Thursday, December 26, 2013

Make the world a better place

2013 is almost over and all of us already have plans for 2014.

As an Indian, I would say that 2013 has had its ups and downs. We have had a lot of good news but unfortunately it has all been negated by a bunch of bad news along with it.

All around me, I see a lot of people who have lost hope. People who think 'Iss desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta!" And why just for the country? I know a lot of people who have given up on their dreams. Given up on the hope that there are good people in the world.

I have been called an eternal optimist by a lot of people. I don't know if they are being sarcastic or are complimenting me but because I am an optimist, I take it as a compliment. :P

I believe that there are a LOT of good people in the world and that all of us have the power to be good.

You don't need money or time to be good to someone. You don't even need a reason. I have realized the power of random acts of kindness.

It might seem too small and sometimes too random but it works like magic. I have seen it change people and I think that is the only way to cheer up a nation that is losing hope.

Imagine your mother is walking home from the grocery store and she has too many bags to carry. A kid from your society helps her carry those bags home. It just took the kid 5 minutes and no real effort but for your mother it will be a reason to smile for atleast a day. She will believe in good.

I love people who are kind and helpful. I don't mean just to their friends which although is important is not thing I am talking about here. I like it when strangers help older people navigate the escalator or when someone holds the lift door for someone or when someone sacrifices something small for someone else they don't know.

Small gestures go a long way.

I was fortunate enough to learn this when I am in my 20s. I have decided to do one good thing for a stranger once a week. I started with once a month but I then thought it was too low a target.

I would urge everyone to do one random act of kindness every month in the beginning and then raise the target based on how comfortable you are with it. I am not saying you have to force yourself to do something nice. Just don't miss any opportunity to do something good. It is more than enough.

If you want ideas about things you can do, leave a comment and I'll suggest something. :)

Merry Christmas and I hope you all have a fantastic 2014. :)



Thursday, October 10, 2013


The dreaded day is finally here.

My childhood hero. The reason I started watching cricket. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar retires from all forms of cricket.

God retires.

He taught an entire nation how to dream. He taught us how to believe that anything can be possible. He gave the nation hope.

I will not repeat the staggering list of records that he holds because for me, they do not matter as much as the fact that whenever he came out to bat, I felt proud to be an Indian.

Sachin is, for me, India's best sportsperson. He is the best ambassador of the game. He showed a young nation how being honest, hardworking and humble in any field can propel you to greatness. He showed the world that age is just a number when he made his debut at 16 and then again when he became the first person to score a double century in a 50 over match.

His child like enthusiasm is contagious. His dedication to the game and ability to adapt has ensured that he has stayed and thrived at the game even after more than two decades. He respects his opponents and has earned the respect of all his opponents.

He was the baby face assassin. Opponent teams used to be on their toes till Sachin got out because they knew, just like the Indian audience, that till Sachin is there on the field, anything is possible.

It was sometimes surprising how a person could carry the expectation of a billion people on his shoulders and still look so calm and composed on the field.

He has been asked to retire a lot of times. Forced out of the team. And what did he do? He came back! The Juggernaut rolled on. He has never been too vocal about anything. He, as Ravi Shashri would say, lets his bat do the talking. He has achieved almost everything that a cricketer could have achieved. Still, he has faced a lot of criticism. One of the them was India not winning when Sachin scored runs. I find that one the most demeaning for the great man. I mean, if he scores more than half the runs required at less than a run a ball and the rest of the team cannot even finish the game then how is it Sachin's fault?

For me, Sachin was the hero that India needed but not the one that it deserved.

Cricket will not be the same. Indian cricket team will not be the same. I don't think I can watch cricket anymore. If I do, I don't think I will ever forget the feeling of anticipation and expectation that I had every time Sachin came out to bat.

Sachin, for all you have done for the country and for us, THANK YOU!

Good bye Little Master. You will be missed.

- A Fan

P.S. - This is definitely not my best work. I am somehow unable to write. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Manmohan Singh should revolt.

Warning: This article is not a well researched, well thought out post that you will read. It is just one of the crazy ideas that came to my mind today morning.

Manmohan Singh is one guy whom the entire country has seen but only a few have seen him speak. Also, almost everyone agrees that whatever he speaks has been approved/allowed by Sonia Gandhi. It is a very sorry state of affairs when a country's prime minister tweets from his official account that he would be happy to work under someone else after the next elections.

It hurts even more when the person in question is the man who played a very important role in reforming a few sectors in India in 1991. It is still regarded as the day India got economic independence for the first time.

Manmohan Singh was held in very high regard and to see him go from there to a level where people of the country joke about his competency is really sad.

Now, what he can he do to earn back the respect that he commanded?

Step 1 - Leave Congress. Join a party which he thinks can form a government.
Step 2 - Tell the country why he went from being a free market economist to a socialist.
Step 3 - Tell the country about his working relationship with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in detail.
Step 4 - Tell the country what he really thinks about the schemes that the Congress government has passed.
Step 5 - Orchestrate the change in government in the 2014 elections.
Step 6 - Try to convince the new government to make him the Finance Minister or something similar.
Step 7 - Bring the country back on the right track.
Step 8 - Smile and talk.

If he does this, it will have positive effects on a lot of things/people:

1. People's faith in him.
2. People's faith in politicians in general.
3. Country's economy.
4. Parties opposing Congress.
5. Tax payers who are frustrated to see their money being wasted on money-draining schemes.
6. Other politicians who are acting as puppets will be inspired to revolt.

I realise that this is something that has almost no chance of happening but just imagine the consequences on the Indian political system if its does.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taxes and Subsidies : A vicious circle.

