Running as a therapy

Most of us think Running as a physical activity, resulting in better health.

The real impact that running has created goes way beyond physical health, thereby acting as a therapy. The Alternative, a new age media created a set of stories recently where they covered stories of individuals where running made a big impact. There were people suffering from migraine, autism, schizophrenia etc…and how running has transformed their lives. I am happy to be surrounded by such individuals with whom we run as a community in Runners High.

Check out the following URLs for the individual stories:

Bangalore Ultra 2013

Bangalore Ultra 2013
Bangalore Ultra 2013

After my first season running with Kaveri Trial Marathon, enrolled for Bangalore Ultra 2013 with Runners High community. The first season was extremely challenging, as I was finding too difficult to get myself up and running. After long runs (especially on weekends), it used to pain a lot (especially in the calf muscles), which made my weekends really painful days spent by sleeping, icing and taking rest. There were multiple other challenges like getting-up early, showing up on-time to coaching sessions, coordinating with folks for car-pooling along added with  bottom line responsibilities from work and family. During Bangalore Ultra training challenges became multi-fold as I was handling a big workplace transition added with my folks falling in sick frequently with some family travel. The real fun of running with Runners High community is the togetherness and support we get in form of coaches, runners and special children from Ananya and Shristi, which helped me to run successfully irrespective of all challenges.

For ultra I had very few and specific goals were in my mind. First and foremost goal was about running continuously for the race distance. During my first season, I used to do run-walk-run sequence whenever I ran out of my breath, which happened quite frequently. Thanks to regular coaching and breathing exercises (as cross-training), rhythm has set in to a larger extent. During the coaching sessions I was able to run much comfortably without losing breath or taking breaks. This has given me a significant boost in terms of self confidence and can-do attitude. Diwali heavy-eating made my last week coaching little challenging, but overall I was confident because of regular coaching.

The race day was even better. One small mistake I did during my previous season was getting too excited on the previous night, thereby getting lesser sleep. On the run day I had difficulty between 6-8 KM as I just couldn’t push my legs forward. Also the race was happening in Mysore, I ended up eating outside food which I was never comfortable with. Since Ultra was happening in Bangalore (near Hennur Road), I wanted to plan well by taking good amount of rest. Especially on the previous night I went to bed early with having very simple yet ‘carb-rich’ idlis. Had a pretty comfortable sleep and I was very fresh on the race day feeling very light. We (along with my running buddies) reached the location much earlier. The route was misty with lesser visibility.  Fortunately one of our buddy’s workplace is near Hennur, who had quite a good idea about the whole route. In fact the previous day he drove all the way to race location and measured drive time approximately.

When we reached the race location (about 5 AM), folks who were doing ultra long distances (100K, 24 hour continuous run etc…) were winding up their last minutes, which literally blew me off. They started on the previous day about 5 AM, were still running when I reached the location. Trained human body, driven by a strong will to succeed has no limits. I have heard and read similar stuff in many book, it was really an experience to see things unfold in front of my eyes. Some of my RH members have clocked more than 150+ KM in 24 hour time which is a remarkable achievement.

Bangalore Ultra 2013 - Completion
Bangalore Ultra 2013 – Completion

Bangalore Ultra is relatively a flat track with excellent running environment of Bamboo forest. This government protected forest got opened up only for running purpose, otherwise I understand it largely remains closed. The temperature was just perfect with 25K runners starting on time few minutes before us. My pace was steady around 3 KM mark, taken quick breaks (for few seconds) at aid stations to take enough of water and Electral to keep myself hydrated by maintaining appropriate  salt levels. I was not taking separate salt pills as my coaches mentioned taking electoral at break points will have the same as salt pills. On the way I was able to see some of the 25K runners coming back with lot of cheers and support. The pure joy of running and clocking every other kilometer was visible. There was also good number of friends (outside RH

running community, from my professional side and some college buddies) running as a part of this event, met them on the way. I couldn’t spend as much as time I could have wanted other than waving my hands on the way.  The last 2 KM mark was very comfortable for me as I was taking steady and strong steps towards the closure line. Buddies and chief coach from RH accompanied me in the last 300 meters or so asking me to push hard by increasing the speed. I was able to do it quite comfortably and finished the race in style. Food after race was also really tasty (unlike KTM, where we had a major disappointment with respect to food) ended up gulping some good number of idlis and pongal.

