Monday, August 21, 2017

From the Diaries of Initiative for Enlightenment & Development (IFED)

I had the opportunity to know about this Trust through a Facebook page and a friend who knew the members a few months ago. Since then I have been associated with this organisation as an outside supporting member as well. I appreciate the excellent work being done by IFED in the poor areas of Kashmir, on the outskirts of Srinagar mostly. On my visit to Kashmir in July 2017, I got the opportunity to meet the members and be part of a free medical camp conducted by them in the Tribal area of Dignibal.

Here are some glimpses from their diary. In their own words.

Initiative for Enlightenment & Development is a Charitable Trust Registered under Indian Trust Act; 1882.It was setup in order to tackle the problems of poverty in Jammu & Kashmir. Initiative for enlightenment & Development is committed to the welfare of people from the most underprivileged strata of society without distinction caste, Creed or Color.IED emphasis on assisting the children & youth, who are the citizens of tomorrow and the disabled who need support to help them join mainstream society. The learning experience is mutual our volunteers gain perspective and the experience to mould themselves into tomorrow’s leaders.

                  “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” 

Member of Initiative for Enlightenment & Development inspecting the feet of a poor girl.

On 16th of Oct, 2017 the members of Initiative for Enlightenment & Development carry out a survey in the remote area of Dignibal Ganderbal. Dignibal is the village of district Ganderbal situated 12 Km’s away from main area. The purpose of the survey was to get the overall developmental work being carried out in the area. The survey was conducted by means of interacting with all the age group and sex of the village. The survey conducted by IFED throws light on different problems faced by the inhabitants of the village. They lack the facility of Health, Sanitation, Water, Jobs, transportation and Child Care. There is no transportation, health, Job facilities available for the citizens of the area. The area has been left out by everyone; even the Government agencies do not fulfill the basic requirement of the area. In general it was observed that no such initiative to improve the sanitation, health or drinking water facilities has been taken. It would take a person almost 6 hrs in a day to purchase a small packet of Biscuit or Tablet because of no market available in the area Many villagers stated that the youth of the village has no employment opportunity in the area. On the whole the children’s were seen doing the labor work mainly of the age group of 08 to 12 yrs which is an alarming situation. No vocational training centre (Like Tailoring) has been set up for the women /Girls. Widows, orphans have been ignored as well as not any scheme has been implemented in the area.
Children doing labor work 

Door To Door Campaign (Medicinal Relief)

On 23rd of Jan, 2017 the volunteers of Initiative for Enlightenment & Development carry out program of providing medicinal relief (including Vaseline, Glycerin) to the people of Dignibal Ganderbal. The weather in the month of January mainly remains wet and it was snow all around and the team of IED walked 12 Km’s by foot to reach the village.

Members walking on foot to reach the village

On reaching the village, the Volunteers visited every single home of the village and provided the medicinal relief to the people. The people of the village are affected by the cold season mainly the children and women are affected as their hands became very rough and itchy
Members visiting the homes of villagers

Checking the Rough Hands of Children

In winters it is very difficult for them to work and earn livelihood for themselves. The intense cold and snow are so harsh that they do not come out of their tents and houses. Our team decided to distribute medicine with (& Glycerin, Vaseline), to give some relief to the Inhabitants.

Providing medicines to Villagers

Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana: a person with Burnt Leg

During our home to home delivery of medicines we happen to meet one of the young men of the village namely Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana S/O: Mr. Mohammad Ibrahim Khatana who is 32 years old.  Month earlier an accident happened to him in which he got his leg burnt (from calf to Knee role).When we asked his father about his medication he said, “I was not able to take him to hospital due to bad weather condition, and I got myself injured my right arm got fractured and there is nobody to look after. When we checked the leg of the young man we were stunned.

