Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity. The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

If you don't create change, change will create you. Change starts when someone sees the next step and the first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. Many fine things can be done in a day if you don't always make that day tomorrow. You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.

Sometimes it's the smallest decisions with larger aims that can change the lives of many. If our attempts can at least become a spark. We are really grateful and the TEAM can proudly proclaim ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’.

If you can LEND A HELPING HAND for the advancement of our country and its people be part of our ENDEAVOR.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

AKHSHAYAPATHRA POISED TO TAKE A NEW SHAPE AND DIRECTION

‘LAMPS TO ILLUMINATE A MILLION SHATTERED DREAMS ‘


By: Arjun.R.Shankar


 Engineering a social change is a colossal task and giving it an epic proportion is a great process. Multitudinous sea of people posed myriad and countless questions about the working of the blog. The holiday the team has taken cannot be attributed to the inactive spark of delinquency or willful neglect from our social responsibility. The arsenal was intact and was undergoing a sharpening process. It’s been a long time and we know that we have not weaved a rope of lassitude or bubbles of comatose torpor. The break was prudently used to do something great at least when viewed from our spectacle.

The lines’ emerging in front of that gives us the sensation that we did make a good and daring attempt. The critics can always hit it, but it is crafted with immense hard work and dedication. It was sharpened in our creative arsenal. The larger question popping up now at this juncture is whether any such excuse will justify lethargy and otiosity? The answer will be a big inflated No. The product manufactured is not something directly useful to the masses at large as the vision of Team Akhshayapathra claims, but it is neither contrary to its vision and dreams.

We crafted something and then the aim was to use the product for something good. Then something like a light illuminated the grey cells and we decided finally that the product be used for that purpose. The much read product is a SHORT FILM made by us which is titled ‘THE TALE OF SURPRISE VALLEY’.  This was started last year and took so many months unlike the speedy short films that come out in weeks. The reason is still unfathomable. The crew from the beginning of the shoot witnessed humongous problems of various shades. We had different schedules of shooting and had different locations for it. Some were in the high hills of Ponmudi (70kms from Thiruvananthapuram) and some in valleys near by it.

The nature contested with us fiercely testing our time, energy and money. It was a high pitched battle fought valiantly by us. We kept the track, retreated many times and came back finally, not to win but to sign a truce and reassure the Mother Nature that we believe in the co existence and harmonious living with nature.  Various brands of Homo sapiens ranging from different age groups gave us the toughest resistance. The mantra was to convince everyone.

Finally after smiling at all the flinty gazes and moving the countless obdurate hearts, we have finally completed the movie. Much is now said about the movie, but everything in real sense is incomplete with the complete story. The movie will be released for sure but the medium of approach was very important. The producer of the film keeps asking about the returns as they have doled out a huge sum as far as normal short films are concerned.

But an accidental visit to the Regional Cancer Centre and a real incident made us thinking and the incident was projected in the mind’s silver screen at a high speed with a blue ray quality. May be due to the high definition of the scene, the characters were strong portrayals who left a lasting impression. This made us to think beyond the normal and casual way of walking. Yes walking, it’s the best way and that small distance covered in the road stirred the libraries and archives of the mind and abruptly in a jiffy the mind processed the name ROBERT FROST. Yes it was this.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both,
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.



TEAM AKHSHAYAPATHRA: THE IGNITING YOUNG ENGINES are here and we shall be telling this with a sigh. Two roads diverged in a wood, and we are taking the one less traveled by, and that we hope will make all the difference.

Yes we are taking the less travelled road and we believe that this will make the difference.

After a series of conversation with the producers of the film we came to the conclusion and rediscovery of the mission and vision of AKHSHAYAPATHRA.  This was the ripe time to revamp the instincts and change the obsolete engine and machineries.

We have decided to contribute the entire money and returns from this movie for the treatment of cancer and people who are in dire need of that. This is a novel concept as far as we are concerned. Keeping in mind the broader issue of cancer, we would like to take up this and host a big fundraiser event in Kerala associating various people and groups spreading the importance of donating money for this novel cause. The entire team of the movie has pledged to donate the entire money for this cause.

The TEAM AKSHAYAPATHRA will host an event in Thiruvananthapuram titled

‘LAMPS TO ILLUMINATE A MILLION SHATTERED DREAMS ‘

 The film is titled ‘THE TALE OF SURPRISE VALLEY’ and has the duration of thirty minutes. The entire work of the film is almost over and we are planning to launch a grand star studded premiere launch for our film in the theatres followed by theatre screening in the month of February. We are planning to invite a lot of personal guests including political dignitaries and celebrities for the premiere show which will be followed by a public screening. As our film revolves around a fiction and has strong subplot of ‘cancer and its trauma’ in that, I sense an urgent need to do something for the larger cause of cancer.  


