Monday, December 30, 2013

Year in Review - 2013

Its that time of the year again.. when we look wistfully at the year gone by and hopefully at the year coming up..

This is also Esha’s annual roundup for you – in familiar bullet points J

This was a very good year for Esha. We entered into some lovely partnerships:

·         SOIL – School of Inspired Leadership. 4 students from SOIL are doing an year long internship with Esha, where they contribute one day a week to working with us. It has been a lovely experience with Rosemary, Sabrish, Sahil and Vipul. SOIL students recorded for CLABIL for the third year in a row during the Joy of Giving week. The relationship with everyone at SOIL has been too wonderful and enriching to be put into words.
·         The Sri Ram School, Aravali also was a year long partner. Class 7 students of TSRS Aravali went to a blind school as part of the school’s partnership with Esha. I always say that the blind don’t get greeting cards. But this year, students of Class 7 surprised us by making one card for every student that they were going to meet at the blind school. I was, simply, overwhelmed. Am taking the liberty of attaching a picture of the cards they made, along with their teachers.

Every single student of Class 7 also recorded for CLABIL. J Every visit to the blind school was an enriching experience for both sides – the guests always prepared something for their hosts – a song, a card, a skit.. the works. The enthusiasm of these children truly made one grateful for the work that happens through us. 180 students are today more sensitive to the needs of visual challenge, thanks to the initiative of their school.

·         The Kahaani Project was our third important partnership of the year. Now, we will share each other’s content and use it for common good. Thank you, Ajay for contributing over 50 files to CLABIL.

·         In May this year, we ran a 3 day training program on Open Source based personal computing for the visually challenged. The potential was immense. This training was run at 3 blind schools in the Delhi NCR region as a pilot. Unfortunately, that training will have to be part of our lessons learnt, till we are able to redesign the model and launch the program again. But one good thing came out of that training – we got an Open Source evangelist who is now working to familiarise his peers with the free software that makes personal computing so easy. Thanks to Archana, he also has a personal laptop of his own, and he uses it to good effect.

·         Braille cards continue to be popular and well liked. The Delhi center, which was operational for the most part, had to be closed (again!) because of the migration of the person doing that work here in Delhi. It is my fervent hope that these adults, who learn the Braille enabling of visiting cards, are in some way, doing things in their own villages too.

·         The theatre workshops had a very good run in the first half of the year and slowed down in the second half. Am now planning to have public workshops and am working towards getting the space for that.. if that happens, we will be able to offer workshops to a lot more people.. you can wish us luck on that one, and yes, if someone you know is looking for a fun activity for their team in the NCR region, do think of the 9Tanki theatre workshop. It will be a lot of fun!

·         This year, we ran an exhaustive market test study on the Tactile mazes and on the basis of the results, we have had to take the tough decision of discontinuing tactile mazes as an Esha product. But they will always remain special. You can see this much loved, but unsustainable product here:

·         CLABIL continued to grow – organically. With volunteers and partners and loving friends. We close the year with 1960 files  - just short of 2000. But there is a lot more work to be done.

I noticed that the update is really long, and we have only tried to sum up the most important points.. J There is no end to how far we can go, when we travel with friends.. so i will end the year with the emotion one feels most at this time – Gratitude. For every single Friend of Esha. For everyone who has been with us as we complete 9 years and enter our 10th year in January 2014, and for everyone who joined the caravan along the way.

For every prayer that was sent up for us, and for every hand that helped.

But most of all, for the God that chose an instrument, and kept believing in it.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy 2014!

The Social Project at SOIL

On 22nd of October, we started a small social experiment at SOIL - School of Inspired Leadership.

The project was simple. A set of books on a table, with a collection box next to them. You pick up a book, pay what you think is fair for that book, and take it. No one mans the counter - night or day. The piggy bank is not locked, its in the college canteen. its a small earthern gullak, the kind that cannot be locked, can only be broken.
All proceeds were to be donated to Esha, but I really wasn't thinking of the money in this project.
How was this project to be sustained? When people want to donate books, they leave them there. That simple. Two other volunteers have already donated books.

Why did I do this?

1.       Because, inherently, I love books. And I want them to reach more people while we do fundraising.

2.       Because this is a world that shares very little and wastes much. I want us to share. To reuse. And to waste less. Especially, books.

3.       Because I want to believe in the inherent goodness of people. Because I do believe that an experiment like this needs no policing. Sure you can pick up a book and pay nothing. But will you ? Sure, you can run away with the collection box. But will you? I wanted to find out.

