The Power of Voice to Clean India – Swach Bharat

This blog-post is a part of clean India campaign initiated by Strepsils India. For more details, you can visit these web-pages: Indiblogger page, twitter handle, facebook page.

Not so long ago, Mr. Narendra Modi, our prime minister began Swach Bharat campaign on 2nd October, 2014. The campaign is aimed at cleaning India and improving the sanitation facilities all across the country. The campaign itself is a step in the right direction however much needs to be done at the grassroots level. I stay in West-Delhi and I have seen many places around my house which are full of dirt, trash and filth.

In this post, I’ll only talk about a nearby place which needs much cleaning and warrants attention of the concerned authorities at the earliest possible. Here’s what this place currently looks like:

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It’s a barren land and I don’t even remember how long its been like this now. Its been years, none of the concerned authorities have tried to do anything. I even wrote many emails earlier to the Delhi government but no such action was taken. Adding to the situation, people living nearby this place have started throwing their household garbage considering a good/comfortable dumping ground. Even the labor class nearby this place has started using it for pee-ing or toilet purposes. Despite several requests from the RWAs and people living nearby, using this place for toilet didn’t stop. As a result, they came up with a good solution of placing Indian Gods’ images on the walls. Here’s what it currently looks like:akhilsethi randomnomics blog akhil

This has indeed stopped people for pee-ing around this place, however much needs to be done to improve the condition. There has been some construction going on nearby of a proposed police station but I’m not sure when it’s going to be completed. Following are few simple steps I propose to improve the condition of this place:

a) Since it’s a DDA land which is unused for years now, I think govt. can clear all this and create a commercial complex of small shops. This will not only help in revenue generation but also help generate more labor/employment around this area

b) Enforce a hefty fine on anyone who is seen pee-ing around here OR even throwing any kind of garbage. Make people aware about this fine as well as have police around this area who can impose fine on the spot

c) DDA with the help of Sulabh International can also build and maintain toilets here. Having said that, there’s already a toilet nearby at the end of the road but similar to other public toilets in Delhi, there is no maintenance and it stinks when someone passes across it. This will also help in tackling the situation mentioned in above point (b)

Do let me know if you have any other suggestions to improve the condition of this land OR even you’re facing something similar around your area.

As mentioned earlier, this post is a part of #AbMontuBolega campaign from Strepsils. Details of which can be found here http://www.abmontubolega.com/ as well as Facebook and Twitter.

A trip to Dalhousie and Khajjiar

akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie himachal pradesh hill stationDalhousie is a small hill station in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. According to wikipedia, the town was established in 1854 by the British Empire as a summer retreat for its troops and bureaucrats and was named after Lord Dalhousie who was the British Governor-General in India at that time. It is located on the western edge of the Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas and is surrounded by snow-capped peaks. The best time to visit is from March to May and from October till November end. From December till March, it gets really cold and even the day-boarding schools here also shuts down for 3 months.

You can either go via road or by train. If going by train which we did, you’ll have to go from Pathankot. We took the Dhauladhar express which leaves Old Delhi in night and reaches Pathankot in the morning. Dalhousie is around 85-90 Kms from Pathankot and the usual taxi fare from Pathankot is INR 1850/- if you go with a pre-paid taxi however if you don’t, you can bargain till INR 1600/-. If you want to save money, you can take the state transport bus which will cost you not more than INR 100/-, pretty cheap as compared to taxi fare, isn’t it? 🙂

As far as the places to see in Dalhousie, there are not many, but since the valley is in between the mountains, it gives you incredible views altogether. For local shopping / roaming, you can go to Gandhi Chowk (G.P.O) and Tibetan Market. We also went to St. Francis Church at Subash Chowk . It’s a nice quiet place to sit and just relax.

akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie st. francis church subash chowk        akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie st. francis church subash chowk

And, the main places to visit are:

Khajjiar: It’s another hill station located around 24 Kms from Dalhousie and has a rare combination of three ecosystems: lake, pasture and forest, all in one place. Yes, it’s also called as Mini Switzerland of India. According to wikipedia, On 7 July 1992, Mr. Willy T. Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India brought Khajjiar on the world tourism map by christening it “Mini Switzerland”. He also put a sign board of a yellow Swiss hiking footpath showing Khajjiar’s distance from the Swiss capital Berne-6194 km. Khajjiar is among the 160 locations in the world that bear topographical resemblance with Switzerland.

akhilsethi randomnomics blog Khajjiar himachal pradesh hill station   akhilsethi randomnomics blog Khajjiar himachal pradesh hill station

Dainkund PeakIt’s around 30-45 minutes (15 Kms) drive from Dalhousie to this place. Once you reach this place, you need to park you car to the Air-Force base camp barricade and then there’s a walk to 0.5 Km upwards towards an observation hut which ultimately provides a breath-taking view of the complete Dhauladhar ranges. Another 950 m relatively easy walk from this point, is the Kali Mata temple.

akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie himachal pradesh hill station Dainkund peak  akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie himachal pradesh hill station Dainkund peak

Kala Top Forest Resort: On way to Khajjiar and 11 km from dalhousie you come upon the toll booth which marks the entry to Kalatop wildlife sanctuary. To the left side, is the start of a 3 km gradual sloping upward path to the kalatop forest guest house. The road is not a tar road but is motorable. You can drive the car right up to the guest house for a fee of INR 200. But it is preferred that one walks down as you enjoy the walk through the dense pine forest. If you get lucky, you might get to see few wild animals. During our journey, we saw many langurs. If you want to enjoy the beauty of a forest night, there are also few cottages/rooms available which one can get for around INR 800/- per night here.

akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie himachal pradesh hill station Kala Top 1   akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie himachal pradesh hill station Kala Top

Apart from this, there’s not much to see in Dalhouie. We went to Chamba which is quite far away from Dalhousie. The same is famous for its museum, temples as well as river Ravi.

If you’re a foodie, don’t forget to visit Sher-e-punjab restaurant down the lane on subash Chowk. Actually, there are 3 restaurants with same name here but the one which second-last call themselves as the oldest one. We ordered Butter Chicken and it was too good!

If you’re planning to go to Dalhousie and come across this piece and have more questions, do let me know in the comments section below or connect with me here on my twitter handle. Would be happy to help you!

Some more spectacular views of the valley:

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All new Xiaomi Mi 3 is here!

Few days back I wrote a post on Xiaomi’s selling strategy in India. Today I got my hands on the all new Xiaomi Mi 3(16 gb)  and it feels great! To give you the top-line features, the operating system is Android Kitkat, screen resolution is top-class of 1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels, making it a 1080p HD screen. Camera quality is also good with 2 megapixel front camera and a 13 megapixel primary (rear) camera. All in all it provides a great user-interface (UI) at a price of just INR 13,999.

Here’s the glimpse:

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And yes, just to make you a bit more jealous, here’s the big new. Xiaomi has confirmed that they won’t be coming up with more Mi3 sales as of now as they want to concentrate on Redmi series currently.

Xiaomi Selling Strategy in India: Good or Bad?

India is currently one of the fastest growing handset markets in the world. According to a recent report by wearesocial on Social, Digital and Mobile landscape in India, it was found that in a population of more 1.25 billion, only 349 million are the unique mobile phone users which account to only 28% of mobile penetration. This itself suggest the BIG opportunity that the country will provide in near future to all the handset manufacturers across the world to sell their products and make a lot of money. There was a time when almost every household had a Nokia phone but owing to its persistence for focusing only on feature phones without double-sim functionality as well as non-android based smart-phones, its market share fell which provided an opportunity to other players like Samsung to enter & grow in the smartphone category rapidly. This also gave an opportunity to some of the Indian handset manufacturers like Micromax, Karbonn & Lava to enter into this growing industry and provide android-based smartphones at relatively low-prices. And now, according to a recent report from counterpoint market research firm, while Samsung still leads Micromax in the smartphone category, however Micromax has beaten Samsung to become the overall biggest mobile handset vendor in India!

