An NRI Couple Shows Us How to Return to India and Transform Its Villages

A really nice Swedes like Story from betterIndia. All the best?Ashish and Ruta Kalawar!


Ashish and Ruta Kalawar left their well-paying jobs in England and returned to India to help empower the rural citizens of the country. Help them make their adopted village open-defecation free!

Fifteen years ago, Ashish Kalawar, a young electronics engineer posted in Bokaro, was waiting at the station for a train to his hometown of Pune. A little boy approached him and offered to polish his shoes. Ashish immediately told the kid that at his age he should be going to school and not working. The boy replied that he was working to support his education and used the money he earned from polishing shoes to pay for school. Impressed with his spirit and determination, Ashish let him do his work and paid him double the price for the shoeshine. The boy was delighted and could not stop himself from jumping with joy.

?It cost me just an extra Rs.10 but I could see how much happiness this little act of kindness gave him. I was content with my life but the satisfaction I got from looking at his face was priceless. This incident has stayed in my heart ever since.?

Ashish?s career was growing fast. He now felt it was time for him to get married and settle down. When he met Ruta, another electronics engineer, his happiness was complete.

The couple married and, in 2009, moved to the United Kingdom in search of better paying jobs. As their income grew, the two thought they should apply for citizenship to that country.

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Ruta and Ashish Kalawar (image from thebetterindia.com)

?We had everything, a nice car, a beautiful house in the UK and a great future to look forward to. But, somehow, we were not at peace,? says Ashish.

Soon, the couple started visiting the Skanda Vale temple located in South Wales frequently.?They would volunteer their time at the temple on weekends and find solace in meditation and helping others. ?They also participated in a 7 km charity walk to raise funds for the Skanda Vale hospice.

?While volunteering at this temple I kept remembering the little boy back in Bokaro who had polished my shoes. I wanted to do something for him and other people in my motherland too,? he adds.

Ashish and Ruta finally found their mission in life when they visited India for a short period in 2012. One of their relatives, Amol Sainwar, had started an NGO called Shivprabha Charitable Trust and was planning to adopt a remote village in Maharashtra.

The village, Lonwadi in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra, was located on a hill. It had no electricity, no water system and no roads. Ashish and Ruta visited this village along with other team members of the Shivprabha Charitable Trust.

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Ashish and Ruta with the kids of Lonwadi?(image from thebetterindia.com)

The villagers had to go down the hill every day to fetch water and so, the first thing they needed was a solar-operated water pump to draw water to the top of the hill.? Another thing that Ashish and Ruta noticed was that many villagers in Lonwadi were victims of addiction to alcohol or tobacco. They wanted to do something about both these issues but it was time for them to return to England.

They did the best they could under the circumstances by donating some money for the water system and left the country again. Meanwhile, Shivprabha Charitable Trust continued to work for the betterment of the village.

?My friend Unmesh Kulkarni and I raised 90% of the funds required for the water project. After its implementation, the number of students in the school increased as well because the children were freed from water-fetching duties. This incident really inspired and motivated me to move to India and work for rural empowerment.?

In January 2014, Ashish and Ruta left their lucrative jobs and bright professional careers behind to pack their bags and return to the motherland.

?This was the first time I did not have a job in hand while leaving the previous one. But I was not afraid at all. Something made me feel that this was right. Moreover, Ruta helped me believe that if we were doing something good there was nothing to worry about,? says Ashish.

Back in Lonwadi, Ashish and Ruta started counselling the villagers suffering from addictions and holding meditation sessions for them. According to Ashish, within six months, around 80% of the villagers were addiction-free.

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(image from thebetterindia.com)

?I never asked the villagers to stop consuming alcohol or tobacco. I asked them to just join us for meditation. The self realisation that occurs when you meditate compels you to stay away from everything negative,? says Ruta.

Today Lonwadi has good roads, electricity, a water system, and a digital school too ? thanks to the efforts of the Shivprabha Charitable Trust and people like Ashish and Ruta.

Now, this village is just one step away from being an ideal village ? it still needs to become open-defecation free. Ashish and Ruta?s counselling sessions have helped the villagers realise the importance of using toilets. All households have applied for subsidies to build toilets at home but have not heard back from the government as yet. Therefore, Shivprabha and The Better India have come together to find ways of gifting toilets to all the households in ?Lonwadi. We appeal to our readers to donate generously and help the villagers? dream of living in an open-defecation free ideal village become a reality.

Article republished from??thebetterindia.com

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Indian Startup Plans to Land on the Moon in January 2018

Team Indus won $1 million prize from Google last year for its spacecraft and is aiming to lift off in a year’s time

Team Indus's working rover.

An Indian aerospace startup has said that it will launch its mission to the moon in a year?s time, as it takes part in a Google-funded competition to become the world?s first-ever privately held company to make a soft landing there.

A group of more than 100 scientists and engineers, including around a dozen former ISRO scientists, make up Axiom Research Labs? Team Indus. The team is India?s only entry in the Google-funded Lunar XPrize challenge, which has a bounty of $30 million.

To win the prize, a team has to successfully place a spacecraft on the moon?s surface, travel at least 500 meters and transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth.

?A full launch vehicle from ISRO [Indian Space Research Organization] will launch our spacecraft into the orbit of the moon end of 2017,? Rahul Narayan, the fleet commander of the team, said at a news conference in New Delhi on Thursday.

