-the go has
become a universal phenomenon. Pretty much every global citizen
has at least one Mobile Internet Device. Wireless access is available
just about everywhere on planet Earth. Julia brought her Samsung
MID to America with her, and also her Sony Pocket PC. She uses
the MID to read e-mails and do some quick work online and the
Pocket PC to write e-mails, read e-books, and more. The MID fits
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
into her shirt pocket while the Pocket PC is in her handbag. When
Julia arrived in San Francisco, she pulled out her MID and sent a
quick text message to Jerry, who immediately responded, letting her
know he’d be waiting out front in his car, and then another to her
parents back in the UK to let them know she’d arrived safely.
Later on that night, Julia and Jerry were looking at the San
Francisco Web site and then the 511.org site to get clear on Julia’s
public transportation route to the zoo. On the 511.org site, a link was
provided to download a transit trip planner application to a Mobile
Internet Device. Julia downloaded and installed that application in
her MID. The next morning, Jerry rushed to his office for the staff
meeting. Julia got up and began preparing her breakfast. At work,
in the meeting, all members of the firm were offering updates on
their current projects. Jerry gave his update early and then listened
to the updates from members of teams in different departments. He
had his laptop in front of him and launched the Google Latitude
application, which showed that Julia was still in Palo Alto. He sent a
short text message, “Hi, are you still at home?” Julia responded that
she was eating her breakfast. Jerry texted back: “Have a great trip to
Around 9 a. m., Julia left the apartment and launched the 511
transit trip planner application on her Mobile Internet Device.
The MID picked up her location from GPS and responded with a
map showing her a map of the neighborhood she was standing in,
including names of surrounding streets. The trip planner application
prompted her to say or enter the place where she wanted to go. Julia
said, “San Francisco Zoo.” But the application couldn’t recognize
her British accent, so she had to enter the destination using the
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keyboard. Then the application asked her the next question, “When
do you want to go? She entered “Now.” Then the application came
up with an itinerary, based on her current location, the current time,
and current traffic conditions. This is known as “Information in Real
Time.” Now, Julia’s MID showed her a map with the directions that
she needed to follow. It also had voice instructions. “Walk to that
corner.” The device picked up the GPS location and also did some
internal calculations to arrive at Julia’s new location. Then it said,
“Turn right and walk to that bus stop.” Julia reached the bus stop.
The MID said, “It will take another five minutes for the bus to arrive.
Have a dollar and 25 cents for the bus fare. It will be a ten-minute
bus journey to reach the Caltrain station.” After about five minutes,
the bus arrived. Julia paid the fare and within a few minutes, reached
the station. Julia was very excited about her first bus and train trip
in California. She was proud of herself for doing it all alone. In fact,
she didn’t really feel that she was alone. The voice instructions from
the MID 511 transit planner application made her feel safe, and
strangely enough, as if she had company.
Meanwhile, Jerry was still in his weekly staff meeting, listening
to people give their updates, while off and on checking the Google
Latitude application on his laptop. He could see that Julia had reached
the Caltrain station. In some cases, for obvious reasons, one would
want to turn on the Google Latitude application’s privacy feature,
in order to block anyone (or specific people) from being able to see
their location. In this case, however, Jerry and Julia were not at all
concerned with privacy. Jerry really just wanted to know that Julia was
doing okay. Soon the meeting was over and Jerry rushed to his cube.
He called Julia to talk to her about her trip so far. Meanwhile, Julia’s
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
Mobile Internet Device told her that the train for San Francisco
would be arriving at the platform shortly, and was giving her all the
“I can’t believe how easy this is!” Julia said to Jerry. That eased
Jerry’s mind, and he got back to work, not so worried that Julia might
run into trouble finding the zoo.
Julia boarded the train and began travelling north toward San
Francisco. Meanwhile, her Mobile Internet Device continued to
pick up her current location from GPS and informed Julia about
each approaching station. When the train approached Millbrae, her
MID let her know that she needed to get off at that stop. Thus Julia
followed the step-by-step voice instructions and reached the San
Francisco Zoo safely. Since Jerry and Julia were both online, every
so often they would exchange small messages, making jokes and
enjoying each other’s virtual “company.”
Zoo Guide Application for Mobile Devices
Julia reached the zoo and bought her entrance ticket. At the entrance,
Jerry had let her know that there were instructions for installing the
Zoo Guide application onto her Mobile Internet Device. Julia asked
about that feature at the counter. The assistant told her that this
application included the zoo maps, timings for shows, and specific
directions to any location within the zoo, such as the theater and
restaurants. Julia noticed that on every lamppost in the zoo, there was
a wireless access point.
“What’s up with the access points on the lampposts?” Julia asked
the assistant. The employee told her it was the Zoo Wireless Network
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and that the Zoo Guide application installed on her Mobile Internet
Device accesses those points. Through the same application, Julia
learned that she could also access the Internet. However, she had
noticed already that she had coverage throughout the city, thanks to
the new municipal Wi-Fi service in
San Francisco. Julia went to the Zoo Guide Application
Download booth. Bringing her MID close to the counter, a Bluetooth
connection was established between her MID and the counter. She
then easily downloaded the Zoo Guide to her MID. A message
“Do you want to install Zoo Guide application on your Mobile
Internet Device? Yes or No.” Julia selected “Yes,” and after a moment
another message popped up: “Zoo Guide application is successfully
installed on your Mobile Internet Device.” Julia now launched the
Zoo Guide application, which immediately established a wireless
connection with the nearest lamppost.