During my first season I used to have so much of sourness in my leg. When I was mentioning this to one of my seniors (whose son is training for national level badminton tournament for years now), he gave a tip of taking bath in cold water, which worked wonders. I don’t exactly remember the science behind this, it brought down my post-run pains to a larger extent. With cold water bath becoming part of life now, I am looking forward for my next reason with my own goals and objectives.

Ten types of Innovation – Concluding notes

With article on Bigbasket, the ten part innovation series comes to an end. When I understood the innovation types (created by Doblin) way back in 2011, my idea was to apply it from Indian context and make case studies fitting various types. It took two long years for me to complete this series with decent satisfaction.

Innovation has gone beyond building a particular product or service. By building something different doesn’t guarantee a business success, whereas ensuring customer derives value will. India, unlike some of the developed countries, is in the cusp of transformation where we have both traditional old school thinking and new school of thinking co-existing with each other. This made my inquiry to innovation all the more interesting. As and when I observed some innovative way to serve customers, I started mapping them back to Doblin’s model and came up with this whole series spanning across industries.

Please find URLs to individual posts as follows:

BOOK REVIEW: My journey – Transforming dreams into action

Abdul Kalam
Transforming dreams into actions

Author: APJ Abdul Kalam

Price: 195 INR

For most Indians, reading about Abdul Kalam and his work is always an inspiring item. Post retirement, he started off his journey into writing by scripting his auto-biography titled ‘The wings of fire’, followed by some popular books like Ignited Minds, Envisioning an empowered nation, Turning points etc. Most of them talk about his early life in Rameshwaram followed by his experience with various defense and space research organizations. Another popular theme in these book is about “Vision 2020”, where Kalam is been articulating India becoming super power by 2012 by achieving excellence in technology, rural transformation, self reliance and self sustainability.

In this latest book ‘My journey – Transforming dreams into Action’, Kalam has followed pretty much the same canvas but gone into very small and specific stories. Unlike his previous books, he has chosen real life anecdotes and shared deeper learning from them. Growing up in town like Rameshwaram with very high aspirations and dreams is not very easy situation to handle. With lesser resources and exposure, Kalam need to go thru lot of struggle and build his career brick-by-brick. The most inspiring part is about him overcoming umpteen numbers of challenges and overcoming them with very strong vision and value.

For example, he explains how he became a working person at the age of 8 by supplying newspapers in Rameshwaram and struggle associated with it. Every day he would to get up at 4 AM followed by his morning tuition and prayers. In order to support his family Kalam takes a part time job of distributing newspapers to Rameshwaram household. Thanks to some policy change, Chennai-Dhanushkodi passenger train which carried daily newspaper bundle from Chennai removed Rameshwaram station from the list. This resulted in Kalam doing every day stunt by catching paper bundle thrown from a moving train at Rameshwaram station. Kalam will then go on distributing them after which his school day would start. In the evening he would finish his homework and complete settlement of newspaper daily account with his cousin who gave him this opportunity. It was quite obvious to see the amount of stress and pressure he might have gone thru as a 8 year old boy, but the way he put it across along with key learnings is simply amazing.

There are multiple similar stories related to his profession filled with struggle and failures.  Inspired by the vision of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, Kalam and his team went on building Indian space story from the scratch.  He recalls how his professional career is similar to his early life in Rameshwaram – Lesser resources, Limited knowledge, larger challenges and a passion to win. Taking references from Bhagavat Gita to Thirukkural, Kalam mentions how he taken inspiration from these great ancient text to lift him up when things went wrong due to mistakes.  There were some repeated stories (ex: Church in Thumba becoming ISRO office, thanks to the local people), however they are always inspiring ones to hear again and again.

