Tirupati / Kanipakam / Aragonda

28 08 2007

Although I have been to Tirupati and Kanipakam quite a few times, Aragonda is my first visit. I wanted to write about this trip as a reference post for people who are wanting to visit these places for the first time.

Tirupati is around 260 KM from Bangalore located in Chittor district. You need to take the Old Madras Road from Bangalore. After you leave Bangalore, there is Reliance A1 food outlet after ~140 KM from Haskote. You can take a break here to refresh yourself. From A1, after 20 KM, you will need to take a deviation towards your left for Tirupati (there is a direction board there). On this deviation, after around 5 KM, you will have a toll gate who would charge you Rs. 10 for the maintenance of that deviation road which will further continue for another 4 KM before it lands you to connect Kurnool road. You can argue and don’t pay for it (I have been going on this road for last 4 years and every time he says that they would improve it and no one bothers, so this is my online protest for the owner, whom I am sure would not be reading this). After the toll gate, proceed for another 4 KM and you would connect to Kurnool road. Take left and continue. You can safely drive for another 20 KM and then you need to watch our for a right turn towards Tirupati. There are two railway crossings on this road, after you cross both, keep an eye for the right. From here, it is another 50 KM to Tirupati. I will not speak anything more here, as Tirupati is a famous place and if you search for accommodations in Google, you can find many..

In return, you can come back till the toll gate road and you would need to take right and proceed for around 8-9KM where you would see a right turn (sign board is available on the left of the road) towards Kanipakam. After you take left, it is another 2 KM before you reach the temple. Kanipakam is famous for the Vinayaka Temple. It is believed that the idol came out from a well and over a period of time, the idol came out of the well. You can still see half of the idol is still in water.

Come to the junction where you have taken left to Kanipakam. At this junction take right and proceed 11 KM to reach Aragonda. Aragonda is a bit bigger than a village, but not a town. What impressed me here is a unit of Apollo Hospitals. You can ask anyone after reaching the village limits for the Hanuman temple. It is believed that a piece of Sanjeevani Parvatam (Hill) has fallen here while Hanuman was carrying the same to Lanka to cure Lakshmana. They say that if you drink the water in the pond, all your diseases would be cured. I have few pictures of Aragonda on my Flickr account.

My timelines – left Bangalore on Sunday afternoon, reached Tirupati in the evening. The next day early morning had Darshan of the lord and started at 10:30 AM. After stopping at Kanipakam and Aragonda, reached Bangalore by 6 PM in the evening.

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PHC’s in India

26 08 2007

Statistics of PHC’s (Primary Health Center) in India:

There is 1 PHC for every 25,000 population
PHC for – Promotive, Preventive, Curative and Rehabilitative Care
This implies offering a wide range of services such as health education, promotion of nutrition, basic sanitation, the provision of mother and child family welfare services, immunization, disease control and appropriate treatment for illness and injury.

Each PHC is a hub for 5-6 Sub-Centers.
Each PHC is covers 3-4 Villages.
Each PHC is coordinated by a ANM (Auxiliary Mid Wife)

PHC’s will be referral centers for Community Health Centers (CHC), which is a minimum 30 bedded-hospital or higher at the Taluk or District Levels.

WHO Report
According to WHO, PHC’s in India specifically attribute to deterioration of quality services due to parameters like – lack of political commitment, inadequate allocation of financial resources to PHC’s and stagnation of inter-sectoral strategies and community participation. Also in the list of reasons are bureaucratic approach to HealthCare implementation, lack of accountability and responsiveness from general public.

Key Points to observe:
1. PHC’s through out the country have the same number of ANM’s even though the fertility rate varies in different parts of the country.
2. Political interference in creating PHC’s.
3. Government departments are more involved in ensuring government norms are implemented, salaries are paid and minimum facilities are available rather than concentrating on measuring Health System Performance.
4. The DHO (District Health Officer), responsible for implementation of Public Health Systems are not adequately trained.

Strengthening the capacity for Public Health Management at the District and Taluk level is crucial to improving public sector performance.

