IWSB Alum Sumit Gunjan, an inspiring changemaker, featured in Indian Express

Delighted to see #IWSB 2010-2012 PGP alum, @SumitGunjan, who anchored the school for children of construction workers in the evenings on campus, being featured in the Indian Express today.

IWSB - SEE : Mull-A-Cause launches library for childrenGUNJAN with friends facilitating children at the IWSB – SEE : Mull-A-Cause launches library for children

Sumit Gunjan has always been an epitome of empathy; a fine human being who always strived to create an impact wherever he was! Blessed to have such purposeful, passionate, persevering human beings who walked into life.

The above photograph is from the occasion of launch of the library for children at the evening school, when Indira and Mallika bought over 200 books for children from CBT and other sources. The evening saw story-telling and book reading sessions. More of the photos can be seen at the album Mull-A-Cause


Here I am copying the Indian Express Story, as it appears on its website. I humbly thank IE.

In hostel for tribal children near Ranchi, lessons on how to stay close to roots

Two events, two years apart, were to set Sumit Gunjan on a journey that would not only change his life but that of scores of tribal children in ‘Bal Nivas’, a hostel he set up for them in Banta-Hajam, a village in Silli Block, 70 km from Ranchi.

The first was eight years ago, in 2010, when Gunjan, then a 20-year-old pursuing a post-graduate management programme in a Greater Noida institute, came across a group of children of construction workers at a plot near his college. He began engaging with them, holding informal classes for them with the help of his batchmates and a few professors.

The second “turning point” was in early 2012, when Gunjan, still with the Greater Noida institute, undertook a “research yatra” to Jharkhand for the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) in Ahmedabad to study medicinal herbs used by the tribals of Jharkhand.

The first time Gunjan, the youngest of three children of a district court lawyer in Jharkhand’s Giridih, visited Banta-Hajam, he stayed for five days. But he kept coming back to the village, fascinated by the tribal way of life, until he finally decided to stay on for good that April.

“Yahaan ka boli, yahaan ka chaal… hum sab kuchh sikhaya usko (I taught him our language, our practices… everything),” says Bhavani Patar Munda at whose mud house Gunjan began by imparting basic literacy lessons to children.

Gunjan also worked in the fields, did errands and lived like any other member of the Munda household. “From then until today, we have never discussed rent. I live with them, work with them, eat with them,” says Gunjan, who has a Bachelor’s degree in management from Durgapur, West Bengal.

A couple of years ago, Gunjan, with help from villagers, friends and well-wishers, set up Bal Nivas, where 35 tribal children are imparted knowledge of traditional tribal languages, and trained in singing, dancing, classical music, computers and spoken English, besides vocational skills such as bee-keeping and knitting.

The children, all of them from the village, live in Bal Niwas, cooking their own food and cleaning their living quarters. While some children go to the primary school in the village and others to schools in Ranchi, they come back to the hostel, where they are encouraged to stay connected with the tribal way of life.

“At any given point, we teach around 35 children, of whom 25 are girls. They learn music, folk and classical, instruments such as the tabla, harmonium and even the tuila, a traditional tribal instrument on the verge of extinction, the do-tara and the mandolin,” says Gunjan.

When he arrived at Banta-Hajam village, Gunjan realised the children had limited language skills, and were not interested in studying. That’s when he came up with the Bal Nivas concept. “Initially, this was a place to give young children time after formal school where they learned basic things like mathematics and language through activities that were part of their own milieu like local games, which children don’t play these days,” he said.

At present, there are around 15 children, including seven girls, who live at the Bal Nivas. “Most of these children either do not have a father or a mother or are orphans. Also, we take children, who are generally dubbed failures by their own community or those who veer towards alcoholism and other vices at a young age,” he said.

The villagers donate rice every week, while the children have created a fund, donating Rs 2-3 a week. Gunjan also earns by teaching at two teachers’ training institutes in Koderma and Giridih.