Unlike his previous books, Kalam kept this one very simple which can even read and understood by a high school kid. Definitely worth reading!

Aakash (Ubislate 7Ci) review


Aakash - Ubislate 7Ci - Review

I purchased Aakash few months back, thought of writing review on multiple aspects. To give a background, Aakash is an ultra low-cost tablet innovated and manufactured by DataWind. This organization also partnered with Government of India for distributing Aakash with subsidized option for school students, which is expected to transform education. My main requirement was to have an ultra-low cost tablet for my four year old daughter, mainly for viewing videos from YouTube. I was not bothered about anything else, so the requirement was very simple and straightforward.

Purchase experience

Pros – Made an online purchase from Datawind’s website (http://www.ubislate.com/) by placing order for Ubislate 7Bi model which comes with resistive touch screen with 3000 INR. Since they operate with razor thin margin, there is no credit card option. Only debit cards are accepted for free shipping. If you are paying by cash (on delivery), additional purchase charge is added. Overall purchase flow was smooth similar to popular ecommerce websites.

Cons – Please don’t go by the service level guarantee they claim in website (ex: 48 hour shipping). I got a call-back after about two weeks of placing the order regarding confirmation. The call center executive by default started talking in Punjabi + Hindi mixture as they are based out of Amristar. Surprisingly executive mentioned Ubislate 7Bi is out of production, but they will ship me an upgraded version (Ubislate 7Ci with capacitive touch screen) with no additional cost. I happily opted for it; shipment reached me a week later. Totally it took three weeks of shipment time. Some of my friends also mentioned about delayed shipments. So if you are looking for faster shipping with immediate use in mind think twice before opting for Ubislate.

User experience:

Overall build quality and packaging looks good, especially considering ultra low-cost option.     Ubislate 7Ci comes with 7″ touch screen, Wi-Fi interface, 512 MB RAM with Android ICS (v4.0.3), which matches my requirement of YouTube viewing using home wireless Internet.  Typical device sign-up is done with Google ID worked seamlessly. I was able to immediately install many applications from Google Store, without any major problem. The out-of the-box experience was really good.

However after using the device for some time, I observed applications took long time to load, even basic browsing became a pain. On a frequent basis, I need to use their “killapp” option to clean up unwanted processes to free up some memory. By default all applications gets installed into device internal memory, by moving some of them into external SD card (comes with 2 GB storage) made my device reasonably faster.  Battery backup also very poor, device hardly works for 2-3 hours at a stretch. Many occasions I found booting screen doesn’t show up after charging the device and I ended up doing “plug-and-pray”. This also makes me wonder if the device would ultimately stop functioning some day or the other!

Transforming education?

Aakash was projected as the tablet for transforming education in India by using ultra low-cost plus internet connection as a “one-stop” solution. I have serious concerns on how it can really help school students. Given the not-so-favorable user experience (mainly power backup & speed) adding, slower internet connection (especially in rural areas) would make the experience even worse. By the time I write this post, there are enough and more articles in the web about how this device is already failing big time in mass market adoption. Even though there is a definite market opportunity, once again bad execution failed to capitalize the opportunity. It will be another version of Simputer story.

Bottom line – Don’t buy this device, I am repenting for buying it. My daughter is not using it at all, continue to use home computer or smart phones for watching YouTube!

Focus on the effort… as much as the result – Another perspective

This is the second part of my earlier blog “Focus on the effort… as much as the result” – http://jwritings.com/?p=562. In case you have not read that, I would suggest that you do before proceeding to read this.
While that blog presents a good picture of a project with high stakes, riveting rush by the team culminating in a nice photo finish (almost cinematic), there are some disturbing questions too. Why did it take until 2:00 pm on the release date to figure out that there was a long list pending? Shouldnt there have been appropriate checks and balances in place (especially since this was a release that multiple regions were looking forward to)? Shouldnt the stakeholders (folks who had made commitments to customers) been sounded off earlier that there could be a slip (in which case they could at least fore-warn the customers that there MIGHT be a delay)? What if the release had not happened even after all the effort?