Burnt Leg of Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana

As the situation of his leg was very critical we decided to bring him to the hospital, but to his luck Kashmir received the heaviest Snowfall of 25 years during this month and we ourselves were helpless and couldn’t do anything for two days. We approached the Public Health Center Shuhama for the ambulance, initially they gave us the permission to take the Sumo halfway and bring down the patient on Stretcher mid way, but after following them continuously for two days they denied us the Ambulance and told that they couldn’t take the risk of driving ambulance on the slippery hilly road to Dignibal. We were left with no option but to contact the General Physician working in one of the Government Hospital in Kashmir and related all the narrative and showed him the video of the person. He was really moved by watching the video and Pictures of the Injured person and praised all our efforts in proving the some medication to the young man. After   having a deep thought he suggested us to give him the First aid and provided us all the medicines. Due to inclement weather and harsh conditions the team IFED went to Dignibal again to provide the first aid to the young man. It took us almost 2 and half hours to reach the house of injured person.
Members of IFED walking on foot to Provide Medication & Dressing to the Burnt Person

After reaching the home of the injured person we tried to provide him the medication in a best possible manner so that the wound get healed up as soon as possible. As we followed the instructions of the Doctor we provided the dressing to him and inspected the wound minutely so that it doesn’t get infected. We provided him the medication in best possible manner and gave him anti infective drugs as well.
Dressing up the wound of the Burnt Person


During our second visit we happened to visit few homes of the villagers. But we were astonished to see the houses of the people, and the conditions were so pathetic. In this chilly weather, where the temperature is below (-6 oC), the natives mainly women and orphans need to survive without roofs over their head. They are living in small huts made of stray. And we felt that lot of work needs to be done for them especially for the welfare of Women and children. With this initiative of Initiative for Enlightenment & Development a lot needs to be done for the people of the area.
                    Members of IFED inspecting the Tents& Sheds of People of the Village

Escorting Burnt Patient to Clinic for Checkup

As the condition of the Burnt Leg of Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana was not right so, we decided to accompany him to Doctor’s Clinic. We hired a cab and reached Main Dignibal Village. With the help of his mother and other family member Showket Ahmad managed to reach there as it was difficult to walk through dilapidated way covered with snow. As we escorted him to doctor’s clinic and the doctor made a checkup of is wound, he suggested making dressings after every alternate days and he also prescribed some antibiotics & other medicines. After the checkup we purchased some vegetables for the family as they were running out of the stock.

Escorting Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana (Burnt Person) to Doctor’s Clinic

Visit to Burnt Person’s Home Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana for Checkup

As Mr. Showket’s injury was critical and Doctor has advised him the dressings after every 2 to 3 days. During that period in Kashmir  the weather remains mainly wet and it was snowing heavily in the upper regions so it was not possible for us to bring him down to Doctor’s clinic again, so our team decided to visit his home and provide him dressings. We as a team brought the first aid medicines and went to his home for the treatment. We manage to check the wound and there was some slight improvement from the previous one and we dressed his wound again.

 Socio Economic Survey of Baba Daryadin Area Ganderbal

IFED Team’s main motive is welfare of the people of all sects and from every part of Kashmir. We strive to help the people in need and make suitable arrangements for their living. To get the facts and figures of the poor people our team decided to do a small survey in one of the area of the Ganderbal i.e., Baba Daryadin. It is one of the villages which are located in the hills and the people living here don’t have Medical and Transport Facilities. We met some people of the area and gathered some vital information. The survey conducted gave us some picture about the living habitat and the problems they faced, and our team has decided to include the village in the developmental projects going to start in the later stage.
Carrying out the Survey in Baba Daryadin Ganderbal


As it was necessary to check the wound of the Burnt Person Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana, so our team again visited his home for the dressing purpose on 18th Feb 2017, and made a checkup and necessary medication was given to him. The condition of his wound is improving day by day and he is feeling much better than before.