Gunjan says he realised that to impart education to tribal children, he would have to first understand them better. “They ate rice three times a day. I started having the same diet and realised it was affecting my stamina. It then became easier for me to explain to them why having a balanced diet, especially for children, was necessary,” he says.

Some of his friends from NIF pushed Gunjan to introduce machines for sowing paddy. “But I decided to sow the saplings myself, along with the women. I then realised how it was also a place and platform for women to socialise. They would sing their traditional songs and come to know about each other’s lives. If we introduce machines, this beautiful thing would be lost. I am not against technology, but it has to be integrated with the milieu in which it is to be introduced,” he says.

Villagers are full of praise for Gunjan’s efforts. “Earlier, the only option for a young boy growing up in these parts was to migrate for work, or fall in bad company and take to liquor and other intoxicants. Gunjan has brought the focus back on all the good practices and traditions that we lived by but have now forgotten,” says Jogendra Gope, a folk singer, on whose land Gunjan set up the hostel. His daughter Sumati now learns classical and folk music at the hostel.

However, the journey wasn’t always smooth. “Last year, some people, upset with what Gunjan was doing, approached the panchayat. They wanted to know why so many girls were in the hostel and why they were being trained in music and dance. But, we stood our ground and, finally, they relented,” says Ramesh Chandra Kumhar, a lac businessman who lives opposite the hostel and who trains the children in vocational skills.

Kumhar says the reason why almost all villagers backed Gunjan was that the change he had brought about was for everyone to see.

Suraj Patar Munda, one of the students at Bal Nivas, says, “I had fallen into bad company and would take marijuana and never attend school. Now, I have left all that and I’m getting trained in music, besides English and computer,” says the teenager who is enrolled at the Ramakrishna Mission School in Ranchi.

Gunjan says he could win the trust of parents, especially of girl students at Bal Nivas, because he kept things transparent. “We would invite parents to live with us at Bal Nivas. When they saw for themselves how things were, they felt good about it and believed me,” he says.

The biggest certificate of their trust came in 2015 when he travelled with some of the children to Ahmedabad for the annual Satvik Food Festival of NIF. “For a village where girls are not supposed to go beyond Ranchi without men escorting them, it was a big thing,” says Gunjan.

One of those who made that trip to Ahmedabad was Ashtami Patar Munda, the 15-year-old daughter of Munda, at whose house Gunjan stayed when he first came to the village in 2012. “For the first time, I saw a world outside our village. Had it not been for Gunjan bhaiyya, it would have been unthinkable. I want to follow his footsteps,” she says.

Jharkhand’s Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson, Arti Kujur, who has attended a couple of cultural programmes organised by Gunjan’s students, says, “He got the artistes to perform to themes such as child marriages and human trafficking, which is a problem in these areas. Also, he has gained the confidence of the tribals. It’s not easy.”

But what really matters for Gunjan are lines like these, delivered with a warm smile. “For us, he is one of our own. He has changed our lives for the better,” says Alam Khan, a resident of Banta-Hajam.


Convocation of class of 2013, IWSB

Convocation of class of 2013, IWSB

Convocation of class of 2013, IWSB

Convocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSB
Convocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSB
Convocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSB
Convocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSB

Convocation of class of 2013, IWSB, a set on Flickr.

The convocation ceremony, the Ceremonial evening at IWSB, for the class of 2013 was much awaited. Usually the convocation happens before the class joins the corporate world in the month of March. Since this batch did their second year as exchange program students at BIMTECH, the convocation had to be deferred, to receive their grade sheets etc.

Prof Navneet, Prof Raju Mazumdar, Prof Sunil Joshi, Prof Bhumika, Prof Rajeev Ranjan along with the families and friends of the class attended the ceremonial evening.

The evening was graced by Mr. Vishwadeep Bajaj, Founder Chairman and MD, ValueFirst, one of the most valued telecom companies of 2012. Vishwadeep delivering his convocation address shared the lessons learnt during the last twenty five years while tracing his journey of ups and downs, exaltations and disappointments. He summarized the learnings as –

a. Have a vision, be passionate about it. Dream Big!

b. Once you dream, share it with the larger world

c. Believe that the dream has already come true..