Each lamppost access point had a unique identification name,
and with that name, the application could access the current location
of the user inside the zoo. Julia selected the option: “Locate rest
room.” Her MID immediately gave directions on how to reach the
nearest restroom from the location where she was standing at that
Julia wanted a cup of coffee, and so asked the MID where the
closest restaurant was. Immediately, it gave specific directions on
how to reach the restaurant. While she was drinking her coffee, she
explored the Zoo Guide application on her MID. She let Jerry know
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
that she had downloaded the Zoo Guide application through the
chat feature on her MID.
Then Julia alerted her MID that she wanted to view the tigers.
The Zoo Guide application gave her step-by-step instructions on how
to reach the tiger cages. It also alerted her to the other animals she’d
see on the way. Her MID offered Julia rich background information
about tigers in their natural habitat, and about this particular tiger
and its family. Julia really felt that she was walking with a real person,
a guide, telling her all about the animals at the zoo. She took a few
pictures of the tiger with her Mobile Internet Device camera. Those
pictures automatically uploaded to her Picasa account. Immediately,
the tiger pictures were available in the public folder on her Picasa
account. Right then, Julia noticed that her dad was also online.
He was in London. She started chatting with him and sharing her
pictures from the San Francisco Zoo.
Then Julia was looking at the wildlife show times in the Zoo
Guide application. The next show would begin in 10 minutes, and
she wanted to go. This time the Zoo Guide application on the
MID gave her step-by-step instructions about how to reach
the theater from her current location, and thus she arrived on time.
During the show, she noticed that an elderly Chinese lady also had a
Mobile Internet Device and was watching the show. But the elderly
lady was listening to the show commentary from her MID.
Julia was curious to know what she was listening to. When she
asked, the Chinese lady said that she was listening to the Chinese
translation of commentary about the show.
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Stay in Touch Using Google Latitude
Once the show was over, Julia continued happily wandering about the
zoo. She was confident that she would never get lost with that device.
Again, in the evening, she decided to go the Golden Gate Bridge. This
time she had no regrets that she hadn’t planned ahead for this side
trip before leaving home. When she left the zoo, Julia launched the
511 trip planner application. The application registered her current
location from the GPS sensor and said, “Right now you are in San
Francisco; where would you like to go?” Julia entered “Golden Gate
Bridge.” The 511 trip planner application came up with information
about the public transportation that would take her to the bridge,
and Julia arrived there safely, in a very short time. Almost the whole
day, Jerry was watching her going from place to place on his laptop by
running the Google Latitude application. Jerry sent her the message:
“It looks like you are going to the Golden Gate Bridge. Stay there
and I will pick you up.” Julia was happily walking on the bridge. This
time, even without a cell phone, she easily stayed in touch with Jerry
in the U.S. and her family in UK. There was no need for her to use
the pay phone or wait around near the restroom so that Jerry could
find her. Checking the Latitude application on her Mobile Internet
Device, Julia noticed that Jerry had left Mountain View and was
driving north on Highway 101. After an hour, he parked his car and
got out his Mobile Internet Device to select walking directions to
reach Julia. The device was pointing toward the middle of the bridge.
Jerry walked and noticed in his device that Julia was walking toward
him. Both of them saw a handshake sign on their devices and by
that time, they had bumped into each other. They spent some time
together on the bridge, then searched for a good restaurant close by,
Trip to the San Francisco Zoo
using their Mobile Internet Devices. The result showed quite a few
in Sausalito. They spent an incredibly enjoyable evening, and then
headed back to Jerry’s apartment. These days, pretty much everyone
has a cell phone. We pay a premium fee for the service, but much
of the time we are travelling places where our cell phone no longer
serves us. Perhaps we are a tourist in another country, or even just out
driving or camping in a rural area. The technological advancements
suggested in the second part of this story demonstrate a much more
efficient method of wireless communication. The San Francisco
Zoo Guide application could be applied to any zoo or theme park
in the world. A similar downloadable program could be offered at
Disneyland, the Singapore Zoo, Great America, and more.
511.org is a wonderful concept for public transportation. They
have already built the entire infrastructure necessary to evolve into
the downloadable application referred to here. The next step would be
to make this program work on a Mobile Internet Device. A further
feature might include the ability to track an individual’s current
location from GPS. It is real-time information, real-time decision-
making, with the ability to incorporate fluctuating variables such as
traffic into consideration
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Excerpts from Web-on the Go
(Genre: Computers & Internet) by S. Balachandran.
This book provides great ideas for future applications
of the web. It motivates the reader to come up with
surprisingly new ideas for industries like, transportation,
shipping, health care, safety, security, etc. The book will
interest professionals as well as and the general public.
Bala lives in Silicon Valley, California, United States.
