Friday 25 December 2015

An excellent day at Rajkot, center of the Saurashtra region in Gujarat

Who makes us ignorant? We ourselves. We put our hands over our eyes and weep that it is dark. 
Swami Vivekananda

Mentor on Road had an animated discussion with the businessmen of Bohra Samaj at their Masjid in Rajkot and motivated them to move on to newer models of businesses such as online sales and warehousing abroad. They are participating in large numbers in Vibrant Saurashtra Expo and Summit (VSES) 2016 – an exclusive platform for the development of the Saurashtra region. à The focus of this summit is Trade, Investment, Tourism, Education and Culture.  The theme of this event, being held at Rajkot from 8th to 11th January, 2016 is MAKE IN INDIA, SKILLED INDIA, DIGITAL INDIA, CLEAN (Swachh) INDIA and SMART (Cities) INDIA.   

Vibrant Saurashtra will be an ideal convergence for Saurashtra Industries and people to showcase their strengths, highlight business opportunities, facilitate knowledge dissemination etc. It will also provide a smart opportunity to its participants to understand the potential of Saurashtra in various sectors. For more details visit this link

Moving on, Mentor on Road was engaged in a fantastic discussion with the members of GloCal CoWorking Space for start ups in Rajkot and motivated them to participate in the "Invented India" pavilion of Vibrant Saurashtra 2016 in Rajkot. à This ‘Invented India’ pavilion at Vibrant Saurtashtra is a dedicated pavilion for talented students and young entrepreneurs to not only display, their own created innovation, technology, ideas and thoughts towards our Indian PM Shri Narendra modi’s vision for Make In India, Swachh Bharat, Smart Cities and Skill Development concepts but also an actual opportunity and ideal platform for youth to showcase their inner abilities and creativity directly to business people, policy makers, exhibitors, industrialists, political leaders, foreign delegates and visitors. For more details visit this link

'Invented India' pavilion at Vibrant Saurashtra 2016

'Invented India' pavilion at Vibrant Saurashtra 2016
GloCal CoWorking Space (GCS) is an innovative space redefining the way start-ups work by offering a plug and play shared working environment and other additional facilities. GCS offers a setup of 2000 sq. ft. to entrepreneurs and small team professionals who can move from their home and small offices to a co-working space.

From GCS, 18 companies registered. These young people are participating for the growth of India, are you participating? à Clusters from all over Saurashtra will be participating through an exhibition and a knowledge summit at Vibrant Saurashtra. Diverse products and services of Saurashtra region will be on display at the exhibition. At the same time, the summit will deliver much needed knowledge capital on best practices from around the world for the Saurashtra cluster of industries.

Later on, Mentor on Road showcased newer ways of doing business, particularly online business, to the members of the imitation jewelry association in Rajkot. With over 250,000 people connected with making imitation jewelry in Rajkot and its surroundings, Saurashtra is one of the leading hubs of imitation jewelry in India. The annual turnover of the industry is about Rs. 500 crores (US$ 75.64 million) in Rajkot. According to industry sources, turnover could touch Rs 800 crores (US$ 121.03 million) in the next two to three years, as a result of the Gujarat government’s reduction in VAT in March 2015. The demand for imitation jewelry has increased by 50-60% over the past three years across India, with television serials influencing buyer sentiment. Currently, exporters, most of whom belong to Mumbai, and big brands purchase imitation jewelry from Rajkot, as the city is famous for hand-made jewelry.

Over 80% of imitation jewelry of India is made in Saurashtra, however 80% of exports are done by traders across India, who are located outside Saurashtra. If traders across India can export imitation jewelry, then why not the manufacturers of Saurashtra?

We have a pavilion for imitation jewelry at Vibrant Saurashtra 2016. Come and participate to meet the importers who are coming from many countries.  For more details visit this link

Whenever we attain a higher vision, the lower vision disappears of itself. 
Swami Vivekananda

Mentor on Road in Thane, Mumbai

If the mind is intensely eager, everything can be accomplished, mountains can be crumbled into atoms. 
Swami Vivekananda

Mentor On Road shared new and innovative approaches of Make In India for international business with 200+ entrepreneurs in Thane today at the Start-ups and MSME Confex (Conference and Exhibition) organized by Tangent Concepts Solutions LLP. I highlighted on the fact that businesses will survive only if they efficiently produce goods and services that:
1.       Meet global market demands.
2.       Lead to rising living standards of the society and
3.       Are sustainable in the future.

Mr. K G Alai, CGM of SIDBI presented the variety of financing schemes which are available from the bank to support start ups and MSME’s (Micro Small and Medium Enterprises).

Several interesting start-ups presented their businesses to the investors. It was an amazing event organised by Mr. Heramb Sahasrabuddhe combined with a high standard of professional compering by Mrs. Ami Sheth. In addition, Mr. Pradeep Mokal, Mr. Milind Tare and team are a highly committed and passionate group of professionals who also greatly contributed to this event.

It is the cheerful mind that is persevering. It is the strong mind that shapes its way through a thousand difficulties. 
Swami Vivekananda

Monday 21 December 2015

Day 20: Visit to Belur Math, "A Symphony in Architecture" and Mayapur, the Kirtan Capital of the World

All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in our own mind. 
Swami Vivekananda

At the end of this exceptional journey, Mentor on Road reached Belur Math in Kolkata for our program there. 

Belur Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda, a chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. It is located on the west bank of Hooghly River, Belur, West Bengal, India and is one of the significant institutions of Kolkata. This temple is the heart of the Ramakrishna Movement. The temple is notable for its architecture that fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions.

Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are twin organizations which form the core of a worldwide spiritual movement (known as Ramakrishna Movement or Vedanta Movement), which aims at the harmony of religions, harmony of the East and the West, harmony of the ancient and the modern, spiritual fulfillment, all-round development of human faculties, social equality, and peace for all humanity, without any distinctions of creed, caste, race or nationality.

Ramakrishna Math is a monastic organization for men brought into existence by Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886), the great 19th century saint of Bengal who is regarded as the Prophet of the Modern Age.

Ramakrishna Mission is a registered society in which monks of Ramakrishna Math and lay devotees cooperate in conducting various types of social service mainly in India. It was founded by Sri Ramakrishna's chief apostle, Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), one of the foremost thinkers and religious leaders of the present age, who is regarded as 'one of the core architects  of the modern world', in the words of the eminent Western scholar A. L. Basham.

Although Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are legally and financially separate, they are closely inter-related in several other ways, and are to be regarded as twin organizations.

We next visited the headquarters of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) situated in Mayapur, considered a holy place by a number of other traditions within Hinduism, but of special significance to followers of Vaishnavism as the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, regarded as a special incarnation of Krishna in the mood of Radha. It is visited by over a million pilgrims annually.

ISKCON belongs to Gaudiya (refers to Bengal) Vaishnavism, a devotional tradition based on the teachings of Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. Mentor on Road attended prayers, had prasadam, management lessons and stayed overnight at the temple, which made one feel pure and happy with the religious music, sounds and environment.

Mentor on Road then crossed the river Hooghly by boat in the early morning next day from Mayapur in West Bengal, while fascinatingly observing the water transportation on the river via boats.

The Bhāgirathi-Hooghly river system is an essential lifeline for the people of West Bengal. It is through this river that the East India Company sailed into Bengal and established their trade settlement - Calcutta, which later grew up to be one of the major cities of the world and capital of the former British India. People from other countries like French, Dutch, Portuguese, etc. all had their trade settlement by the banks of this river. The modern container port of Haldia, on the intersection of lower Hooghly and Haldi River, now carries much of the region's maritime trade.

We later on passed through the streets of Mayapur in West Bengal during the morning hours. Hard to imagine that 128 years ago, this almost forgotten town was discovered by a leading Vaisnava reformer Bhaktivinoda Thakur who conducted a thorough, painstaking investigation of the site, by consulting old geographical maps matched against scriptural and verbal accounts. I am sharing a few sights of the morning life with the hustle bustle of Mayapur’s market place.

Even the greatest fool can accomplish a task if it were after his or her heart. But the intelligent ones are those who can convert every work into one that suits their taste. 
Swami Vivekananda

Day 19: A life changing visit to Shantipur’s Handloom Cluster today

Comfort is no test of truth; on the contrary, truth is often far from being comfortable. 
Swami Vivekananda

Mentor on Road had a transformative experience at Shantipur where eight years ago in 2007, I had started working in Shantipur’s handloom cluster within interior West Bengal, the poorest region of Bengal bordering Bangladesh. The poor but artistic weavers were earning Rs. 40 to 50 per day i.e. Rs. 1,500 per month.

We built the first consortia of Self Help Groups (SHG) for 70 handloom weavers of Shantipur by training them on various commercial aspects including cleanliness, better weaving practices, importance of design, marketing, management of yarn bank, accounting system and created their access to finance through banks.

They then started direct marketing. Their first ever lifetime visit outside the village (They had never traveled out of their village) was to Ahmedabad where we arranged their participation in an exhibition. Their saris were so artistic that they not only got sold within two days but that too at high prices. With this confidence boost, they traveled all over India participating in major exhibitions.

We then arranged funding for them to build a two floor common facility center (CFC) where they have looms for training as well as working, a yarn bank, a design center, lab, display showroom, offices etc.

Today there are 400 members in the consortia with their average per day income being Rs. 500 i.e. Rs. 15,000 a month per weaver. One master weaver is currently earning Rs. 80,000 per month. Their lives have changed, now each and every child from this village goes to school and colleges. Today all have Aadhar cards and Jan Dhan accounts. Everyone also has health insurance.

20 out of those initial 70 weavers, whom we had trained, have become master weavers with 100+ weavers under them. Currently they are also selling to traders who are exporting.

Today when I asked them what kind of support they needed at the moment, they requested for three priorities at present.
1. An ambulance was needed for the village as the hospital is far
2. An engineering college was desirable in the village and
3. An eye testing facility was also needed, since these weavers faced eye problems due to weaving.

We have promised them an ambulance and an eye testing camp. We motivated them to put up advertisement hoardings on the Kolkata-Shantipur highway which they have agreed. We will be shortly opening their retail sales center in Ahmedabad and also starting their online sales portal.

Meeting all the weavers today, I was extremely emotional and at the same time happy to see that these same people who were earlier struggling for two square meals a day, are today in a position to aspire to an engineering college in their village and push for exports of their handicrafts.

This is the power of change brought about by energetic volunteers from this village who worked with me in this project such as Amit, Pradeep, Biswajit and Dr. Saumen Mapdar of the Ministry of Textiles who is also the cluster development executive of this project. It was Saumen who executed all the hard field work, day in and day out.

This was the most befitting end to my second leg of this Mentor on Road trip which started from Ahmedabad on 1st December and closed today on 19th December.

I, for one, thoroughly believe that no power in the universe can withhold from anyone anything they really deserve. 
Swami Vivekananda