He related this with his journey of great self-belief that he always carried since his early college days, of being an entrepreneur. His only aim was to be one and he chased it, tried his hands at a variety of things, with singular aim of being an entrepreneur. The journey took him through various industries and countries, each time a new path emerged, whenever he hit a dead end. Today, Vishwadeep is one of the most celebrated and valued visionary in the Mobile and digital communications industry.

Satya, while picking up from what Vishwadeep said, shared that all that Vish said is indeed true; but the most important factor that helps one really succeed in life is – disciplined execution. He reminded the class of 2013 that pay attention to every detail and every small commitment you make. Value every individual and task, irrespective of how big or small. The greatest of the victories on our journeys happen only when we abide by this fundamental value – discipline.

With their favourite faculty Navneet and Raju around, who shared a few jovial moments with the batch the evening came to an end. The dream of most of the students, of wearing a ceremonial gown and getting their degrees has been fulfilled. The class had a wonderful time, capturing their selfies and throwing their hats!

Wishing each one a great journey ahead. Love you all guys… take care..

Saurabh Arora, that I knew!………. We will miss you Saurabh….

The tall, handsome yet shy, soft spoken, desirous of learning, willingness to put that extra effort, still, with an amount of self doubt, trying to find the better way ahead was Saurabh Arora. Though emotional, as I got to know, his outwardly projection of smile and softness was anti-thesis of his well built physique. He was a gentle-giant.

His desire to improve himself was manifested in his sending his write-ups to me on issues of interest to him, seeking my feedback. He would not let go of it, if I did not respond. Whenever I came back from my tour, the moment he spotted me, he would remind me that he is waiting for the feedback on a particular article that he had sent.

When on Sunday afternoon, I received information about sudden demise of Saurabh, I went through my journey of life of last two years that I have known Saurabh – from my first interaction in Ludhiana to the graduation ceremony at IWSB that I photographed while he was awarded the degree.

I pay my humble respects to his departed soul and also pray to almighty to give all strength to his parents and family to withstand and overcome the grief of the loss. God bless.

Saurabh receiving the degree
Saurabh receiving the degree
Daring to be sitting in front
Daring to be sitting in front
Saurabh at the batch farewell
Saurabh at the batch farewell
Saurabh at the batch farewell
Saurabh at the batch farewell
sitting with friends - outbound 2011
sitting with friends – outbound 2011
helping as always - lifting the bench - outbound 2011
helping as always – lifting the bench – outbound 2011
Being at the back, yet supporting
Being at the back, yet supporting
At times sticking his neck out to lead
At times sticking his neck out to lead
Ready to tango
Ready to tango

I pray that each one us has strength to face the reality and have confidence in oneself.

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” – William James

“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option” – gabrielita

Love and peace…

The Hindu Column : Teaching – Vision, rationale and personal standards

A few questions have been forwarded to me for a column to be published in THE HINDU. I responded with these answers..

1. What are the standards to which you as a teacher hold yourself? What’s your personal vision/critical rationale/purpose of teaching?

  • I see myself as a learner first and then a facilitator. I believe that no one can be taught. Yes, I can inspire one to learn with my enthusiasm and energy, the discipline and standards I set for myself and the way I go about, all the time, in pursuit of realizing my potential. Potential is unlimited, that is the philosophy I subscribe to. Walk the talk is the methodology.
  • My rationale of facilitating, is to help every individual realize his or her potential. Towards making it happen, I am always creating a learning environment for them to explore, experience and discover; sharing my learning, and bringing in outstanding achievers to interact with the youth. That face-2-face exchanges make a huge difference.
  • It is all about enabling an individual set goal for oneself and chasing them. Once that happens, everything else will fall in place.

2. What educational goals do you expect of yourself in the classroom? What are you committed to doing/achieving?

3. How do you approach your instruction methods to achieve those standards? How do you put them into practice?
4. How well do you model these expectations? How do you evaluate whether you’ve accomplished those standards?

