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I recently watched the banned ‘India’s Daughter’ on YouTube. It was brilliant, spot on and a MUST WATCH for every one of us.

Is banning a film that truthfully brings out an issue bad?

What is the point of banning a film that truthfully brings out an issue?

I now seriously wonder why there is a ban on this and the Government is wasting their time going after BBC and the Journalist. After all, what is wrong in accepting that we have serious flaws in our societal mindset towards women?

The video brings to light the prevalent regressive attitude towards women and the filmmaker – Leslee Uldwin has done a great service to our society.  Today, more and more women are getting educated; they need to work and earn wages; and they are becoming independent financially and most importantly in their thinking & attitude. Is this not good?

Apparently NOT!

Many of us feel that women should act or do things in certain ways. For them, women have to understand who they are, should not wear provocative clothes in public, shouldn’t go out after certain time, shouldn’t hang out with a man unless he is related as a spouse, brother or father. If these rules are violated, they are inviting trouble for themselves.  What a shame!

This makes me sick, down to my gut –

  • This is the attitude that has the rapist unrepentant even after a conviction and death sentence.
  • This is the attitude that gave 5 drunk idiots the power to punish a girl and her male friend simply because they were out late in the night and did not feel it was wrong!

Those who oppose the film are screaming national shame. What shame?   Just because a foreign national made the film? Or the girl and her family have violated these regressive, unpublished rules?  And, many claim that the rapist has been made a “Hero”, because he was interviewed and got to express his views.  I feel he just came across as the perfect specimen for us to understand what is really wrong with our society.

We need to change soon and the immediate step is to accept that there is a serious problem. Simply enacting stricter laws alone isn’t enough; we as a society have to fundamentally change.

Let us accept everyone (including women) have a choice to live their lives the way they want. Let the Government lift the ban on this file at the earliest and encourage every Indian to watch the film to effect the change.

Happy Women’s day to all the wonderful women out there.

Narayan K Murthy | narayan@goodseeds.in | +91 970.449.6664 | http://www.goodseeds.in

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The latest craze all over is finding and consuming organically grown produce.   Conceptually, this sounds great; Do we really understand what organic means? And do we fully understand where and how these are produced?

What do we mean by organic? Is it just no chemicals or pesticides spayed on the plants?  Or do you think that the farmer did not enrich the soil with any chemical fertilizer and just used natural compost?  And what went into that compost anyway?  Just plant-based muck or some animal dung too?  And, what were those animals fed with?

Oh, we have not even asked what kinds of seeds were used to grow the plants that produced those ‘Organic’ fruits and veggies!

Organic Brinjal

Confused? You are not alone. Even many of the farmers who I have interacted with have their own views on what they consider as “organic”.

What about those resellers?  Do the people who sell…

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1. What is “sustainable living” according to Upeksha?

Whatever day-to-day living choices we make need to be affordable (economical), should benefit someone around us (social) and not degrade the environment directly or indirectly (ecological).

 

2. What do you mean by “sustainable” products?

Our way of living over the years has moved us from traditional products, which were local, natural and harmless for ourselves and our environment. Sustainable products are such products of traditional wisdom that are natural as well as can be produced and secured easily without destructing any of our natural resources.

 

3. What does “organic” mean?

At a basic level, organic products are those that contain no chemicals. In our definition, organic products are grown with native seeds (not genetically modified) on farm lands that were prepared with natural and organic inputs (cow dung, neem based pesticides, etc. ) utilizing traditional methods of harvesting and processing.

 

4. How can one buy products from Upeksha?

Our online portal has an eBazaar page which is friendly and easy to use. You can order from our menu of products either online or by calling our easy to remember phone numbers Monday thru Saturday 8AM to 7PM. We will coordinate a convenient home delivery to your doorstep.

 

5. Is Upeksha delivery available everywhere?

At present, we deliver to most parts of Hyderabad and select areas in Secunderabad. We are investing building our infrastructure to store and deliver on a larger scale and soon we will be able to deliver everywhere in Hyderabad/Secunderabad. After that, we plan to expand to other cities.

 

6. What are the payment options for purchases?

Currently we offer cash transactions only. For regular customers, we also provide them the choice to online NEFT transfer to our account.  Shortly, we will provide payments options through all major credit cards and debit cards.