The movie is a tribute to my favourite writer, director P. PADMARAJAN.
A Note about my inspiration

“THE ICONIC LIGHT THAT HAS CARVED A NICHE IN OUR HEART, THE BEACON THAT HAS INSPIRED US TO WRITE AND THINK BEYOND THE EXTRAORDINARY”





THE DETAILS OF THE FILM

‘THE TALE OF SURPRISE VALLEY’ released by ‘SMILING UNICORN RELEASE’

PLOT OF THE MOVIE: The story revolves around the lives of two doctors who are in turn attached to a mysterious valley and that soon becomes a mysterious and surprise valley for them as one among them finds extraordinary traces from it. The movie shows various phases of their life, right from the Medical College student’s life and shows the phase of becoming senior doctors. The Doctors finds out the real matters and understands the various hidden surprises from the nature and at various points the movie delves even into Meta physical level. The doctor hence applies the garnered real knowledge to their medical profession and learns immense lessons and the importance of being a good doctor in life. The valley’s unbelievable mystery and surprise is finally revealed to all. This inspires the doctors and people related to them. The movie projects the unending power of nature and the course it can and has taken over the years. The movie is also the testimony of strong bondage and everlasting friendship.

DURATION: 29 minutes and 52 seconds

‘THE TALE OF SURPRISE VALLEY’ is a ‘LIVE SOUND FILM’ with the sound recording being done on location and has only Live Sound Mixing.


THE PROFILE OF THE CREW


DIRECTED BY:    ARJUN & ARUN

MONEY MINTING:  SINDHU SEKHAR

STORY AND SCREENPLAY: ARJUN.R. SHANKAR (Trivandrum Coordinator of ‘DREMAZ INFOTAINMENTS’, the first quiz management society in Kerala. Graduated in Economics and completing Post graduation in History)  

CELESTIAL MUSIC AND SOUND DESIGN: ARUN VARGHESE (Graduating in music from AR RAHMANS music foundation: KM MUSIC CONSERVATORY.

CAMERA THRILLS:  MAHESH SR (Camera man of YES INDIAVISION and formerly ROSEBOWL)

GLAMOUR MACHINE:  SHAJI PUNNACKAL (Noted movie make up man)

ARTISTIC FRILLS: NANDU LAL (LLB from Calicut Law College) and JIJIN J.S (MA POLITICAL SCIENCE FROM HYDERABAD CENTRAL UNIVERSITY)

CREATIVE BALANCER: AKHIL C.S (M.Phil in Economics from CDS Trivandrum)

VISUAL AMBIENCE: SHIBU LAL (experienced camera man)


AESTHETIC LAYERING: LAKSHMI SUNDERSAN (Fashion Technology, CHENNAI)
From right: Directors Arjun.R.Shankar & Arun Varghese during the shooting at Ponmudi with the crew in the backdrop

STARRING


ABHISHEK KRISHNAN (BBA from RAJAGIRI College, COCHIN)

VISHNU JAYENDRAN (BCA from Farook College Calicut, Master of Tourism from Mar Ivanios College)

INDU NAIR (MBBS, ARMY MEDICAL COLLEGE, DELHI CANT, NEW DELHI)

SURESH BALRAJ (Visiting professor, ASIAN SCHOOLOF BUSINESS TRIVANDRUM)

VINAY VILAS (doing CA)

SHRIKANTH VENUGOPAL (Completed B.com from Calicut University)


  

Monday, October 24, 2011

ANNA & IROM are the two sides of the same coin

        Why the Govt. always gets a 'HEAD', whenever a political coin is  deliberately tossed?


By: Arjun.R.Shankar



Since the past 11 years, the Indian govt. has terribly failed to show sensitivity and consideration to Irom Sharmila, the Iron Lady of Manipur who has pledged her life for a valid and humanitarian cause. Over the years the govt. has done nothing to assuage her demands and has done only harm to her demands and her inner self. Irom Sharmila’s silent resilience has been totally ignored.


Her endless courageous gesture stands for the welfare of the humanity. The most amusing question an average Indian poses is “Why the govt. always gets a head, whenever a political coin is deliberately tossed?  What makes Anna special and gives him a cardinal edge? Satyagaraha and hunger strikes in our country are perceived as pristine endeavour as it was used as a strong weapon in liberating our country from the foreign yoke. Gandhiji used this weapon effectively and since then a lot of leaders and people have emulated and adopted these principles to fight various forms of injustice.