Why the system is not working as required?
1. Lack of accountability in the system.
2. No formal feedback mechanism to ensure proper implementation of the system.
3. No incentives for Doctors to work in the Rural areas.
4. Irresponsible mind-set of ANM’s (this happens as there is no feedback mechanism)
5. Lack of resources (staff).
6. Current budget allocation of Rs. 75,000 / PHC / Annum is very less when considering the population each PHC has to cater to (5000 people).

What do we do?
1. Periodic HealthCare Education in Schools, Panchayat/Taluk Offices – NGO, Private Institutions and Social Entrepreneurs.
2. Community involvement – Government / Private Partnership
3. Public Health Training programs for DMO’s and other staff – Government / Private Partnership.
4. Appropriate and functioning feedback mechanism to ensure people understand that they are cared for and their feedback is valued for betterment of the system – Government

I will revisit this topic of what we can do better in my forthcoming writings.

Due credits to Neesha Patel, author of Evaluating the role of Primary Health Centers in India.





India HealthCare Project

26 08 2007

India HealthCare Project, is an initiative of CMC which designs and develops PDA (Personal Data Assistant) systems to ANM (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife) who works at the grass-root level of delivering HealthCare. This project has been piloted and implemented in the Nalgonda District of Andhra Pradesh.

Read more on this project at http://www.iimahd.ernet.in/egov/ifip/jun2003/article4.htm.





OpenCoffeeClub@Bangalore

20 08 2007

Yes, have been late in posting about this event, but even then, I was there at the First OpenCoffeeClub – Bangalore meeting which was organized at Brew HaHa in Koramangala on 19 August 2007.

Ramji and Vaibhav came together to organize this event and it was a real grand success. I have few photos on my Flickr account 🙂
Now, coming to the event, I should say that it was fantastic to see more than 50 Entrepreneurship Lovers gathering there. Most of BCB4 Planners were there too 🙂 Unfortunately, I had to leave immediately after the round of introductions. Ramji, Vaibhav and Himanshu given a complete overview of the event, so please read what happened there in their blogs…next time will ensure to be there for the complete discussion.

Here is the list of enthusiasts who dropped in at the venue… Himanshu has a good list and I am just putting the list copied from his blog (I think its legal, because I am giving due credits to him…what say Himanshu?).

Ramji – OOC Planner
Vaibhav – OOC Planner
K. Aditya
Saurabh Singh
Kaushik Gala
Deepak Shenoy, founder of MoneYoga
Pooran Prasad, co-founder of Zealous Solutions
Vaibhav Pandey
Harish Kumar, founder of OneBigWeb
Sandeep C Senan
Kiran Jonnalagadda aka Jace
Manasi Baranwal
Shivakumar Ganesan
Prashant Acharya
Gunasekaran S
Sameerkanth , ConsultantNEN Bangalore
Venkat Ramana
Anand
Piyush Gupta, Co-founder of RouteGuru
R. Senthil
Kiran Kadekoppa
Parvez Ahmed
Ajit
Rohit Bansal
Prateek & Nithya Dayal, Co-founders of Muziboo
Karthik Jain, Co-founder of PicSquare
Satish TJ
Anshul Gupta
Meera K , Community & News media
Rajan, Co-founder of Motvik
PV Sundaram
Vipul Gupta
Bhasker Kode,Co-founder of “The Returnable Project”
Laura Parkin, Executive Director, NEN & Wadhwani Foundation
Yiting Shen
Saurabh
Paveen Kumar
Parineeth Reddy
Siva – now an Entrepreneur
Akshat Choudary, Co-founder ActivMobs
Amit Singh, Co-organizer of BCB4
Ashish Solanki, Co-founder Yulop
Puneeth Prasad

and last but not the least … me too 🙂

As i have not stayed longer after introductions, I am not able to write anything more, but just want to stress on one point – Meeting at events and discussing aspects of varied nature is good, but we should also strive to make our discussions a reality. I sincerely hope this happens.

So long…





Trip to Ooty

19 08 2007

This is my second trip to Ooty. The first time I went was last year, just after I brought my car and also made it in a hurry to check my vehicle out 🙂

This time, wanted to take my parents there to show how an hill station feels. But, due to bad luck, Ooty has been hotter than Bangalore in the two days we were there. The nights were a bit chill with temperatures closing to around 10 Degrees Centigrade.

