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Friday, 25 July 2014

Feedback for the previous post


Last week, for my How to Speak English fluently from Rural Student’s perspective post, I received a feedback that whether writing in blogs will take these ideas to the rural students?

It got me thinking again and that is when I read one of my favorite blogger’s quotes.

Seth Godin is a successful marketing blogger, entrepreneur, and a public speaker. He also authored various books on marketing.

In an interview by B.L. Ochman, he was asked about his blogging goals for which he replied:

Seth Godin: My goals in blogging are:
  • To spread ideas
  • To put my ideas out there and get them out of the way of the next idea
  • To encourage people to add alacrity to their diet
 I shall take the first point here. Though, blogs are not the right channel to take ideas to rural students, I believe there is one thing that Blogateurs can do with these blogs.


We shall put the ideas here and let it spread. We hope that our audience can take our ideas and they can pass it to the needy students. Every reader of this blog has a responsibility of spreading these ideas for the development of the society.


We welcome our readers to help us become better by giving feedback like these.

Thank You!

Friday, 4 July 2014

How to converse English fluently? From a rural students' perspective

Communication Problems

One of the biggest problems for students from rural areas when their career progresses, is the ability to communicate fluently in English.

English, a language, has become very prominent in our daily lives. Though it is not the only way to achieving a successful career, it has already become the professional language in almost all sectors. It is a truth and we cannot ignore it.

Communication

To be able to communicate fluently in any language, one must receive, think, reciprocate in the same language. When you do that, you are a good communicator in that language. 

Why few students find it hard?

There is a proverb, "Practice makes a man perfect"

It applies to all aspects of our life. Some of the children have been brought up to speak in English even inside their homes from their childhood find it easy to communicate. While the rest who are not exposed to such continuous practice find it difficult.

How true is it?

Though it is true, it cannot be the truth all the time.

Just remember this: if someone is doing something better than you, that means they have practiced it more than you; they have had a conducive environment around them to inculcate that skill in them. All you need is to have that desire to learn that skill. 

This is what is said by Malcolm Gladwell in his Outliers' book. This book uncovers the secrets of successful people. The amount of dedicated practice hours you put into developing any skill determines how well you master that skill. 

No one is born intelligent. Nor a born potent communicator. To practice and excel any skill, it takes time. So, it is important to be patient and not despair.

What can we do to improve?

Once you develop that desire to learn, make yourself a plan. Start with an objective and a timeline. Devote a strict schedule.

Below are some of ideas which I had practiced to improve communication skills. Do not restrict yourself with these.


1.  Read Newspapers

I know! Suddenly, I sound like your father or your school Prinicipal. Reading newspapers gives you the following benefits:

·         Every newspaper article is written by a professional writer. They summarize an event within a limited space. It teaches you how to communicate precisely.

·         It helps you to be updated on current affairs. Knowing current affairs makes you socially confident since you know a lot of things to talk about. Confidence is a key aspect in communication.

2.  Read, Read, Read

Lay your hands on every book you see. The more you read, the wider your horizon of knowledge will be. Reading before sleep, and in the early morning is the best time according to few researches.  

Become a voracious reader. You go to a tea shop, get the newspaper. Visit library in weekends.  


3.  Customer Care is to help Customers

I am sure that every reader of this blog does have a mobile phone. You might have some issues for which you need the customer care support.

·         Use this as an opportunity to practice your communication. Converse in English. Express your concern, what you want from them, and within when you expect this problem to be addressed.

·         The greatest advantage of this is you do not have face the person while talking and the person in the other end cannot comment on how bad is your English. If you are shy and your confidence is not sky high, this is a best place to improve it.

But use it only for genuine issues and do not take this idea for wrong.

4. This is a Marketer’s World. Utilize.

I recently saw a hair oil advertisement which screamed: “Give only a missed call. We will call you back.”

This makes it easier than the previous option. I don’t have to type anything now. Isn’t it?

Similarly you can find real estate developers, educational institutions (try the pony-tail institution; you can have hours of conversation!!), and many others in your television sets and internet.

I have suggested this idea because I did and it helped me without causing anyone trouble. And more importantly it is free of cost.

