Friday, August 16, 2013

Differently abled children at Vasantham celebrate 67th Independence Day

Children dressed like great national leaders
Children dressed like great leaders
Vasantham at Chennai, an educational  institution for special children celebrated the 67th Independence Day on 15th August 2013 in their premises.  I was invited to be the Chief Guest of the day to hoist the flag and to deliver a talk to the children and their parents.  It was an exciting experience for me to spend the time with the special children.

Vasantham headed by Mrs Alli Murugesan is helping (rather serving) these special children for the past 25 years.  Shortly in October 2013, they are entering into 25th year of service.  Vasantham has 25 trained teachers and assistants.  Presently, they are now helping 150 such children of different age group.  Around 50 children staying within the campus.  Vasantham team is brining out the creative talents of these children very effectively.

Everybody enjoyed the cultural programme that followed the flag hoisting.  All the children were made to participate and to showcase their hidden talents.  Mrs Jaya Mohan Vaidya took passionate care in the choreography.

The children dressed like Swami Vivekananda, Mahakavi Bharathiyar, Abdul Kalam, Mother Therasa, Nethaji and other great persons impressed the audience well. A child dressed like Lord Krishna carrying the national flag was the star attraction. 

These children are trained in various activities, including making of special products like candles, phenol, bookmark, flower vase, etc.   These products are sold to public to get money for Vasantham. They also have gift coupons to be gifted to others.  Even gifting such small items may help Vasantham.

Please visit their site to get more information.

Enjoy the pictures taken during the occassion.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Action 2020 - 8th UnConference - A brief report

Action2020 - 8th UnConference
Action2020 - 8th UnConference
8th UnConference of Action 2020 was held on Saturday the 27th July 2013 at Corporation School, Panagal Park, T Nagar from 2PM to 5 PM.  Around 45 delegates representing 25 groups participated and shared their experiences.

Presently Action 2020 is implementing two common projects.  'Vidhyodhaya' project is being implemented in Corporation Schools at MMDA11 and Adyar, besides at Govt. High School at Kannagi Nagar.  Akilan, Gayathri, Poornima and Vinod briefed the delegates about their projects.  Since  Action 2020 has got permission from this year to run the Vidyodhaya Project at Corporation School, CIT Nagar, they also requested volunteers who can spare two hours a week with the children.  

Prime Point Srinivasan, Convenor of Education Loan Task Force (ELTF) briefed the activities of the second project of creating awareness about education loan.  He also requested the delegates to create awareness about education loan among students in their area.

The delegates shared their individual activities.  They also offered lot of suggestions to take Action 2020 to next level.  

Bhavnesh of Shreyan Foundation suggested that Action 2020 can take up the environmental cause and also tree planting. He has offered to be the Convenor of this new project. If implemented, this will be the third common project of Action 2020.  

A new core team was formed.  Next UnConference will be held in January 2014.  

As suggested by members, a new Facebook Group will be formed in the name of Action 2020 and all the active groups and individual members will be invited to be part of this new group.

For more details contact Mr Aum Murugan, Convenor, Action 2020 at 

Photos taken during the event:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Denial of US Visa to CH Sekar, made him enter Politics and become MLA

CH Sekar MLA of Gummidipoondi
CH. Sekar
In these days, when everybody abuses politics as a dirty drain, CH Sekar (34), a topper in the Engineering College, preferred to enter the so called ‘drain’ boldly to make it clean.

Social service in early days

Hailing from a small town Gummidipoondi in North Tamil Nadu, he used to spend his leisure time doing social work and temple cleaning right from his boyhood.  During his college days, he used to be passionate about modelling and ramp walking in fashion shows.  Though many offers came knocking at his door for acting in films, he preferred to continue his studies and social work.

Being one of the brilliant students, after his graduation in mechanical engineering, he got admission in 2001 to pursue his post graduation in a popular US University to study ‘industrial engineering’.

Turning point in life – US visa denied for no reasons

While he was standing in the queue for visa at US Consulate General Office, Chennai, all the 15 persons standing before him were given visa without much questioning.  When his turn came, the shift of the handling officer changed and a new Black American lady attended to him.  Though he had all the required documents with him, she threw the file at him, refusing him visa, without giving any reason. 