(I found all these questions closely related, hence I am clubbing them to answer)

  • Study, explore, experiment, interact, learn and contribute. I live by a maxim for myself, “Every day I will do something, which I have never done before”.  It could be in any form – reading, meeting, interacting, and writing that fosters my learning and quenches my thirst. Every new experience I create for myself is of immense value in enriching the learning environment – for self and for others.
  • In the similar vein, as a facilitator, I create experiences in the learning environment that enables learners to realize and comprehend the concepts through experiential learning, more than the theoretical lectures of the concepts. So, for me, learning is bottom-up. Knowledge is always built, and cannot be imparted!
  • I continue to live by these benchmarks.  I share all my learning with the co-learners (students) through various means – in the classroom, through my blog (www.sreeni.org), sharing of interesting articles or sources through various media – email, social forums etc.
  • I have always lived by these standards. The feedback one gets is a great indicator. There are formal, written ones and informal ones too. Those that I keep getting are-

o       How do you have so much of energy? Your presence makes a big difference;

o       My absence is being pointed out, whenever I am traveling and not seen on the campus.

o       “What all activities do you do? It is hard to point out where you do not excel?”

o       “Rarely we see anyone take so much interest in everything that happens around, like you. In fact none”

o       “You cannot measure everyone with same yardstick that you measure for yourself?”

Apart from facilitating at the business school, IWSB – Indus World School of Busines, and the Mentors of the K-12 schools (IWS), I do a lot of workshops and public seminars on “Realizing ones potential and dreams” and “Think Big, Start Small” for the youth of the country, “Enabling your child to excel” for parents of school going children. I travel about 200+ days in a year motivating the youth. These sessions give instant feedback about how do the participants feel. They feel charged and share what will they set for themselves and achieve in the next one-year. Many a times, people come to meet me later to share that they did achieve their goal that they set out with after those sessions. The videos and presentations of these sessions are available on my website / blog www.sreeni.org.

“Once you figure out what is your MOZZO! You will make it” – Mr. Deep Kalra, Founder and CEO, MakeMyTrip.com @ 3rd convocation 2012, IWSB

Deep Kalra, Chief Guest, Founder MakeMyTrip.com awarding the Champion of the Batch medal to Mudassir, Satya looks on

Deep Kalra, Founder MakeMyTrip.com, Guest of honour, awarding the Champion of the Batch medal to Mudassir, as Satya looks on

I commend and congratulate the faculty for creating the environment, that has seen these youngsters blossom and take off.

I also congratulate Parents! You need to be proud of your young wards that are going to make a difference to the world.

It is a special day when Tendulkar got his hundredth hundred. You will remember your special day. You will look back with contentment and joy. Some of you were so eager, that you wanted to grab the certificate from me or even forgot to get the photo clicked. Keep that enthusiasm going!

Satya and I have some karmic connect. We both started at the same time. I got to know that we graduated from the same institution, St. Stephen’s college, just a year apart! Then our connection at TIE and today, I am here.

This is the second convocation ceremony I am attending. The first one was when I passed out of IIMA! Today is a special day for me too, as I am giving my first convocation address as a chief guest.

At the end of this ceremony, flinging of your caps will happen. Is this the culmination or a beginning?

It is the beginning of your career, in one of the brightest times of India. You have had wonderful two years on IWSB campus – going through the grind, ups and downs – courses, my journey interactions with over 100 leaders and so on.. You are experiencing a WOW moment now!