Last month was full of buzz about the entry of Xiaomi (pronounced as Shiao-Me), famously called as ‘Apple of China’ in India. The company partnered exclusively with Flipkart.com to sell its products online. Till now, Xiaomi Mi 3 went on sale thrice i.e. on 22nd July, 29th July and 5th August and the next one is due to happen on 12th August. To buy, a user has to pre-register himself/herself before every sale irrespective of the fact whether he/she has registered before. However, pre-registration won’t guarantee you a unit but will only mean that you’re eligible to buy the phone.

During the first sale, Flipkart couldn’t even handle the traffic and the site crashed temporarily. Within 40 minutes, Flipkart claimed the Mi 3 was out of stock. The second batch for 29th July sale apparently got over in five seconds. And, the third batch couldn’t even stand that & got over in just two seconds. This thing brought too much of negative feedback from the potential buyers online (including their Facebook page). Highlighting some of it here:

akhilsethi xiaomi selling strategy blogpost randomnomics user comments akhilsethi xiaomi selling strategy blogpost randomnomics user comments

 

 

 

 

 

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So, what do you think? Is Xiaomi creating an artificial shortage and hence a demand which is totally un-called for which could even be a part of its marketing strategy OR the company seriously didn’t expect the demand?

In my opinion, it’s more to do with its marketing strategy rather than matching up the demand with the supply. With the kind of price-point (INR 13,999) and the great features which the product boast of, I’m sure the company would definitely had the idea of the demand that would get created.

Adding on to that, providing the product only to a few customers will sustain the aspirational feel of the brand / product. These customers will mostly be the so-called early adopters of the technology and they will be the ones who will write about the product’s features & specifications everywhere online (Facebook, Twitter, Tech websites, Blogs, etc.). This will not only help the company to create the so-called user-generated content (UGC) but will also result in spreading the same without much budgets.

So, do you think Xiaomi is doing the right thing to enter into a country like India with low inventory and that too through only online-selling model? Shouldn’t it would’ve entered with physical stores where potential customers can go, see the product and then purchase it which is what Samsung did few years back.

I know I’ve touched your tech. thinking chord here. Do let me know your thoughts in the comments below and let’s have a healthy discussion on the same here.

 

Kasauli (Solan): An Awesome Trip To The Hills

When you work in the media industry where everyday is so damn busy…you try to come early and leave late just because you meet the so-called unrealistic deadlines set by your clients, any kind of vacation or a holiday is like a BLISS. Yes, this was like a much-needed break with my colleagues from the day-today offisial-atyachaar!
Kasauli is a cantonment as well as town, in Solan district in Himachal Pradesh. It is at a distance from 77 kilometres from Shimla, 65 kilometres from Chandigarh, and 300 kilometres from New Delhi which is why it is one of the options for a good summer-break.

Climate-wise, Kasauli has a pleasantly moderate climate. As per Wikipedia, winter temperature is approximately 2 degrees celsius, with summer temperatures rarely exceeding 32 degrees celsius. During the time when I was there, it was around 26 degree celsius (mid-May).

Akhil Sethi Kasauli Trip May 2014Before I go to any trip or a holiday, as an explorer, I try to search for all the information beforehand so that I kind of manage to take the best out of the whole trip. Even for this trip, I tried searching on internet but not much of information was available. I had to go-through many articles to find out what best possible one can do. Hence the purpose of writing this blog-post is also to help those travelers who can get all information Kasauli at one place. So, here’s the information most of the travelers look for:

 

Hotel to consider:

akhil sethi kasauli winnies hotel resort himachal pradeshWe stayed at Winnies Hotel Resort which is not exactly in Kasauli but 6 Km before Kasauli. I must say, the hotel is really good with regards to its room service as well as the food during breakfast, lunch & dinner. However the only not so good thing was the french-fries I ordered at my room during evening time. And so was the feedback of my colleagues too when they ordered something else as evening snacks. Overall it’s a good place to stay however, I did find the per-night room-price bit on a higher side though!

 

Places to visit:

akhil sethi kasauli main marketa) Kasauli main market: Kasauli doesn’t have enough options to roam-around or hang-out with friends. But, if you’re in Kasauli, do visit the main market which is very close to the bus-stand. The market is small but it feels good when you’ve all the time in the world to roam-free. If you’re hungry, just go further where you’ll find Rudra Cafe, an eating joint which is filled with Bob Marley pics and is known for some good chinese food! And, just when you go a bit further (2-3 shops), you’ll find Narinder sweet house, when you can get yummy tasty jalebi.