The young Sekar was shocked at the arrogance of the handling officer and determined not to step into the United States at all.  Though his sister lives in US and has been inviting him over, till date, he has not visited USA because of the bad treatment meted to him at the Consulate.

He started assisting his father, Mr Appala Naidu, an honest Government officer turned businessman.  He continued his social service to the people of his locality, besides taking care of his father’s business.

Entering active politics

Service-minded Sekar felt that serving the society through a political brand was better than individual service.  His close friends encouraged him to join politics.  Since he would not be able to promote his identity if he joined the major political parties, he chose DMDK (Desiya Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) floated then by the actor, Vijayakanth in 2004.  Since he was one of the earliest members of DMDK, he was able to get a key party position quickly.  At that time, he was 25 years old.

“In early 2000, the country had nearly 30% of the youth and I projected that the country would reach 60% youth population in ten years from then.  Elderly people beyond 50 and 60 years of age cannot understand the problems of the youth.  Hence, I am advocating all the youth in the age group of 20s and 30s to join politics, to change the nation.  I want to be the change-agent”, said CH Sekar in an exclusive conversation with PreSense.

First defeat in politics

He contested the Assembly Elections under DMDK ticket in 2006 for the first time, when he was 27 years old.  He was then the District Secretary of the party.  Without any alliance with major parties, he secured 23,000 votes, which was then one of the top achievements of DMDK.    Although he was defeated, he learnt a lot from the good and bad experiences of contesting in the elections. 

“Many people, after the first political defeat, leave the party and pursue another profession, due to family compulsions.  In my case, because of my family support and the regular income through my family business, I preferred to continue in the political journey”, said a confident Sekar. 

After his defeat, he started nurturing the Gummidipoondi constituency with 131 village panchayats.  This is one of the largest constituencies in Tamil Nadu with more than 200 Sq Km area.  He continued his service to the people enthusiastically along with his young friends. 

People elect Sekar as MLA

CH Sekar meets people in his constituency offices every weeke
CH Sekar MLA meeting people in his office
During the 2011 Assembly elections, DMDK had an alliance with AIADMK and again Sekar contested under DMDK ticket.  This time he secured nearly 1 lakh (100,000) votes (55% of vote share) and won with more than 30,000 votes margin.

Normally, the Government provides one office and one assistant to the MLAs to attend to their constituency work.  Since his constituency is one of the largest constituencies in the state, he set up 4 offices in different locations with assistants, at his own cost, so that people could visit the MLA office without travelling too far and submit their grievances.  Each office covers nearly 30 to 35 nearby villages.  Sekar visits all the four offices by rotation every week on a specific day, to meet the people.  He is also available on his mobile, facebook and email to his people always. 


CH Sekar meets the villagers regularly
CH Sekar meeting people in a village
“At that time of elections, I promised to get (a) a bus depot to connect the rural areas, (b) a sports stadium to promote sports among youth and (c) to make Periyapalayam temple a tourist centre.  Within two years, I obtained the approval from the Government and the implementation is in progress”, said CH Sekar with a sense of satisfaction.

Vision for his constituency

His focus is rural education and rural health.  He has been taking up individual issues with the Government for rectification.  Every year, MLAs are allowed to spend Rs.2 crores (Rs.20,000,000) as MLA-LADS Fund.  He utilises the money in building community halls in villages, toilets for girl students in schools and providing mineral water plants in all the schools.  “Many girl students drop out from schools because of the lack of proper toilet facilities.  I have already provided toilets in many schools.  Within one year, I would ensure that all the schools are provided with toilet facilities and drinking water facilities” said Sekar confidently.

When asked about his role-model, he replied that he wanted himself to be the role-model for other young politicians.  However, he considers Dr Abdul Kalam as a role model for public life and his father, Mr Appala Naidu as his role model for personal life.  “My father used to do any work with passion and commitment.  He always maintained work-life balance.  However busy he was, he would spend time with family members and children.  I follow his example”, said Mr Sekar.