 

7. Does Upeksha sell only organic products?

Not all products we sell are organic (e.g. consumer items such as soaps and tooth pastes cannot be 100% organic). However, all our groceries, veggies and fruits sold through us are either organic or fully natural.

 

8. How does Upeksha ensure the quality of products as well as ensure that they are “organic”?

We derive support from and keep building a strong network of people who have been involved firsthand in organic/natural farming and processing for over 20 years. These individuals and their organizations train, develop and work closely with many producers of organic products. We utilize their references, follow them up with our own site visits plus collect any available certifications.

 

9. Where do you conduct your bazaars? How often are the bazaars held?

Until recently we were conducting monthly bazaars that were family friendly in Hyderabad & Secunderabad. However, we have SUSPENDED OUR BAZAARS through the summer to focus on our online portal and working closely with our suppliers.

 

10. How can I participate in “Upeksha Natural Living”  bazaar?

Currently, we have suspended our bazaars through Summer.  In the future, to participate as a vendor, you should be a seller of sustainable products that meet our criteria for health, social value creation or eco-friendliness. Feel free write to help@upeksha.in to provide us more detail and we will follow-up with you.

 

11. When will we see Upeksha in Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai …?

We are creating a model that promotes local producers of sustainable products. Once we understand and refine this model in Hyderabad, we intend to offer this concept in other cities by partnering with existing players. Hopefully, we will be in 2 more cities within the next 12 months.

I have been coming across so much recently about sustainability, organic living, social responsibility, local consumption and many such delightful terms.  Often I wonder, if these terms have a consistent understanding among people; Starting with myself, do I even know what I mean by these words?

Thinking deeply on the term, “sustainability” – Ecologically, it is about how our bio-diversity can be enhanced and preserved;  Socially, it is promoting equality and well being within our communities; and both these need to be met with the economic demands and constraints of the society.

If the last paragraph sounded a bit academic, my apologies!

So, what does one mean by sustainable living?  I guess whatever day-to-day living choices we make should promote ‘sustainability’ as defined earlier one way or other.   My living choices need to be affordable (economical), should benefit someone around me (social) and not degrade the environment directly or indirectly (ecological).

Couple of years ago, I stopped buying bottled water and instead started carrying water with me all the time.  I believe this would reduce the 25 to 30 plastic bottles I otherwise contribute to trash.  It made sense to me both economically and ecologically.

I also decided to consume as much as locally and organically grown food products – this reduced my food bill, ensured I was consuming fresh produce and has improved my overall health.  And, I believe I am helping the local producers and doing my bit to preserve bio-diversity.

However, should we be consuming only local products?  When I used to live in the US, I could not consume anything other than traditional Indian food everyday, which was certainly non-local.  The globalization and our social obligations have introduced products and services that are not traditional or local in our lives – we explore multi-racial cuisines, travel around much more, and indulge in social activities that seem unsustainable.

Another wrinkle in my thinking comes from my hardcore vegan friends, who believe eating dairy products is unsustainable.  As a country with the largest population of milch animals, which provide livelihoods to thousands of small and marginal farmers, I find this hard to digest.  While I see alarming increase in factory production of milk and associated animal cruelty, I believe it is our responsibility to reverse this trend; There is a huge opportunity to promote better caring of animals, prevent cow slaughter and support our marginal farmers by consuming traditionally and organically produced dairy instead of boycotting in the name of sustainability.

So, where do I stand today?  I consume locally grown organic food as much as possible, but will not mind consuming a pizza or Thai food or something similar once in a while.  I use public transportation or ride my bicycle as much as possible to reduce fossil emission.  I do not buy bottled water or take plastic bags, and reuse things as much as possible, so that I produce less waste.

I think each one of us can follow our own simple rules and create a better planet and society in our own ways.

Am I okay with this thought process?

Narayan K Murthy | narayan@goodseeds.in | +91 970.449.6664 |http://www.goodseeds.in

The term ‘Social Commerce’ has been around for a while; and of late it has been a topic of intrigue for me – especially for its use in my current effort to build a marketplace for producers and consumers of eco-friendly products.

