Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Indian Heroes Calendar (IHC) Experience

As the 2020 comes to an end, I would like to share my experience of working on an initiative started this year.


As a parent, I would often tell stories to my son, and several times the stories would be of famous people based on my reading. Over the years, I came to know about many names from different sources, through different people, and realized that there are so many such stories we do not know about. There are names whose life can provide so much inspiration but are hardly known or forgotten in the layers of history.

With this thought, I started to look around, collecting names of people wo helped shape India in last two centuries. Focus was mostly around freedom fighters, revolutionaries, scientists, armed forces, artists, poets, authors, and educationists. I was lucky to get guidance from Shri Arvind Gupta whose provided me his book ‘Bright Sparks’ that contained stories of India’s scientists. From Rachna Rawat’s ‘The Brave’, I got stories of Param Vir Chakra heroes.

Over the time, I got more than 200 names. I called them ‘Heroes’. But how should these stories be conveyed?

What if these stories are told on the birth anniversary of each Hero?

This would be the best way to remember that hero. And that is how the idea of Indian Heroes Calendar (IHC) originated. The purpose is to provide an interesting and encouraging introduction about each hero Once readers get to know about the hero, they can explore them in greater details through various books and other resources.


To help build a knowledgeable society that remembers its heroes with pride.


Spread information about Indian heroes to each corner of the country and across the world.

Checkout this interesting Indian Heroes Quiz (October - December Heroes)

How it started

While the concept was there, names have been collected, the writing of stories was delayed due to multiple reasons. When the pandemic came, and changed the life, realization came that it had to be done now.

From April 2020, story writing began. In the same month, social media accounts were created, and decision was made to share the stories through those handles. Over the time, content was improved, and tools were incorporated to create better graphics and to ease publishing. From June, Hindi version of the stories were also published. The time saved in driving while doing WFH was used to create the stories, and by August, more than 100 stories were created.

Over the time some new names were also added in the original list, and stories of 203 Heroes were completed by December 2020. Out of which, 160 stories will be published by December end. Along with individual stories, monthly booklets have also been published in both English and Hindi since June.

Fun with Heroes

Since October, we started a weekly story telling session to 5-15 years kids on Indian Heroes. Every Sunday, stories of 5-6 heroes, mostly born during that week are told in an interactive way. The sessions are published on the YouTube channel.

So far we have conducted 11 Fun With Heroes sessions. Do reach out if you want to be a part of these sessions.

App and Website

As the time permitted, work on IHC website and app (Progressive Web App) was also started with the help of https://corecotechnologies.com/ under the guidance of Vijay Suryawanshi. Very soon this will be launched in the new year to help reach the stories to greater audience.


The underlying aim of this initiative is to take these stories to every corner of the world.

A lot of things are planned or being though about to fulfill that aim.

  • Converting the content into regional languages
  • Create video and audio stories on these Heroes
  • Take these stories to schools and other institutes
  • Start a weekly/monthly newsletter on these Heroes
  • Expert discussions and talks
  • Create short story books on these heroes for young children
  • Connect these stories with geographical locations and create awareness about the historical importance of these places and surroundings

As you can see, a lot to be done and I would not mind few helping hands who found this concept interesting.

I extend my thanks to Ria Hansda for reviewing the stories to correct errors and make them readable. Many thanks to my friends and online community who pointed out errors or provided useful information. Special mention of my family who provided me all the support and time to focus on this initiative.


It would be an understatement to mention that this initiative changed me personally. It brought plethora of new information, some of which made me realize how little I knew before.  It provided different aspects of Indian history, innovations, and transformation, enhancing my understanding to a great extent. It improved my story writing and forced me to understand different aspects of storytelling. I learnt new software and tools to present the stories in a better way. I even learn new words and their Hindi meanings. The Fun with Heroes sessions with kids kept me on toes and never allowed me to lose my focus!

Ways to Connect

Sunday, September 20, 2020

My Covid Test Experience

I have had sore throats many a times in last few years, mainly because I have allergic reaction to cold water/drink, curb, ice cream etc especially when taken during night. Sometimes I also get sore throat due to weather change. In last 5 months itself since Covid spread started, I had it for few times. And I recovered in a few days.

When I had sore throat feeling on September 14, I had already gone into an isolation in my home as a precautionary measures. I also decided to consult a doctor. The doctor advised me to get the Covid test done immediately, either through a private lab or at the government hospital, mainly because of prevalent Covid situation in Pune. 