Active in social media

Sekar is quite active on Facebook.  He updates his page regularly.  Out of 5,000 friends, he estimates around 4,000 members are from his constituency, working in other places.  He wants to keep his constituency people updated about his activities.  Many Facebook members write to him personally too, to resolve grievances.

He wants to serve the constituency in state politics for another 10 or 15 years and then move on to national politics, after gaining experience.

Message to aspiring young politicians

CH Sekar feels that committed and sincere youngsters should take up political work instead of blaming the system from outside. While concluding the conversation, he recalled the rejection of visa by the US Consulate General Office.  If the lady had granted him a visa, he would have been one of the software engineers working abroad.  “Probably, God wanted me to serve the society as a politician and that was why, he made that lady to reject my visa application without any reason.  Now I am fulfilling God’s desire”, Sekar ended his conversation with a positive note.

CH Sekar be reached at

Source: (May 2013 issue of ezine PreSense)

Friday, March 1, 2013

“My success is because of the difficulties and not despite the difficulties” – Inspiring Story of Navin Gulia, 100% medically disabled person

Navin Gulia (39), from Delhi with 100% medical disability is one of the national role models and inspiration for young and old.  He has converted every challenge into an opportunity to showcase his talents.
Navin Gulia
Navin Gulia
Hailing from a family of army officers, right from his childhood, he nurtured the idea of joining Indian Army as a ‘Commando’. It is the most challenging and risky job in the Army.  Right from his early days, he was mentally preparing himself to face and overcome any challenges.

He underwent four years of rigorous training in National Defence Academy and Indian Military Academy.  In April 1995, on the final day of OT competition, as Captain of his company ‘Sangro’ took off from the starting line, within seconds he crossed the 8 feet ditch, the zig-zag balance and ran up the steps of high ramp. As he reached the top he got an accidental push from behind, due to which he fell head down at high speed. This injured his spine paralysing his whole body and medical science declared him permanently 100% disabled. After two years of hospitalization, he took on the wheel chair.

Since he was mentally prepared to take on the challenges, he started facing the new situation.  Sitting on the wheel chair, he completed PG Course in Computer Management.  He started teaching Computer science in various Institutions and is now running a coaching centre at Gurgaon.  

The 100% medical disability did not deter him from his ambition.  He focused on Adventure sports.  In September 2004 he made a Limca world record by being the first and only person to drive non-stop from Delhi to Marsimikla 18,632 feet, the highest motorable pass in the world in 55 hours without sleep or break. This place is 50 feet higher than the base camp of Mt Everest.  This record is not yet broken by anybody till date.

Navin is highly interested into adventure sports and driving of car.  He has designed controls in the car to suit his needs.  With the great difficulty, he has also got the license from the authorities.  

Besides, Navin has practised flying a microlite aircraft.  He has written two books based on his experience.  He has started an organization to support the disabled children.

As 100% disabled person, he does not want to be dependent on others.  In fact, he is supporting his family members and all others. 

He has won several awards for his achievements, including the President of India Award in 2006 as a ‘National Role model’.   He has also authored two books, sharing his experience.

He does not like anybody describing his success as ‘despite the difficulties’.  He attributes all his success and achievements only ‘because of the difficulties’.  

Please listen to his inspiring interview exclusively for our ezine in the following link.

Navin Gulia may be reached through mail at .  Please visit his website 

Please click and listen to the inspiring interview with Navin Gulia (6 minutes)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

“Every Challenge is an Experience" – Inspiring Story of Narendra, Manager turned Leader

M. Narendra
When the nation is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda (original name Narendra), we feature another  Narendra, who transformed himself from a manager to a leader.  Narendra, presently the Chairman and Managing Director of the public sector, Indian Overseas Bank, has almost doubled the business within two years of his taking charge, galvanising 27000-plus employees, who lacked motivation in the past decade. 