It is an opportune time for me to share a few lessons that I have learnt thus far, which could be of value to you in your journey ahead –

  • Learning never stops.
    • Formal education may have, but the amount you learn from your peers, colleagues, market place and environment would continue. You need to be keen. You need to figure out every moment, the secrets of success and keep incorporating in your script as you travel.
  • Discover what makes you tick, what makes you happy.
    • The sooner you realize the sooner you make it happen. People talk about ‘getting into the zone’.
    • Before parents get worried, chart your untreaded path. It took me eight years to figure out what I want to. And here I am in front of you. Had I not found out my ‘love’, perhaps I would not have been here sharing my learning.
    • Create opportunities and grab opportunities. If you do what you really love, sky is the limit. Once you figure out what is your ‘Mozza’, you will make it.
    • It is not necessary that you have to become an entrepreneur. I do see a few of you are keen. You can use your degree as a noose or as a ropeway to higher goals. There are many of my classmates who have joined big corporates – one of my batch mates will soon be a CEO of Wipro. Finding your calling is the key.
  • Life ahead will get tougher. I keep promising my family that I will slow down. But the journey becomes so exciting that you get hooked on.
    • Next 10 years you should look forward to work hard and sweat it out. Gather whatever you can to strengthen your armory.
    • Subsequent 10 years you will start working smarter along being harder.
    • Then perhaps being smarter will suffice
  • READING is the key
    • I keep reading and re-reading. Do not give up. Books like ‘Seven Habits of highly effective people, I must have read a dozen times. Every reading as I progress in life makes a new meaning. I keep applying in new ways and in new places too.
  • Value of Analytics
    • In the businessworld and the decision support systems that you will create or use, Analytics will play a very important role. You use analytics all the time to understand behaviours and create opportunities. You should focus on it. Every one has got data! How you analyze and make a meaning out of it will derive and drive your business.
  • Resilience Vs Stubbornness – Back yourself and your instincts
    • There is a fine line between the two. There have been at least two occasions in my early years of MakeMyTrip, that I thought of hanging up my towel.- 9/11 happened and SARS followed. The travel world collapsed. Tough times they were. We kept going…
    • If I look at people around me, Satya (founder CL Educate); or Sanjeev Bikhchandani (founder Naukri), who delivered last years Convocation address here at IWSB, all have the same trait – of bouncing back with passion and perseverance.
    • Back yourself and your instincts – Be yourself. It may take a little longer, but you will reach your path and the journey will continue to be wonderful one.

I would like to conclude this precious address by quoting one of my favourites – Jeff Bejos, The founder of Amazon –


Best of luck!

“Embrace the mindset of endeavour and not that of entitlement” – Satya, Chairman, Board of Governers, IWSB, at Third Annual Convocation of IWSB, 2012.

Deep Kalra, Founder MakeMyTrip.com; Satya, Chairman, BOG, IWSB at the 3rd convocation of IWSB

Deep Kalra, Founder MakeMyTrip.com; Satya, Chairman, BOG, IWSB at the 3rd convocation of IWSB

Satya, Founder CL Educate (formerly Career Launcher), as the Chairman BOG, Indus World school of Business delivered a short but very impacting address –

I still vividly recall Azim Premji, addressing us on our convocation at IIM Bangalore, two decades ago. Today, Deep is on the campus to address you. Azim, was heading Wipro, then known for consumer goods and not as much for technology. Perhaps Wipro was just of the size of MakeMyTrip today, that Deep has founded and anchored.

I would just like to share my biggest learning in life.


Entrepreneurship dismantles all these entitlements.

We may have got many degrees from best of the schools; our parents may be well known; all these do not hold water.

What is that you can move by what you are; nothing is very sacrosanct than endeavor. At the end of the day, I recall the mindset of endeavor. We are recognized by what we deliver at the end of the day!

You should be known by your religiosity of the day. If I don’t move the moon, the day has not been worthwhile.

Attitude and Work-ethic beget what you deserve.

Thanks and Best wishes.

Get Inspired : Subodh Raheja, inventor and innovator igniting the young minds – My Journey

Change Makers @ My Journey - Subodh Raheja, innovator from Manak Engineering

Change Makers @ My Journey – Subodh Raheja, innovator, lit by his solar innovations

Subodh Raheja is an inspiration to be with. When I met him a few weeks ago I just got taken in by his outlook towards life and surroundings. He is an inventor and innovator at heart and in deed too. If someone says, “It is impossible,” he gets challenged and cannot wait till he finds a solution to the problem being faced.

