Idea Caravan: Innovative Ideas Towards a Brighter Tomorrow

At the bottom of every human thought, deep down the volumes of reflection communicated and beneath the contemplation of any genius, there lies an idea still waiting to emerge, a unique viewpoint, which is nothing else but a union of beliefs that was not perceived to have any existing relation till that point in time.

The only people who can ever make this sudden marriage of ideas happen are those who care about them like a mother does for her child. When you meet such a person, who values his idea above everything else, question him why is that something supposedly so important to him, just ask him to explain. He will tell you about his experiences, moments of revelation and facts about reality that doesn’t matter to anyone who isn’t him. He will describe in infinite details deep personal stories, and it will all be autobiographical; he will simply let you know that who he truly is,  by discussing something completely unrelated to his life. Something that happened to him and changed his whole life. This is what a True Idea, whose time has come does to a mortal soul.

If Newton never told anybody about the law of gravity, if Edison would have only lit his own house, the world would have remained untouched by their brilliant ideas and minds. Powerful ideas of today are the true investments for a better tomorrow. Franklin Templeton Investments had partnered with the TEDxGateway in Mumbai December 2012, with this very belief.

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These ideas of today evolve, get refined and modify with the passage of time to become the reality in future. After watching videos of 18 such path breaking ideas from a variety of domains, it was real hard for me to single out which one to elaborate on.  So, I ended up choosing the one, which relates in some way or the another to the life of every student. The Concern of Exams.

The fear and anxiety of being judged is inevitable in life and the burden of scoring high marks that our current examination system has build upon students has added to this. It takes away from them the privilege of choosing their own direction in life since the amount of time a Class 10th or 12th student spends towards his school, coaching etc bereft him from the pleasure of pursuing his dream.

All what I can recollect from my Class X days is constant babbling of my peers, parents and teachers that how important is the Board Examination and my hectic schedule from school to “so-called” tution classes to ace in the rat-race. 6 Years hence, I realize how much over-rated it all was. Being somewhat smarter than peers, I performed academically well, but that year was really burdensome for a few of my close friends. With CBSE changing course books, complex marking schemes and a mammoth syllabus for each subject, children are unsure what to study, how to study and from where to study. Adding to trouble is the constant pressure from aunt’s neighbor’ son who scored 94 percentage last year 😛

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With the integration of technology in almost all aspects of our daily lives, pedagogic education is an area which is merely coping up. Though advent of Smart Schools and making Life-Science subjects more pragmatic is widely praised as a leap for the crippled Education system, yet the ground level reality has hardly changed. Concern of performing exceptional during those 3 hours is still intact.

To tackle this problem, the need is to focus on productivity. Study the topics which are more important and practice the problems which appear more often  than others. This need of the hour was well identified by Angad Nadkarni, a 4th year student at BITS Pilani who used Supervised Machine learning ( an emerging field in Computer Science) to analyse large volume of question papers to identify patterns in them, cutting out the noise.  Check him out, presenting the idea at TEDxGateway in the video below :

To me, this video comes as no surprise. As a computer engineer, I am aware of the expanse of data mining algorithms and its array of implementation in the industry for several purposes. These Machine Learning techniques are practiced even by Stock brokers, for analyzing trends of fluctuating stock prices. The idea is not new but the implementation definitely is. Almost every one leaves out the part which is tougher to grasp; when in graduation the number of exam skyrockets. Going through previous year papers and then narrowing down to conclusions manually is a tedious task in itself, digitizing this labor is a praiseworthy effort. The statistics that show which questions are relatively complex by integrating the viewpoint of other users, can help save a lot of time as the students now know what all topics are not to be devoted attention to.

Angad is currently working on an idea focused on removing the information imbalance in the current education system, and creating a tool and platform for every student in India to get access to the best intelligence and resources in one click of a button.In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm while in the real world all rests on perseverance. Angad has come a long way making his idea realistic. In Jan 2013, along with Samudra Bhuyan ,a 28-year-old GMAT instructor as co-founder, he started his exciting entrepreneurial journey, calling it “Examify“. Balancing his duties as the CTO of a web company while juggling with academics in one of the finest Engineering College of India, is a live example of how immensely has the idea affected his own life.