Anna and Irom are the two sides of the coin called Satyagraha and still why is Irom’s problem not acknowledged. Anna Hazare could easily garner the public support and emerged as an energetic pied piper. Anna has been hogging the public limelight with zeal and vigour and his abrupt stardom even earned him the epithet ‘Second Gandhi’. The tasks, objectives and the methodology of both of them have the same colour and have many binding common factors. But the critical point lies in the content and goals of both of them that leaves the issues at crossroads.

The govt. fears Anna and his movement, not because of the novelty of his demands but due to the large support base of the people. Anna had tossed an anti graft smoke grenade single handedly into the fray and the smoke had successfully billowed outwards to consume the entire country. In the euphoric triumph of Anna, Irom’s decade long crusade was treated with contemptuous disregard. How can the govt. blatantly expunge the demands of extraordinary struggle by an extraordinary lady who has emulated Gandhian ideas? Her forceful detention and her annual ritual of releasing her to get re arrested is nothing but the mockery of humanity.


The whole issue opens a larger debate over the mettle of AFSPA. The govt. should not allow lawlessness and atrocities to take place in the name of internal security measures. Violence and arbitrary actions cannot be condoned at any cost. The AFSPA allows the army to use force, shoot or arrest anyone without warrant on the mere suspicion that someone has committed or is about to commit a cognizable offence. The act also prohibits any legal or judicial proceedings against any personnel without the sanction of the central govt. The govt. in 2004 constituted a committee under Justice B.P Jeevan Reddy to review the provisions of AFSPA and suggest a replacement if there is a need. But the  govt. has terribly failed in this front to take concrete action on the findings of the committee.

Hazare’s success gives the impression that the govt. can only be succumbed to pressure through a non violent movement at the national level which seems to be non violent movement but inherently has the potential to become a violent movement at the base level and can slowly reach the top echelons in its full fledged form. This varied character and proportionality of the movement has instilled fear in the minds of the govt. The govt. knows the consequences and repercussions of not responding to Anna Hazare.


Irom Sharmila in the true sense has failed to effectively pressurize the government, the sole reason for which she has been shrugged off. Anna got people support because people are more aware of the trails and travails of the humongous corruption and many of them have their own experiences and are victims of corruption and corrupt activities. It is like a sustaining gas like oxygen and exists everywhere and sustains innumerable people. Under all these circumstances, people are fed up with the whole affair of corruption and vociferously demanded a cleanup and an overhaul of the system.Anna got endorsements from various celebrities, social activists, sports persons, politicians etc. The people created a massive anti graft crusade in the technological domain giving it maximum publicity. All these are important factors which Irom’s crusade doesn’t possess at least when compared to like Anna’s scale. 


In spite of all this we should not ignore the aspirations and sentiments of our brothers and sisters of North East. There is a serious information deficit regarding the North East. The plight and various happenings are not hitting the media and public. More stories and issues of North East should reach the common people and the media should end its Anna frenzy and give more space to their aspirations.


And it should be kept in mind that every state has its own solid reasons for insurgency and that should be identified and tackled meticulously with appropriate measures rather than giving the same pill- AFSPA to all the states. The govt. has the moral responsibility to come up with an amicable solution to get rid of the draconian AFSPA. Irom Sharmila should be acknowledged because her endless courageous demands stand for the welfare of the humanity.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ANNA rings the bell--- INDIA AWAKENS



ANNA-- THE NEW AUDACIOUS PHENOMENON OF INDIA
By : Arjun.R.Shankar
The parliament of India has unanimously approved the key elements of Jan Lokpal Bill. The anti graft crusader, the new sensational Anna Hazare has finally ended his 288 hours fast. His travails have spread across the world and in many countries he has been christened as the ‘New Gandhi’. The western media says that the New Gandhi has shaken India. The Daily Telegraph refers him as the ‘Born again Gandhian’. 
According to the resolution a Lokpal Bill shall be passed by parliament in the ongoing session of parliament which will set up an independent Lokpal at the centre and independent Lokayukta on same model in each state.  Lokpal shall have jurisdiction over all government servants (barring judicial officers) at the centre and Lokayukta shall have jurisdiction over all public servants in the state. All govt. departments are required to make ‘Citizens Charter' and the inclusion of Lower Bureaucracy under the Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism. 