Now, getting into the journey…We left Bangalore at around 6:30 AM on 11 August (Saturday), filled in diesel and started getting out of the city by around 7 AM. Our first stop was at Kamat hotel on Bangalore-Mysore Highway at around 8:30 or so for breakfast. After breakfast, we started driving again at around 9. We could cover only close to 90 KM in the first two hours of leaving home (traffic and signals played a role in slowing us down). After Kamat, we did not stop anywhere until we reached Bandipur forest Cafe at the beginning of the forest reserves.

Tip: When you get to Mysore at the first signal, you wold see the direction board taking you to right towards Ooty. Try not taking this road. This is the outer ring road and it is time consuming and also a bit long to get to Ooty road. Instead, just drive straight into the city, follow directions towards Palace and at the junction where you would see Palace, you can see sign-boards directing you towards Ooty. If you have any confusion, don’t hesitate to ask anyone 🙂

We stopped for coffee at the Government Cafe which is just 5 Km before the official gate into the forest. We are now around 90 KM away from Ooty and it was 12 PM. We left after a short 30 minute break and drove through the forest. This is a fantastic and amazing drive. Last time when we went, it was drizzling and very cloudy. The breeze was cool and there were many animals on the road. This time, it was hot and sunny and probably all animals were sleeping 🙂 I could capture few snaps and you can see them on my Flickr Photos.


Request: When you drive through the forest, please do not stop your vehicle on the middle of the road and Please do not HONK. I have seen many white board drivers doing this…unfortuate and I pity these educated drivers.

Reached Ooty by 1:45 and went to the hotel I booked earlier – Sinclair. The hotel is a bit secluded from the heart of the city, but I was really disappointed. The hotel is under renovation and the sales office in Bangalore has not informed me when I was booking. When we saw the rooms and the work going on, we were really disappointed. The hotel staff understood our situation and promiced to refund our money if we chose to cancel our booking. After I came back to Bangalore, the sales office promptly sent me a SMS informing that my check is ready to be picked up. I appreciate their Customer Service 🙂

We immediately came back and went to Taj Savoy, a very nice place to stay. We stayed here last time and also came back this time too. It is a Taj Group hotel and I could only afford it because it is off-season…If you are going there, do check this place out, a very nice place to stay while in Ooty.

Relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and took parents out for a drive in the city and for small road site shopping. After dinner came back and watched a movie for sometime in the room with the fire place lit-up and a beer mug in my hand 🙂

The next day, we left after breakfast and went around the roads in Ooty and then drove down to Coonoor which is around 15 KM away from Ooty. On the way, we stooped at the Wax Museum recently set-up in Ooty-Coonor road. This is very good for the place. I have been to Madam Tussauds in London and there is no comparison to it, but for the works they have, I am really impressed. You can see picturess in my Flickr page.

Came back to Hotel in the evening around 6:30 PM and parents relaxed. Went to the bar to have a nice drink which could make me feel a bit warm 🙂

Next day, left Ooty around 11:30 AM and reached Bangalore back at 5:45 PM with only one stop in Mysore for lunch.

Total Distance from Bangalore – Ooty : 290 KM
Drive Time : 6 Hours.
Toll Gate : 1 (At Karnataka – TN border)
Ghat Distance : ~ 25 KM
No. of Hair Pin Bends : 36

In September, probably I might be going to Vizag for a holiday at home 🙂





Independence Day

15 08 2007

India, today is celebrating 60 years of independence. Is that old or young? If we look at the average life god has given a human being, then we need to say that the country has just attained Senior Citizenship status. But, as the country is made when mother earth is born, I don’t think we can even say our country is even an infant 🙂

What has been good?
– Liberalization
– Globalization
– Quality of Life

What needs to improve?
– Education
– HealthCare
– Sense of Ownership

I will write more in detail on the points above in my following posts, but for today, I would stop here, praying to God to give peace and prosperity to each and every one living on this planet 🙂