Is this similar to our infamous Commonwealth Games experience where weeks before the games were scheduled to start the supervising committee found stinking toilets and unpainted stadiums and deplorable athlete village? Isnt it interesting that even a senior Indian official compared the whole Commonwealth Games fiasco to Indian weddings where things are chaotic right up till the last moment before miraculously falling in place in the nick of time? Has our Indian psyche trained us to see this whole episode as a “victory from the jaws of defeat” rather than a “last minute frenzy to barely manage to deliver after screwing up all along”. Even in this case, wasnt it passion and a heroic slog by the highly charged team that delivered the win rather than a methodical and systematic process?

Now if I have to weigh both sides and choose which of these two set of qualities – passionate and heroic sloggers vs methodical and process driven marchers, I would lay more emphasis on, I would much rather pick the former. Now I am not talking about these as mutually exclusive traits, but more as the dominant characteristics of the two sides.

Here is the reasons for my choice:

Software product development is inherently unpredictable. While you can do a reasonable job of approximations earlier during the development cycle, hard release dates pretty much “emerge” during the later stages of development. After about 12 years in product development, with 8 of those as a Product Manager, I have very rarely released a product exactly on the planned release date – and I have never felt bad about it. One of the best part of this job is the opportunity to say, “I dont mind if this product is launched a few days later, but I want the wow effect”. There are always last minute changes – enhancement that you want to add for the “wow” effect or a database query optimization that’s going to deliver faster customer response times – that you did not plan for when you wrote the specs 4 months back, but want it now!!!

This is especially true in case of start ups where priorities change fast, demands from a large customer can require you to rejig or do a course correction and you are constantly trying to do more with less resources and shorter time.

With best checks and balances and processes in place, you will still have your share of “2:00 pm on release day with a long pending list” days (the frequency pretty much depends on the pace of your business)…. and on those days, you’re seriously better off with a team that’s willing to go the extra mile than a team that’s dissecting what went wrong with the process or how many times the requirements changed.

NWritings

Bangalore – Half empty or half full?

Striking conversations with cab drivers always provided me with very interesting and realistic perspectives at various parts of the world. Recently we were on a family vacation to Yercaud, one of the weekend gateways near Bangalore. I started my usual conversation with the cab driver (whom we hired for local sightseeing) by asking some general stuff. While traveling around, I incidentally ended up observing most of the pass-by vehicles having “KA-0x” number plates, which mean they are Bangalore registered vehicles. I couldn’t stop myself but ask the obvious question “How come so many vehicles are from Bangalore?” and the answer he gave was very interesting.

“Bangalore is been the sole reason for Yercaud’s recent growth sir”, he eagerly started and I allowed him to continue. “In the past few years so many people started coming from Bangalore. As the number started increasing, our travel and tourism industry flourished by fetching more and more business. Many of the foreign travelers (who visit Bangalore for business reasons) also started coming here to spend their weekend for getting Indian hill-side experience. In summary Bangalore played major part to grow Yercaud into a bustling tourist destination” cab driver concluded. The high amount of disposable income of global knowledge workers is the key contributing to such growth. It’s very clear – globalization is working!

Also, when I look around, there are umpteen number of blue collar jobs created in the city in form of housekeeping workers, gym assistants, security guards, corporate cab drivers, caterers etc. thanks to the globalization. Even if an individual is reasonably educated (say 10th class) with decent English speaking skills, relatively high end blue collar jobs are available. Recently I saw a job posting (from Taco Bell) for waiters’ position with base pay of 8500 INR per month plus additional benefits like free food, performance linked incentives etc. Making about 10,000 INR for 10th class qualified individual is a big deal in India. It’s heartening to see such positive signs.