Rapid Antigen Test

So after 175 days of lock down and 190 days of first Covid case in Pune, I went to Khivansara Patil Government Hospital near Water Tank in Wakad on the morning of September 15 to get my test done. The Center usually opens at around 9:00 am and doctors come at 10:00 am. Do not go inside the hospital for the test. The tests are conducted outside near the entrance. At first, I stood in one line for 40 minutes to register the name. Here you'll get a sequence number that will be useful later. Then I stood again in another line for 30 minutes to get the liquid in small plastic tube for Antigen test. From there, I moved to another queue which goes to the first floor for the Rapid Antigen test. While there was some waiting in the queue, the test itself is pretty fast. In this test the swab, which resembles a pretty long cotton bud, is inserted deep into the nose. Then I waited for the result to come outside the hospital. The key is to maintain distancing as the area of full of patients and some of these can be Covid positive. With time, more and more people had come and it is quite difficult to maintain distancing.

Rapid Antigen test gives faster result, and within 30 minutes I was informed about the negative result. Identification is mostly done from the sequence number given earlier. In case of positive result, the patient is immediately isolated and asked to report to doctor.

Liquid Tube for Rapid Antigen Test


In case of negative result of Antigen test, as per ICMR guidelines, RT-PCR test is done to rule out the infection. All the people with negative Antigen test result stood in another queue to get the red liquid for RT-PCR test. This queue progressed very slowly and it took 40 minutes to get the kit despite having on 10 people in the queue. Then I stood in the queue for the test. RT-PCR test is also done at the same place on the first floor where Antigen test was done. In this test, the swab is inserted into the mouth all the way up to the throat to collect the sample.

Liquid Tube for RT-PCR Test

Total time taken (since the arrival at the center): 2 hours 30 minutes

The tests at government hospitals are completely free. While the procedure can be made a bit faster, I appreciate the hospital staff and police personnel deployed there, dealing with the pandemic everyday.

There are private labs that charge INR 2000/- and do the tests at the home of patient.

The result of RT-PCR test takes 2-5 days to come. So I came back home and continued my self-isolation, waiting for the result. Next day, I got an SMS from myGov, informing me about the submission of RT-PCR sample, along with a link containing pdf form.

The Isolation

In Sweden, it is said that people would go in isolation the moment flu like symptoms appear even before the Covid came. In India, people would continue to go to offices, schools, malls and other public places despite fever or cold. Hopefully with the Covid experience, this behavior will change.

As I mentioned above, I had gone into an isolation in my home in a separate room since the symptoms of sore throat started. It is recommended that the isolation room has attached bathroom to avoid going out.

During the isolation
  • Avoided any contact with other people.
  • No family member entered in my room.
  • If anything was needed, things were kept at the door, which were picked up, maintaining the distance.
  • Mask was used inside home by everyone for the greater part of the day unless the door of the room is closed.
  • Frequent cleaning of hands
  • Washed the used utensils with soap and kept outside the room. Picked up later.
Medication and fitness, which was mainly aimed at improving the immunity and recovery.
  • Continued with regular exercise and yoga in the morning
  • Lungs exercise as suggested by Dr Sandhya Ramanathan in this informative video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZoBb-ngk5k
  • Frequent checking of O2 levels
  • Intake of multi-vitamins (esp Vitamin D, C and Zinc)
  • Salt water and Betadine gargles multiple times during the day, esp before sleeping (with hot water)
  • Jalniti (put a drop of Betadine in the water) twice a day
  • Ginger-honey syrup
  • Drinking hot/warm water
  • 5 day course of Amoxicillin (consult doctor)
The isolation can be quite tough mentally as the movements and communication with family is restricted. Keeping the positive attitude, doing meditation and engaging mind in work, reading or entertainment will help reduce the anxiety.

It is important to not stay up till late and have a good night's sleep.

There is a good video on home isolation - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udprEtDVmIY

RT-PCR Test Result

Thankfully the sore throat symptoms gradually started fading, and I didn't develop any other symptoms like fever, cold etc. There was a contact number of a doctor on the PDF received earlier. I contacted that lady doctor after 2 days, and through her, I came to know of my RT-PCR test result on September 18.

I had tested Negative.

While this indeed was a good news and brought relief to the family, we decided to continue with the isolation for few more days till September 21 as a measure of precaution.

There is a very good graphics that highlights the days when the virus is transmissible. The first 10 days are crucial where isolation can help reduce the spread. 