Sometime in mid December, we  broke open that gullak - and were pleasantly surprised. More than the money, it restored one's faith in the inherent goodness around one..

A few days later, Rosemary shared the video. Am sharing it with you. The opening of that gullak was such a celebration!

Meanwhile, the project continues in the SOIL canteen at Gurgaon. If you are ever there, do look up our book stall and see if you like a book, or if you want to donate some..

Monday, December 23, 2013

Punjabi Quizzes in Audio added today

Today , we have added 3 quizzes in Punjabi. As the year draws to a close, we will try to add more Punjabi content. Njoy!

The Delhi Quiz

Indian Folk Crafts

Ladakh and Sikkim.

These quizzes are already available in English. :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Celebrating Special Ability..

The images we give to our children in the course of a normal day defines our world for them. and for us. Which is why this effort by Ekansh is sooooo commendable. Time that special ability became a normal part of our lives.. these coloring sheets have me very very enthused..

Do try them out .. here..

And to celebrate the Disability day on Dec 3 (imho, there is no such thing as "Disability Day" . To me, everyone has some special ability - physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, whatever. Some of us need some physical assistance. Some of us need mental help, most of us need spiritual help, and emotional help. )

BUT, since there is a "Dis-ability" Day, we at Esha decided to celebrate it by recording quotations on Ability.

You can find the audio file here. It is free for all.

Coming up: A REALLY BIG update to the online library - we are adding over 100 files at one go!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

अब मुश्किल नहीं कुछ भी .... शुभ दीपावली

i tried to think of something deep, philosophical etc for the Diwali message.. but this song was all that came to mind....

Hope, after all, is the eternal light..

आप सब को  दीपावली की शुभ  कामनाये

Happy Diwali!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Max Bupa Walk for Health - October 20,2013 - Delhi and Mumbai.

Esha is very very happy to be a partner in this initiative:

Max Bupa Walk for Health is a first of its kind initiative brought to you by Max Bupa Health Insurance Company. In its second year now, the Walk for Health will take place simultaneously across Delhi and Mumbai on the 20th of October 2013. The event invites people across all walks of life and age groups to participate in the 5km or the 2km Walk, which will also feature a plethora of entertainment and fitness activities for the participants. The event will also see celebrities, large communities, corporates and schools participating in large groups. 

Here is your chance to initiate a long term sustainable change in your lifestyle to keep yourself and your loved ones well. See your city information pages for the latest happenings and updates of the walk in your city and register now to participate.
Max Bupa Walk for Health 2013 is focused on Delhi and Mumbai, as owing to a sedentary lifestyle, people living in these metros are more prone to stress and lead an unhealthy life. Prominent as the IT/Telecom and BFSI hubs of India, the people in these cities work long hours which leaves them with hardly any spare time to exercise. Bupa's global research in 13 countries has revealed that high stress level, unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyle has high negative impact on people's health.

You can register here:


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Joy of Giving
The following is a guest post from one of the students of the School of Inspired Leadership on her experience attending the Read-a-fest event conducted by the Student coordinators of Esha. Have a read.

The joy of giving is a feeling that could be felt only by the true benevolent soul and heart. If sometime in my life I ask myself a question “who is the person that means the most to me”, I would count on the people who shared my pain and caress my wound with warmth of care and console rather than who gave me solutions, advices or showed the ways to cure it.  So it’s not about how we give but it’s about how much love and compassion we put in while giving to others. I feel proud to say this festival of philanthropy was celebrated by the “GO-GIVERS” batch at School of Inspired Leadership.  Esha, a NGO that works for the blind, organized a Read-A-Fest event to celebrate the Joy of Giving Week. Our batch of students recorded voices for audio books which are meant for the visually impaired children.  This will go to the online library CLABIL(Central library for Audio books in Indian Language) which already has over 1000 audio files recorded by Friends of Esha. Furthermore we are also planning to audio record some mini case studies on general management and finance which would help these students in their entrance exams and management institutes. This is an initiative taken up by BLP program Chair- Ms. Neetika Batra. It gives me immense pleasure to say that amidst such tight schedules we got a good number of volunteers to work on this project. This is the joy of giving that our “GO-GIVERS” enjoy by contributing to such a noble cause. These are the people that get more joy out of giving to others by putting a good deal of thought into happiness. 

Stuti Srivastava,

Business Leadership Program at the School of Inspired Leadership

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Audio Files for case studies and poetry

Have added some amazing assorted content to the library today.