Analyze All Parameters
I was not sure whether Venkatraman and his brother were pleased
with our first encounter and whether they would come back for
further discussion. There had been others earlier who had come
for instant remedies for their entrepreneurial itch. Getting no
immediate inoculation they had either drifted towards those who
professed to administer the right curative doses or given up the
idea altogether. I have ever maintained that an accurate assessment
of one’s Entrepreneurial Edge is of utmost importance before any
attempt to venture out on one’s own is made. I like to define ‘EDGE’
here as the Enthusiasm, Dynamism, Grit and Enjoyment that a
prospective entrepreneur must be possessed with at the threshold of
his venture. In the face of opposition and discouragement successful
entrepreneurs display unabated enthusiasm backed by dynamism
at getting things done. Grit expects you to possess the mettle, zeal,
perseverance and total commitment to achieving your goal through
self-discipline. It suggests that you hold an intense desire – almost
a craving, to succeed at business. Why so? Well the universal truth
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is that every business passes through good and bad patches and to
nourish you through trying times you need an inexhaustible supply
of tenacity. This strain of disciplined commitment emanates from
loving and enjoying what you are doing. You must love and enjoy the
business you intend to start or are already in – only then can you give
it your best.
Talking about love – where is it that love caresses you first? At
home of course! Now consider this: your father has been in service
all his life and the one time he tried his hand at business his partner
took him for a royal ride. He was bitter and just about managed to
get his job back. Your sibling met with a similar fate when he tried
his hand in business just after college. He was lucky to get alternative
employment. The mother is a housewife though she augments
the household income by selling sarees that she sources once in a
while from her hometown during her visits there. As for you, you
have a good-paying job but you also have this itch for your own
enterprise. You have never seen a working business at close quarters.
Your loved ones don’t want you to burn your fingers at business nor
do they want you to sacrifice your good job at the business altar.
Do you really believe that your family can understand your love for
business? Incidents of business failure in the past, within the family
and friends circle, will be repeatedly quoted to discourage you from
doing anything ‘foolish’. “We are a service class family. Besides, you
have the potential to reach the top,” will be the mildest admonition in
disguise. So where do you get the moral support and encouragement
to nurture your love for business? I believed that this predicament
was going to be Venkat’s first big mental hurdle to cross.
Analyze All Parameters
From what I have been told I was confident that Venkat had
the technical credentials and experience to undertake the production
of equipments in his range of expertise. Whether he had a speck
of the ‘business-mind’ was anyone’s guess. My own experience was
that technology’s contribution to the overall health and success of a
manufacturing unit diminishes, as the product reaches maturity. A
product design company that introduces new artifacts or models on
a regular basis and prides itself as an innovator of new and futuristic
devices, definitely relies more heavily on technology. Mind you here
again efficient production and bringing the product to the market is
the responsibility of a lesser technology oriented department or entity.
Only in the software industry where no ‘physical’ three-dimensional
product gets forged, molded, bent or otherwise processed into shape
do technologies continue to play a dominant role. There are no
material inputs or outputs in the software industry. In most other
cases the market triumph of any product depends on factors other
than just technology.
Meanwhile, Venkatraman seemed to have found his reasons
for starting his own enterprise and gave me a call on the following
Wednesday. Since I was pre-occupied that day and the next we
decided that Friday was appropriate for us to meet. He came alone
and very much on time. After the usual pleasantries we settled down
to the matter of our meeting.
“Do you still believe that Jaiprakash is your reason for going into
business?” I queried.
“Not directly, but indirectly - yes,” Venkatraman revealed.
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“How’s that?” I wanted to know
“Let me be frank with you. My original thinking was ‘If
Jaiprakash can own a business why can’t I?’ But when you suggested
that Jaiprakash could not be a valid reason I had to ask myself
honestly why I could and should get into business,” Venkatraman
“And so why do you believe you can get into business?” I
“I am good with and understand technology better than
“But doesn’t that still make Jaiprakash your reason?”
“I guess so, but the difference between him and me is that he
does not like technology and I do,” Venkatraman contended.
“How does liking technology really matter?” I probed
“Oh it does; especially when the client also has only an overall
idea of the controls his systems require to achieve an end result. That’s
when you need to understand the capacity and limitations of your
technology. It’s only when you love technology can you go beyond
the college version.”
“So are you’re saying that you are in a position to help a client
conceive a working solution whereas Jaiprakash is not?”
“That’s absolutely right.”
“But how many times would you come across such a situation?”
Analyze All Parameters
“Oh you’ll be surprised. Even in the Alfa Laval panels that
Jaiprakash delivers he and our engineers are unaware or do not
understand why some functions are incorporated in the collaborators
designs. In fact I have clarified certain features for Jaiprakash on
more than two occasions.”
“Mr. Venkatraman you do seem convinced that the extent of your
love and understanding of technology will benefit your client. But is
that enough to risk getting into your own manufacturing?”
“After last Friday I did a mental review of the kind of
equipments Jai is supplying to Alfa. In my opinion there is a vast
space for improving the workmanship. It baffles me that some of
their equipment passes the inspection at all. I won’t bother you with
details but believe me I can do a much better. There are times when
even their cable terminations are not tagged, cable routing is shabby
but you get to see that only when you uncover the cable channels. Oh
I could list at least a dozen similar defects. These would impact the
performance of the panel adversely in the long run.”
“Are you saying then that if you were to manufacture the same
control panels you could give a better and more reliable product at
the same price than Jai Controls?”
“Exactly,” Venkatraman clarified.
“Let’s accept that for the time being,” I agreed. “Yet none of this
convinces me on why you should quit your job and start a unit.”
“I would have to quit because it would not be fair on my part to
be employed by and take a salary from Alfa and at the same time run
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a unit of my own. I would keep feeling that I am cheating. It would
be cheating isn’t it?”