I was very keen that all young entrepreneurial leaders at IWSB campus should experience him and his way of looking at the world. Subodh, in his journey of over two decades as an inno-preneur has contributed remarkably for the society by his innovations in the space of power and lighting – inverters, solar and wind power.

This evening Subodh was at IWSB campus to interact with the youngsters and share his journey and also to challenge them. Here I typed his interaction as it happened, and you will see the narration in the first person.

Education is all about broadening horizons and excelling. Today I will share my 32 years of experience as how I kept discovering myself.

It is not about that you started in science, commerce or arts and continued to be in the same space. If you are a keen learner, you can find huge possibilities. I know of a person who started as a graduate in humanities, but went on to do medicine and excel as a doctor.

My principal in school, Mr Kapoor always said and also made us feel that, “if you really want to, you can.” When I reached the middle school, I was moved to a section that had toppers, and I performed badly. Mr Kapoor came to me and said, “what stops you from being a topper”. That small interaction made such a difference to me. It became the guiding principle for my life.

Change Makers @ My Journey - Subodh Raheja, innovator from Manak Engineering

Change Makers @ My Journey – Subodh Raheja, innovator and his solar street light

My family does not have any business background. He came from West-Pakistan, though fore-fathers had printing business. My grandfather was a teacher, he went on to do social services, serving people and educating masses. After partition, he came to India and due to his academic excellence he was called into planning commission.

After my schooling, I was in quite a fix – whether to go into medicine or something else. I did cleared pre-medical test. But, father was not keen, as he felt it takes longer time to establish my career. So, I decided to move away. I was not clear what to do. I applied for various courses. Finally took Physics honours… then did my post-grad, then MTech. Worked for about 9 years… Then finally thought of taking plunge into business, why my father was about to retire.

During my education, there were a couple of learning curves and inflections. While in the post-graduation, I was made the secretary of the students club and I used to interact with eminent scientists like Dr. Raja Ramanna. I anchored a trip to Kota atomic power plant of our class. It was an eye-opener. It helped us to think, work and leave a mark. For the first time we moved out of the university. When we are onto something, and we jump headlong, then we realize the challenges – like here, getting permissions, logistics, reservations, food, stay etc. These things trigger thoughts and realizations about our capabilities. So it always helps to be in the thick of activities while studying and push ones boundaries.

Change Makers @ My Journey - Subodh Raheja, innovator from Manak Engineering

Change Makers @ My Journey – Subodh Raheja, innovator with his complete home solution, that has two lights and charger for mobiles

I got opportunities to travel and meet scientists nationally and internationally. Today, Internet is helping us to reduce gaps, but it depends on how we make use of it. In our days nothing of these sorts was there. We needed to go through challenges – importing would cost us duties of 200-300% etc.

Once I got an opportunity to interact with Science and defense laboratories in India, and abroad too, I found huge gaps internationally and also with in India too. Once I did my Management from DU, I realized that we could build capabilities and capacities within India. We can bridge the gap. That is when I was seriously contemplating about “Should I start something on my own.”

Power was a challenge in those days, so power stabilization and management was the thought that struck me. I thought of an inverter. People laughed at my idea. It was in 1985-86. I thought of MOS-FET technologies, as I was reading literature. We came out with inverter based on MOSFET. That kept me busy for a couple of years.

While I was going through this product, a lot of commercialization had to be done. I inducted a few into the distribution network. About 10 of them were spread across. I used to train and send them to different offices.

During the process of supplying invertors to SONY India limited, SONY had a plan to come and set up a factory in India. They were designing their factory in India. The consultants locally were taking them on a royal ride. I told them how it could be done in an interaction. I was asked to scribble on board my thought and idea and explain. It was extempore. They just saved it and faxed to their headquarters in Japan. After a wait of a couple of hours, they immediately asked me to be their consultant on their setting up project.

In five months, I had to deliver and with complete involvement, I delivered the solution within the stipulated time. Many more farmhouses happened after this project.