Space Quiz for chidren

Quotations for Mothers - Part 1

And this one is beautiful.. an anonymous letter written to Erma Bombeck by a mother. I have loved this letter for years and am happy to convert it to audio today.

Assorted poetry - Punjabi

Tu mere naal bai ke haan deya

Hindi poetry
Tere Jhooth

For those of you looking for Case studies for MBA Entrance prep, have added a good 3 part case study today.
The link is only to part 1.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Enhancing the Tactile Intelligence of children

 Have you ever wondered why, from the age of 5 months or so, children reach out to TOUCH everything? I have wondered about it a lot. What is it that makes all children, irrespective of where they are, do certain things at a certain age, instinctively. They automatically know that chewing on something will help with the teething process and put everything in their mouth.

Sure, we keep stopping them from doing it, we child proof the house. But the question is, WHY do they do it?

And i think, the answer is, that at that age, children are instinctively trying to enhance their tactile intelligence - the ability to touch a thing and understand it.
How do we respond to this very natural, very important need to develop a kind of intelligence? By child proofing the house and running around with, "dont touch this, dont touch that. stay away from that."

What happens to our children when they are deprived of this very important learning? While doing research on this post, i read up a few studies on the link between tactile learning and intelligence. What i found was SHOCKING, to say the least. There is significant correlation between tactile learning and cognitive ability of a child.

Quote from FamilyEducation:
Most of the school population excels through kinesthetic means: touching, feeling, experiencing the material at hand. "Children enter kindergarten as kinesthetic and tactual learners, moving and touching everything as they learn. By second or third grade, some students have become visual learners. During the late elementary years some students, primarily females, become auditory learners. Yet, many adults, especially males, maintain kinesthetic and tactual strengths throughout their lives."(Teaching Secondary Students Through Their Individual Learning Styles, Rita Stafford and Kenneth J. Dunn; Allyn and Bacon, 1993)

Factor analytic results suggest tactile measures have a significant relationship with measures of cognitive ability.

For more, please see this:

Why was i doing this research? Because last night, i was making these tactile mazes again. And wondered how children will really benefit from these toys? So i googled to find out if there is any linkage between tactile learning tools and a child's intelligence?

The evidence was so overwhelming that i had to pause whatever i was doing and call a friend who is an educational advisor, and share this with her.

YOUR CHILDREN NEED TACTILE LEARNING. Please, please, provide it to them.

I am going to write a post on how you can do this at home - Enhance Tactile learning in your children.

You can also use Esha's new toys in that segment. But please remember, its not necessary to use Esha toys for tactile learning. These are just tools. Tactile learning is all around us. 

3D touch maze for 4-5 year olds. You cannot solve this maze easily by looking at it. Tracing your finger makes it much easier. Try it!

This tactile learning tool has 5 different textures you can teach a child with. The red crystals mark "corners" - very important lesson for 2 year olds. The pearl finish, the stones, the 3D color and the outline of a fish that can be felt by a child. In this maze, you have to reach all the raised elements of the puzzle using only the raised lines as your "highway" Try it!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Esha Achiever of the Month - Mamta

Question :  “Tell me the story of your life in your own Words.”
Answer :
I am a visually handicapped girl, aged 29 years. I was born premature with no vision on July 27, 1984. This barrier did not stop my growth & development in any way as I am a person of strong will power, determination & positive attitude. Right from childhood I have been very independent learning swimming, music, Casio & making new friends. I follow the example of Helen Keller who overcame all the barriers in life in spite of her disabilities.

I am a topper in B.A. Education from Mumbai University & have completed my M.A. in Education. I have thorough knowledge of computer & computer software with JAWS. With the help of JAWS I use the computer independently although there are some barriers as JAWS is not compatible with graphics, images & codes.  I undertook training for Medical Transcription, Reiki, Typing, Music & at present am working in the State Bank of India, Andheri (West) branch. I look forward to the responsibilities given & accept challenges & don't give up until I succeed.  I have an immense thirst for knowledge. I am always looking for more exposure to learn and grow personally. I would like to bring into the mainstream the knowledge possessed by myself for the benefit of the Blind & the common man working in society.

In spite of my disability I travel independently using all modes of public transportation. I always arrives before time and am very punctual. I independently handle the inquiries of the customers at the branch efficiently. I am very helpful, kind natured, hard  working, ambitious, thoughtful & efficient in my work.  Always open to learn for growth & able to handle all the responsibilities given, I am truthful, trust worthy and honest.

Question : How do you motivate yourself to face the world every morning?
Answer :
I am very courageous, confident and motivated.My family has taught me to be self dependent since from childhood. I enjoy tackling any and all challenges head on.