“It would definitely be cheating if you were working at your
unit during the time you should actually have been attending to
your duties at Alfa Laval. It would be cheating if you manufactured
a product for someone else based on Alfa’s drawings. It would be
cheating if you off-loaded work from your Alfa department to your
personal unit when there was no need for it,” I opined.
“But I already told you I am only responsible for maintenance
of the electrical infrastructure at Alfa and not directly involved with
production. As far as off-loading is concerned our planning people
look after that. No individual department can take that kind of
decision,” refuted Venkatraman.
“Does that mean you could be cheating only if you were to steal
Alfa drawings or work at your business on their time?” I prodded.
“How can you even imagine me stealing drawings?” contested
Venkatraman loudly, “I don’t even bring as much as a pin home from
“And how about stealing their time?” I cornered Venkatraman
“I definitely do not? For the eight hours that I get paid I am
wholeheartedly an Alfa man doing not only the job assigned to me
but much more. Most of my sick and casual leaves just expire. As for
the balance sixteen hours I am the sole master of that time and they
have no say in that,” Venkatraman clarified.
Analyze All Parameters
“Are you then saying that once you are back from your employer’s
factory you can do what you want?”
“That is right. Only difficulty is that I do tend to get a bit tired,”
“How real is this tiredness? Is it mental or is it physical?” I
“Frankly speaking, now that you ask, I think it could all just be
in my head. There are days when the factory politics does leave me
mentally agitated,” Venkatraman reflected. “I guess I should ignore
what my peers at work keep griping about,” he contemplated.
I had jotted on the pad in front of me the figures ’24 - 9’ and
below it ‘8 + 1’. The handwriting was large enough to be easily read
by Venkatraman sitting opposite me. He stared at these numbers for
a while. Having weighed them to his satisfaction he exclaimed, “Yes
it does leave me with at least six hours to work for myself assuming I
spend eight hours sleeping and one for other personal effects; doesn’t
“That’s what it seems to me and it still leaves you with your full-
time job,” I confirmed in an understanding tone. “I wonder what all
you can do in these six hours?” I pushed further.
“Oh I could definitely study the user’s system requirements and
generate the schematic, control and circuit diagrams. I could draw the
general layout and mechanical details of placements and mountings.
In fact sitting at my home desk I could conceive the entire panel with
all its features.”
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“You sound exactly like my brother,” I revealed to Venkatraman.
“This engineer brother of mine is considered a master at conceiving
mechanical designs and could generate drawings and fabrication
details based on defined requirements. However this talent was of
little use at his job in the synthetic-fiber plant where he worked.
This plant had a foreign collaboration and the Indian Company was
required to, and strictly followed the foreign designs right to the last
screw. No innovation or improvements were even looked at. It took a
cousin of mine to bring out my brothers genius.”
“This cousin refused to go through formal education after his
twelfth class. His Dad managed to get him enrolled for the L & T
Apprentice Training program. The trainees underwent a three years
on-the-job training with the Company, which finally absorbed the
talented amongst them in the different L & T production units.
Now this cousin had always been atypical. During the third year he
noticed that the L & T business unit he was delegated to was falling
behind in their deliveries. He boldly approached his trainer to take
on a sub-contract to help finish some of the business unit’s pending
jobs. The trainer and business unit head were surprised and remarked
that only a good design engineer could do what was expected. At this
my cousin offered to do the job free of cost provided workspace and
all materials were supplied by the Company. ‘Pay me only if you are
satisfied with the quality of what I do,’ he had offered.”
“The business unit head was intrigued by the boldness and
decided to take a chance with my cousin. Requirements were given
to him with a two-week deadline for completion of the drawings
along with the job work. Promptly the cousin recruited my brother’s
genius. My brother generated the set of drawings and together the
Analyze All Parameters
two completed and handed over the piece of equipment for inspection
by L & T within the eight days that my brother was on leave from
his regular work. Needless to say that L & T paid them for a job well
executed. The cousin went on to become an entrepreneur while my
brother continued in service.”
“That sounds very interesting. But looking at it from Srimaali’s
angle his contribution cannot be a whole lot I guess. At least not
from the point of view of starting our own electrical panel’s business,”
“But you did bring him along when you first came here; and
hadn’t you said something about him being the finance professional
for your project?” I jogged Venkatraman.
“Oh yes, but he would only be able to play his part when we are
all set and running,” Venkatraman acknowledged.
“Aren’t you overlooking something Mr. Venkatraman? Or is it
that you have the money, the product with all its details and a list of
clients ready to buy this product?” I purposely fast-forwarded.
“I never said I had the cash or a product with detailing, leave
aside customers that would buy from us,” objected Venkatraman,
“but I think I know what you are getting at.”
“Yes? So let me hear what you think I am getting at,” I prodded
“If you think that Srimaali can locate prospective clients, forget
it. He has no clue of electrical panels so how is he going to try and
find users?” doubted Venkatraman. “As a banker he would definitely
know bank’s borrowing terms, interest rates and things like that
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which might help in working out costs, that’s about all. But if you
think he can arrange finance from his bank, just forget that too. I
wouldn’t put him in that kind of soup. In any case he is too junior to
influence any decisions of his bosses at the Bank.”