On the other hand, there is equally good number of examples which creates counter opinion on the same. Recently I was talking with my close friend who runs an NGO, mainly dealing with abandoned children. As per his field studies, in Bangalore alone 8-10 children desert their homes for various reasons like family issues, anti-social element connections, resource scarcity etc. Over a period of time these children are forced to activities like begging. Taco bell providing jobs to people is definitely good news, but seeing children begging outside the restaurant is not so great news. The more concerning factor is the lack of empathy to such issues from highly paid knowledge workers who seem to wear ego on their shoulders with ‘why should I care?’ attitude. Children who are growing up in high flying apartments and studying in plush schools hardly have any idea about such issues.

The infrastructure story is more horrifying. I am one of the blessed ones to have workplace near home of about 5 kilometers. However the sad part is the sporadic traffic situation. It takes anywhere between 30-45 minutes to commute between my home and workplace. It’s anybody’s guess how the situation would become worse when distance increases within the city. There is no equation between road size, road capacity, number of vehicles purchased, resulting in ever increasing chaotic traffic.

In my opinion, Bangalore is in ‘Half empty, half full’ situation.  The amount of issues we are seeing today, even after two decades of globalization shows the incorrect implementation. The overall situation is not showing a very healthy trend. The list of issues is growing faster than the accomplishments of the city. I am not an economist to form theories based on the current situation, but definitely a worried immigrant of this city!

Cultural Differences – how much of a say should the state have

The recent news of the Norwegian authorities deciding to remove 2 children (the older about 3 years old and the other barely an year old) of Indian origin from their parents is pretty interesting – and I’m sure very agonizing for the parents and the relatives. The following have been sited as the grounds for the Norwegian authorities’ decision.

One, they felt that the children were overfed. They concluded that when a child was hand-fed, it was tantamount to force-feeding.

Two, they noted that the children displayed an emotional disconnect with their parents.

Three, the son Abhigyan apparently displayed erratic behavior at school.

Four, officials who came to investigate objected to Abhigyan and Aishwarya sleeping in the parental bed.

Five, the mother apparently slapped the son at one point – but she did not repeat that once she knew Norwegian law made violence against children illegal.

While points 2 and 3 are really hard to comment on (depends on what you call “erratic behavior” and how you describe “emotional disconnect”), points 1 and 4 are pretty much the norm in Indian families – with 5 being quite prevalent, though on the decline. Finger feeding and children sleeping in the parental bedroom and quite common and in fact not doing these is typically frowned upon in India. An rare slap to a child is actually viewed as a “release” by even the most forward thinking parent in India.

Enough has been said in the media about the cultural difference and I do not want to dwell on that – yes, Indians and Norwegians have different perceptions of what constitutes good child raising. Period!!!

Now, the interesting question to me is, to what extent can the state go to impose their view – on their own citizens and then on citizens of other countries. From what I read, the Norwegian authorities have held the children under their care for more than 8 months or so (long after the parents have offered to leave the country if the children were re-united) to the extent that the helpless parents have now turned to the highest Indian authority – The President, to impress upon her Norwegian counterpart. Surely, the Norwegian authorities should see reason when India’s highest citizen throws her weight behind the parents and presses for the children to be re-united with the parents.

I also wonder what the tone of the Indian President’s communique to her Norwegian counterpart was – was it on the lines of “You can separate all the Norwegian families that you want as per your views, but would request you to refrain from imposing your views of child raising on Indian parents” or was it on the lines of, “Many of the charges against the parents are pretty common in India – and we in fact believe that some of these, finger feeding and kids sleeping with parents in particular, are actually beneficial and promote better family bonding”

To me this seems a clear case of the state taking upon itself authority far beyond their calling. To what extent can a state go to penalize people who do not subscribe to the its views. Can a state that believes in vegetarianism separate kids when parents feed them chicken soup (or conversely penalize parents of vegetarian kids for denying the children well rounded nourishment) or can a state that believes in non-violence separate kids when parents allow them to watch Tom and Jerry.