Making of BarCamp

6 08 2007

I know its late, but as promised earlier and as one of “proud” participants and also fortunate of being with minds behind the camp, wanted to share my experiences with Making of BarCamp.The first Planning meeting for BCB4 happened on the 3 June 2007 at Cafe Coffee Day on Richmond Road. From then on, every week all of us meet every Sunday at 10 AM at some CCD or the other (mostly at the Koramangala CCD) taking our planning session step-by-step. The day we began Jace came up with the idea of grouping tracks, which we called “Collectives“. There were loads of debates every week and concluding was pretty difficult. Each one of us had our own thoughts. Synchronizing and framing one concept is really a tough task. Imagine, a group of 10 people who have been totally un-known to each other (few of us knew each other from BCB 1), coming together to make an event which will bring in various like-minded people to a common platform to share, learn and understand various “ideologies” is not a simple task. However, we were determined. We wanted to make this happen and the only aspect we were looking at is the Event itself. It was like the situation when Dhronacharya asks Arjuna as to what he could see on the tree for shooting and Arjuna replies “the eye of the bird” (I am very bad at mythology, but just trying to convey as precise as I can). We were looking only at the event and all the discussions we had were like the deviations which pulled us apart. We took them as tests and by the next week we would come together taking the discussion to the next level. Finally, we concluded that this time BarCamp should be different from earlier versions and should be a “Collective Edition”.

Dates

What we announced during BCB3 was in July. The first weekend was turning a bit difficult with venue and other logistics. The second weekend was Proto.In which we did not want to coincide to ensure that we have our friends from Chennai join us 🙂 So, it was the last weekend which was working for everyone and hence 28/29 July were finalized.

Collective Edition

As i remember, our thought was to bring various communities together under one roof for sharing, knowing each other and forming a community. Our vision was that these communities which will be formed/are formed will go from BarCamp with deliverables which they would work on themselves. If there were anyone who did not know that communities existed, they would know during the camp. If groups already existed, we would have provided a platform for them to come together. I really dont know if I am doing a good job of explaining what we intended, but in one line – “We wanted to create a platform to bring various communities together” and in other words – “An incubation center for like minded people”

What happens after BarCamp?

The communities which have formed will go forward with take-aways and build their associations. If possible, would come back next time with planned activities and collective projects.

NSRCEL Support

On a parallel note, preparations were going on for sponsorships and other logistics. After BCB3, NSRCEL came forward for a long term partnership with BCB and wanted to host this event to ensure that an “educative and motivational” environment is created for creative minds to shape the future of “innovation” and “entrepreneurship”. Now, that is divine blessing. Right?

Sponsors

Our platinum sponsor – DirectI, came forward for sponsorship shortly after our request to them. This was the first motivation for us that this event would be really a success. Later our other sponsors – TCS and ThoughtWorks showed their appreciation. Honestly, TCS and ThoghtWorks were from BCB 1 standing behind us and motivated us. PureTesting and Yahoo also supported this event showing their

The D-Day arrives

As the dates were getting closer, our To-Do lists were increasing. Fortunately/Unfortunately all of us were having hectic schedules even at work. This happens in life, Right?

We asked for volunteers for various tasks, and there were enthusiasts who pitched in. I communicated to volunteers to come to IIM on 27th evening at 5 PM to help us with arrangements. Only two – Hema and Bhavana were the only two who turned up sincerely that evening. They were surprised to see the way things were going. Pradeep, who has his office incubated in IIM was our main venue coordinator. His office was our dumping yard of all the material. We sincerely thank Ashwin, head of MapUnity for baring with us even though we messed up their office.

By the time we all assembled (after last minute shopping) it was 10 PM. Banners and other material arrived. Saurabh and team from ENI (Students wing of IIM) which supported the event, took care of organizing the sign-boards and sticking them around.

We had dinner and worked out the final logistics which needed to be taken care. We dispersed at around 12 AM committing that we would assemble back at 7:00 AM on 28th to tie up banners around (it was raining and windy the previous night and we decided not to put them up). The next day, we came in by 7 AM (I came in a bit late though 😦 ) and put up the banners and set-up the registration desk.

I would not write any thing more from here. You have experienced in person and also, I wrote about it in my earlier post too.

BCB 4 Planners

Feedback

I need to run now, will post feedback summary in my next post…sorry about that.