Read the rest on WSJ India blog


Also in news:

Vazandar shines outside India too

After earning the appreciation of viewers in Maharashtra and other parts of India, Landmarc Film?s Marathi movie ?Vazandar? produced by Vidhi Kasliwal is winning hearts in USA as well. At a time when the concept of beauty revolves around how slim and trim you are, this film by Sachin Kundalkar breaks away from norms. It tells you to love yourself the way you are. It also questions societal stereotypes about being fit. Ultimately, being fit is a state of feeling good about your body and not about fitting into size moulds that society has created.
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The movie was screened in Bay Area and Chicago recently and on popular demand, more shows have been organised at Denver, Detroit, Seattle, Los Angeles, Columbus, Hudson and Dallas. A similar screening was held in Qatar and it got a great response there as well.
For Vazandar, Sai Tamhankar and Priya Bapat put in a lot of effort. In fact, while actresses are told to lose weight for roles usually, Sai and Priya needed to put on and they happily did. Also, after the shoot was done, they shed all the gained weight. Apart from this, their acting skills have received rave reviews. Chirag Patil, Chetan Chitnis and Siddharth Chandekar also feature in pivotal roles in Vazandar.
The music of the movie has also been appreciated. All in all this is a film that reiterates the power of regional cinema and its global reach. This is one film that is true to its title – ‘Vazandar’.

 

"LAWMAN PG3 CUP"!?A fun filled cricket match between?different villages of Rajasthan

Cricket enthusiasts have lots to look forward to!?3rd Rock Entertainment?spearheaded?“LAWMAN PG3 CUP”?where the team of upcoming film?“Wajah Tum Ho”- Sharman Joshi, Sana Khan & Gurmeet Choudhary?came to cheer the teams.

The event saw the presence of Director Vishal Pandya, Kesar Jain, Deepa Mehta, Shweta Jain, Shyam Kundani,?Aarnav Sirsat

This tournament attracted competitive teams from?different villages of Rajasthan fought for the cup. Different teams came?together to battle it out to win the?“Lawman Pg3 Cup”.?The ground was branded with LawmanPg3 merchandise which was displayed & sold at the venue to add to the lively environment. There was an official ?umpire and commentator for every match. The ground was no less than a battle ground with the people present there cheering for their favorite teams.

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Vikas Jain, Director of Kewal Kiran Clothing limited says?We aim to get more glamour & entertainment in cricket. We want to engage the customers, hence we thought of an activity were we could make it more interactive and build a platform to communicate with fans & customers”

About Lawman Pg3

Lawman Pg3 – the lifestyle apparel brand from Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited, is famous for introducing the Diags (stretched fabric), the camel-skin-wash, Fume-wash or the auto-reverse shirts, that set trends in the fashion and the style industry.

The brand believes?“Fashion is architecture ! You can redefine every element to the fore!”. After consistently working on styles based on fabrics, washes, cuts, designs & embellishments, the brand looked inward and re-invented the delicate art of filling the sewing holes with a design element. A pioneering sewing-stitch that adds excitement and style to the apparel. A designer stitch with 60 warp and 60 weft, having 60 counts for each thread in 60 seconds, sewing creative fashion with the good old needle and thread.

Album " Zindagi ke safar mein " was released by VENUS ENTERTAINMENT on 30th November

The voice of song has been given by Ajay Sehgal and Tarannum Malik and music arranged by Gurmeet Singh, The Video has been directed by Sunil Thakur. Ajay Sehgal {IDES} is an officer in an Organisation under Ministry Of Defense.

He is also lyricist of song ” Zindagi ke safar mein “. Ajay Sehgal started singing from his school and college days. Serving Nation through Defense has been his career as an officer. But his passion of singing in his own style became public when his first album ” Bas Ek Pal ” was released. In addition to his singing , he is an author of books ‘Sawal Rashtra Ka’ and ‘Sugandhi’ which contains his poetry and songs.

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Champak Jain of Venus Entertainment says “Venus is proudly pleased to release album. The core team of the album is absolutely talented. We have always encouraged new talent who strive to deliver the best and we shall continue to do so in the future

Zindagi Ke Safar Mein ” Ajay Sehgal has also featured in this album as an actor as well.

NRI Q&A: Do Indian-Americans serve in US Army?

Recent question: Do Indian-Americans serve in US Army?

Sure Indian Americans do serve in all branches of the US military. Some not only serve, but did so with valor. A few examples

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Major Kamaljeet Sing Kalsi is a bronze star awardee! (link)

Indian American Marine Maj. Taj Sareen dies in plane crash in England

link:http://sikhchic.com/cms/articles…

link: Search | SikhNet .jpg

Others listed on Wikipedia

Repost from Quora

Impact of Indian Government's decision to demonitize 500 and 100 Rupee notes

In a much applauded move Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government decided to “kill” the 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Some of the notes in circulation were supposedly fake and some of it used to fuel the underground economy (a.k.a “black money” )

“Brothers and sisters, to rid this country of the termite-like corruption and black money, it has become essential to take one more tough step. Starting midnight tonight, that is, on the midnight of November 8, 2016, the current currency notes of denominations of rupees 500 and rupees 1,000, will no longer remain legal tender. These currencies will become legally invalid.”

Read rest of the special feature, including impact on NRIs in our special section (link)