Clean Sweep by Prasoon Joshi

I landed in Gujarat the day Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched by our Prime Minister. It was 2nd October 2014 and Gandhidham in Kutch District railway station was spotless with many volunteers cleaning the platform and the area around the railway station with brooms.

I was not able to listen to the PM’s first edition of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ but the message was loud and clear – the way Gandhiji made every Indian believe that they were part of the freedom movement just by wearing khadi, our PM made every Indian an agent to country’s cleanliness and eventual development. If one could clean their surroundings and sustain it, they were part of a nationwide movement! A great idea but was it really going to change us?

The initial messages were a plea to keep clean. But this advertisement made an attempt to change the approach towards the campaign.

It was no longer cool to be dirty and the thought resonated – thodi sharam karlo, soch swacch karlo! I could see people act repulsed when someone littered. I’ve seen a few even clap at those who spat on the road. Gandhigiri had just become the common man’s cause, and towards development.

Renowned ad guru, singer and lyricist Prasoon Joshi launched an initiative, Clean Sweep, taking further the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan on 25th November 2014. The thought behind this was very simple:

Cricket is not just a sport but a religion in India.  It is a game played with unbridled enthusiasm in the gullies across Mumbai. Unfortunately, a lot of these streets are littered with garbage, denying children the space to play. ‘Clean Sweep‘ aims to create awareness on the shrinking space for kids to play thanks to garbage that is dumped in those areas.

Prasoon Joshi at Lalbaug. Picture credit: radioandmusic

Prasoon Joshi at Lalbaug. Picture credit: radioandmusic

Being an active member of the Swachh Bharat Initiative, Prasoon Joshi, picked a location and armed himself with a broom. He had taken it upon himself to clean up a locality in Lalbaug where garbage was preventing children from playing cricket.  The activity was finished with a game of underarm gully cricket in that very location for the youngsters of the colony.

Prasoon Joshi with the broom at Clean Sweep. Left: A volunteer, Center: Prasoon. Right: Author. Picture credit: Sahil Salvi

Prasoon Joshi with the broom at Clean Sweep. Left: A volunteer, Center: Prasoon. Right: Author. Picture credit: Sahil Salvi

The ministry of information and broadcasting on 2nd October released the audio track “Swachh Bharat Ka Irada Kar Liya Hum Ne” composed by Prasoon Joshi and sung by Kailash Kher. The song, specially prepared for the Swachh Bharat Mission, was composed in a very short span of time.

He also nominated 10 people, including Venu Srinivasan, Kiran Rao, Neerja Birla, Nitish Kapoor, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Irrfan Khan, Jeev Milkha Singh, Shankar Mahadevan, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, to carry forward the message and aim of his ‘Clean Sweep’ campaign.

IndiBlogger had partnered with Clean Sweep in Mumbai during its launch by Prasoon Joshi. I had the privilege to be part of it along with Heena and Keyur from Mumbai.

Logistically speaking..

I had recently written a post on my personal blog about how it was to be on this side of IndiBlogger. However, it did not include anything about what I did here. (Sometimes I wonder about exactly what I do here and invariably it leads me to watching cute baby videos on Youtube so I could take my mind off it!)

When I joined this company as a PR freelancer, I was fresh out of college with zero experience. The very generous team at IndiBlogger let me work for them, travel with them, be part of team discussions; even allowed me to make mistakes and believe it or not, paid me to simply learn on the job. I got away with a lot of PR goof-ups in the early days and it was merely because the team, at that time, didn’t understand what PR is (Nihal still doesn’t). The bad thing was, at that point, I didn’t understand PR either. Working for IndiBlogger gave me the hands-on experience in the field and for that, I will always be grateful!

Then one day, Renie called me. It was a casual chat when he mentioned to me that he thought I could handle some more work (other than goofing off in the name of PR) in the company. His exact words were, “Just help us a little with responding to a few support tickets that we get sometimes.”

It obviously seemed easy!

And hence, (I would like to believe because of my ‘public relation skills’), I was also made responsible for attending to logistical issues with regards to prizes, vouchers, hampers, coupons, t shirts, pen drives, toothpaste, toothbrush, and whathaveyou.

Let me be honest. When I was growing up, I never once thought or imagined or dreamed to work as that girl who would respond to issues pertaining to a courier lost on its way to a village in Kerala, problems with redeeming a prize by a blogger who is currently in Kenya or a blogger in a little town outside Banaras who did not receive a shopping voucher!

When it dawned on me what I had gotten myself into, all I could think was, “Holy mother of god!”

In the last two years, I have had to respond to so many queries regarding loss (of couriers) that sometimes it’s hard to go to bed with a calm mind. I often imagine myself as Amy Adams’ character, Julie, in the film Julie and Julia; the part where Julie is in a job which entails that she respond to phone calls from people complaining about the government and its public development schemes.