Question : The kudos palls after a while – so why go on?
Answer : I believe that success is achieved when I am happy with myself, not when people appreciate me and show me pity. I will only be happy when I have achieved my full potential.

Question : It is so easier to accept the pity you are offered than to soldier on at an equal footing. What makes you choose the tougher route, and where do you get the energy to do it?
Answer :
 I do not like anyone showing me pity. Given my belief in my self and self dependence, I know I can achieve anything and everything. I continue to work hard, fight, and grow on a personal level. I want to be the best I can be and this thought continues to motivate me daily.

Question : Do you not often encounter cynicism (external as well as internal)and if yes, how do you cope with it?
Answer :  Yes often people may not wish me well, but that doesn't bother me. As is the case with everything in life, there is the good and the bad. I choose to ignore the bad and solider on with all good thoughts pushing me forward.

Question : What is your current goal? Where are you headed?
Answer : I am aspiring to grow more and more in the banking industry and reach the top of the corporate ladder.

Question : What is your preferred pastime?
Answer :  Watching T. V. Listening to music. reading books. surfing the net, and helping others.

Question  : What kind of music do you like to listen to?
Answer : Hindi songs, especially from the 90's and marathi also clasical as well.

Question : who has been the one significant influence on your life and how,
Answer : I Believe in God and he will do the best for me.

Question : Do you feel loss of vision has been a debilitating factor, in your personal or professional life? If yes,
how do you deal with / overcome the shortcomings?"
Answer : I do not feel so as I can cope with everything or do anything my sighted counterparts can.

Question :How does it feel to encounter blind students?
Answer : They are all like family. We support each other and help each other grow. Often, we serve as motivators for each other as we are all having to deal with similar issues on a daily basis.

Question : Can you say something motivational for our audience, to wrap things up?
Answer : Disabilities create barriers but determination breaks them.


Life Taken for granted - Guest post by Vipul Murarka

Vipul is  a student from SOIL - School of Inspired Leadership. He joined Rosemary, Sabarish and Sahil this week for the Esha project. On Sep 13th, was his first ever visit to the Blind School. I requested him to write what he felt.
This is his experience, in his own words, unedited.
I am not sure how many avatars have we taken or will take after the present life ends. But what I know is that we tend to take things that come to us easily for granted. Blessed are we for having functional sensory organs which makes are lives easier on this Earth. But what about those who are not so fortunate?

I got an opportunity to visit junta school, a place for blind people. This school trains visually impaired people in several aspects of life be it technical or vocational. I was amazed to see how a blind student created a new folder on a desktop in no time. I had heard about such places where blind people are taught computers but seeing it myself gave me GoosebumpsThe students apart from this, were also taught to read and understand Braille. The way these students were sincerely reading and paying attention to whatever is being taught to them was something that touched me. Sometimes in life we tend to procrastinate believing that we will finish it tomorrow. But the dedication of these guys was so high that it seemed to me that they wanted to learn each and everything today itself for they might not know what may come tomorrow.

Fit physical body, resources, friends and family are some of the blessings that have been showered upon me. And still I feel that I have not achieved much in life. Whereas the people whom I interacted with today are true leaders who not only were making full use of whatever they were being taught, but were also more humble and polite then I am even when my achievements are nothing compared to what I witnessed today. 

I am reminded of lines by Allama Iqbal
“Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqdeer se pehle
Khuda bande se yeh pooche bata teri raza kya hai”

-Vipul Murarka

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Quotes on Teachers

To help you prepare speeches etc. for Teachers Day, we have compiled and recorded Teachers Day quotes in English.

Here is the audio file.

The Blind DO get greeting cards - The Sri Ram School visit to Junta Blind School on Independence Day

One of the things i say when i talk about Esha and the need to sensitise the world is " and the blind never get greeting cards."

But I wont be able to say that any more. The students of Class 7 E of The Sri Ram School, and their teachers, have closed that chapter for me.

The teacher came up with the idea that we should carry something for the students they are going to meet at the Blind School. "Why not tactile greeting cards?"
"Why not, indeed?" The entire class jumped in. Each student had his/her own idea on how to make a card that can be touched instead of read or seen. The message of "Happy Independence Day" was inscribed in Braille using innovative materials.

And every student of the Junta Blind School in Gurgaon got a card that said "Happy Independence Day"

Days like this make Esha worthwhile. Days like this inspire us and keep us going. Days like this leave us speechless and full of gratitude. That is 30 young adults who will remember to design for EVERYone when they grow up. If thats not a blessing, i dont know what is.