Blogateurs is an initiative which will not advocate any wrongdoings. But I am sharing these because a standard spoken English course fee structure in India demands from INR 3000-5000. Though this is affordable to the middle class, think about the children of your laundry person next street, or the daughter of your servant.

 I witnessed an incident which motivated me to write this blog.

When I stayed in my home for holidays last time, my mother was taking tuition classes. One of the student’s father was a laundry man for our apartments. He was a very lively, aspiring, and a hardworking person. He invests almost all of his money into his son's education.

But, to his dismay, his son could not even write an English sentence even though his board exams were approaching.  When his father talked to me about this, I suggested to take his son to a English spoken class not knowing his financial constraints. After understanding his silence,  I said there are many  free options and told him to make his son read newspapers which comes at only INR 1 and make him to watch English news channels. I also told him to maintain a notebook where his son should daily write ten sentences of his own. 

He made his son follow a strict schedule and the son responded to his father’s hard work and just passed the English paper and scored 57% overall in the board exams.

Who wrote the rule only doctor’s son can become doctor?

I believe in this, "Intent is more important than talent".

So, develop the intent and break the barricades.

Nothing is impossible.
  

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Blogateurs - By Students, for Students

New Eyes

In my last blog-post, I had explained why we could not be active in other social media than blogging.

Again I would like to reinstate this - the core of starting Blogateurs was to set up an example for managing personal and professional ambitions. Though lives of both of us have become really hectic, I would not let Blogateurs divert from its promises. Blogateurs is very close to our hearts.

We left Facebook because the shared opinions were perceived sometimes as personal. But, clarifying few doubts from our followers, the blog posts from now, I will be sharing my personal experiences and learnings of life and Koushik will share his student experiences in USA.

I assure the blog-posts from here on will help a youngster to get a guideline on making a successful career for himself as well as contribute for the society.

Essence of New Blogateurs

The blog-posts will capture:
·         the problems we go through as students,
·         how to find solutions to overcome that and
·         how to become aspiring individuals to Make a Difference to our lives.

The blogs are purely intended to aspiring students. Blogateurs as promised on the first day, will continue to Educate, Inspire, and Transform.

So, here we are. A new beginning for Blogateurs - By Students, for Students

Cheers!!


A new post on how a student from rural area suffers from the communication problems and how can he overcome it will be published on July 4, 2014. 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

What's Next with Blogateurs

Blogateurs 

A dad's feeling looking at his son starting to walk.

A mom's feeling after hearing those first cries from her child.

According to any parent, their child is the best.

But for any parent, it is also important to understand the reality and rectify mistakes for child's betterment. 

_________________________________________________________________

Blogateurs (exactly 2 years and 14 days old) has grown up from a small discussion between two friends in a cricket ground to a promising digital social initiative.

Before starting, the purpose of this post is to have a Look Back - Look Ahead for Blogateurs

Look Back

"Be your own critique" is a famous statement by one of my professors in Christ University. It is very important to ask questions at yourself often and be the first to accept mistakes if you have made any. 

Blogateurs, when started, we did not think far or did not know what to write but our purpose was clear - to write something that was useful to someone.

Initially, I started being a generalist covering a wide range of topics, which was also done intentionally to boost up unique visitors with wide range of keywords. This was also the key reason why our blog was approved for Ads within 2 years. This is a revenue model for Blogateurs which will be used for rural children welfare. 

Just like a child learning gradually, Blogateurs started to realize the importance of specialization after 6-7 months. And that is when we started Career Guidance, we did some on-field activities and helping financially backward children. It was received well and it also gave me personally a sense of satisfaction.

But once my academic sessions started, I had to restrict myself with these outdoor activities and again focused on digital writings.

This was when we channelized activities on our Facebook page because that is where our target audience i.e. youngsters were seen more. It was easy to share an opinion on the move with Mobile Apps and I used primarily to give a new insight on current issues. 

Over the course of time, I had accustomed myself to be posting updates often with the hope of making youngsters be aware of Indian current issues. While sharing these posts, I considered my opinion to be neutral. But to go with the requirements of quantity, I sometimes did not do enough self research before sharing a post and tend to take the opinions of reputed journalists. The purpose, still accomplished, was to gauge facebook-ing youngsters to know a thing or two about current issues.