Socio Economic Survey of SanghReshri Khimber Srinagar Area

As carrying out the survey program is the main objective of any organization working for the welfare of the poorest of poor and needy people, we at IFED has privilege to visit few villages of District Srinagar namely, Khimber, Sang Reshi etc. The survey conducted was carried through meeting several people living there and asking different questions regarding their habitat and environment.
Team of IFED Interacting with people in SanghReshi Area of Srinagar

IFED’S Poor Families Rehabilitation Program
The Team of IFED visited few very poor homes of Villages Wayil and Kondbal Manasbal. The condition of the families living there are so bad that they don’t have bathroom for four houses living together at one place. They live in sheds made of steel sheets. They hardly have any source of income and rely on their house hold expenditure on Begging only. Now with these conditions of these families we intend to help them out and make their living a bit easier rather than comfort for them. Our program of Rehabilitation focuses on those basic requirements of people to be fulfilled so that they do not sleep empty belly.

Common Bathroom for Four Families of Wayil Bala

This diary is till February 2017 only since that is the time I got to know about them and this was the profile they sent then. Post that the organisation has done more excellent work. They have improvised since and have big plans like making a toilet for people of Dignibal, who do not have a toilet and bathe in the open. Many don't bathe for this reason, even though there are clear streams.

You can check their activities and reach out to them for providing support on their Facebook page :

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Essence of a Patriotic Indian

Some anti-harmony and anti-unity agenda people of political parties are spoiling the very essence of India these days.

Every time it's upto Muslims to prove their patriotism. Just posting pics of The Tricolour does not prove your love for the nation. 

Maximum residents in the society I stay now are Muslims, and every year we have flag hoisting in our building.

My own grandfather was a freedom fighter. It's usually me who takes up the initiative in office also for doing something unique on Independence Day. 

Patriotism (I've begun to despise the word Nationalism now as some people have given a negative tone to it) does not mean loving the nation and hating it's inhabitants.

You can't say that you love your family, but hate your parents or your siblings. Then you are a hypocrite.

If any of you have any feelings of hate for any fellow countrymen of any religion or region, please do not say that you're a True Indian. We are Indians by birth, no doubt. But you're a True Patriotic Indian only by your actions.

Jai Hind.

The Stones of Kashmir - my July 2017 trip

I made a small attempt to bridge the misunderstanding about Kashmir by going on a trip during trouble times. I was faced with sarcastic comments about bringing back stones. I wanted to, because I love challenges, however my baggage was over permissible limit already. So I bought back this picture of a stone studded wall.

And when I was back from Kashmir and showed pictures of the place, the people, the videos and the momentoes for them, every thing changed. Everyone seemed eager to go there. People suddenly had good things to say. My staying with my friend's family was an attempt to show that its not just about tourists being left alone. I wanted to be a part of the culture and yet have my own identity there. I bought local clothes and stitched them in local fashion. Used local mehndi, though Mumbai mehndi cones are the best 😊. I could've stayed like a typical Muslim there as it comes naturally to me. However, I chose to be me. My city. A part of my land.

When I was going, some of my colleagues who know I m into Image Consulting, said that you're representing Maharashtra so choose your clothes well. So I tried to bring out the essence of Mumbai which is multi cultural and diverse, without being overtly shocking to the culture. Representing Maharashtra was an exaggeration and said in a lighter vein. When I told my Dad about it, he was like - 'Yeah, only Maharashtra doesn't know that you're representing it!' 😅

Jokes apart, I am glad I managed to change perceptions on both sides in whatever way I could. I believe that if you are in an influential position, use that power to make a positive change.

Like I always say, my favourite lines continue to be Spiderman's : 'With great power comes great responsibility'. Who am I? I m Barkha Shaikh, as my sister has now named me 🙃

Monday, June 12, 2017

Using Communication skills against discriminatory agenda.

Have you come across people who, to make others they dislike look non-likeable, look for ways to label them with a religion they dislike. They will come up with creative stories of how secretly they are Muslims or Christians or how they have secret affiliations?!