To facilitate commerce of any products or services, buyers and sellers need to come together.   For a ‘win-win’ transaction to occur, buyers should recognize the value of what they intend to purchase and sellers need to feel that they got a fair value in return.

Well, it does not happen that easily in most cases, certainly not in the retail area that I am promoting in India.  Often, my consumers don’t even know what they want; even if they do, don’t know how to get or utilize them; and most suppliers that produce great products do not know how to market those.

It will greatly help, if there exists a marketplace where,

  1. All consumers know each other; and they exchange information freely
  2. Consumers can easily find experts to help them:
    • recognize their actual needs and point them at products / services that will fill those needs
    • effectively utilize and benefit from what they purchase
  3. Producers know how their products could add value for any given customer; and they can articulate it with passion
  4. Consumers and producers can find each other easily and interact freely

This is where I think we could unleash social commerce – both online and offline.

We started experimenting this concept a couple of years ago in an offline mode.  We setup bazaars (similar to the farmers’ market concept in California or the traditional village markets from 40-50 years ago in India) where we encouraged local suppliers of sustainable products in food, personal care, handicrafts, handlooms, etc., to come and sell their products directly to the customers.  We created a family friendly environment where customers could have a great weekend experience with their spouses and children.  They also ran into many of their friends and more importantly made new connections.

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What came out of this approach was something more beautiful than we ever imagined.  Collectively the customers became more informed and understood the value of the products directly from their producers.  They purchased more without bargaining, which made the sellers much more satisfied.

The experience opened up a Pandora’s box filled with unlimited number of possibilities.  Can we improve our bazaars as a vibrant marketing platform?  Can we take this experience online and connect a much broader set of consumers and producers?

I believe many elements of social commerce can facilitate a rich and engaging experience for the Indian consumers and producers, especially online:

  • Engage both the consumers and producers – Provide an interactive platform where everyone can create and share content
  • Build a community – Enable open interactions between the participants; facilitate sustainable relationships between people.  The community has to exist both online and offline
  • Provide easy and affordable access to products and services – It is important for people to find whatever they discuss at the same place.  Also, facilitate discussions on the products that are already available to create awareness
  • Empower consumers and producers – Let people discuss and judge on product quality, value, cost and price
  • Build an image of Uniqueness – Let the platform be exclusive for those people who really care about their needs, on the lookout for products that are unique and hard to find

I am set to experiment more (both offline and online), beginning with these hypotheses as baseline.  I expect to discover more ideas along the way, but am also looking for fresh ideas and perspectives.

Do let me know what you think.

Narayan K Murthy | narayan@goodseeds.in | +91 970.449.6664 | http://www.goodseeds.in

Any oil loses its nutritional value when heated.  Any cold-pressed oil, if used incorrectly can actually be more harmful than refined oils

OilBlog-Title-Pic2

Ever since I published a brief note on olive oil on Facebook, I have had several questions and requests to write on other vegetable oils.  So, here is my attempt to educate myself and pass on my knowledge …

I see several organic food product suppliers promoting and pushing unrefined ‘Cold-pressed’ oils over the usual refined oils in the name of health; however there appears to be a significant lack of awareness and misconceptions among both consumers and suppliers about their nutritional benefits and usage.

Let’s understand what an oil is –

Oils are primarily grain-based or nut-based extractions, which contain saturated and unsaturated fats, oleic acid and some vitamins and nutrients.  While oils are usually liquids, they tend to solidify at cooler temperatures.  When an oil is heated at some point the begins to break down to glycerol and free fatty acids.  This also marks the beginning of both flavor and nutritional degradation and is called the ‘smoke point’

An oil is refined when it is chemically treated to remove impurities or neutralize taste or reduce acid content, and improve its smoke point.  The heating process and chemical additives used during refining makes a refined oil less nutritious and a health risk.

Why do we need oil?  Aren’t oils bad for health and make us gain weight?

Believe it or not, our body requires small amounts of fat in our daily diet – both saturated and unsaturated.  In fact, Saturated fat is required by the body and brain to function properly.  Unsaturated fats may actually help to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and also raise “good” HDL cholesterol.