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Current Examify team

It is easy to walk the ordinary road but it does take something to walk the road less traveled. These 5 Bravehearts of Examify have chosen to spend their valuable time in developing a product that will soon be an innovative reality to assist weak students who don’t have terabytes of memory in their brains and lightning fast processors to assimilate and understand generally esoteric theories and conventions.

On the other hand, It proposes a rather interesting and challenging task for the teachers/exam setters to end this trend of cramming books for securing the passing marks. This belief, of a reform being necessary now among the education authorities might lead to a revolutionary change in our education system.The intellectuals would begin to design more innovative and out of the league exams to surprise students that would rather invoke their thought process, hence again rendering the exams unpredictable. 

Irrespective of how this idea affects the people, the implementation of this concept will only make our society a better place.

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Recommended Reads:

 1) http://www.nextbigwhat.com/bits-pilani-successful-startup-machine-297/

2) http://blog.examify.com/why-studying-for-more-time-is-actually-useless/

3) http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Online-app-that-hacks-your-exam-with-just-a-click/Article1-989263.aspx

Tchao !!!!

I chat, You Chat, We Chat

Conversations are lyrics, Laughter is the voice and time spend together a Melody. But hectic office schedules, tiresome work load and ever increasing deadlines hardly offers any of us enough time for making this Music of Conversation come true. Sometimes, I wish Life would be a lot easier if the conversations were rewindable and erasable, like videos. Then probably, I could visit them again and relive those moments of euphoria and delete the ones that brought grief and heartaches.

Technology has affected everyone and everything in this past decade – be it the way we live , the way we socialize or the way we interact. One of the recent development in the Interaction technology is the introduction of Android operating system and its innumerable applications that we use for several different purposes. One such application that has recently created a boom in the market is WeChat. With a plethora of unique features like QR code Chat, Video Calls, Moments, Shake and Drift Bottle  it is an one of its kind platform to connect with friends/strangers from all around the world. This application can very well be called “Chuck Norris of Chatting“. 

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Somerset Maugham once saidConversation is one of the greatest pleasures in life but it wants leisure. This must have been the driving force for the makers of WeChat. After all such an amalgam of technology, idea, innovation and chatting in the hands of every smart phone user is an exquisite leisure to have.

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Among several strange ideas that continue to hit me, while in shower, this is the most recent one. What would happen if  this world was one big WeChat group and we could talk to anyone we wanted to. Wouldn’t that be awesome, if you could find solution to your Physics problem by messaging Stephen Hawkins, or you could ask Paris Hilton out for a date, once she is free from her photo-shoot sessions. Wouldn’t a chance of fun filled jogging session with Tom chasing Jerry be refreshing enough. I gave it some thought (boring weekends, you know) and compiled this list of  people, with reasons, whom I would add to my WeChat group. Here are my after chat thoughts: 

1) Sir Ravindra Jadeja 

Sir-Ravindra-Jadeja-Image-31  This had to be my first. Who won’t have the legend who ate the broken part of the Apple logo in his close WeChat circle. It was a real fascinating conversation, after all it was with the person who drove Ranjnikant away from all social networking sites. And during a visit to Jurassic park, his private zoo, he told me the secret that during camp-fires, it is the ghosts who tell Sir Jadeja’s stories. For one second, I thought that Superman would be second on my list, after all he is the Man Of Steel but then Sir Jadeja reminded me that what’s the need, as he was the Man of Stainless Steel.ROFL !!!!!!  He even told me that once Superman and Sir Jadeja bet on an arm wrestling match. The loser had to wear his underwear on outside his clothes. All you cartoon freaks know the rest of reality very well 😉 Talking to such a legend was an experience that wasn’t possible had WeChat not existed. Kudos to it !!!