Their preposterous theories and those who forward and believe them, are a proof of how racist such people are! Their main agenda is - 'Hey, look. He's a Muslim / Christian. That's why he doesn't deserve to be a leader, a politician, a minister, or anything important'. Else, why the heck does it even matter if some important person was some specific religion openly or secretly. 

With such people, just for the sake of accepting all their creatively fake stories, you should ask those who spread them - 'So what?!' And watch their reaction. It'll be like they took so much trouble to convince you and yet... Their entire propaganda balloon will burst!

Or use the 'Judge The Judge' technique like an expert communicator, learnt from my guru, Dan O'Connor : "So are you implying that just because you believe that the person belongs to a certain religion, he doesn't deserve to be a minister, a prime minister or hold an important position". And Watch them polarise! 'No, no, I didn't mean that. I respect all religions....blah blah...'! Cause judges don't like to be judged. At the end, you might add, 'Next time please do not forward racist messages/ emails to me'.

I've learnt the 'Judge the Judge' technique from Dan O'Connor

For buying Dan's books in India and for conducting training on Techniques of Communication, Effective English Communication, First Impressions and other training modules, on Image management and soft skills, please write to

You can also follow Dan O'Connor on YouTube on his channel Online Communication Training. (

My freaky Sci-Fi Moment

Sunday night (June 11, 2017) I'd gone to a store to exchange a kurti (I'd already informed of my alternate choice the previous day), which was a matter of mins. 

A 3 yr old beautiful kid (very fair with blonde hair) was sitting on the display table as his mom was checking out clothes. The moment he saw me, he said, 'Toh aa gaye aap?' (So you've arrived) As if he was waiting for me since centuries! His mom was startled and looked at me and smiled. And said that he's talking as if he's known you all along. Till then I thought the kid was talking to his mom. I asked the lady if he said that to me. She said 'Yes'. I looked at the little boy, who was serious, all the while watching me. He gave me an adult-like look. I told him, 'Oh, kaise ho?' (Oh, how are you?) He immediately responded saying that 'Noori bhi aayi hai' (Noori has also come) and pointed at his little sister playing in the store. Little Noori looked at me and I said, 'Hi Noori'. Till then my work was done and I said 'Bye' to the little boy and walked out.

That a totally freaky Fringe moment! I think our souls had met before we came on earth. :-)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Mentoring or learning ?

It's a wonderful experience to mentor teenagers. I met mine last week at Markivs, Churchgate. Thanks to Antarang Foundation and HDFC Bank CSR.

My two mentees, Minakshi and Zarina are from Ambedkar Nagar slum colony. They have different backgrounds. 

Zarina is a cancer survivor. She told me that her Dad never told her what her illness was. However, she mentioned that she underwent chemotherapy and did not have the harsh aftereffects of it. I admire her Dad who coming from a poor background has treated her like a fairy. She had her last session in December 2016. And she's full of life and dreams. She is now entering her final graduation year. It's not surprising that a strong girl like her landed up as my mentee. The universe is like a mirror. It reflects back what you send to it. 

Minakshi is more outgoing of the two. She likes to do volunteer work, network, work part-time. Not too great in studies, she's creative. She likes to paint, design. She wants to be a fashion designer. Sometimes confused though. What can you expect from a girl who has just appeared for her 12th board exams. She too has dreams. And best thing is that she has the confidence of achieving her dreams.

Both of them like to design and stitch clothes. Zarina has a way with numbers, as she told me. And interested in finance.

While I am their inspiration, I am inspired by them. They are sorted and are compelled to think of their future and career at such a young age. At that age, we were still not decided about our careers. While they have to think about better financial future. Thanks to Antarang Foundation, which has given direction to their dreams. And after completion of their training program assigned them to mentors from the Industry for a year. My journey with them begins. I hope to make difference to their lives and future. in sha Allah. More as a friend than anything else. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Starting a new blog...

Friends, I am going to start a new blog soon. It will be as my journey as an image consultant. Keep watching this space for new announcement.