This screenshot is an interesting example. These were the comments to one of the posts where I shared the election 2014 was a fight between BJP and AAP.  


It was shared on March 7, but when the elections results came, BJP was a clear winner and AAP won a meagre 4 seats out of 534 Lok Sabha seats. Looking at this moment back, I want to apologize to every single person reading this blog for sharing a personal opinion and also supporting it without any rational research.

On March 23, I had shared a summary of an article in The Hindu trusting the source. But there was an another angle to it.


I do not want to go into the topic of Paid Media now but lessons learnt were - 

Do your own research before you advocate anything.

It is good to teach someone something but it is more important to teach the right thing.

Moving on, we did a feedback session about Blogateurs in our facebook page when we received all praises and appreciations. What you all did not see was a honest feedback by one of my best friends, Adithya. He is also one of the best critics I have ever seen. 

His feedback on Blogateurs,

"I wish to be honest here.There is a saying by chanakya "Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions - Why am I doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead."
So what are you doing? "create awareness on social issues" in social issues what is it child welfare, women empowerment, rural development?? this is too vague.its too monotonous unclear be specific in you goals.News updates is something a dumb news app can do.I think you need to specialize in something to spread it to target audience 
I will give you some sample site which started as nothing and now one of the most popular sites in India.have a look at them
1.http://kaipullai.com/
2.http://www.mediacrooks.com/
3.http://mrunal.org/
each site has nothing to social issues but they have specific focus
finally do you have the time to sustain such an exercise for years to come.Its easy to say great job boys keep it up.You pat my back I pat your back business.But you put some effort into something.I don't want it to be a futile effort.except for plant your samplings.Nothing has impressed me including my own contribution to the site (Know for Indian Heroes).I think you guys need to start writing insightful stuffs which you specialise in or which you want the nation to specialise in.Thats it...."

Honestly, I did not want to put that up at that point of time. But I took that feedback very seriously because it came from my childhood friend who really cares for what I do. 

In the last one year, since we focused more on Social Media, the number of blogs also were reduced. 

Look Ahead

A glimpse of last two years was given and now to look forward for Blogateurs. Me and Koushik Balaji, we had a lengthy discussion on the month of April 2014 on what's next. 

As Irony would best have it, two youngsters who are so passionate about India are not going to be in India for a while.

I moved to Qatar for a job on April 17 and Koushik will be leaving to USA for M.S. in University of Texas on 12th of August 

I am working about 12-13 hours a day, six days a week and we all know how hectic is the M.S. course is going to be. But as mentioned in our About Us page, the purpose of starting something like Blogateurs is that people can still manage their personal and professional ambitions. 

From here on, we are not going to be present in social media except blogs anymore. Though the frequency will be less, we are going to focus only on blog-posts and not any other means of communication.  Koushik will share his student experiences in a foreign country and I will share my personal learnings through the course of the next few years. We also would like to invite all youngsters with similar interests to contribute. You can click here to join. 

We are ready 24*7 to help any aspiring youngster to Make a Difference to his/ her life. Contact us here.

Jai Hind!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Teach for a Change


"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own." 

Benjamin Disraeli

Almost after two months, we finally decided to write a post on, “Teach for a Change” after we got the confirmation from Nalanda School, JP Nagar Bangalore that a economically backward student will be provided fee discount as a result of our efforts.

Teach for a Change was an idea of taking our Career Guidance+Crowdfunding to the next level. 

Poster for Teach for a Change


Christ University is already known for its social responsible activities across Bangalore through its CSR Club KARMA. Being part of the same University helped me to associate with KARMA Club and provided me an opportunity to propose about Blogateurs to Director Fr. Thomas. The idea was encouraged immediately and support from Faculties Prof. Vijayachandran and Prof. Arti Arun Kumar helped me take this idea to Christ University Volunteers.

Initial framework for the event was set after co-ordinating with CSR KARMA Club Co-ordinators Vijay and Mudra.

On February 9, 2014, a mail was sent across to all students of Christ University Institute of Management calling for volunteers.

Teach for a Change

Feb 22 - Mar 5, 2014


A brief about the Program:


The program involves volunteers to visit rural and semi-urban schools across Bangalore and take career guidance workshops for free.