A distraught Amy Adams in the film Julie & Julia

A distraught Amy Adams in the film Julie & Julia

 

At first it was confusing and frustrating and annoying and endless. I had no idea why WeSuck courier service would not deliver to a certain location or why WeAreThieves courier service tends to lose couriers without a trace!

With time I got better at managing these issues and then it wasn’t that ba… err someone just received a damaged shampoo bottle and I am now wondering what I can possibly do to make up for spilled shampoo!

So it doesn’t quite end. The problems are sometimes funny, sometimes manageable, sometimes out of control and mostly not-my-fault.

But bloggers have been really cooperative through all of this. And sometimes, when one of them says thank you or a word of appreciation, I am not sure how, but it all seems worth the entire ordeal.

And then there are times when I have upset some bloggers by my inability to provide a satisfactory solution to a logistical issue. Frustrated with my response, they write to Renie! I take this opportunity to clarify that those mails get forwarded to me again; and eventually it’s me who will still be your point of contact for all things logistics (Bwahahah).

Look forward to talking to you soon (hopefully not through a support ticket!)

 

We Dream Business

This is a guest post by Shilpa Dureja Puri, on the #MeetOffice365 IndiBlogger campaign.

I love to talk to people who adore what they do for a living and it’s fascinating to learn how they got there. And I get awe-struck by dreamers, who believe in putting their future in good hands – their own!

Intrigued by the varied set of dream business ideas that got churned out of a simple contest put together by Microsoft India at an event partnered with IndiBlogger, an Indian bloggers community for an Office 365 blogger meet at New Delhi, I began penning this down with a hope to have this reach out to all those dreamy eyes!

It was remarkable to find so many young bloggers with diverse interests, many technology geeks, some ‘home bloggers’ and a few celebrity bloggers! Many of them travelling from satellite towns of Mathura, Nainital, Muzafarnagar and a couple of them from Chandigarh.

In common was the drive to learn more, make their presence felt (30 seconds of fame landed well) and build connections with fellow bloggers. The event did what Office 365, your complete office in the cloud does best, makes it easier to communicate and collaborate and helps you stay connected. Completely connected!

The interactions with Microsoft team were lively, feature presentation, live demo followed by Q&A session kept the audiences engaged while Twitter feeds were running wild with tags #MeetOffice365 #Office365 #Indiblogger and others! Twitter contests and surprise gifts kept the audience buzzing with excitement. Most interesting were some of the participant bloggers conversations where they began concluding about how they’d want to use Office365 even as the event carried on.

To keep the interactions with young bloggers going, a contest inviting bloggers to use story-telling to talk about a dream business they’d like to run and how’d they use Office 365 to transform their business was announced.

In a week or so, what Microsoft received was hundreds of dream business ideas – some bizarre, many real – but most of all written with passion, filled with conviction and an absolutely remarkable description of their application of Office 365 in making their dream come true!

Every successful dream business starts with a great idea. And there were ideas galore! Online Tutoring Business to a College in the Cloud, Online book portal to Coffee Shops, Travel agency to Trading Agency, Automobile Design Studio to Architecture business, Gaming business to Movie-making, Fashion designing to HR consultancy, Blogger’s platform to co-authoring books to online publishing, Dream of a beggar-free nation to Cancer Support Facility, Build a News Channel to Building a portal to help people overcoming their personal loss…

Some focused on Office365 adding power to their ideas, making it easier to communicate and collaborate with others. Others reflected well on Office 365 operating their businesses from virtually with anywhere access to the Microsoft Office tools we’ve always used and rely on, plus business-class IT services that are easy to administer. Many built their businesses on the sole premise of Office365 capabilities of allowing teams to work in a new collaborative way.

Some spoke of sleepless nights they had deciding upon their dream businesses, many worked round the clock to complete their entries and stayed focused how Office 365 would help them build the blogosphere they live and breathe in!

Interestingly each narrative made a compelling description and why, what, when, where and how they would want their dream business to take shape with Office 365 undeniably promises a solution to fit their needs.

The power to change lies in your hands, be it small business owners to transform how they run their business or young entrepreneurs to build their dream businesses. In all, Office 365 empowers you to work ‘like a boss’! Completely boss!

Creative writings made such a convincing read that judging entries became a herculean task! Picking very best from the best wasn’t going to be easy. So, Top 7 were cherry picked for their creativity, product understanding and above all alignment of business needs with Office365. Completely synchronized!

And, understanding the difference between those who set up their own business and those who talk about it, Team Microsoft decided to support the dreamers in building their businesses and rewarded Top 25 entries with Office365 NFR License – Home Premium! Completely rewarded!

I urge to you go ahead, read some top blogs and immerse yourself in young blogger’s dream business ideas! Click here to read winning entries.