The victory was very hard fought and it’s the real triumph of Indian Democracy. The parliament has gracefully accepted and acknowledged the aspirations of the people. By this, the parliament of India has displayed its sagacity and maturity in handling complicated issues with utmost precision and integrity. The Anna Hazare phenomenon has transcended boundaries of the country and brought innumerable people from different walks of life to organize and agitate for a common cause. This phenomenal attraction of the people and the support rendered in such magnitude must have been last witnessed during the time of Gandhiji. This is the real reflection of unity in diversity. Modern India represents the largest democracy in the world within a seamless picture of unity in diversity unparalleled anywhere else. According to Anna Hazare this is only a break and he will continuously fight till they achieve a change in the system that has disparity between the rich and the poor. He declared that Electoral Reforms, issues of decentralization of power, educational reforms, labour and farmers issue his next agendas. 

It’s heartening to see that the whole issue of framing a strong Lokpal was not used by the opposition to score brownie points and dilute the real and genuine causes. Even though the govt. has agreed to form an effective Lokpal, one wonders in spite of the public outrage against corruption how could the govt. prepare a fractured bill and table it in the parliament? People always demanded stern and robust action against corruption and not a glorified smokescreen. And the victory gained is also the victory of the civil society and reveals their influence on the law making process. 
Even in the present system there are microscopic minorities who are against the sentiments of the people and see the political arena and official power as their prerogative to extract money and accelerate their personal mileage. It’s crystal clear that the interests of the people are overshadowed by many other vested interests and the govt. is trying to protect that and the previous governments also had to protect this. There are strong interests that have become a super structured bloc over the time that makes the govt. kneel and succumb to pressure every time. Prime Minister willingness to put the position under the purview of the will was finally overruled due to many reasons. This bears the testimony to this strong super structure bloc that wants impropriety to rule in the name of established procedures and laws. 

Every system has such a super structure and it’s a true fact that such blocs have grown in epic proportions and  enjoy a superior and tremendous clout. This super structure should be broken and even they know that a strong Lokpal will be the end of them.  Such vested interest leads to corruption which in turn leads to failing governance which in turns leads to underdevelopment, chronic poverty and unemployment. An effective Lokpal should be able to tackle corruption and break this super structured bloc and rejuvenate the governance mechanisms. 

The whole episode is the reminder that Gandhian thoughts and methods can still efficiently work in today’s complicated world and parallels in other parts of the world proves that violence only creates discords and chaos. The mettle and merits of one of the strongest weapons of the world, Satyagraha and non violence has been proved beyond doubts. Satyagraha as an ideal and as a great weapon will always continue to invigorate and inspire the generations to come to achieve goals for the human welfare. Another remarkable feature is the participation of the youth of the country who generally were only united by cricket and world cups. Usually sports was one of the strong binding forces of our country. The ANNA phenomenon has suddenly replaced that.  


But this time a national cause has overshadowed it and the youth of our country has awakened and took pride in thronging the streets with the sole aim of creating a corrupt free society. Common people like never before are aware of the corruption in the country and they had carried the rage inside their heart to the streets. It seems that a good activist culture has developed in our country with strict adherence to non violence.
        
Even after 64 years of independence, the country has not achieved the desired sets of rights and freedom and the real independence. The whole country in this Independence day like every other year acknowledged and remembered the great leaders and people who valiantly fought against the oppression of British yoke and yet years after that, is there are an end to oppression and indifference?  Please ask this question to yourselves. Now one of the biggest hurdles for the country is massive corruption that has deeply penetrated into every rungs of the society. The real challenge is to get rid of it.

The people cannot expect that the whole corruption will vanish over a night on its own. It’s not natural phenomena it’s purely a created one and the people are not demanding magic from the govt. They should acknowledge the hard situations which the common people face every day and end their blatant support to this indifference and corruption. Let this victory become a great beginning and a first step to end corruption. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

HUMANITY knows no Defined Boundaries..

The Unparalleled Humanitarian Gesture Transcending Boundaries


By: Arjun.R.Shankar




QAIZ HUSSAIN 
The backdrop of the whole issue that is now praised entirely in our country is the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Both the countries were meticulously engineering their strategies and were at the heightened stage of intense trepidation and consternation. The war was the focal point of both the countries and the policies dictated as per its craving.


Mr. Qais Hussain was a Pakistani Air Force pilot and was in the line of duty checking his countries boundaries with precision and acting in accordance with the orders of the top brass.
 Very soon the Pak radars detected an Indian presence and that was none other than the Indian Air Force pilot Jahangir ‘Jangoo’ Engineer flying the beech aircraft with the then Gujarat Chief Minister Balwant Rai Mehta and some other civilians. Qais was interrupted by Jangoo Engineer and as per the versions of Qais Hussain, he thought that it was an Indian aircraft on reconnaissance mission and reported the enemy presence immediately to the base to unerringly tackle the situation. The order received from the base was to shoot down the aircraft.

