Thursday, September 22, 2011

Akanksha Come Alive 2011

I will conduct a 2 hour art workshop with all the participants for Art. Below are the details of the event. Please join us and Come Alive!!!

Dear all,
It’s that time of the year when you can do the one thing you always wanted to do but never found the time, when you can connect with people you never thought you will meet, when you can set yourself free from the inhibitions you might have… It’s time to ‘Come Alive’ with Akanksha again!
The Akanksha Foundation invites you to kick start the ‘Joy of Giving Week’ with the annual event on Sunday, the 2nd of October 2011.
For details and to sign up please refer to the attached document.
Looking forward to hearing from all of you.
Thanks and Regards,
Mansi Shah
Manager – Social Leadership Programme
The Akanksha Foundation
Website –

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Carryapoly Campaign

I read an article about a cleanup drive in Mumbai yesterday that was reported by Mumbai Mirror. The article started with something, that I have experienced many a times.

I rarely travel by train. But when I do, I have seen educated well dressed women litter, and I am talking of first class compartment. So essentially I am referring to educated career women. I am not limiting this behavior to train commuters. The other day I was traveling with this rather well to do, career woman in her car. We stopped to take some take away from McDonalds, finished our meal in her car while we traveled. To my utter horror, she very conveniently rolled down her window and threw her wrapper and paper cup on the road. I didn’t even get time to react and she was done with the waste. I then told her she was wrong in doing so. She was indifferent.

Whenever such offenders are told that they shouldn’t litter or what they are doing is wrong, I get scorned at. Well, at the risk of getting into arguments I have time and again chided people (known and otherwise also) against littering.

I personally, always carry a polythene bag in my purse to collect any liter, wrappers, waste papers etc.  Once at home or office I dispose off these in the dustbin.  I then started offering to collect others liter in this polythene and keep in my bag so it could be disposed off in the trash can. That is the basic way of handling this. I have realized that people follow action more than words. So maybe we need to show them what to do and do it for them to begin with and then hope that they follow.

So, here is my idea to start a campaign called #Carryapoly, where the participants can carry a polythene always, and when they see anyone about to litter, they may offer the same to collect such litter. Some of my friends suggested that we should use recyclable polythenes. That’s a good idea. We could do that. We can urge people to use and re-use the polythene bags that they get home for #carryapoly. We can use:

1.       Smaller garbage bags
2.       Zip bags
3.       Branded shopping bags
4.       Recyclable white polythene bags

Lets start small, then maybe this drive will grow big eventually and something may come out of it. Those who are interested in this campaign please use the #carryapoly hashtag in your tweets related to the campaign. Please give-in your suggestions. This is just a very nascent idea. We need to be together to make this work.

Ciao till the next update.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sustainable Hopes

Below is the critique of "Windmills of Hope" by Art critic - Johny ML
Two things cannot be missed out while watching the latest painting series by Srushti Mandar Rao; the vibrancy of lines that reminds anyone of the rhythmic fusion of body, movement, music and light created by a dancer and a heightened awareness of environmental issues. Srushti being a trained painter, dancer and a serious trekker, this pronounced fusion of concerns in her works comes quite naturally and the style that she has developed over a period of time has a characteristic of its own and has got strong art historical affinities with the American Optical Art experiments of 1960s. The new series titled, ‘Windmills of Hope’ brings forth the artist’s idea about a future, which should depend on sustainable development and environmental protection.

The distinct style of painting, which Srushti fondly qualifies as ‘Line-ism’ explores the possibilities of lines and their tonal gradations on a pictorial surface. The planar division of the surface through vertical, horizontal and zigzag lines, as well as through the specific distribution of tonal intensities generates at once the feel of a colorful spectrum and the illusion of a solid image. Srushti invests her energies in the creation of abstract values of colors and lines as a musician focuses on ragas. The works demand the viewer to make physical adjustments so that they could enjoy both the abstract and figurative elements embedded in them.

The present series, ‘Windmills of Hope’ took shape when Srushti visited Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, where she witnessed a series of windmills erected for the generation of alternative power/energy. Windmills, despite their economic and investment values, within their physical appearance and purpose carry an aesthetical appeal (seeing them against the horizon or along the roads that you travel is a thought provoking as well as meditative experience) and a futuristic vision. As an alternative energy resource, windmills, to certain extent assure the preservation of environment in its actual state. Windmills, aesthetically speaking, represent an alternative icon of contemporary times. These icons of our times embody human dignity, mobility and freedom; one could feel it along with the artist.