While I was away on these projects, my personal production set up went through a lot of turmoil and losses mounted, as the team that was handling the operations mis-managed the business and I had close it down. It was a big set back.

Since I had interest in product creation, I used that as a business model. Creating new contraptions gave me a thrill. I started focusing on it. So, Voltage stabilizer + Inverter 90v to 300v for those coming from hinterland. I was coming out with solutions for challenges people have been facing in the power space.

Since 1994, defense has been seeking solutions. All the junked sources of power was repaired. Army VSAT systems in the remote parts of the country was powered by my solutions. Eg. –

–         Earth quake in Bhuj is a case

o       Army commander called me, and said ‘yours was the only supply that stood the shocks all others including from the big MNCs failed!!

o       I was told to supply for Siachin, Arunachal etc…

–         In Arunachal, where you will have to go for days walking to reach the spots. We created sturdy ones that are still in use

Marketing has been my weakest link. Different people have been coming to me with their requirements and I have been solving their problems. But never have been able to scale this up, as I was not interested much in doing so.

Then maintaining UPS across Government came my way. But there are many ‘Undertaking’ and ‘overtaking’ happening!! It was a struggle.

Change Makers @ My Journey - Subodh Raheja, innovator from Manak Engineering

Change Makers @ My Journey – Subodh Raheja, innovation for rural doctors – light to operate

There was another period of struggle during 2003-2006 when father was ill, when I could not devote much time for business and it was ebbing. This gave my a great lesson, “You should not lose heart, one should be strong enough to face the challenge”. For paying the fees of children, I had to take loan. I sailed through the challenges.

While I was developing and doing business here, I got an opportunity to work with a US firm called HEART INTERFACE. They were working with inverters for solar systems. That was the breakthrough I got in Solar space. This was in 1994. All those who were in Solar companies used to buy circuits from me. I started handling their business in India. This company went on to buy many companies. I used supply to BEL, Central electronics etc.

All these companies are world class. Anyone who had to set up anything would have to go to any of these companies, and these companies would come to me. We did work in Zaire, Morocco, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka.. They used to come to me for the design, while they handled the installation.

What we are today, is totally a different platform from where we started. We started with inverter and UPS. Now it has become the second line of business while Solar has become the first.

Solar is an alternate source of energy. You can generate energy from roof-top. Since the components were costlier they were not being used as often. But it is now economical. We can create hybrid Solar + Wind + Electricity supplied + DG set,

in that order of usage. We can create design wherein DG set can also get started automatically.

Let me give you a brief about Products that we make –

  1. Solar charge controllers
    1. Through Central Electronics, Moser Bier etc
    2. Idea came from customer
    3. One should not go beyond 40V DC, if any human comes in touch it, it can be fatal.
    4.  High voltage charge controllers can give charge for storing for 8 hours
    5. BHEL uses extensively, at the top, is our inverter
    6. Railways uses our Charge controller extensively
  1. Second series is home lighting. Especially started from Bangladesh
    1. Small home light at 3000Rs can give sufficient light
    2. If some one is keen on taking it as an entrepreneurial, you can take it
    3. Similarly solar torches and lanterns
  1. Solar pumps – surface pumps, booster pumps up to 30 HP. Only company in the world
    1. One petrol pump needs for dispensing – 1.5 HP pump
    2. With 300v solar power, by replacing 1.5HP, installing small invertors, connecting to the battery and solar panel
    3. They wanted me to prove it and sent me to a place called Mahavir ji, PAHADI

i.      I never saw so many stars there

ii.      I used batteries of cars

iii.      Absolutely no electricity in the village

iv.      We could work only till 11am and start at 4pm again as the afternoons are very hot at 50+degree

v.      That petrol pump is still using our solution

vi.      Some how since we have done only for government, it did not go beyond

         4. Solar air-conditioners – 1KV – 1-1.5 tonne – for telecom towers

    1. They have now selected this product from African markets
    2. This is something which we would like to take more places in India too
    3. Thisswas my next project
  1. Water purification is the next project. Our principals have developed a portable solar panel array. This can be taken to anywhere – pump in the river or raw water. That gives 99% pure water. River waters can be of value especially when there are disasters
  1. Trozen battery is another product, we have just introduced. This has the capability of deep discharges. It has a life of 80 years. It is used in UPS / Invertor market. Presently 98% of electric vehicles use Trozan batteries.