Hussain as a responsible officer of the armed forces was in the line of duty and to accept and execute orders even at the peril of his life was his moral obligation and duty. He perfectly executed the orders and duteously shot down the Indian aircraft despite pleas for mercy by Jangoo Engineer ultimately resulting in the death of Engineer, Balwant Rai Mehta and others on board. As a responsible and dutiful officer he was elated for accomplishing his mission and only after reaching the base camp he realized that the plane had been a civilian aircraft with eight people on board.  

Years have rolled away and in 2011 after 46 years Mr. Qais Hussain has tendered his apologies for the loss and grief he has caused to the families by shooting Jahangir Engineer’s aircraft. The most important and the glaring part of the issue is that the daughter of Mr. Jangoo Engineer, Mrs. Farida Singh has very graciously accepted the apologies and even wrote back to Mr. Hussain.
She said “Most of all, my father would have liked that it goes towards bringing spark of forgiveness between our two peoples, who after all were one”


This is indeed an unparalleled humanitarian gesture transcending boundaries and no wonder it was reported in the Pakistan Dailies as ‘Aman ki Asha’(Hope for peace). One should definitely salute these gestures from the core of our heart as it needs a lot of courage and immense fortitude to undertake such an initiative. 
Jahangir 'JANGOO' Engineer

Mrs. Farida had said “though the incident defined her family’s life, in all the struggles that followed, we never, not for one moment, bore bitterness or hatred for the person who actually pulled the trigger caused my father’s death. The fact that this all happened in the confusion of a tragic war was never lost to us. We are all pawns in this terrible game of war and peace. This incident is indeed a prime example of what damage strife and mindless battles can drive even good men to do”

Ever since the partition of the subcontinent years ago, the British dismantled their Indian Empire, India and Pakistan had been arch rivals. Their animosity has its roots in religion and history and has now escalated into dangerous arms race. 

Now both the countries are vigorously striving to have an uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue process. It’s a very true fact that whenever the talk between the two countries gets a momentum, untoward incidents interrupts the whole process. Apart from resolving the contentious issues, ultimately the scope of people to people contacts and relationship should be redefined.

The trust and confidence among the people should get greater and broader dimensions for the overall development of the region.

Let this novel gesture inspire the people of both the lands and let them aspire for peace and amity in their minds and not the seeds of war and destruction. In the future we need cooperation. Continuing hostility will only spark intense conflagrations and nothing else. We need cooperation in all senses to achieve the full potential of the region for the benefit and harmony of both the nations. After all we were all one who were once one bound by the same aspirations and culture and shared the same land.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

SINGLE PARENTING



By: Devi Priya P.G

“The family is both the fundamental unit of society as well as the root of culture. It is a perpetual source of encouragement, advocacy, assurance and emotional refueling that empowers a child to venture with confidence into the greater world and become all that he can be”    
                       
 In this context a not so discussed but an important issue is being thought about – Single Parenting.
                        
       Single parents are known to all of us; every day we come across quite a few-struggling for themselves and their children. But hardly do we realize that, may be because we feel we have bigger problems to worry about. But in reality how hard is to be a single parent, that too in a scenario  
When even parents who live together find it difficult to take care of their children, to do all that is possible for their better future and bring out the best in them. Across the globe there are numerous single parents – either because of death of one parent, divorce or abandonment by the other. Whatever be the underlying causes, the problems faced by them are really huge irrespective of their socio-political-economic backgrounds and ethnicity.
                    
                One of the major issues faced by the single parents apart from a minority of the economically affluent and legally separated is to make both the ends meet financially. Even the basic requirements like food, shelter and education of children are real challenges faced by them. Parental and family supports are not extended beyond certain minimum requirements and to a few such solaces are distant dreams.
                 
                 The society’s attitude towards them and the kind of social isolation is in fact disheartening. Being a single parent need not always be a matter of choice, it can also be due to circumstances beyond one’s control. But in reality the society fails to understand this and treats them disrespectfully-especially if the family is devoid of a male member. In fact every single day is a struggle for them-discharging the responsibilities at home and work and looking after the needs of children are extremely difficult. This becomes even tougher for those with differently abled kids.