“You’ve got my ‘getting at’ all wrong! Why are you putting the
cart before the horse? I quizzed
“Huh! Then what is your ploy? What are you suggesting? Did I
“Let’s just go back a bit. You said you could conceive a control
panel sitting at your desk. Suppose you did that for a client and he
approves your designs, what happens then?” I enquired.
“Once a client approves my designs he would want to know how
much the finished panel would cost.”
“And normally only if he finds the price right would he place an
order on you,” I butted in.
“That means I would first need to know the prices of all
components and parts that would go into the panel including
the fabricated frames and cabinets. Maybe Srimaali can help by
collecting price lists and catalogues of different components and
manufacturers,” Venkatraman caught on.
“Now you have put the horse in its place. The one sure thing
that Srimaali can do is collecting all the relevant information. The
information horse caught by Srimaali can be put to good use even if
you do not have the cart!” I proposed.
Analyze All Parameters
“We can easily do this exercise but it still gets us no closer to
starting our unit. How are we supposed to do that?”
“Look at it like this, if you found that your product costs more
than competing products I would ask you to rethink before putting
any money on setting up your manufacturing unit,” I reigned in.
This daunting statement of mine appeared to dismay Mr.
Venkatraman as he aspired to become an entrepreneur in double
In the course of my consultancy work I had come across many
dejected individuals who had jumped on to the entrepreneurial
bandwagon. Some had mistakenly believed that their product could
compete with existing products. Others had burned their fingers
trying to copy what their friend or relative had established. Yet others
had discovered that their unique inventions had no takers in the
market. Success usually came after several failed attempts at trying to
produce a marketable widget. Those who had dreamt of making it big
in their first attempt were badly bruised by their failures. Those who
learned valuable lessons from their earlier failures and persevered
tasted success. My own experiences and my close association with
them had given me a new respect for entrepreneurs.
An entrepreneur is a person who undertakes a commercial activity
for the purpose of making a profit but sometimes ends up with a loss.
This activity could be done as an employee for someone else, or for
one’s self. Entrepreneurial people make things happen and as a result
rise up the ladder in the corporate world or start and expand their
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own businesses. Often successful corporate entrepreneurial managers
with vision quit their jobs and promote a start-up business of their
own while others may continue in their jobs taking their company
to great heights.
From his own account Mr. Venkatraman Aiyer had quite often
displayed this entrepreneurial streak, as a maintenance engineer at
Alfa Laval. The company had awarded him for it. He now wanted
to be amongst entrepreneurs who have given or wish to give birth to
a new business. Such a person, prior to or during the development
stages of his project, knowingly or unknowingly does an exercise to
investigate and understand certain factors that he considers critical
for the well being of his project. This drill is a must. It not only brings
forth some interesting and intriguing questions, but also opens one’s
eyes to certain aspects that have to be addressed adequately and
promptly. It also alerts you to what is best avoided.
The issues, characteristics, and mechanisms that determine the
success of an entrepreneur and his choice of business are multi-
dimensional and in reality quite difficult to segregate. I wanted
Venkatraman to initially discuss and do a thorough analysis of these
dimensions with the aid of simple examples and later try to arrive at
the more complex picture for himself. Most entrepreneurs have used
this technique during their careers to find their bearings and drive
themselves to achieve their goals. The exercise I wanted Venkatraman
to do, would give him the wherewithal to choose such a direction so
as to be able to come as close as possible to his ideal. Though mind
you, there is no ideal product or project for any entrepreneur.
Analyze All Parameters
In its simplest form, a 3-way system of analysis consists
of matching one’s ‘Personal Parameters’ to that of the ‘Product
Parameters’ and the ‘Project Parameters’. For a new comer –
especially a first-generation entrepreneur, the relative importance of
these parameters are in order mentioned. However I am aware that
the most important – Personal Parameters are least considered in
any entrepreneurship development program and the banks do not
even make a cursory reference to them. It is for this reason that I
lay stress on personal parameter study and understanding. A good
understanding by Mr. Venkatraman of his Personal Parameters could
make or break his project.
“Don’t be disappointed with what I just said,” I appealed to Mr.
Venkatraman, “I am sure you won’t like to burn your fingers or your
money by hasty decisions, would you?”
“There’s no money to burn; fingers – may be yes! But with what
I’ve done so far even my fingers look safe,” laughed Venkatraman.
“That’s great! So far you have accepted that both you and your
brother could utilize your spare time to work on your project. You
also believe that your unit will be able to manufacture good, reliable
control panels. Right?”
“That’s as far as you allowed me to go. What comes next? You tell
me,” Venkatraman sounded me out.
“There are some fundamental decisions that you will have to take.
First and foremost you will need to be absolutely sure as to why you
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want to be in business. You will be putting some – I recommend not
all, of your personal and family savings at risk. Your life may go out of
balance, with the additional working hours taking away from other
social, family or pleasurable activities. The headaches and other forms
of stress may increase beyond the point you have experienced as an
employee. To top it all, family support may be worse than nil. It will
probably be negative with admonitions and warnings that ‘business
does not run in the family’” I forewarned Mr. Venkatraman. You will
run the risk of sounding a little eccentric, literally loosing friends and
relations. How prepared are you for all this?”
“My father has always believed that business is very dangerous.