Oils provide these fats required by our body and also could provide nutrition to our skin with scalp due to their natural vitamin content, anti-oxidants, fatty acids  (Omega 369) and minerals.  Cold-pressed oils are ideally suited to be consumed or used at normal room temperatures.

CO-Some Oil 2

When we use oils in our food, we heat them at various temperatures.  Any oil with more saturated fat will withstand heat better (e.g. coconut oil).  The temperature point at which an oil begins to break is the smoke point for that oil.  Ideally, we should not consume any oil after it has been heated to its smoke point, simply because the oil could release harmful chemicals while breaking down.

Do we know how to use Cold-Pressed, Unrefined oils?

All the cold-pressed oils can be used for applications that do not require heating, be it for body massaging, a salad dressing or for making pickles.  We need to be careful when choosing an oil for cooking.  The table below illustrates the uses of commonly used oils in Indian lifestyle – be it cooking or for external applications:

Oil-Table1

In essence, if you are deep-frying, it may actually be better to use a refined oil than to overheat and use some cold-pressed oil; the better option may be to simply avoid deep-frying as much as we can!

So, did you find this a bit helpful?

Any comments / alternate views?  I will sincerely appreciate your thoughts.

Narayan K Murthy | narayan@goodseeds.in | +91 970.449.6664 | http://www.goodseeds.in

I have co-founded 3 companies to-date.  I have been continually learning along this journey on how to influence and lead; what it takes to influence and inspire people around me; and that it takes a lot more than personal intelligence, compassion, business network and knowledge/skills to become an effective influencer and leader.

Well, it seems I have a long way to go in this quest for the holy grail!

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Before discussing what leadership means to me, I would like to deliberate on two key elements – 1) Ego and 2) Self-awareness, which I believe are core to understanding leadership.

Ego, based on what I have gathered is simply our sense of self OR our self-image of our personality.  In reality, this is never the same as what others perceive us to be.  And, when I say self-awareness, I just feel that it is being conscious about our capabilities, deficiencies and attitude towards others.

As I began to assess leadership based on these elements, I concluded that I should first work on leading myself and then on influencing others.  So, I set out on a journey to understand the concept of ‘personal leadership’.

Leadership first starts within.  It is one’s own ability to self-inspire and self-motivate to give the best at whatever he/she believes in.  I feel this is fundamental before seeking to inspire and influence others towards a common purpose.

So, I have been trying to be cognizant of my ego and conscious of my abilities and deficiencies.  While I recognize the value of my self-esteem, I also understand the importance of having the courage and humility to seek help from others.   I certainly need the passion, counsel and support of a good team to create and realize a common vision.  This means, I need to become an able listener and a solid influencer.

Influencing without authority, be it in a personal setting (our spouses, children, friends and so forth) or in a professional setting (subordinates, peers or superiors), requires us to develop a ‘presence’ – an aura of specialness for others to feel.  It is then people buy into a vision and embrace it as their own.

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James Scouller, in his book “Three Levels of Leadership model”, describes “presence” as something beyond a person’s title, fame or social status.   He articulates “presence” as something deeper, more authentic, more fundamental and more powerful and reflective of someone’s true inner qualities.
(Ref: http://www.three-levels-of-leadership.com/blog/tag/james-scouller/)

Scouller also suggests that each person’s authentic presence is unique and outlines seven qualities of presence: 1) personal power – command over one’s thoughts, feelings and actions, 2) high, real self-esteem, 3) the drive to be more, to learn, to grow, 4) a balance of an energetic sense of purpose with a concern for the service of others and respect for their free will, 5) intuition, 6) being in the now, and 7) inner peace of mind and a sense of fulfillment.

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Intuitively, this feels absolutely right to me.  However in my personal experience, I am finding it challenging to influence everyone in a team effectively.  There are always individuals who either resist or do not contribute.  I think there are other factors such as individual egos, personal agendas, pre-conceived notions, etc., coming into the equation, which inhibit their ability to be amenable.

In such cases, I tend to take the easier route more often than not – distance from those who I am not able to inspire/influence and seek those who I can connect with.   This at times makes me look unforgiving and unyielding.

Any comments / alternate views?  I will sincerely appreciate your thoughts.

Narayan K Murthy | narayan@goodseeds.in | +91 970.449.6664 | http://www.goodseeds.in