Here is the rest of the story, in pictures:

Map of India - made using glue and colored sand filling.

A cross section of the tactile greeting cards. the children tried to indulge every sense in these cards. you can see them, touch them, smell them and also taste them! there was a toffee in most cards. If that is not amazing thinking, i dont know what is.

Happy Independence Day written in Braille using pulses.

 Happy Independence Day in Braille using sequins
The SOIL team with the team of teachers that inspired the 7th class students to do this amazing thing.
thats me with the teachers - completely awed and dumbfounded by the sheer brilliance of what lay on that table.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Pablo Neruda poetry to be added to the library today

Hellos! Am happy to report that this morning, i recorded 4 pieces of poetry by Pablo Neruda.

This time, there has been a really long gap. But things were very busy here at Esha and i expect the Read Fests to pick up again soon.

The poems have been added to the library!

The path is:

English > Poetry by Pablo Neruda

Enjoy maadi! This is the first time we have added Neruda to the content. Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Story of CLABIL told at the Rex Conclive 2012

Last year, while getting the Rex Karmaveer Puraskaar, we also got a chance to talk about a cause close to our heart.

We spoke about democratising knowledge- the reason why we have CLABIL, and why it is so important for a country like India.

Take some time out to understand the project. The talk about CLABIL starts at 09:30 minutes into the video and ends at 23:05, effectively about 14 minutes. After that is the QnA session.

The video is here.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Extraordinary experience for the students of Sri Ram School

It was yet another extraordinary visit for the students of Sri Ram School and the class of 7 E were totally touched by the experience they had in the 3 hours they spent at Janta School for Visually Challenged. It was not only a great experience for them, but also for the visually challenged students who for the first time in their lives received custom made Greeting Cards by the students of Sri Ram school in order to celebrate the spirit of Independence day. We managed to get the feedback of all 30 students who visited the school and the comments below show how moved they were by the experience.

Here they are

Aarushi Asthana
It was nice visiting the blind school. I hope we could visit them again! :)

Abhinav Dasgupta
I was moved….. No one like them. I salute them.

Adhira Andlay
I was impressed that how they were capable of this.

Aman Wadhwa
It was a nice experience. I loved the way they worked on the computers.

Ananya Kakkar
It was nice visiting the blind school. And I guess there’s a lot to learn from them.

Aniket Saigal
I really liked the way they study braille, play music and work on computers. I think we could learn a lot from them.

Armaan Kalra
I think its just amazing how much they can do without seeing anything. It was really an amazing experience.

Amav Pawar
I think it’s amazing how they can do so much without seeing!

Chiraya Banga
I was astounded on how much they manage to do without vision.

Hemanya Gupta
It was an amazing experience and I was shocked how much they can do without their eyesight.

Madhur Prashant
It was a great experience watching them manage things.

Mehi Junega
It was immensely spectacular and inspiring to realize that without their eyes, of vital importance, they manage to do something amazing, whereas we pity ourselves. We should do something and stop pitying about ourselves. That’s what I’ve learnt and that was my experience. It was sad and I was amazed to see how they can do so much.

Naman Sahni
It was amazing. I was shocked to see how these people were amazing to do things that any of us can barely do. Too Good.

Navya Bajaj
I had a wonderful experience here. I was amazed and shocked at the same time.

Noor Lamba
It was a very touching experience, these people are just too good. They sing so well and I cannot even imagine myself in their position. They are very brave and awesome. My experience with them was very good.

Paree Chopra
It was a great experience. They have achieved a lot, they can do so many things. We have learnt so much from them.

Priyanka Gour
I was amazed to see that we can’t do half the things that they do with ease. I was really impressed and I think we learnt a lot from them.

Ria Goel
It was an awesome experience and I was awestruck at the sight. When I look at it from their perspective, I’m not even able to imagine their life. Inspite of them losing such a colorful organ, they’re so experienced at everything and hats off to their skills.

Rohan Khosla
This was one of the best experiences of my life. These people have no eyes yet they are living happily and think that life is good no matter what. The learning they have given me is that whatever happens, it happened for a good reason.

Saloni Tandon
This is one of the best experiences. These people are so good at everything. They do things we cannot do.

Shiv kanan.C
It was one of the life changing experiences I ever had. I loved it.

It was an amazing experience. It was really touching to see how blind people live. After seeing them I know how important my eyes are.

Shrey Bansal
It was a great experience. I got to know how to write Braille. I would love to visit them again!!

Shreya Khanna
It was an amazing experience. I have learnt a lot. Thanks to esha.