He reminds us that he financed my brothers and my engineering
education so that we could get good jobs, be happy and settle down
in life. In fact you may say that we are basically an employment
seeking family. None in the family barring me can see that there is a
huge market for the kind of business I want to do. I guess the idea of
using my spare time to set up a venture will appeal to them and their
stance may change,” declared Venkatraman longingly.
“What if they are not convinced by your part-time argument?
What is your stand then?”
“I would still go ahead and give it my best shot. You are there to
help me, aren’t you?”
“Mr. Venkatraman you are a thoroughbred technology man
and well versed with all the technical aspects of the product you
want to manufacture. This knowledge will definitely contribute
to your success, yet on its own it will not guarantee it. Any
Analyze All Parameters
successful business requires an equally strong knowledge and
skill of marketing, finance and general management. And even
with these skills available you may still face a lot of hardships.”
“How could that happen?” Venkatraman disbelievingly interrupted.
“I believe that for entrepreneurs to be successful they need to
be fully aware of the environment they are operating in. Besides
their technological and managerial background, they should possess
personal strength to cope with the vagaries of the business atmosphere
they operate in. If they fail to assess their personal strengths and
weaknesses their chances of success are remote,” I proposed.
“And pray how does one do that?” was Venkatraman’s obvious
I patiently wait for my Client to come up with that very question.
Those who have addressed that question and given themselves honest
answers have found success faster than those who have not. I am also
aware that a picture speaks more than thousands of words. I handed
Venkatraman the set of three tables reproduced here.
“Venkatraman I suggest that you and Srimaali use these tables to
assess your strengths and weaknesses. You must become responsive
to and positively tackle and take steps to strengthen parameters
related to your background, personal traits and environment. I have
used a weightage scale of 5 to 1; you could use a scale of 10 to 0.
What is important is that you give yourself an honest rating and
be prepared to work on your shortcomings. Remember, you can get
plenty of information and published data on all other aspects of your
enterprise but nothing on yourself.”
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“I expect after completing this crucial exercise, you may need the
help of other professionals. By the way have Srimaali and you already
figured out, first, what product or mix of products you are going to
be good at manufacturing in the initial stages, and second, where and
how you are going to manufacture them?” I queried.
“Regarding product or mix, I have an overall idea of what and
where control panels are required and some knowledge of who is
buying from Jai Controls. How we will manufacture is still a question
mark?” confessed Venkatraman.
“Well then you need to do a lot of homework on yourself, your
product and your facility,” was my rejoinder.
Excerpts from Entrepreneurial Sins
(Genre: Self-Improvement) by Ashok Purandutt.
The book is an easy to understand guide for a budding
entrepreneur. Almost every facet of entrepreneurship is
covered in a practical way –from how to make a business
plan, set up the manufacturing unit, expansion, cash ﬂows
and everything in between. The explanation of the issues
through a story makes it easier to understand.
Mr Ashok Purandutt is an Entrepreneur and Human
Resource Development consultant based at Pune.
A Toy for the Little Princess
T he day began as usual at Alladin’s Toy Mart. The shelves were
dusted, the floors were mopped to a sparkle and the glasses
were wiped squeaky clean.
Each toy stood smartly in its place, hoping it would be taken to
a new home that day. Some of them had stood on the shelves for
months and they were bored with the place.
Suddenly a robotic dog with artificial intelligence perked up
his ears. “Hey! That’s exciting news,” he exclaimed, jumping up and
down. He then whispered something to the toys beside him. Soon,
the excitement spread among the toy population of Alladin’s: the
robotic dog had heard that the king and queen of the land were
going to visit Alladin’s that day!
The princess’ birthday was less than a week away and the royal
couple wanted to buy a plaything for her. They had decided to visit
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‘Alladin’s Toy Mart’ because it was the biggest toy shop in their
country. And they wanted only the best for their precious daughter.
The shop assistants and managers ran about making arrangements
to welcome the royal couple in style. The toys jostled with one
another to occupy the prime position on their shelves. Each of them
hoped to be the one to catch the eye of the royal couple. The whole
country adored their kind king, generous queen and the gentle, little
princess. And every toy wanted to become part of the wonderful
The beautiful dancing doll with auburn curls cascading down
her back said, “I’m so fashionable and classy! I can do a ballet like a
regular ballerina! In fact, I’m almost like a princess myself ! I’m sure
the queen will choose me for her daughter.”
“Oh, you’re just a pretty-face. All beauty and no brains. Choose
you? Ha! Ha! You must be joking,” sneered the programmable robot.
“Right now I’m a sleuth looking for an intruder. But I have an
electronic chip embedded in my head. That makes me the only toy
with brains in the whole shop,”
“I have a chip too. I also have brains,” barked the robotic dog
who had first heard the news of the royal visit. But the programmable
robot was nonchalant. “Perhaps, but his majesty is sure to choose me
and only me,” he said, haughtily.
It’s true the robot was a rather unusual toy. In a jiffy he could
transform himself from a sleuth into a traffic constable or a firefighter.
He even had separate sets of clothes to match his roles. And, was he
proud of his electronic sophistication!
The soft, life-sized piglet in pretty pink put the robot in its
“No, no, you’re just a machine. And you’re too hi-brow for a toy.
Who wants to tire their brains over toys?” she squealed. “Toys are for
fun and comfort. I’m so soft and cuddly, the princess will love to hug
me! I’m sure I’ll be the royal couple’s choice,” she said, adding, “After
all, everyone knows pink is the princess’ favourite colour.”