2 Volunteers will be allotted for a school. Blogateurs will provide the materials and the training required to conduct the 2 hour session. Students from Grade 9 to Grade 12 will be the audience since this is the period where vital career decisions are taken.

Why Career guidance?

We belong to a generation where lakhs of Engineers pass out every year not knowing their future and sometimes even unaware of what they really want to do. This has prompted us to help our future generations from this pitfall. This workshop aims at helping students to make career decisions carefully and consciously.

Crowdfunding?

At the end of the career guidance workshop, the students of the school will be asked to donate. This amount will be given to the same School Management, who will use it to fund a bright student of the same school, unable to pay his/her school fees due to financial constraints.

The Number of Schools we visit = The No. of Children we help

The interested students were also asked few questions in a spreadsheet. Few of the responses we got from Christ University Management graduates were sensational.


Responses from Christ University Institute of Management Students



Responding to the things they were proud of in the last one year

After going through all the responses, we shortlisted the volunteers who were really passionate and were ready to contribute something to their society.

Then we conducted the volunteers meet on February 17, 2014 and briefed the volunteers the tasks that were to be done.

A collaborative worksheet was created and all the details of Bangalore Schools were updated. Volunteers were given an option to chose their team of two and schools of their choice. They were made to approach the schools by themselves and finalize on the dates. 

But since it was the month of February and the schools were already packed with exams, only 12 volunteers were able to find the schools.

Our Proposal Document to Schools:

It was always going to be important what these volunteers were going to teach the school children. So, on Feb 21 , volunteers were given materials and training by Blogateurs to conduct the workshop.

After providing the materials, we told them to use it only as a guideline and gave an option for them to innovate as much as possible. 





Below are the details of the visits made by Christ University Institute of Management Volunteers:

All these schools are State Board medium schools.

February 22, 2014: Nalanda English School

Total Strength Covered: 256

Standard: 8,9, and 10

Volunteers: Priya Thomas, Vishnu Salimkumar, Vijay, Swapnil, Shyam, Vignesh, Raj Bharath and Saravanan
 5th standard children. We did a 5 minute fun activity with them.



KARMA Club Co-ordinator Vijay started the program with 9th standard girls
From Left to Right: Volunteers Swapnil, Vishnu, Vijay, and Priya Thomas

Volunteers Shyam and Saravanan handling sessions for 10th standard students. Shyam had prior experience in Careers with a Purpose and this stage was definitely not a new one for him. 

Raj Bharath S handling 9th standard students sharing his personal experiences.
Vignesh explaining the importance of Personal You and Professional You's to 9th Students.

The students were excited and participated in the discussions.

Volunteer Priya Thomas giving her inputs to female students.
It was a new experience for these students. A picture clicked when they were carefully listening Shyam's lecture.


Our VITAS test which enables the participants to measure themselves


February 25, 2014: Bangalore High School


Volunteers: Archana Bhat and Varsha C J


February 25, 2014: Mary Immaculate School


Volunteers: Shreyas and Kush

Volunteer Shreyas addressing a large crowd of students.

Crowdfunding was not allowed in Bangalore High School and Mary Immaculate School. But we were able to convince the management in Nalanda English School.

We sincerely thank Ms. Prakash, Ms. Asha who were instrumental in collecting funds from the students of Nalanda English School. The amount will be with the same school management who will use it to fund a student picked from 10th standard of same school. 

MBA, Master of Business Administration is one of the educational programs which is now seen as the best option for Return of Investment by both parents and students. Students screen colleges based on salary packages and they end up getting paid fat cheque from corporate companies.

Is that Life?

There has to be some contribution irrespective of means, to our society. 

Teach for a Change provided an opportunity for MBA students to get a break from their hectic schedule and heavy books to a refreshing social cause. 

Here we have two volunteers sharing their experience.

Volunteer Vishnu:
Volunteer Vishnu said it was a great experience to teach students. Read his experience written below.

We ‘teach for a change’ team reached Nalanda School around 10.30am. Students who were assembled in the ground, dressed in yellow, red and green reminded me of my own good old school days. I along with my partner Priya addressed around 150 students – two sessions with 10th standard girls and one session with 9th std boys.