Galvanising Indian Overseas Bank

From the day of his taking charge of the bank in November 2010, he tapped the potential of every employee, towards better business growth.  His initiatives like involving the employees in every aspect of management function, empowering women to become senior officials, large scale promotions, and communication with front line staff, created a conducive atmosphere for excellent growth and customer delight. Even today, if one checks up with any employee of Indian Overseas Bank at field level, they would proudly accept him as ‘leader’.  How did he get transformed from a ‘Manager’ to a ‘Leader’?

Parents as Role Models

Narendra, born into a middle class family in a village near Mangalore (Karnataka), converted every challenge into an opportunity for success.  According to Narendra, his parents, Shri M Shankaranarayana Ayya and Smt. M. Sumathi were his role models and they played a great role in moulding him.

“My father was a teacher.  He was the Head Master of a High School at Suratkal.  He was a Gandhian and a great admirer of Swami Vivekananda.  That is why I was named after Vivekananda’s original name” said Narendra, proudly recalling his early days.

His mother Smt M. Sumathi, besides looking after the big family, was engaged in women welfare.  She headed the Mahila Mandal for more than 25 years in that locality and devoted her time for the welfare of poor and downtrodden women.

“I learnt about the importance of knowledge, discipline, time management and perfectionism from my father, and leadership qualities and passion for service to the society from my mother.  These qualities have always helped me to become successful, braving all challenges”, Narendra says with emotion. 

Early Days – Passionate Student

Narendra completed his B.Com with a University rank.  His ambition was to become a Chartered Accountant.  He joined a Chartered Accountancy firm.  Meanwhile, in 1975, the then Private Sector Corporation Bank offered him a job as Officer-trainee, since he was a University Rank holder.  He discontinued CA and joined the Bank.  He pursued law (L.L.B) as a part-time student, attending the classes both in the mornings and in the evenings, outside the office time.  Again, he secured a University rank in law also.  He also completed his banking diploma CAIIB with a top rank at the national level.  “Though I wanted to become a Chartered Accountant, I started my journey as a banker”, says Narendra.

Tips to Manage Challenges

Narendra’s journey in the banking career was not without challenges.  After joining Corporation Bank in 1975, he rose to the level of Chief General Manager in the Bank.  Then, he was posted as Executive Director of Bank of India.  After a brief stint there, he was posted to Indian Overseas Bank in November 2010 as Chairman, which post he still continues to hold.  He will retire from the bank in less than two years. 

“To become a leader is not an easy one.  There may be a lot of frustrating moments for any person in any profession.  Your good and sincere efforts may not get recognised; your trusted close friends may ditch you; your boss may get angry without reason; your minor mistakes may get projected as major issues; there may be caste and communal politics in the organisation.  Every such moment is a testing time for us.  We need to learn to manage such challenges without getting upset. Every challenge is an experience.  Leave it to God.  Continue to do your work with all sincerity.  A time will come when you will be recognised and rewarded”, says Narendra after a deep pause.

Mentoring and Learning

Narendra recalls how his father used to review his performance frequently, even when he (Narendra) was holding the position of General Manager and mentor him to manage the challenges and to go to the next level.  Narendra emphasises the need for good parenting, and parents becoming role models for children.

Narendra says that whenever he meets the customers, he learns from their success and failure stories.  Even from the routine business meetings, he picks up  a message for life.

Though there were offers to join Private Banks at the top level with a huge salary, he refused to join them.  “Public Sector is my passion.  Public Sector banks give more opportunities to support farmers, small industries and nation building.  We should not forget the roots from where we have come” says Narendra passionately.

He wants to focus on education and social service after his retirement from the Bank. He wants to continue the initiatives his parents had started.  


“While my parents have played the role of the mentor, my wife is playing a supportive role throughout my banking career.” Concludes Narendra with tears rolling in his cheek as a mark of gratitude.

Within two years of his joining Indian Overseas Bank, he is able to nearly double the business and bring in a new environment galvanising the entire bank. His new slogan “Energy, energise, execute and excel” has become the new mantra to all his colleagues to continue their journey in nation-building and self-improvement. 

PodUniversal Edition 160

Please listen to his inspiring interview (13 minutes).  His interview may also be listened at 

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