“Oh, the princess has long since outgrown soft toys. She’s going
to be ten, you know! Just the right age to play with me:
I can hop, I can skip.
I can sing, I can dance,
I can cry and laugh too;
With me around I don’t think
there’s a chance for any of you!”
sang the dancing lion, and began somersaulting with gusto.
He almost fell off the shelf in his eagerness to show-off. But
he was a vain fellow and wouldn’t own up his mistake. He looked
around for a scapegoat and found the wobbly little duckling.
“Oh! You cheeky little duckling! How dare you push me!” roared
the lion. “Are you trying to displace me and waddle up to the front?
You don’t imagine the royal couple will choose you, do you?
“You don’t have a switch, a button, an electronic chip or anything.
That shows you can do nothing, just absolutely nothing. No wonder
no one’s bought you all these days. Who’d want a bright yellow, stuffed
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duckling that can just stand around and stare with beady eyes? Why,
you must be the most ancient toy here!” he said, scornfully.
The little duckling felt terribly ashamed of herself. The lion
was right. She could do none of the things the other toys could.
She cowered into a corner and hoped no one would notice her. She
didn’t mind not being bought, but she didn’t want to be laughed at
Suddenly there was a hullabaloo in the shop. A few attendants ran
to and fro with bouquets. A red carpet was rolled out. An electronic
band, which could automatically play tunes stored in its memory, was
switched on. And the managers stood at attention at the entrance,
heads held high, shoes polished to a sparkle. The royal couple had
The toys assumed their best postures and waited.
The king and queen went round the shop. The shop manager and
her attendants explained the working of all the modern playthings.
They demonstrated the best ones and the unique ones.
The royal couple was most gracious and said, “That’s wonderful, but
not really what we want” or “Oh, how very nice, but I don’t think it’s the
right one for Tina” or “Amazing, but not exactly what we’re looking for”
and so on and so forth till almost every toy in the shop was disqualified.
Then they began another round of the vast shop, wondering if they
had missed out some toys. But they did not find anything to buy.
They went round the shop a third time too, but without choosing
A Toy for the Little Princess
The suspense became intolerable for the toys. The queen was
tired and the king, bored.
“Don’t they make simple toys any more? Toys that’ll just be toys
instead of trying to imitate life?” sighed the queen, disappointed.
“One can hardly call these playthings! They’re more like
machines,” said the king.
At that very moment the queen spied the tiny yellow duckling
nestling in the darkest possible corner of a shelf of sophisticated toys.
“Can you show me that bright yellow thing, please? I don’t think
we’ve seen it yet,” she said to the attendant.
The attendant took down the duckling rather shamefacedly and
said, “I’m sorry your majesty. This is just a stuffed duckling. It belongs
to an old generation of toys. I don’t know how it has escaped our
periodical stock-taking operations….”
But the royal couple waved aside his profuse apology.
“Look at its eyes – so bright and full of wonder,” said the king.
“And it’s so small and cute,” gushed the queen.
“Just the thing for Tina,” agreed the king.
“Oh! She’ll love this,” exclaimed the queen.
And they were right. The princess simply adored the little yellow
duckling. She named it Shyla because it seemed so shy. “It looks and
feels like a real duckling, So soft and wobbly,” she said. “And just look
at her eyes! Like dark blue marbles – so bright and shiny. I’m sure she
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loves me as much as I love her. It’s among the best birthday presents
I’ve ever got,” she said.
Shyla simply smiled shyly and snuggled happily into the princess’
Excerpts from Children’s Stories for Our Times
(Genre: Children) by Revathi S Kumaran.
These are collection of stories for children. They are fun
ﬁlled, simple, mischievous and carry a subtle message of
virtue. The backdrop to the stories is a mix of the ancient
and the modern. This adapts the stories to our modern
Revathi S Kumaran is a writer, editor and independent
researcher with special interest in education.
I was rushing down the road,
Singing, jumping all along in joyous mood.
On a sharp corner, foggy day and far way.
I bumped into a monster blocking my way.
I was knocked down, bleeding on the road side,
The monster was laughing loud and wide,
I lay there for days unknown,
woke up to see the rainy afternoon.
There were rains, lightning and thunder storm,
I had to lay there, why I don’t know.
Rain stopped and rainbow sighted
Birds seen flying, singing and delighted,
There was joy in all woods around
But I was scared, looking the monster around.
Few boys came around, I did not say anything but,
They lifted me up and took me to a hut.
I met my GURUJI, whom I know as my mentor
He gave me food, medicine and shelter,
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He taught me the ways and means for
How to live happily once again
“Still I am scared GURUJI,” once I screamed
“I always see monster in my dream”
“Why do you think” said Guruji
“Monster blocking you”
“It is now only inside you and
you only are blocking your way”
“Learn the ways and art of life”
Take the inner monster in your stride”
“Make it your best friend, O my boy”
It is a blessing in disguise and A GIFTED TOY.
O Guruji, thank you a zillion times,
you made me your boy.
now only, I can understand,
and accept this monster as a gifted toy.
Now I can play with him, if I want,
and turn it off when I don’t.
I allow it to play with myself,
and then pack it off to the shelf.
The monster sometimes smiles,
And walk with me, hand in hand, for miles.