As we took them through our presentations, some students shared their ambitions with us. It really surprised me to hear some of the fabulous ideas they had. One student wanted to take up performing arts and start a theatre school himself. Another wanted to associate himself with some automobile company and design cars.

Our balloon activity was crucial in initiating an interactive session. Students and teachers equally enjoyed it. Students also gave us a feedback telling all the other activities and information that we shared with them were very helpful.

As a volunteer for Teach for a Change I was most delighted, when many students came back to me asking for my email and phone number. I am sure my experience with students of Nalanda School will always be an unforgettable happy memory of mine.

Thanks to my seniors Raj and Vijay for guiding us.
_______________________________________________________________

Volunteer Saravanan:

It has been few years since I have visited a school. Thanks to ‘Teach for a Change’ programme, that gave me an opportunity to visit Nalanda School in Bangalore. 

The first thing I saw when I entered was an unfinished building within the school campus. Students were doing their drill in their sports uniform in a small area (then it struck me that there is no playground for those students). Then all our volunteers went in search of a classroom (in another completed building, where classes were happening) for the presentation. 

Now, I again saw the unfinished building & the students doing drill. This time I was really taken aback because even in a city like Bangalore, that too in a paid private school, students are not getting the right kind of environment they need.Then, what is the plight of the school children in the remotest of remote rural areas in India. 

All this reminded me of one thing, ‘A lot of things need to be done, for there are lot of unfinished tasks in the society’.

The interaction with 10th& 9th standard students made me understand how important a career guidance session is for them.Even though the 1-2 hour session would not have created a great impact on them, but at least they would have gained few essential insights about career and how to start with their career planning. 

Any great journey should start with the small step. May be, ‘Teach for Change’ programme could be the trigger to the first small step of their journey.

The entire school experience reminds me of a wonderful line from the movie Evan Almighty,

People want to change the world, don’t know how to begin.You wanna know how to change the world son,

“One act of random kindness at a time…”

I must sincerely thank the efforts made by Raj Bharath, Vijay and all the volunteers who made the programme possible. Also my sincere appreciation to Shyam, who did a decent homework and designed the career map layout for the students.

______________________________________________________________


Thank Note:

Blogateurs sincerely thanks Christ University for giving this platform to take our idea to the next level. 

We thank Dr. Fr. Thomas, Prof. Vijayachandran, Prof. Arti Arun kumar  for believing in us and giving the opportunity. 

We thank KARMA Club co-ordinators Mudra and Vijay for their support even after college hours. 

Finally, we thank the volunteers who were the backbone of this event for making this idea a success. It would be very unfitting if I did not thank Vignesh, who supported me throughout the event and assisted me in roaming the streets of Bangalore in pursuit of schools.

We also wish this idea will be taken forward in the following years by our Christ University juniors. Already Archana, Vishnu, and Ravikiran have taken responsibilities for the next year’s event.

Blogateurs also thanks volunteers who could not get any schools. Your Intention to join us is more important.  You can share this idea with your circle and implement on your own. 


P.S.: 

Generally in Blogateurs, we do not discuss about our personal life. However, this is important and relevant to the post we are sharing it.

Many people across the globe have appreciated (with the recent being RTBsystems from Russia and they offered an adspace unit in our website for free) for our Crowdfunding Concept.  

The idea was born inside Christ University premises.  

Not long back, on 11th of January  2013,  when I was in first year as a Christ University Management student, we were invited to a book release by our own faculty Prof. Rajasekharan in Christ University auditorium. He was the author of “How to get Rich and Retire early”.

I thought this was just going to be another book launch until when Prof. Rajasekharan announced that 100% of the profits from the book will go to a poor girl child from a South Indian State. 

That single moment had made a lasting impact on me. He could have easily commercialized it. He could have made easy money with the popularity of the book which was already generated.  But then he chose the other way.

Prof. Kshtregna and Prof. Rajasekharan in a event in Christ University.
When I came outside, I had already bought 2 books and forced my friends Ashwin, Sharad to purchase a book each. That was the case with many of my classmates. 

Until then, Blogateurs was doing only free career guidance workshops. After this event only, I got this concept of crowdfunding and I applied in our very next workshop on January 26, 2013. 