Interestingly, Srushti in a very subconscious way connects her new series with the way the Impressionists of the late 19th century France had painted their surroundings. It is not just that the Impressionists had painted windmills and today Srushti does the same, but Srushti too like the Impressionists captures the mood of the windmills as per the change of light and time. Windmills are identical with one another. However, in Srushti’s works each one of them carries a distinct personality and a deeper look would reveal that Srushti gives attention in producing the effect the ‘time’ through the selection of particular lights of the day; for instance she sees them like persons walking towards you, or someone seen under moonlight or a cloudy sky. She captures the speed of the rotating blades the way a minimalist like Brancusi would produce the effect of movement in his sculptures.

Rhythmic movements and changing moods of light and time are palpable in the works of Srushti. Though she does not attempt at the actual representation of the landscapes within which these windmills are distributed, through the creation of textural fields and suggestive minimal symbolism Srushti Mandar Rao vivifies not only the physical values of the windmills but also of the landscapes.

art critic, writer, curator
May 2011
New Delhi

And the NGO is - Ishaan Foundation

It was a humongous task to identify and finalize the NGO that I would support from the sale of my paintings through the exhibition "Windmills of Hope". 

The idea was to have an NGO that works in the field of education for under-privileged children. Alongside me fire-fighting with preparation for my exhibition I was deliberating on which NGO to support. 

I had this huge support of Chandni Parekh (@Fundacause) for this task. She not only would answer all my annoying queries right from what should we do? to how can we finalize now? but also went through each and every application that we received for this and added her experienced comments to it. Chandni, a huge thanks to you for your support.

There were essential 3 criteria that I used for selecting the NGO

  1. The NGO shouldn't be a very big one - Larger organisations get a lot of support from corporates and other businesses, my minuscule contribution would not have made much difference to their existing revenues (although it might have added I am sure).
  2. The NGO needs to be working in Children's education - You can read my reasons for this on my previous blog here.
  3. The NGO needs to be in or around Malad - I wanted more involvement than just giving money one time. I wanted to be able to visit the place and have a more human involvement. It is not a short term relationship that I am looking at with the NGO. It shall be longer, i want to see what more I could do with the NGO and be involved in a deeper manner.
One NGO that fulfilled all these criteria is ISHAAN HOPE Foundation for Education & Training (Social benefit & non—profit organization). 

A little about their Project that I have decided to support - 

Educational help to Orphanage: I am in touch with Dr Hema Kulkarni of the Ishaan Hope Foundation who is looking after the project, an orphanage situated in Mudh Island which houses about 65 children varying from 3yrs to 17 yrs. This orphanage does not have government aid as it does not have enough space as well as other infrastructure. Last year 11 students were enrolled in a nearby school. From June 2011, 9 more will be enrolled. The annual fees per student is Rs, 7000/-. This does not include uniforms & textbooks. In fact, Mrs. Buthello (who runs this orphanage) wishes to send 10 more children to school. Although they were unable to undertake this responsibility because of lack of funds.

Until now the children were getting education through National Open School system. However there were no regular trained teachers to educate them. Dr Hema Kulkarni visted the orphanage in 2009 and suggested that it was better for these children to go to nearby regular school. This will not only help them get regular education & training, but also have an opportunity to meet & interact with children from society. This suggestion was accepted by the president of the orphanage. In June 2010 they enrolled 9 young students in Sir J. P. School, Malad (West) as the school principal insisted that the children should have proper documentation. Three other older students were enrolled on Holy Mother English School in Malawani as they did not insist on documentation. Annual fees per year per student is Rs. 7000/- (Seven thousand) which includes bus fare, but not uniforms & text books. 

Eight other students were sponsored by donors from the neighborhood, but they backed out after six months & the foundation had to support these eight students as well for last 6 months. The total expenditure last year on this project was 112000/- (One Lakh twelve thousand). From June 2011, the foundation has to support all 20 students & fees expenditure would be Rs. 140,000/- (One Lakh forty thousand). The principals of the schools have accepted our request that we will pay the fees on quarterly basis. There are more students in the orphanage who need to go to school but because of pausity of funds are unable to. 

The foundation also wishes to help them by providing uniforms & text books but have not been able to do so till now. Mrs. Buthello who runs the orphanage has got permission to start pre-primary school. She wishes that the foundation help her establish this project too. 

In addtion to above, Mrs. Buthollo wishes that more than 10 students who have passed 10th std need to undergo vocational training so that they become financially independent & may be able to move out of the orphanage.

I do hope that I am able to pitch in a substantial amount to help this Orphanage.

I also urge my readers to please see if some more funds can be collected for this orphanage. 

My only endeavor is to make a small difference through my exhibition "Windmills of Hope" and give hope to these children by giving them the gift of education.

Invite to my Exhibition

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Help me find an NGO

Previously I had blogged about the new series of paintings that I am working on and how I would donate 20% of the sale proceeds to an NGO of my choice. You can read the blog here.

There have been developments on that front, I have finally managed to get a gallery for the exhibition and I would have the exhibition in May. I will be exhibiting at the Bajaj Art Gallery at Nariman Point in Mumbai from 18th May to 24th May 2011. The exhibition will be called "Windmills of Hope" - an apt name for an exhibition that supports a cause of education for underprivileged children.