Sometimes, when I am unable to walk,
He lifts me up, and run, shunning the talk.
He is my buddy, if I deploy
I know, for sure, it is my GIFTED TOY.
Excerpts from A Gifted Toy
(Genre: Self Improvement) by Amit Dave.
This is a self help book for those who suffer from frequent
spells of bad mood as well as clinical depression. The
book is a frank and practical guide on taming the mood
swings and making friends with your emotions. It gives
sane everyday advice to the reader. The poems given
below are a part of the introduction.
Amit Dave is a mechanical engineer and has had some
ﬁrst hand experience of mood swings.
Lalitha Bilgi (Social Enterprise)
“W e cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with
great love.” -Mother Teresa
It was with this dream and vision that Lalitha started Swayam,
a parent support group of differently abled children. Swayam is an
outfit that works towards educating and empowering children with
special abilities. While merging social responsibility and business is a
distant dream for many, Lalitha makes it look like child’s play.
Lalitha did her masters in Commerce and was a rank holder
in Bangalore University. She did her Bachelors in Education
while staying in Delhi from Annamalai University. She has had a
meritorious student life, and a rich and cherishing experience as a
teacher of Commerce and Accountancy in Cambridge School, Noida
and Bishop Cotton Girls’ School, Bangalore. During her teaching
experience of over a decade, she has contributed immensely towards
Teach to the Future Program supported by Intel® India. Lalitha feels
that her exposure to Intel® Teach provided her with the impetus to
be successful in her pursuit.
“During those days as a master trainer, I realized that the realm
of technology does not limit itself to downloading information from
the internet. It also gives us a platform to upload our opinions, raise
concerns over issues and act towards improving them. That further
motivated me to do something for children with disabilities and
empower them to stand firmly on their feet’’, says Lalitha with a
sparkle in her eyes.
“It was Intel® Teach that opened the door of opportunities for me.
Until then I enthusiastically followed the obsolete teaching practices
and would have succumbed to it, if not for Intel. It exposed me to a
new outlook that made be believe that I can still grow individually
and institutionally,” says an enthusiastic Lalitha.
During the Intel® Teach training, she learnt that the current
generation of students is not acquainted with technology relevant for
their career growth. In May 2005, she gave up teaching to completely
engage herself in her family business (Kou-Chan Convergence Pvt.
Ltd) and start off Swayam. Here she put to use the knowledge she
gained at Intel® Teach training. Kou-Chan works with youth and
motivates them to take up learning computer applications and other
skills like writing, human resource management etc which offer them
sound employment opportunities.
“Around the same time, I was looking for a program for my
own development. I saw the advertisement for MPWE and joined
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the course in summer 2007. While I was teaching, I came to Kou
Chan only on weekends. Being a director, I was looking into events
for employees and the human resource aspects within the company.
When I stopped teaching, I started coming to the office daily.”
She has the enthusiasm and belief to bring about an integrated
approach to her company’s business which has spread over metros in
India in areas of human resources and business process outsourcing
support to clients like Airtel, TTSL, ALCATEL, IMB to name a
few. Her company has outsourced manpower strength of over five
thousand employees spread across different parts of the country. Her
job at Kou-Chan is more on the administrative lines now, and she
does not need to be in office every day. She utilizes her spare time to
work on Swayam, building it slow and strong, one brick at a time.
Lalitha lives in a nuclear family and that makes the task of looking
after Kaushal (her son) and her elder daughter (who is now a doctor)
all the more challenging. When I ask her about the balancing act,
she smiles and says, “There are some things you learn with time. Its
experience and age basically. I needed flexibility of timings and scope
for development and these needs governed my choices. However,
family has always been top priority”.
She is a strong advocate of social groups and is a part of a
club of teachers called Prerana in Bangalore. She truly believes in
‘keeping touch’ and runs a quarterly magazine for family members
with updates and funny anecdotes. Lalitha is always ready to help
others with her knowledge and expertise. She has helped an NGO
at Kormangala as well Seva-in-Action in planning their budget and
resources. With the information age replete with examples of women
breaking the proverbial `glass ceiling’, Lalitha sets an example of a
new generation social woman entrepreneur. She was early to realize
the potential of technology and utilized it in a way that contributed
to the empowerment of the society.
In her words, “Swayam has not only grown as an organization
but also helped individuals to grow. We still have scope to grow.” It
seems sky is the limit for this determined yet modest lady.
“A few years back when I was watching TV on 3rd December
(World Disabled Day), the idea of Swayam came to my mind. I saw
a disabled adult struggling to make his living, travelling in buses all
day to reach office with a lunch box in his hand.
My son is a down syndrome child, and I want him to be self
sufficient. He is very lovable and is a workaholic, and he loves to
see the result of his work immediately. While he is not very good
academically, he is adept at using the computer for certain functions
like printing, scanning etc. The idea was to make a work unit for him,
so that he is not dependent on anyone in future. I thought of making
a unit where all adults with disability in the neighbourhood could
come and work together. Lunch would be provided at the centre, and
vans would be available to pick them up and drop them back so that
their comfort is also in place.”
Swayam was conceptualized in June 2006, and since then
Swayam has been holding hobby workshops on Saturdays at Seva-
in-Action. It continues to do so at Bethany Special School. In April
2010, Lalitha plans to inaugurate a work unit in Bangalore which