Shruti Jhumb
I was touched. I hope we visit them again.

Twisha Dubey
It was a great experience.

Tanya Juneja
I was quite sad and amazed by seeing them.

Tanishq Aggarwal
It was a great experience observing the people who are not as privileged as we are and I appreciate their abilities.

It was a amazing experience. It was inspiring, about how they worked. I learned a lot, learned to appreciate life.

It was indeed a great experience for this batch of young students who felt really inspired and motivated after spending their time at the Janta School. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dr. MA S Vaswani - Esha Achiever of the Month - Guest post by Sandeep Koul

Sandeep Koul has interviewed the second Esha Achiever for the Month too. :)
This is the interview, in QnA format.
Question :  “Tell me the story of your life in your own  Words.”

Answer : I was born in 1975 in a poor Sindhi family. I am the ninth child of my parents. I lost eyesight at the age of 2. But I was sustained by my
loving parents and siblings. I never felt the absence of sight. I played with sighted children and participated in all games. I used to bicycle with others in the neighborhood.

My parents had no idea about the education of blind. I could attend school at the age of ten. I could speak only Sindhi and Hindi languages but blind school at Nagpur imparts education only in Marathi medium. I could not speak Marathi so I had to learn Marathi to study
in the school. In spite of language barrier I always secured first rank in the class. The school was located ten K.M. from home and I had to travel daily to attend the school.

From 8th standard I joined an English medium school located only one K.M. from home. The text books of English medium are not available in Braille so I had to depend on my sisters and sisters in law for reading. Besides I had to take extensive notes in Braille.

In 1994 I achieved spectacular success in S.S.C. exam and stood first leaving behind all the sighted counterparts. However, this success did not come smoothly. I was marked absent for Chemistry paper and did not figure in the merit list. Later my answer paper was found and I had scored full marks in Chemistry. This brought my total scored to 662 out of 700 and I jumped to the top of merit list.

I repeated the same performance in H.S.C. exam and stood first in the merit list of Arts Faculty students. I was awarded The Indus Ind Merit
cum Means Scholarship from 1996 to 1999.


I had always cherished the dream of becoming a lawyer. But after teaching in coaching classes I discovered that teaching was my
passion. However, I began to seek employment before completing education.  I applied for the post of L.D.C. and was selected. I was
appointed in Pune and had to leave hometown Nagpur in 1999 after completing B.A. I stayed alone in Pune and continued studies at Pune University as an external student. I did not give up the dream of becoming a lecturer and acquired the necessary qualification. In spite of working full time in the office I completed M.A. in English in 2002 with first class. Next year (2003) I passed The State Eligibility test for lectureship in the very first attempt.
 My interest is not
restricted to studies only. I have successfully participated in extra
curricular activities like Chess, debate, elocution, quiz, essay
writing and poetry composition. I also play tabla.
In 2001 I married a partially blind girl from Nagpur who was also
studying in Pune. In 2004 my son Deep was born. In the same year I was
transferred to Nagpur. I applied for the post of lecturer in several
colleges in and around Nagpur but was not hired for being blind. In
2007 I applied for the post of lecturer in Shivaji University
Kolhapur, about 1200 K.M. from Nagpur. At last my dream came true and
I was selected for the post of lecturer. I decided to settle in
Kolhapur. After joining the Department of English Shivaji University,
I started working on my doctorate. In 2012 I completed PhD under the
guidance of Dr. C. A. Langare. The title of my Ph.D thesis is ”A
        Presently I am leading a successful and happy life with my wife and a
son. I have purchased a flat near the University campus. I spend most
of my time in teaching and research, (the two things I like most).
With computer, scanner and printer I execute all my jobs

Question : How do you motivate yourself to face the world every morning?

Answer : I begin my day along with my wife. We wake up our son and get him
ready for the school. I am eager to reach the department and deliver
my lectures. I never feel demotivated and need no motivation to face
the world. Rather I think it is the world that has to face me.

Question : The kudos palls after a while – so why go on?

Answer :  Although fame and glory are short-lived, they are worth having.
And one can achieve them again and again. Moreover, it helps one in
making good friends, and friendships are long lasting.

Question : It is so easier to accept the pity you are offered       than to
soldier on at an equal footing. What makes you choose the tougher
route, and where do you get the energy to do it?

Answer : I think it is not easy, but very difficult to accept the pity
that I am offered. I think I am equal and in many cases superior to
those who offer me pity. So why accept it? Pity is degrading for its
target. Moreover, most of the people offer pity in the name of god and
out of ulterior motives. I don’t believe in god, and I think offering
pity will do them no good. My thoughts and rationality are the source
of my energy.