 

b) Sun-set point & Gilbert Trail: akhil sethi sun-set point kasauli trip gilbert trailSituated around 1 Km up from the bus-stand, sun-set point offers a breath-taking view of the mountains. At this place, you can actually know the distance as well as angle of the nearby locations. Hats-off to its creators.  And, when you move a bit further from the sun-set point, you’ll find a trail leading to another view-point which is known as Gilbert Hill. I’m not sure how many travelers go there as it’s a kind of kacha / risky road of about 600 meters. However the view that you get after the trail finishes is just awesome and all you need to do is to just admire it.

c) Manki point: Earlier I used to think that this is a place where lots of monkeys would be there and hence it’s called the manki point but it’s not like that at all. Situated almost 4 km up to the bus-stand, this is the highest point of Kasauli and has a temple which lies inside the premises of Air-force base hence cameras, mobile-phones aren’t allowed inside the same. Make sure to reach before 4:15 pm as it closes after that and nobody is allowed to enter despite the umpteen no. of requests (yes, that’s from an experience). The view at the top is magnificent and worth-going for any traveler.

My recommendations: Kasauli is a nice quiet place to visit and the trip from Delhi can be completed during the weekend itself. Go for not more than a 2-night stay in Kasauli and if you want to take the most out of your travel here, explore the place by foot and not by car or bus with a good camera in hand. Also don’t forget to try Himachali wines if you love to indulge yourself in good wine-drinking experience.

If you happen to come across this piece and still want any other information on Kasauli, do tweet me here and I will help you!

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Political Party vs Party’s Leader vs Party’s Local Candidate

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Currently we are in the midst of our country’s longest elections to constitute 16th Lok Sabha in India. Hereby sharing few interesting statistics about the same:

  • Roughly more than 800 million people are registered to vote this time which in itself is an increase of more than 100 million since the last elections in 2009
  • First time voters – over 23 million which is quite a good number
  • And, for the first time, voters will have a “None of the Above” (NOTA) option on the ballot papers and electronic voting machines. India is only the 12th country to use NOTA. (*Will you use it? 🙂 *)

The results of the same would be declared on 16th May 2014 but whatever be the results, I’m hoping for a better India. An India which is corruption free, where people respects the women of its country, where leaders focus on the education / literacy of its citizens and strive hard for a better India and its future. This blog-post is not about the party I’m supporting or the party which might come into power in all likelihood nor I’m interested in knowing which party are you supporting rather it’s about finalizing which button to press while casting your vote!

Before the Vote-day, do you think anything about the party or its leader or its local candidate?

Do you think that I will give vote to this party because I believe in party’s ideologies, how it functions / operates and what will it do if it will come into power? I’m sure, people who vote keeping in mind this thing would be like ardent followers and believes that every member of the party will be good for them.

OR

Do you think that I will give vote to this party because of its Leader. I feel people who gave vote to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi state elections recently would surely have given because of Arvind Kejriwal OR people who’re giving vote to BJP this time would definitely want to see Narendra Modi as the prime-minister of India. Do you think one should vote for a particular party only because of his/her belief in the party’s leader? What about the other members? Does it matter if they will do any good to your constituency or not?

OR

Do you think that I will give vote to this party because it’s local candidate has done good work in the past OR you’re hopeful that he/she will do in future?

These are some of the questions that come to my mind when I go to cast my vote. In my opinion, one shouldn’t think about the party he/she is voting rather contemplate about party’s leader and the local candidate because as it all usually comes from top to bottom. A political party also behaves like any organization where the employees’ attitude or outlook towards the work will depend upon his/her leader. If the leader is too active and energetic, there would be higher chances that his/her employees will also be. Hence a good leader and a local candidate can work wonders for that particular constituency!

This is what I believe but I would love to hear about your opinion on the same. Do let me know what comes to your mind while you go to cast your vote!!

#HappyVoting 🙂