                  As a matter of fact majority of the single parent families are female headed. A mother who lives separately with her children is viewed entirely different from a father with his children. This happens irrespective of the class structure and educational qualifications of the female counterpart. The kind of ill-treatment against such women even at workplace both in terms of sexual violence and emotional torture is really a shame. The fact is that many of these cases remain unreported. The so called social activists and women welfare organizations have done little in this regard to curb the menace. Even the religious norms and institutions which intervene very actively when two individuals decide to be together for the rest of their life hardly bothers to address the issues and settle them thereafter once they are separated.

                  The suicidal rates among single parents along with their only hope – their children also stems out from the kind of agony and pressure imposed upon them from the society and even their own family members. Very often the sentiments of the children are so badly hurt and the extent of pain inflicted upon them in their childhood adversely affects their future prospects too. Especially in developing and under developed countries where the social security measures are given least priority such unaddressed issues are numerous. Even though giving a proper legal framework ensuring adequate financial assistance along with timely counseling for the parent and child aren’t the only solution they might solve the problem to a greater extent.

                The potentials of single parents are numerous. They become more self reliant and less co-dependent. They learn to accept the harsh realities of their life and strive to bring out the best in themselves and their children in spite of this their self respect and dignity are being questioned many a times. Their credentials are hardly acknowledged.

Never forget, they need recognition and needs to be treated respectfully for what they are; because they are neither aliens nor superheroes/heroines but are ordinary people like you and me.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Prince of Vienna!!


By : Jithin Raghavan 

Renowned are those Malayali’s who inhibit foreign culture into their lifestyle. But, we seldom come to know of someone who has pioneered a new culture outside his country. Let us meet one such person. The man who introduced the festival that makes every summer in the city of Vienna beyond awesome. His name is Prince Pallikunnel, hailing from the city of Malappuram. 

Midway through the season when the heat reaches its maximum, the city of Vienna develops a festive mood under the leadership of Prince. This has been the scene for the past eleven years. The streets play host to a small ‘world get-together’ with people storming in from every nook and corner with their songs and dance numbers. And to add grandeur to the event, cuisines of all kinds are made available here. The festival named ‘Strassenfest’ fills the mob with a feeling of joy unbound.

Prince is the director of PROSI, the first ever exotic supermarket in Vienna. It is often said that one can find a malayali at every other place in this world, intending pun of course. But then, it is more than difficult to sow the seeds of success on a foreign soil. PROSI reminds us that hard work and determination may not suffice to succeed. Politeness, Respect, Obedience, Service and Intimacy are equally important ingredients for a business to prosper. Back in the year 1999, PROSI was born with all this. For some ten years now, PROSI has taken on the daunting task of bringing the taste of home to the foreign-born people living in Austria, and introducing Austrians to the food of the world.

Born into an ordinary family, it was while pursuing his teaching career (after completing his M.com) that he got the chance to do his higher studies in Austria. After two years since his arrival in the country, he along with a friend of his put up a stall that sold Indian perfumes, vegetables and newspapers. Seeing the immediate success, he started a restaurant as well, which turned out to be a failure. He tried his luck creating a travel agency. The result, sadly, was no different. But, these failures proved to be the very stepping stones to his future success.

What happens in a normal scenario is, when someone comes to a foreign country as a student and finds all his attempts at different ventures ending as failures, he curses himself and the place, and thinks of nothing but returning home. On the contrary, Prince, having learnt a thousand lessons from every single failure he made, and acquiring strength from each of them, built up the first ever exotic supermarket that stands out as the biggest and most useful of its kind in the country. At the age of twenty five, when he flew to Vienna, the only thing he had with him was his master’s degree. But the courage in him to face situations and immense self belief always came to his aid.

The lack of food from home led him to open a shop for Indian products. Apart from being a supermarket, PROSI today is a part of everyone’s daily life in Vienna. For anyone curious about food, though, it is more than fine; it is a treasure trove. Nearly six thousand products from over sixty countries are being sold here. Eateries from around the world are available. People hailing from Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh and Africa are also employers here. Providing native food, PROSI restaurant aims at instilling that warmth of ‘being at home’ to those who leave home and come here looking to prosper in life. In a kitchen at the back of the store, international cooking classes are offered every Saturday.  Once you are inside this chamber you in terms of cuisine can travel from Cameroon to Bhutan, Malaysia to Bolivia, and Madagascar to Myanmar. 

The smell of the kitchen wafts through the supermarket, bringing a memory of home, or a dream of adventure. And needless to say, Indian food finds maximum demand. This also serves as a platform for foreigners to learn and try their hands at the Indian cuisine. The street festival organized by PROSI twice a year is greeted with much enthusiasm. Around fifty odd artists perform in the cultural extravaganza organized along with it. The food festival arranged is equally welcome. Apart from these, yoga and dance classes find places in the festival, which prove to be added bonuses in portraying our culture to the outside world.