When I was a child, I had often wondered, why do we have taxes?

I mean, my mother and father went to work all day and earned their salary in an honest way. Why should they give the government a large chunk of their earnings?

One day, my doubts were cleared by an elderly gentleman who had the patience and the time to do so. He told me that we payed the government so that we have roads, electricity, water and other such resources. He said we paid taxes so that the government can give food to the poor people at a cheaper rate so that they could also fill their stomach.

As a child, I was unconvinced. I did not know why but the explanation just did not set with me.

When I grew up, I realised that tax money was used by government in giving subsidies to the poor as well as providing everyone with basic amenities.

So, government took money from parents. Decided on what schemes to use that money on. Used the money for people who needed it. Problem solved!

So, to simplify it, government did charity on my behalf.

Now, what I don't understand is, why do we need the government to do this?

I mean, if I really want to or have to help someone, why can I not decide whom to help and how to help them?

I do not agree that just because some people are rich, they have a duty to take care of everyone that is poor. I believe that everyone should get what they deserve for their work. Please read my post on The Robin Hood Concept for more details on this.

In the current scenario, the government is spending a lot of money in collecting taxes. After that a lot of money is lost on schemes which have good intentions but are implemented poorly. Not to forget the major share of corruption in 'redistributing' the money.

So, I have to pay only Rs 400 for a job to my maid because she is supposedly getting benefits from the government and so can manage on a meager salary. I have to give 30% of my income to the government so that it can provide these benefits to my maid.

Unfortunately, all the money that I give to the government, hoping that it would reach my maid, does not reach her. Some is lost in administrative expense. Some is lost in mismanagement and the lot of it goes to corrupt 'distributors'!

Instead, why can't I just pay my maid more and pay less taxes?

In this way, I will be paying my maid exactly what she deserves based on the price decided by market forces. The government will not have to collect money from me and give it to my maid. And my maid will get what she is entitled to for her work. Doesn't it simplify the entire process?

It not only makes it more efficient but also a lot more reliable. Plus, because I get to choose where my erstwhile tax money is being used, I cannot complain that the government is wasting my tax money.

Ofcourse this cannot be done overnight. The reduction in taxes and subsidies has to be simultaneous.

The only way to reduce corruption is to improve the moral fabric of the society but till then we must work on reducing the number of opportunities where people can be corrupt.

If we increase the subsidies, more and more people would want to be in the group which is entitled to these subsidies thus defeating the entire purpose of it.

Let us focus on creating wealth before we start redistributing it. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our classroom in Mumbai.


I am Apoorv. I am a Teach for India teacher. I teach in a school where kids from low income families come to study. I am writing this blog to raise funds for my kids.

Who are my kids?

They are 49 students of 7th standard in Divine Child High School in Malad (East), Mumbai. They are the most amazing bunch of students I have ever met in my life. They are inquisitive, joyful, eager and have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. They come from families who are completely invested in wanting to improve their child's life. They are kids who have achieved a lot over the past few years but are still just warming up. They are kids who don't get confused when they see a new word. They find out its meaning and then try to use it in day to day conversations. They are kids who can ask you uncomfortable questions about your field of expertise.They are kids who are can surprise you with their answers and their level of critical thinking. They are kids who know that understanding everything is more important than just remembering it. They are kids who work harder and smarter than most kids their age and they do it under trying circumstances.They are kids who are always ready for a challenge. They are my kids.

But we need your help.

There are various ways in which you can help us:

  • Volunteer: Come teach the class. Give the students a different perspective about a topic of your choice. They have not had a lot of exposure with the latest happenings around the world so getting to know more people would be wonderful for them.
  • Send us books! : If you have old books which are in good condition then we would love to have them as well. You could buy new books and send them to me. You can choose any book which you think a school going kid should read. :)
  • Sponsor our field trips : There are SO many places in and around Mumbai which my kids haven't seen yet. We do not have the resources to take them around in a bus. If you fund one of our trips, we promise to send you photos. :)
  • Scholarship for the students: Our's is a private school and so the kids do have to pay fees. Our monthly fee is Rs 550/- and apart from that we also have a lot of other misc expenses which add up to a lot. A lot of my kids struggle with the fee payment. Scholarships are a great motivator and have proven to work amazingly well for students. 
  • Buy us stuff : We have a perpetual need for stationary. We need a projector and preferably a small screen too. We need board games and a few sports equipment.  
This is just a suggested list. If there is anything else that you would want to do for the students then please feel free to contact me.

How to contribute?

If you wish to contribute in any of the above mentioned ways please send me an email on apoorv.shah2013[at] or call me on +91 9925027956 any time after 2pm. You can also leave your contact details as comments on this blog and I will get back to you in a day. 

You can wire transfer the money or send us a cheque. More details will be given when you send me the email. :)

If you want, you can go to this link on the Teach for India website and choose me 'Apoorv' in the "donate to specific fellow" tab. Here's the link: 

All your contributions will be judiciously used. Highest level of accountability and transparency will be maintained. We will see to it that your contribution is optimally utilized. 

If you have any queries, please direct them the email id. 

You can also get regular updates about the happenings in class on my twitter handle @apoorv3E

Now to end with some amazing news.

I had posted on my facebook account about a similar request and was overwhelmed when I got 5 people willing to sponsor the students. I received scholarship money from one of the donors a couple of days back and received a book from another today.

Here's the photo of the book. 

Me and my students hope that this is just the beginning. :)

If you are in the area, please do come visit. :) 



Update: I received 3 more books and close to 10,000 Rs in scholarship donation money after this post. Thank you to everyone. We have made a good start but there is a long way to go. :) 
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