A one-size-fits-all “best practices” for child raising just do not exist and a lot of what is good and what is not is largely determined by parental choice, cultural factors and other local customs. In these circumstances, for a state to remove infants from their parents and place them under separate foster homes seems pretty draconian.

Im not suggesting that the state turn a blind eye to Child Right issues, but how much supervision should the state provide and to what extent should the state be involved in ensuring responsible parenting?

NWritings

PS: A good read at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/9035776/India-and-Norway-in-diplomatic-spat-over-children-taken-into-care.html – the comments are actually more interesting, as usual

http://www.norwaynews.com/en/~view.php?72T8954QR74833u285Tie844PN3887Xj76IHo353K9L8 is interesting too.

BOOK REVIEW : I am Saravanan(Vidya)

BOOK REVIEW : I am Saravanan Vidya

Price: 100 INR

Author: Vidya (A transgender’s autobiography)

India is a strange country! In spite of (so called) globalization, many of our core societal issues still remain unsolved – transgender inclusion being one of them. Some time back I wrote a post about Hijras in India, highlighting the issue of them getting into prostitution by default due to lack of other options. Thankfully few Hijras has put up a fierce fight against the society and tried their level best to resume a mainstream life by creating an identity. Vidya, a transgender is one classic example who fought all the odds by making a career with NGO and writing. The book ‘I am Saravanan Vidya’ is the autobiography of Vidya, where she details the struggle gone thro for transforming herself from a male (Saravanan) to female (Vidya). Filled with real life experiences, challenges, frustrations this book has brought in dark pages of transgender life into public, thereby asking few critical questions to each one of us.

Born in a struggling lower middle class family, Saravanan’s parents had lot of expectations from (also because of him being the only son) him with dreams of eventually seeing him as the District Collector by clearing the prestigious IAS examinations. Being the only son, everybody in the family pampers him with all that they could afford, thereby ensuring necessary support for his studies. Expectations were so high that he just cannot afford to think about anything other than first rank in the class. Saravanan recalls the tension and fear ran thru him when he got second rank for the first time in his 6th standard. His father was extremely strict with studies, couldn’t take the fact of him getting second rank and beaten up Saravanan for the same.

This typical Indian lower middle class story takes an unexpected turn when Saravanan starts getting his early inclination towards being a female. Early experiments come in the form of wearing his sister’s dresses (half-saree) and dancing his heart out by listening to radio songs after latching the door. This interest intensifies gradually when he starts liking indoor games played by girls (ex: pallanguzhi), and starts spending more time with girls of his age then boys. After moving into high-school, his feeling becomes uncontrollable, wanting him to be more of a female than a male. He also goes thru initial insults from his class mates by calling ‘Ali’ and making fund of his ‘female-type’ behavior. Somehow he completes computer science bachelor degree, with declining academic records. From a 90%+ scorer (and the first ranker), he slowly drops into 60%s, somehow ensuring first class.  By this time, his father had lost all the hopes on him for making him as the District Collector without having any clue about what his teenage boy was going thru. There are multiple questions running in Saravanan’s mind now – Whom should he approach to seek solution for his problem? How can he live a life being physically male but feeling as a female? What answers he can give to his parents, who sacrificed everything for him with lots of dreams?

In search of finding a solution, Saravanan relocates to Chennai and lands up in a meager job with a drama troop. Thanks to some contacts in the drama community, he eventually moves to Pune for joining the Hijra community.  Life becomes all the more difficult for him to make a living (by begging) and getting used to the Hijra community by following their rituals. The very fact that the Hijra community is the only option, who will help him to convert his gender, keeps him going against all the odds. In subsequent chapters, Saravanan clearly explains the issues faced in the gender conversion which I explained in my previous article.