A dominating presence in the art and culture in Vienna, Prince established an organization ‘Kala Vienna’ to help enhance international culture in the country. He has served as the representative of Indian World Chamber of Commerce in Austria and the World Malayali Council President. A man of utmost passion in every single thing he does, Prince has done more than a great deal in portraying not only our culture, but a variety of International cultures to Austria. The least we can say is that he has been given a befitting name – PRINCE!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Once upon a time, GOD played with a GOLDEN dice


 Does GOD really need gold & money in the ‘GODS OWN COUNTRY’?
  
  By : Arjun.R.Shankar


The whole world is flabbergasted and amazed and all their eyes are on the capital city of Gods own country. Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala has managed to take a special place in the history. Usually every tourist reaching this city never misses an opportunity to see the beauty of the magnificent Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple. The massive temple dedicated to lord Vishnu. The temple gave its present name to Thiruvananthapuram. ‘Thiru’ ‘Anantha’ ‘Puram’ means Sacred Abode of Lord Anantha Padmanabha.

 In June 2011 a review of the temples underground vaults was undertaken by a panel appointed by the Supreme Court of India as there were accusations of gross mismanagement within the temple. The inspection team meticulously planned and inspected the temple and opened the age old secret vaults of the temple one by one and the findings were a series of shock to the eyes and mind. They could not believe the eyes as they witnessed priceless treasures from the cellars of the temple.

According to the temple records the vaults were last opened 136 years back and the present one was an attempt transcending history. According to the website of Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple the treasure trove so far included countless gold and silver coins, gold ornaments, stone studded crowns, idols and figurines inlaid with precious stones and jewels, golden bow, golden vessels etc. These sterling and opulent treasure literally and virtually mesmerized everyone who had witnessed them. The whole endeavor was radiating impulses of the past and the very opulence of them was unraveling history and traditions with a mix of heightened exaltation. It was the moment when the ‘present’ in their eyes and mind praised the ‘past’. The feelings must have been inexplicable. Even the miniscule part of the configuration of air was filled with a historical redolence.

If the calculations are accurate the treasures value has exceeded one lakh crores and is still appreciating. The experts in charge of estimating the treasures are undertaking a labyrinthine task as it’s always complicated and difficult to estimate the value of such antiques and artifacts. With such a startling treasure bag, the temple has become the richest temple in the world.

Since independence from Britain, the temple is controlled by a trust run by the royal descendants of the Travancore royal family. After 1947 the kingdom of Travancore merged with the princely state of Cochin which ultimately became Kerala. And a special praise and a token of appreciation should be attributed to the royal family for keeping the treasures intact. Over the years and after the independence they always could have taken the wealth which they never did as it was done lavishly by their contemporaries in India and other parts of the world including Nepal. They have upheld the royal dictum that they are still the ‘Padmanabha dasas’ (servant of lord Padmanabha) a title which they assumed years back. 

In the wake of the findings and the international acclaim which it has gained, the first and foremost thing the govt. should do is to effectively beef up the security of the temple premises. At no cost they should make the temple a vulnerable target. In the century of unprecedented fully fledged terrorism anything at any time in any magnitude can happen and the security apparatus should be fully equipped to cover all such dimensions of speculations and reorient its approaches and ethos. Let them install the latest available surveillance systems, alarms etc. The whole area should be under the surveillance of top notch commando wings.

The larger and the most pertinent question asked at this juncture is “What to ultimately do with this treasure trove?”

A lot of views at this juncture say’s that the entire treasure should be used to pay off the debts of the state and country and should be used to undertake developmental activities for the development of the people for providing the basic amenities to the poor. This is indeed a novel idea for a variety of noble causes and it’s a true fact that God does not need money and gold.

But, again the larger question is “should this be at the cost of sacrificing our legacy and historical wealth? Should the confronting problems be solved by selling our unique artifacts?

The acclaimed historian KN Panicker upheld the view that the treasure belongs to the state and the public. The author fully endorses the views upheld by KN Panicker. It’s indeed the wealth of Kerala and all the treasures are an intrinsic part of our culture and history of Kerala. All of them have different stories to tell and has significance of historic proportions. All these treasures are now the vital links which connects the present with the past. There is no doubt that these treasures should be preserved in a well designed museum with world class security facilities and surveillance systems. Now it has become the richest temple in the world and if Cairo museum can meticulously preserve the treasures of Tutankhamen then why can’t we?