Question : Do you not often encounter cynicism (external as well as internal)
and if yes, how do you cope with it?

Answer : External cynicism I do come across, but internal I don’t. Most of
the times I ignore the cynicism of others, and sometimes I try to find
out rational reasons for their cynicism.

Question : Did you have to struggle a lot to get where you are now? Can you
talk about one incident that encapsulates this phase?

Answer : Yes I had to struggle a lot to get here. It is very
difficult to name one single incident to describe that phase. I had to
struggle against all sorts of difficulties and problems which include
financial difficulties, non availability of study material in
accessible formats, travelling alone and all the problems and
difficulties that accompany blindness. The most serious problems that
I have to face are physical disability and social attitude to
disability. These problems I have to face and overcome on daily basis.

Question : What is your current goal? Where are you headed?

Answer : My current goal is to excel in whatever I am doing. I want to
keep my family happy and love them. I want to become a good teacher,
good researcher and a good friend. I am headed to becoming a good
writer. I am planning a few books about which I cannot tell anything

Question : Do you eat non-veg?
Answer : Yes I do.

Question : What is your preferred pastime?

Answer : Surfing internet, chatting with friends, reading and listening to music.

Question  : What kind of music do you like to listen to?

Answer : Gazals, and Hindi film songs of 60s, 70s and 80s.

Question : who has been the one significant influence on your life and how,

Answer : I cannot name any one single significant influence. All my family
members and friends have influenced my life, but none beyond a certain

Question : Do you feel loss of vision has been a debilitating factor, in your personal or professional life? If yes,how do you deal with / overcome the shortcomings?"

Answer : Of course loss of vision has several shortcomings, but it has not been a debilitating factor in my personal or professional life. I overcome the shortcomings with the help of my family and friends, and of course my inner resources.

Question :Do you encounter blind students? If yes, how does it feel?"

Answer : Yes I do. I feel good that more and more blind are studying and
trying to fulfil their dreams. I do all that I can do for them.

Question : Can you say something motivational for our audience, to wrap things up?

Answer : Don’t wait for opportunities or divine grace. Rely on your inner resources and fulfill your dreams. All the difficulties and obstaclescan be overcome.
 I quote a couplet by Nida Fazli
“Safar men dhoop to hogi, jo chal sako to chalo,
Sabhi hai bheed men tumbhi, nikal sako to chalo”

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Motivational book in Hindi , Manav ki Kahaani, and English case studies for MBA Preparation

This is an update i was waiting for for a really long time. Anil dadaji was recording some of the content over his summer break and has now been able to share his recording with us. It has one of the most amazing books i have ever read - Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, translated in Hindi by Shri Arvind Gupta.

You can find the 2 part book here:
Part 1
Part 2

Today, we also added 5 case studies for preparation of MBA Admission interview processes.

Please note that all these 5 cases are under copyright, and are only for the use of the visually challenged.

The Case of the Payroll Processing Mixie

The Case of the Strange Employees

Performance Appraisal Public Announcement

The Case of the Worried Man

To Chew or to Eschew

The other content is in the library.. though its only 10 files.. these are really a very important 10 files to be added to the library. I have been looking forward to this addition. :)

Please spread the word!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Blind School Visit - Rosemary Bhokta

Rosemary with the students of The Sri Ram School at the Junta Rehab Center
Inspiration comes in many ways and its fascinating when it comes through people who are less fortunate than us, yet, their strive to live and live as a winner is what makes all the difference. Today, through Esha we got a chance to visit the Junta Blind School. It was a heart touching experience for me. All I could do is wonder and wonder how this blind people, in spite of not having the gift of eyes fight the odds and try hard to make an independent living for themselves. The initiative Esha and Junta School is taking to make them self sufficient and employed is something to be highly appreciated.

In the Junta School we saw how the blind boys, learn to read and write through Braille, How they learn extracurricular activities like singing, computer and chair making. The teachers in the school where themselves blind and where degree holders from universities. They are actually doing a great job preparing this blind people for competitive exams and also ready for employment in industries or start their own ventures.