Pune has become an epicenter of the Covid spread, and therefore it will be good to take extra precautions. An early detection will be quite helpful and in some cases may be life-saving.
  • Observe your body carefully, and get yourself checked by doctor in case of flu like symptoms.
  • Now it is possible to get the Covid test done even without prescription at Government hospitals in Pune.
  • Use mask and maintain distance while going out.
  • Use mask at home if you are not feeling well.
  • Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin D deficiency are quite common. Boost immunity through diet and/or multivitamins.
While infection through surface is possible, it is highly unlikely. Most likely cause of infection will be through droplets. Therefore it is better to maintain distancing and use mask.

The mask is supposed to cover your nose and mouth all the time. If it is not, it is useless to wear one.

And no, masks are not suffocating. If you feel that way, find an open space to lower your mask.

Do not panic and do provide helping hand. The fight is against the virus, and not against the people having virus.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The 'Work From Home'​ Experience

Throughout my career as software developer over last 13+ years, my employers have actively encouraged the use of 'Work-From-Home' whenever required and I had used extensively. But the 2020 is different. I started WFH from March 17 hoping that this will go on for a month. But by April, it was pretty clear that WFH is not going away soon. Initial month was a bit hectic with working in multiple time zones on tight project deadline. The prolonged isolation has its effects on the productivity and health.

Then the school started in June. For a week I observed the routine of my son during the online classes. He would get ready before the class, have his uniform and change it once the classes are over.

This caught my attention, and I have tried to follow this to come out of the 'Pajama-habit'. Treat the office time similar to how I used to do it before the lock down, minus actual travel.

  • Do exercise/yoga/walk in the morning
  • Get ready before being active on office network. Mentally prepare for going to work.
  • Dress appropriately. Not necessarily the formals, but not the night clothes.
  • Take breaks similar to how we do in office.
  • Return to home in the evening by changing to home clothes, spend fun time with the family.
  • We may have to attend evening and night calls. But have a mindset change that office hours are over.
  • Do personal projects after the office hours the way we used to do.
  • Basically, simulating pre-lock down office life at home.

Of course, there are household duties that will need our attention during the day. Still having this kind of routine does change the mindset towards our work. To some extent, it avoids overburdening ourselves with too much work in a single day, while also ensuring we don't spend entire day procrastinating.

It is understandable that there will be many distractions at home, but when I carefully observed, this was also the case in office. Reduced intake of water, sleep imbalance, lesser exposure to sunlight and fresh air, back/neck/shoulder pains are some of the health related side effects of WFH. So hopefully, having a schedule will help counter these.

Friday, July 31, 2020

The changing generations of India

The young generation of pre-independence era in India included the likes of Swami Vivekanand, Bhagat Singh, Ram Prasad Bismil, Chnadrashekhar Azad, Vinayak Savarkar, Ashfaqulla Khan, Taraknath Das, Ras Behari Bose, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Bhagwati Charan Vohra, Bhikaiji Cama, Surya Sen, Bina Das, Kalpana Datta, Pritilata Waddedar,Muthulakshmi Reddi, Kartar Singh Sarabha, Udham Singh, Sucheta Kriplani and many others, who were passionate, eager to learn, had acquired knowledge of Indian history at very young age, had clear goals, and were willing put in the hard work.

Then came a generation where along with securing jobs through a lot of hardships, youth were busy making advancement for the country in diverse fields. It took them many years to reach any reasonable success.

After that came the so-called IT generation that accelerated migration from small towns to metros. They became the first beneficiaries of the globalization. They started exploring the world, earning more and spending more. In a way, powered the wheels of economy. While they were not as connected with the roots of the country as their earlier generations, they still kept alive the connection and many of them have actively worked on restoring old heritage.

Then came millennial, the present 20-30 generation. This generation is completely opposite to the pre-independence generation. They are the outcome of the degraded education system and carefully twisted Indian history. They have stopped looking for reasons on the ground and have started forming their views from streaming platforms and stand-up comedians. They easily get influenced by the RJs and movie stars. A cursory glance at their social media activities can tell how far these are disconnected from ground realities. Their actual work is replaced by the show-offs. Agreed that this is harsh and a broad generalization, and I personally know quite a few individuals in this category doing amazing work in different fields. But sadly, they are exceptions and not the majority.

Sincerely hoping that the New Education Policy and a combined efforts of people who are still passionate about knowing and spreading Indian history will together stop this brain erosion and create a vibrant new generation.

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