Q&A –

Q. In a day, for how many hours a solar panel can charge effectively?

1. Since the sun’s intensity is different during the day… the wattage varies from 0-12 at various times. It is absorption of light that gives energy. For full wattage it gives five hours of output
2. It is the capacity of the panel and battery that drives the duration
3. Bulbs are not manufactured in India, though now a few or available in India. Solid state. Diode – Direct power. If diode characteristics changed – light emitting diode we can use many ways. A few diodes can go on for 50K years

Q. What are the other exciting innovations?

· Streetlight – Heat dissipation has to be taken care of. The light is very strong and you cannot see it with naked eye.
· Solar cooler – with only 20watts of power
· Name plate – Imagine CAR nameplates glowing during the nights. How much it can reduce the challenges of Police
· Solar switch…. Usually we see wastage of electricity during the day. Solar switch created to switch on and off as per the brightness. It has been bought by Moradabad electricity for streetlights, then Delhi government bought it. Sensor will sense and switch on and off
· Sound triggered light, especially at night when there is some sound it will glow. You can use it the moment you wake up by making a sound.
· Public toilets and bathrooms – sensing lights and fans that can save energy wastage
· Fans – Sold at about 1000Rs in the market; Extensively used by pavement vendors.
· Solution to mosquito menace.
· Right now working on a solution for Coke. Invertors for freezers in the Rural space..

The moment some one comes and say, this is not possible. I get interested in it.

1. created Motor pump – at 300 watts when the gentleman challenged me to make one for anything less than 500 watts…

2. Billboard lighting….

3. Lighting homes in the remote areas…

Doing job is fine, but you are at others disposal. But, if you really love something, just jump and do. You need to know about everything in the business – laws, finances, and so much more that you need to know.

When I left job, first few months were difficult – finalizing the product, marketing it. The moment the inverter took off, I never looked back. I have done so many things… We were the first to introduce paging, traffic lights in Delhi – police department said you can make money (but never that happened), solar booths at traffic signals – Moolchand, Ashram, Bhikaji Cama place..

We came out with many products and ideas –
· Telecom towers – MPPT controller that gives 30% extra power in the worst environmental conditions. It is very rugged. It is the heart of the equipment…

Q.Water purifier – how is it better than any one else? It is the same unit but how do you charge and help the charge to be retained in harsh conditions so that it can continue to purify.

Q. Marketing problems – What are the ones you are facing?
· We do have skeletal marketing team.
· We do special types of projects
· We are looking for creating networks. The trozan battery is unmatchable. Cyclic batteries that are the demand of telecom companies or international operators
· They have application everywhere – in invertors and electric vehicles

Q. Any thing for Automobiles?
· Dippers sense light from on-coming traffic, it dips whenever oncoming traffic is spotted. This helps a better driving.

Q. In Punjab most of the towers use DG. Do you have any solutions.
· We have the solution but many of them do not use it. Why? We need to ask them..
· We are anyways moving from capex model to Opex model in the towers…

Q. Cost of photo-voltaic systems are costly. In India in central and eastern India we need a lot of electricity. Is there some way that we can get economical solution?
· For a starter, think small and think about mass
· My focus is on electronics
· We have suppliers like BTW to set up mega plants

The discussions moved on to demonstration of his inventions and innovations.

At the end of the session, the challenge of working and creating the sales and marketing strategy and its execution for the company Manak Engineering was thrown at the young entrepreneurs. I am waiting for a few to take it up.

It was an inspiring session and I felt charged to take the challenge.

I had more time interacting with Subodh and his family while I drove with them all the way back. I will treasure this evening for lifetime.

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