While most of my paintings are moving towards completion, one of the major things to be decided upon is selection of the NGO. I have taken help from my friend @fundacause for this task. In response to an earlier post that she had written on her blog, I received many responses from NGOs. However, the task of selecting the appropriate NGO was easier said than done. After wracking my brains for some time on this, I request for help from all my readers. 

Please help me select an NGO by reviewing requests that we have received for this cause on @fundacause's blog.

Your comments and feedback will be appreciated. Looking forward to your support.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy Women's Day

Today is International Women’s Day. I wished my friends and acquaintances. Some replied back, some didn’t. Some men and women alike don’t even pay any heed to this day. They say it’s a farce. Well, to each his own.

However, I would also like to put the record straight that Women’s Day isn’t a gimmick that’s started by some greeting card company to sell their cards. It’s real. It is acknowledgement and celebration of the Women who fought for their rights. Women were denied the basic right to vote. Some women had the courage to stand upto the self-righteous governors of this Patriarchal world. They won. Women could vote. We celebrate this day for their victory. For every battle that women have to fight daily to prove to be equals.

I have been blessed to be born in a family where the man and woman divide was not so pronounced. It was there nonetheless. Though I would not call it oppression. But I was always reminded that I was a ‘Girl’ and my brother was a ‘Boy’, and that’s why he could do some things and I couldn’t. Through the years the divide was narrowed. Today I and my brother are looked upon as individuals.

Having said that, this gender inequality is prevalent in our society and country. It is not limited to India alone but also exists in other patriarchal societies.  Having lived in Africa for a while, I have heard horror stories of the way women are treated.  Women have been oppressed for centuries, world across. Not being treated as equals is one point, atrocities against this gender takes it to another level altogether. But why?

Women are a pillar of strength, but that doesn’t imply that we be barraged with abomination. The Hindu text gives Women a place as the extreme power (Shakti) and yet men suppress women. They want them to mould in punctilious roles with no individual identities.

I advocate Women’s rights. It’s not the right to wear what I want or drink what I want or go where I want to. It’s the right to ‘Be’. To be me, as I am.

Basic Education for all

New Series by me
I am working on a new series of paintings. I have decided the donate 20% of the proceeds to an NGO of my choice. Currently, I am working on finding a way to make this auction viable online either host it on my website (which can be tedious task for a one time exercise), or make it available on my FB fan page ( or use a third party auctioning website for this particular exercise. There is so much push and pull to make this possible.

I have always believed in giving back to the society in whatever way I can. I have associated with many NGOs intermittently, if not time, I have contributed money. I have also tried to be a good citizen by adhering to my basic civic duties.
"Basic Education for all" is one of the issues that has been foremost in my mind. Although there are a myriad of issues within the society that can be addressed like atrocities towards women, children and animals etc. I believe that education will help solve a majority of these issues as most of the social issues arise from the lack of education. Literacy being a different expanse altogether. By basic education people are taught many things alongside reading and writing. One is taught self-respect, from that originates respect for others, starting from family and eventually extending to other elements like society, animals, country.

People who are from privileged families take education for granted, including me (at times I feel appalled at people lacking basic civic sense). However, it is a constant battle for the underprivileged to get even basic education. Probably people who have grown up on the streets and are now adults are beyond any scope of persuasion; nonetheless, their children can be educated and can have a hope for a better life. This is the force that drives me to believe in educating children.

Here is my small drop in the large ocean that needs to be created to encompass the huge need of education system and organizations that can support the under-privileged for education. It will not only benefit the needy furthermore benefit every individual and the society as a whole. Lowering crime rate, increasing sanguine individuals. It will eventually impact the country’s many growth hurdles, will help out balance population, and help permeate positivity amongst people.

Amen to the right of Basic Education for everyone!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Client Vs. Vendor

I am a client now. Yes, for the last two years that I have been with this company my Job Profile conveniently puts me in the clients position.  But my company is a vendor for its clients and that’s how my company makes money.

I have been in the Business Development profession prior to this, long enough to understand how it is to sell and not only sell but take rebuttal if the customer is not content. We are all customers and vendors at the same time in life. My clients may be the employees and the top management for whom I strive to deliver the best possible solution.

It’s despairing to see some people derive pleasure at oppressing vendors. They have pure disdain for them, for reasons best know to these ‘clients’. Yes, I as a client will appreciate timely and quality delivery. Yet, I would also appreciate genuine impediments. However, just delaying payments or refusing to acknowledge good work because someone is a ‘vendor’ is appalling. This only in-turn puts the vendors off such clients and they would never get a vendor who would work with them for the sheer pleasure.

May such a ‘client’s’ soul rest in peace.