First an individual should consult a psychiatrist who can either help them to come out of the ‘feeling’ of becoming a female or mentally prepare them for a gender conversion operation. Followed by this they go thru a complex operation which will physically remove all male genitals. After the operation they need to go thru some more psychological counseling, thereby ensuring that they get used to the new gender. The third and most important aspect is to have a well defined legal system for converting their gender, after which they will be treated as a female in the society. They are legally entitled to apply for jobs (as females), get married (leaving the fact that they cannot reproduce) and enjoy all the societal benefits. In India, none of the above mentioned process/system exists.

After going thru the painful process of removing male genitals (by a self appointed doctor in Andhra Pradesh), Saravanan finally gets rid of his male identity and changing name as Vidya. After becoming Vidya, life becomes miserable. Even after somehow escaping from the Hijra community, getting a job or getting basic documents (like passport/driving license/ration card) or find a decent accommodation becomes almost impossible task. Thanks to his drama troop friends Chennai she lands up in a job with an NGO in Chennai and keeping her writing passion alive by starting a blog. Eventually she ends up writing this book by explaining the darker sides of being a Hijra.

This book was a real eye opener for me as it helped me to understand the darker side of Indian society. As Vidya had a formal education, she is at least able to make a basic living. What about millions of Hijras in the country who don’t even have basic education? Why there is no legal or social system for accepting them as a part of mainstream society? How can we boast ourselves of being ‘global citizens’ when educated elite don’t even acknowledge such issues?

Innovation – Type6 – Product system [Case: Amul]

As a part of Innovation series, let us take a look into the brand Amul under the ‘product system’ innovation category.  By taking the basic product (milk in this case), Amul is able to innovate by creating a suite of food products around it. We all know, today Brand Amul stands much beyond milk!

Amul - Taste of India
Amul - Taste of India

Let us take a sip of history before considering the innovation aspects.  It all started 65 years ago in the state of Gujarat a bunch of angry farmers wanted to do ‘something’ against the malpractices followed by middle-men in the milk supply chain. Like in many industries the middle-men were creating a ‘loose-loose’ situation for both milk producers and consumers by manipulating around the system. Strongly supported by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, they decided to get rid of the middle-men by forming their own co-operative society which will own the complete milk production chain, ranging from procurement to marketing. Thanks to strong leadership provided by visionaries like Verghese Kurien the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF) was formed in a small town Anand during 1946.

From this humble beginning, GCMMF created incremental innovations around milk, which eventually lead to ‘white revolution’ in the country. The Amul brand name strongly emerged out of this revolution, which a house hold name in today. Eventually the Amul model was replicated in different states in different names – Nandini (Karnataka), Aavin(Tamilnadu). This co-operative model has multiple innovative aspects, let us take a systems perspective.

As the milk production increased significantly over the years, the direct consumption of milk is a single dimension of the whole market and it’s potential. As the milk processing also saw multiple innovations, Amul introduced whole lot of bi- products which created a whole new system of products:

  • Butter (Cooking & low-fat varieties)
  • Cheese (Processed cheese & Paneer varieties)
  • Sweets (Shrikhand, Amrakhand)
  • Flavored milk (Kool milk)
  • Ghee (Cooking and Infant varieties)
  • Milk powders (Amulya Dairy Whitener)
  • Curd products (Masti Dahi, Lassee, Spiced butter milk)
  • Ice-creams
  • Chocolate (Milk, Fruit & Nut)

Amul introduced new channels to sell the above mentioned products by creating  ‘kiosks’. These kiosks, created in a franchise model come in five different sizes (preferred outlets, ice-cream parlours, railway parlours, kiosks and Café Amul) depending on the investment size. For an end consumer a suite of products available from a single kiosk which is of high quality and low cost. Looking from Indian context, Amul is a great innovative example for creating a system around milk.

Related link:

BOOK REVIEW: I too had a Dream [Autobiography of Dr. Kurien]

[Introduction to ten types of Innovation] [Innovation – Type 1 – RangDe] [Innovation – Type 2 – RedBus] [Innovation – Type 3 – Narayana Hrudhayalaya] [Innovation – Type 4 – Mumbai Dabbawalas] [Innovation – Type 5 – Reva Electric Car]