A Professional Dilemma

As I plan to be an independent entrepreneur (that's been on my mind since 2 years now), the Question that comes to my mind is : FEMA Consultant or Image Consultant? 

With so many years in Foreign Trade and now in Foreign Investments and liaising with RBI on regular basis, the first option always seems more appropriate. In fact, advising so many bank's customers, their consultants/ CAs daily as well as other branches of bank, this seems so very apt. Recently someone even advised me on those lines.

However, I am tired of finance in everything, regulations to refer day in and out. And my creativity has been on hold for too long (gave up painting since banking and haven't sketched in a long time). And Image Management and Training with all the Social Media marketing bit has intrigued me for a while now. And I am glad I completed the Image Management course at ICBI.

However, after a thought, I've realised that I am open to both. ODI (Overseas Direct Investments) is one of my favourite topics. Yes, ECB (External Commercial Borrowings) comes in next. I was one of the 2 people instrumental in working on the first Masala Bond (INR Denominted ECB Bond) in India. In fact, it was a privilege to receive calls from seniors at RBI Central office as well as DSIM to understand things when this first took off. Of course, it was new on both sides. And always together you understand things better than interpreting things alone. And as a banker, I got to know things from client and regulator perspective.

However, being in any line of activity, especially those controlled by regulations and markets, one has to be updated. And of course, be connected to the pulse of the profession. And I am working towards it. Right now, I am getting my matter together for making a mark as an Image Consultant and Trainer. Hoping for success, in sha Allah.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Train Travails

The travel problem in Mumbai trains is getting worse.

The biggest sarcasm that railway plays on commuters is announcing : "Train ke paidaano par khada rahna ya train se bahaar jhaakna khatarnaak hai...." While that is true, it is joke on our condition. There is a girl who travels daily, who every time she hears that, says "I am going to find her and bash her up"! And we all laugh.

There are times when even after 45 mins wait, I am unable to get into a train. Though there are people (even women and college girls) who travel hanging if they just get half a foothold on the footboard. I can't do that. Though sometimes I get answerable in office for it. And not is it advisable for anyone to take that risk. Everything can be replaced except your life and your body.

A cousin's son fell off a train last year. Thankfully, it was near Dahisar station when train had slowed down. So he was injured on his spine and head, but was out of Danger, by God's grace.

Discrimatory Icons of Whatsapp!

I am not much of a Whatsapp (WA) user. Since I added it to my business / office number and use it sometimes, I find it so bland and boring.

Worst are the emoticons. Apart from being boring, I find them discriminatory too.

What's with having so many coloured hands for gestures? When I used it first time, some months back, just to post a thumbs up, several coloured hands popped up. And I was compelled to use one closest to my skin tone. Using one emoticon on WA involves so much of a thought. And it has a series of unwanted emoticons one would never use.

Being Strong, not Wrong!

Being a strong woman does not mean to dominate, raise voice, order around and show arrogance.
Being a strong woman means to have courage to keep going on inspite of your pains. 
Being a strong woman means to be a source of inspiration and help even after facing problems in life.
Being a strong woman means to complete your duties as a woman and also make a difference to society.
Being a strong woman means to help other women reach their full potential.

Some women have a wrong perception of Being Strong. When they start earning a bit, they show arrogance. And power. And give orders.

That's not Strong. That's Wrong.
Strong is about Courage. Not Rage.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A taste of twisted English

Twisted English : This week I came across two incidents of people interchanging alphabets to pronounce in a new way. The first one is a common mistake in India but was widely used at a large forum hence stayed in my mind. But the second one, though also a common error, can bring a whole new meaning. Stating the conversation for you to know. Figure it.

1. 'We are proud to play this flim at the event', went the announcement.
2. Lady on phone in the train, to her office colleague : 'The hard diks is in the box. You have to open it. It's sealed'.
Period. :-)

Getting Physical in a Marriage

Physical relationships, even in a marriage is something not openly spoken of in Indian society. In fact, to marry for anything other than companionship or support is looked at as if you're a dirty person. Even couples are not allowed to kiss or cuddle openly in public. People frown when even a man holds the hand of his wife in our society (this applies to India and all its neighbouring countries). 