On March 6, 2013, I wrote a blogpost on Crowdfunding and Blogateurs implements this concept in each and every school we visit. The 100% funds we collect from our workshops goes to financially backward children. 

My two years at Christ University has ended. But the values and morals inherited from this institution will stay with me forever. 

Inspirations and ideas are everywhere. Actions that follow ideas are important. The onus is upon us to take them and use it for the benefit of our society. 

The moment we get an opportunity to any education, we should understand that there is an equally deserving child deprived of this opportunity due to financial reasons. So, each one of us should understand the value of our education and put their hands up to do something better for the society.  

On behalf of Blogateurs, I feel proud to have accomplished such an event which has not just provided a career guide for needy students, but also been able to finance a struggling child to an another year of education.

Blogateurs, with all our heart and soul, hope that Teach for a Change inspire millions of educated individuals (not just MBA's) that we are responsible for the upbringing of our society and not just our families.  

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much" 

                                                                               Helen Keller
Jai Hind!


Blogateurs


Friday, 11 April 2014

Elections 2014



I am sure that many of us are already confused about which party to vote for. We all have different agendas and different opinions. To understand which party will actually address our needs, the only way is read the election manifestos of all parties. But then in this world, people have less time for it.

I came across this website http://whogetsmyvote.in/ which will not take more than 5 minutes to find out which party should you vote for in the upcoming elections 2014. I found it useful and I am sure it will be beneficial for all voters for Indian elections 2014.





Sunday, 16 February 2014

Troubles from the Tinsel Town

Travelling in Public Transportation teaches you a lot of things. I used to travel in sub-urb trains in Chennai often which gave me the opportunity to come across a lot of different people. But for the last 2 years, since I had to move to Bangalore for my higher education, I missed this fun.  So when I last visited Chennai, I had to travel  to a place for which I chose a local train.

Certainly I was not going to plug my ears, nor was I ready to open a novel to while away the time. It was not more than 2 stops, when a gang of uniform-clad students hopped in. These students started singing, making all sorts of noises, and they were making some funny comments about the movies they recently saw. Ah! Suddenly you feel so old when seeing that!!. 

As I sharpened my ears to hear more of their conversation, it was very clear that a student in their gang was frustrated with his love interest. With all due respect, this guy was not even half the size of me!!! Presumably, all these students were not more than 6th or 7th Grade. This guy vented out his feelings and asked his friends to join him at a bar which is not legal for their ages. The body language, voice tone exactly resembled an actor of a Tamil movie. 

This has become very common. Every single day, we are witnessing similar situations in our society. 
_____________________________________________________

Irrfan Khan, one of the most respected actors in Bollywood once said that, “More films are to be made with messages to the society. But then it is not the duty of films to be doing that all the time. After all, films are just an entertainment medium. They have the choice on how films are to be made.”

Recently, the Companies Bill 2012 ensured at least 2% of average net profits of the company in every financial year should be spent on Corporate Social Responsibility.

Why should a business worry about Corporate Social Responsibility when all their efforts should be towards profit maximization? It is because business reaps its profits from the society and it is expected to give back for its enhancement.

Now let us try to figure out who pays Irrfan Khan. The producer – No; it is actually the regular moviegoer who decides to pay a ticket price to watch movies. Now isn’t that similar to what business do?


The whole problem lies in the way we perceive films as an entertainment medium. They are responsible for things more than that. 

Filmmakers respond by saying that they make films reflecting the society. To what might be a reflection of themselves for a small section of audience, for others it might prove to be a bad guide and could potentially mislead them. 

The films set newer trends and they are opinion leaders in their own right. This is why films must be more responsible than what they are now.  

Movies in the pursuit of commercial success at times forget to understand that they are actually acting as a messenger to the society. The film-stars are very proud of their stardom and fan following but seldom worry about them. Leave out the rational people who see films as a source of entertainment. Still our society has a considerable number of guys like those I saw in the train. 

When businesses are compelled to contribute to CSR just because they make profits out of the society, is it any wrong to demand the film industry to produce films which are more conscious on societal issues? 


Raj Bharath S


Jai Hind!


Blogateurs