2) Pikachu 

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Did I just said cartoons, then someone whom I dearly miss is our beloved Pikachu. He was my first cartoon hero, most fearless of all the Pokemons, most adorable among all the creatures of the fantasy world. I falled in love with his “Pika Pika Pikachu…” via the voice chat feature of the application. He told me about the life of other little monsters in the Pokemon universe and what defeating Team Rocket feels like. Being a powerful pokemon, he told me about the laurels of winning several Poki-Fight Competitions, and also inspired me to keep taking part in more and more competitions as they bring the best in us. I invited him to our Human Universe, where he can live with me as my pet. His superpowers like Thundershock and Electric Discharge can solve the electricity crisis in India, while in his free time he has promised to eliminate some of the troublemakers from Delhi as well and make it a safer city. How generous of him !!!!!!

3) Paul, The Octopus

images  Third one in my fantasy list is Paul, most popular among all underwater creatures.  While all Other octopi just swim around the ocean, squirting out ink when they get scared, Paul did something that no scientist with any of their inventions could have ever dreamt of. He told us the future. There could be no one better than him to explain the hidden role of chance in life.During our chat he told me that, his trainers  placed two boxes in his cage, each with the flag of a world cup team, and each with a tasty mussel inside. He picked a mussel, and for eight games in a row, including the World Cup final, his choice won the game. The truth he texted me was that, he always went for the mussel with the Strawberry essence in it, after all no snakes, crabs and scallops he ate had such a nice flavor ;). Later during video chat, he also showed me that how his trainers were planning to make large sum of money through gambling using his ability, so he decided to leave the prediction job. Even sea animals are so much better than we humans. Such a Shame !!!

4) Charlie Sheen images

The lead of Two and a Half Men – Charlie Sheen is the fourth on my list, this modern Casanova is a person with best one liners and jokes industry has ever seen. With a beach house at Malibu, he is a real successful artist who enjoys his life to the fullest. A chat, which I was looking forward to with him, was in context of some dating tips. When I pinged him on WeChat, he was luckily idle. So, I asked him, his secrets of being a charm to so many ladies. Instead of giving me some humor filled jokes or some prasing techniques, what he replied me was ” The only way to not get your heart broken is to pretend that you don’t have one.” Some conversations can be real strange, how can a man with such a persona could say so, I wonder.  Probably, what he meant was something deeper, which I was unable to comprehend. I’ll ask him again sometime soon, when he actually meant. 

5) Alok ‘Ronbinhood’ Kejriwal

154903_10150341304345495_2695871_n  Don’t confuse him with Arvind Kejriwal, He is not someone,who protests for change to happen rather is making them happen as the CEO of Games2Win. He doesn’t build games, but people and is the best mentor a budding entrepreneur could ever have. That is the real reason, he is called “Robinhood” of the industry.At some point of time, I want to be another him. Who else would have advised me better, so one fine day I texted him and despite his busy schedule, he linked me to the OpenHouse video stream. All thanks to the video support on WeChat. There he told people- One of the best habits that has worked for me is a quiet, honest and no holds barred conversation with MYSELF. (Obviously a mental chat), I argue, cajole, convince, scold, make up and resolve myself, with myself.And after that, it is all about execution. Make a plan and then make it happen.

It’s the conversations which we have, that defines us, makes us and changes us. Who knows, which few raisins of conversation injected into the tasteless dough of existence ends up giving you the taste of a lifetime. Keep Talking 🙂 🙂

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This Post is written as a part of #WeChatNow Contest. Do Check out:  WeChat’s Youtube Channel

Tchao !!!!!!!

 

iDiya: God’s Own Children

I always thought children are cute and gullible and it was the reason why I loved them, till one day, when I saw that infant ailing alone at Andheri station without enough clothes to beat the cold . It was then that I realized “I love children, but not when they cry- for then someone used to take them away”.

Today, I sit down with this piece of prose, questioning the realities of existence of  “God’s own children” and what happens to them when they cry, not philosophically but rationally, supporting it with a few facts and depiction of the ground reality.

Child Abuse

Over a period of time different jurisdictions all around the world have developed their own perceptions of what constitutes child abuse, some refer to it as an act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, and for some of these eminent organizations only serious physical, emotional  and sexual exploitation characterizes the term.