This initiative on part of Esha to incubate us in our SIP (Social Innovation Program) by sending us to the blind school was really successful as it inspired us a lot to understand the mission and vision of Esha. The compassion with which Esha works for this people is what we also share now and that will make us better motivated to work for the organisation henceforth.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

First Blind School Visit - by Sabrish Munendaran

“To be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable. - John Milton”

When I visited the blind school along with 40 odd children from The Sri Ram School, I had a plethora of thoughts going in my mind as to what to expect from this visit. This was my first active program as part of my Social Innovative Program and it was an inspirational experience.  Despite being at a disadvantage of knowing what they were deprived of, there were smiles, happiness and hope in each and every visually challenged student who was present. Be it the weaving of chairs using wires, playing harmonium and tabla to produce some pleasant music to the ears or the computer lab where I discovered a new innovative way to operate a computer, each and every moment I spent there was inspirational. While I was caught in the moment, I also looked at the faces of students from The Sri Ram school, curiosity filled expressions was seen across the room. I was sure that for many of us it was the first time we were experiencing something extraordinary like this.  We also managed to have a look at how Braille writing was done and I was surprised with the supreme level of precision the visually challenged people showed while making Braille content.

What lesson am I going to take from this visit? The lesson called Hope. There’s dialogue from a very famous movie called The Shawshank Redemption that goes like this “ Hope is a good thing, it is one of the best of things and no good thing ever dies” . What I saw there in the 3 hours I spent was Hope in action. We may be deprived of many things in life but there is always a reason for us to hope. And we should respect and acknowledge the things we have in a positive way and live our life to the fullest.

Thats the group before they left for the visit - L-R - Sahil, Rosemary and Sabrish

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Junta Center Visit by students of SOIL and The Sri Ram School

What happens when you put 3 MBA students in a school bus, and ask them to represent Esha for a field visit for 7th class students of The Sri Ram School?



While you enjoy the pictures.. do read their experiences:

Sahil Mehta

Today we had a visit to blind school. The main objective of this school was to train blind people to make them independent enough in life. The activities include learning Braille cards, musical instruments, basic understanding of computer applications, chair weaving and many more. The day started when we boarded school bus, after around 10 years. I felt nostalgic by revisiting that phase. It was really inspiring to see people working hard to train them. I was amused to see dedication of students and the eagerness with which they were learning new things.

It’s a difficult phase of life wherein you to need to motivate yourself to learn new things. To get out of disappointment and have self-control is appreciable for those students. I felt that people crib on little things when they have all the resources to overcome the situation. These students had limited resources and they were utilizing their resources to maximize their learning and thus use it as a talent to make them independent, employable and lead their life. I consider them as inspirational leaders who have the thinking to bring a change in society and create awareness among visually impaired society.
Thats Sahil and Rosemary at the Blind School with the students of Class 7

Orca Tutorials in Audio and other updates to the online audio library

We are very happy to share this news.. the online library now has some 20 new additions. Most of these were shared on the blog first, but the Orca Tutorials is posted only in the library.

Orcareader is an open source screenreader that works on linux laptops and desktops. Its completely free.

Do visit the online library and check it out. :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Esha as Incubator for the VI entrepreneurs

Yesterday, in a very invigorating discussion with SOIL students on what Esha is and is not, i was trying to stress the point that Esha is in the business of creating entrepreneurs, not contract workers. So the invoice goes in the name of the person and s/he gets the money directly.

And a very old Friend of Esha, sitting nearby, said, "So basically, you are a VC for the VI ?"

At that time, it seemed like a very good way of putting what we do at esha. we train them, incutabe them, mentor them till they are ready to open their wings and fly on their own.

But later, the more i thought about it the more intriguing it became. Like an epiphany, it occured: We dont incubate entrepreneurs. We look for employment options and design solutions and train. A very crucial element is missing here - the fire within. For an entrepreneur, the fire burns within him/her. Its not implanted from someone else.

And thats what's missing in our model - we do not listen to ideas that the VI might have, and then incubate them on these ideas.

And why dont we do it?
A. Most of our people dont know the open market enough to diagnose unmet needs and come up with solutions. They know the VI market very well, and in discussions with them, i have seen them come up with improvement areas for the VI space. So, thats a limitation. We might have to hear 100 ideas, maybe 500, before arriving at a viable one. Thats a risk and headache all incubators take.
B. The mindset. Like all Indians, they are brought up on the assurance of a govt job as a panacea for all financial problems and life problems. It is very hard, really, to break that mindset and think outside that box.

Neither of these, however, is a reason why we should NOT start that model - of listening to people who are visually challenged and want to start a business. Why Not?

So, we're on. The Esha model hereby undergoes a small change and incorporates a new area - we will now, also listen to original business ideas. if we have the moneys, we will do funding. Otherwise, we will mentor and provide guidance through highly qualified and committed Friends of Esha.

What do you think?