In the end, a note to all those dreamy eyes go ahead and do, whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it boss! Your boldness only needs passion, some genius, a bit of magic and power of Office 365 with it!

I would be happy to hear from you! Write to me at:

Twitter: @shilpapuri
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/shilpadurejapuri

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog writing. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.

Blogging to build your personal brand

 

 

Blogging to build your personal brand

This article appeared in Life 365, 13th March 2013.

The Book of IndiBloggers

The road so far…

Ever since we made blogs into plays with the help of the very energetic Stray Factory, we have been trying ever so hard to get into waters alien to IndiBlogger.in. The publishing world! Since then, it has taken us over two years and many endless hours to get a partnership for an exclusive short story collection written by bloggers on IndiBlogger.in. We approached many publishers with the idea, but it didn’t seem to impress them. We longed for something exclusive because we wanted the whole book to echo the stories and experiences of IndiBloggers and not just one or two to be added as a footnote. Enter Harper Collins and Yashodhara Lal! The whole thing seemed to seamlessly take shape with Karthika, the chief editor at Harper Collins giving us a crash course on “Publishing for the clueless”. However, we like to believe that the whole thing happened because Harper Collins has a lot of women in their team and IndiBlogger has a lot of men! This book was meant to happen!

Challenge accepted…

We had many challenges to overcome and the road so far was not exactly smooth like some of you very rightly pointed out. With every team in different places across India and working together for the first time, it was hard to translate novel ideas quickly. For example, The IndiBlogger development team was in Chennai, while the marketing team was working out of Bangalore and Mumbai. Yashodhara Lal and Harper Collins were in the Delhi NCR region but by no means close by.  When we designed the initial site, it was like a big game of Chinese whispers. By the time the requirements ping ponged back and forth and across to the creative team in Chennai for some development, the reaction would be, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot??

Breaking all the rules…

A lot of questions regarding the rules and regulations have come up and we have had to change them a few times but here’s the thing, our primary aim is to get the best possible ideas and stories so that we can make a great book. The number of votes for example, is an indicator of the influence of the Blogger in his social circles and to establish the Blogger’s reputation in some ways. Having said that, if the story does not take shape or is poorly written, the editors will be reluctant to put the story in the book because it’s their call and their editorial name at stake.  So when it comes to the book itself, votes will amount to nothing. We would urge you to do your best to write, and take this as an opportunity to learn how and build your influence, because if not today there’s always a tomorrow. We realize that many people across the world know of the GetPublished initiative and we don’t have a name for the book yet. This is BIG!

It’s about family…

IndiBlogger is a big family and we can call it that because thousands of bloggers have met with each other in our IndiBlogger events across India.  Some of you might know that your family and friends can interact with the GetPublished program as well through their FaceBook, Twitter and many other platforms. We hope that they are proud of your efforts so far.

One of our directives is to create a book that will come alive after it is published. This in effect means that the readers of the book can easily interact with the bloggers again with most social mediums through the IndiBlogger network. We are sure that many with similar experiences would relate to the stories and will definitely want to have their say as well, keeping everyone engaged.

The road ahead…

One of the biggest issues for authors today is not the publishing itself, but the marketing and raising awareness. Bestsellers weren’t born because someone published a book.  It’s getting the word out that really matters after that. We believe that the bloggers on IndiBlogger will have no such problems.  As long as there is a good story, IndiBlogger.in’s experience of executing over 100 successful IndiBlogging campaigns coupled with your insightful understanding of social media will send this rocket into space. I must say that there are some very gutsy stories in some of the entries that we have gone through so far. I for one am expecting the book to be “Saucy with a hint of Ice”!

A glimpse of the future…

The activities around the book are going to get more pronounced as the year matures. To start things off, GetPublished is going to feature in the Bangalore IndiBlogger meet on January 20th, 2013 as part of HP’s interactive campaign to promote everything original including writing, products and supplies. There are many more activities planned through the year and we hope that you will jump in and give us some company through this long and IndiAwesome journey.

So the next time you look through a glass window of an airport bookshop, don’t be surprised if there is a book with your name on it.

Happy writing!

Anoop Johnson

Indian by Birth, Blogger by Choice

Write now

Hindustan Times, Mumbai, January 13, 2013

Get Published - HT Cafe, Mumbai, 13th Jan, Page 8

Be it through candid blog posts or publishing houses, the one thing every writer dreams of is to see their work being read by the rest of the world. And now, to aid this dream, HarperCollins India and blogging forum IndiBlogger are coming together, to launch a unique initiative that will give Indian bloggers a chance at getting their work published. The bloggers on the IndiBlogger.in network are being invited to share their experiences under the theme of real love stories, and the best that are shortlisted will be published by HarperCollins later this year.

Read the rest of this article here, and check out GetPublished now!