The other day, while traveling by train, I heard two girls talking lowly of a girl who told one of them that she wants to marry for 'that' reason. They were speaking in Marathi. The girl meanly added that if she wants that then she should buy it. (Sic, this is how you speak about someone who mentioned marriage to achieve her desires). The other girl added, you know men are also like that. They also want 'that' only. And that is how nature has made things. Then the first girl said all of this was completely wrong. That God has done wrong by making world like that. And she will question God when she dies. 

Another incident. A conversation with an old friend I caught up with after ages on Hike, who has not had a kid for a long time. And mostly makes her hubby travel and quit jobs just because she doesn't like some place, people. She is mostly tendering to her mother now and mostly spends time at her place. I have no right to question how she lives her life. However, further conversation made me understand her opinion on children, relationships and I felt sorry for her husband and others linked to her. She used to be a cute girl and I remember she had liked this boy, whom she eventually proposed and married. But marriages are deeper.

In my surroundings, I've also seen women detesting their husbands. But are in the relationship to be fed and clothed. Parents have married them cause they felt that it was best for them. If they hadn't said Yes, then their daughter would've remained unmarried forever, according to them.

I don't understand people's thinking that it's incorrect for girls to even think of marriage as a physical thing. It is grilled in women at a very age that marriage is important to be fed, clothed, taken care of, cooking & cleaning for their husbands. Everything else is a drill they should endure. Such mentality leads to sourness or 'no love' in many marriages, leading to stress, mental illness and unhappiness for many couples. 

As women are getting independent, they don't need marriage for all the 'other' things for which marriage is marketed in Indian society. The only thing that remains to be married for is love, compassion, passion and children.

I would suggest that those who don't feel same way about marriage, whether independent or not, should not marry. And save the other from a lot of trouble. This is not about liking a toy and picking it off the shelf.

We speak of men's libido. How about highlighting women's libido as well. Equality extends to all levels.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Black magic babas and their local train ads

Is there no rule against the black magic ads put up all around us? These 'black magic babas' have used marketing ever since I've been a kid,

I remember, these ad posters used to be stuck by the dozens in the local trains (I speak about Mumbai) earlier.  Then since past few years one saw less of them. And now they're back! They advertise some baba or the other and use the picture of Sai Baba for the advertisements.

One current one (stuck all over local trains) is all stylish with pictures of people in office, home, couples and the like claiming that whatever the situation or problem, he has the solution. From putting your competitors down to winning over someone to splitting someone up to destroying others. It further goes on to say that the 'baba' guarantees evil effects on your enemies/ competitors in 7 hours flat! Ghosh, that's so mean and cruel. I thought there was a law against such posters or such people. At least, sticking posters without permission is illegal. But seeing the audacity of such ads, which display various phone numbers one can call on, it appears people love these babas and there is a competition in their own clan. We're so used to seeing such ads in India since childhood, that such ads no longer surprise us. Only the sudden appearance after a gap, had me noticed. And the fact that it was stuck all over the insides of the train compartment. It irks us when non-Indians call India a land of magic. But it is normal for us to see black magic ads all around us! And a number of people flock to such babas to harm others.

Having said that, the people who use black magic to harm others or win in life are beyond my understanding. One thing I've learnt is that if the one you're trying to harm is a strong-willed, positive person with lots of faith in the Almighty, then the effect reverses on doer. It will cause minimal or no harm on the person it is intended for. And those who do all this, eventually have to face their own magic. And destroy their own families and future generations. Strange things afflict them and their families later. They live with the curse of the sufferers or return effects of any faithful person they've tried to harm.

Note : I could've clicked the picture of the posters and uploaded it here, however I do not want to promote these people.

Pic courtesy :