Flamboyant speeches by political leaders on Child Welfare have been their reason of power in the House of Commons. Statisticians have had their careers build upon surveying it, Professors of Ethics have added countless doctorates to their resumes on this theme and in this never-ending race of making the mare go, novelists and essayists have taken their fair share as well.

Wikipedia cites 116 references and 22 related full-fledged related articles that match “Child Abuse”, Google search result, generate 471,000,000 web-links on the term. But the real question remains where it was, even five decades after coining of the term. What is being done to protect the “Bright future of our Nation” from abuse ?

The Ground Reality

42 percent of the total population of second most populated country is below 18 years of age and is roughly about 20 percent of the world’s children. A study conducted by the UNICEF and Save the Children in 2007 brought out some staggering facts about the grave reality that no political leader or so called “Justice Seekers”, accept. According to the study, two out of every three children are physically abused. Over 53 per cent of children, reported having faced some form of sexual abuse and in most of the cases, the abuse was perpetrated by someone known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility. But these stats are termed null and void, because of its potential to ruin several prominent careers across various industries.

The Indian Penal Code does not spell out the definition of child abuse as a specific offense. The few IPC laws which are laid down, are rarely interpreted to cover the range of child sexual abuse; the law relating to terms “sodomy” or “rape” are too specific and do not apply to acts like fondling, kissing, filming children for pornographic purposes, etc.

Provisions of Juvenile Justice Act are weak enough for defense lawyers to take advantage of legal loopholes to facilitate their client’s escape from punishment. Even for those convicted, the maximum imprisonment is two years.

Real Solution

This problem, had one and only one solution and that was to come forward and do something for it at an individual level. This post is dedicated to such an effort which later on evolved to become– Childline India Foundation.

childlinelogoWhat is CHILDLINE ?

CHILDLINE is India’s first 24-hour, free, emergency phone service for children in need of aid and assistance. A concerned adult or a child, can dial 1098, the toll free number to access their services. They not only respond to the emergency needs of children, but also link them to services for their long-term care and rehabilitation.

How does CHILDLINE work?

CHILDLINE in each city operates through a structured network of street and community youth, non-profit organizations, institutions, and concerned individuals. Each call center has a team of trained youth who man the telephone lines 24 hours a day. Within 60 minutes (at most) of receiving a call the team rushes to the child and attends to the crisis at hand. It may involve going to a police station, the Juvenile Welfare Board or a hospital. There is a regular follow up till the child tides through the crisis, after which options for long term rehabilitation are presented to the child.
How did CHILDLINE start ?

Ms Jeroo Billimoria always found time to interact with children staying on railway stations or at  night shelters. Children started calling her in crisis at her residence at any point of day and night.
The seeds of CHILDLINE were sown by the urgency of such calls and the fact that all of these were late in the night; after all other voluntary services were closed for the day. Each time, Jeroo had to rush out to take these children to hospitals, police stations, shelters, anywhere to get help. The need of the hour was a day-night emergency service that these children could call at any time for help. The service had to be widespread and round the clock, keeping in mind that the street children are a mobile unit and that help might be needed at any time of the day.

Mission: Childline India Foundation

They work for the protection of the rights of all children in general, with special focus is on all children in need of care and protection, especially the more vulnerable sections, which include:

  • Street children and youth living alone on the streets
  • Child laborers working in the un-organised and organized sectors
  • Domestic help, especially girl domestics
  • Children affected by physical / sexual / emotional abuse in family, schools or institutions.
  • Children who need emotional support and guidance
  • Children of commercial sex workers
  • Child victims of the flesh trade
  • Victims of child trafficking
  • Children abandoned by parents or guardians
  • Missing children
  • Run away children
  • Children who are victims of substance abuse
  • Differently-abled children
  • Children in conflict with the law
  • Children in institutions
  • Mentally challenged children
  • HIV/ AIDS infected children
  • Children affected by conflict and disaster
  • Child political refugees
  • Children whose families are in crises

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This is written as a part of  ISB’s iDiya, which is a National Social Venture Competition that aims to stimulate, enable and develop high-impact, self-sustaining social businesses in India. http://www.isb.edu/idiya/