The whole treasure trove is a part of history and the people have all the right to see this splendid wealth and understand the history and folklores. Proper and time bound studies should be initiated in a transparent manner to unearth the real stories behind all the artifacts as only more and more research will reveal the true history of the period and it should be brought out for the knowledge of the people.
The Supreme Court of India bench presided by Justice R.K Raveendran and AK Patnaik in an interim order asked the authority to set up a museum to preserve the treasures and has also warned any claim over the treasure in a different order.

We need money for developmental activities but it is not the way to generate money. Let’s stop the humongous corruption, stop pilferage of govt. exchequer, have a strong Lokpal and bring back the countless black money from the Swiss bank and other unidentified sources to our country. Can any minister give the assurance and guarantee that the govt. will utilize these treasures for the benefit of the people with integrity and fullest transparency? If the govt. and the minster’s and politicians are unable to stop the purloining and loot of public money that are really supposed to be used for the benefit of the people how can they safeguard this money? Unless there is no accountability like a strong Lokpal there will be corruption in handling this money and the commitment of the govt. to bring back the black money will gradually die and the treasures will indeed become a real windfall for the govt. in all senses.

Our historical treasure troves should only be preserved for posterity and for the future generations and as it is said the intrinsic and antique value will only appreciate with time.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

A NOBLE CRUSADE


         “Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see”

By: Jithin Raghavan

Heroes are considered those who beyond the rules sacrifice themselves to the benefit of their principles! Mostly, in that time not many understand their stand and decisions, later the people see the contribution and proceed in accepting them as heroes! It is not heroism when a person with an IQ of 165 and plenty of cash on hand makes it to Harvard. It is heroism when this same person 

finds a way to give of himself to the world around him, despite his privileged circumstances.

 Here is someone, who by her noble and inspirational actions is truly deserving of that title.
Ruchira Gupta, 48, has the habit of putting women like Sita Devi, 51, at ease. “Ruchira madam helped me get my confidence back,” says Sita, who worked in a red light district in Kolkatta until Apne Aap, an NGO established by Ruchira nearly 10 years ago, showed her a way out and eventually carved a new life for her as one of its volunteers. Sita’s is a story echoed by over 10000 women around India, who have beeen rescued from forced sex trade by Ruchira’s globally-feted NGO. Ruchira, a former journalist, got herself involved with this in 1995 after she finished a documentary on sex trade in Nepal.


Ruchira Gupta, (left) receiving the Clinton Global Citizen award for Leadership of Civil Society in 2009
The 47-minute film titled The Selling of Innocents was shot over a period of nine months during which Ruchira closely interacted with women in red light districts in Nepal and Mumbai. The documentary was acclaimed worldwide and, a year later, won Ruchira an Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism.


After the film wrapped up, she stayed in touch with the 22 women whose stories she had recounted. She didn’t want to go back to journalism and wanted to do something about all the exploitation she had seen in the brothels. She decided to form a self-help outfit that met informally to discuss their problems. During their meetings, Ruchira would coach the women about how they had the right to say no to flesh trade and also enable their kids to get access to education.

This group became the model for how Apne Aap would eventually operate. The organisation today has nearly 150 anti-trafficking self-help groups across Asia, South East Asia and other countries. This initial effort was set into motion in the year 2002 when Ruchira officially registered the NGO in mumbai.

Eventually Apne Aap began reaching out to women in Kolkatta, Bihar and New Delhi. They go to key areas where intervention was required, identify and form a team of local women, who would be educated and trained to communicate with their peers in the red light area, make them aware of their rights and encourage them to come to each others’ aid. Governments and other private organizations are being approached for monetary aid. Apne Aap’s self-help groups usually have about 15 members, whose primary task is to campaign with the local officials for access to education, subsidized food, police protection and other rights. They also run gender resource centers where they provide non-formal education and vocational training to groups of girls and women to get an alternative means of livelihood.

Undoubtedly, obstacles have cropped up every step. Those involved in the sex-trafficking industry have threatened them quite often. Ruchira believes she can take care of herself but she is worried about the more vulnerable among them. The constant backing of her family – especially her husband Sunil Nerula who works in the UN – makes plenty of difference.

Much like how Apne Aap became a universal movement, Ruchira’s aim is to effect change at the very highest level and for which purpose she has vigorously fought for a stringent anti-trafficking law in the world and in India. She wants woman to attain a status where they can transform the system that takes their power away from them in the first place. 


A noble crusade indeed!!