Author - Aditi Dharmadhikari

About Aditi Dharmadhikari

Here are my most recent posts

The Story Behind ‘SAFER’ — Smart Jewellery You’d Actually Wear

“Invisible threads are the strongest ties.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

Most women in urban India are no strangers to the worried ‘Text me when you reach, okay?’ from a friend or family member, especially if they’re travelling back home late at night. Thanks to Leaf Wearables, founded by a group of 5 individuals with a vision to change the world, that night-time commute just got a whole lot safer, and a lot less tiresome.

Source: ketto.org/safer

Source: ketto.org/safer

The Role of Crowdfunding in SAFER’s Journey

SAFER’s crowdfunding campaign on Ketto successfully raised INR 5, 00, 000 with the help of 123 backers who have contributed towards a cause at the intersection of wearable technology and women safety. Ladies, it seems like we now have a real chance to truly be independent without setting off a chain of frantic concern amongst our loved ones.

What is SAFER?

‘Safer, smart jewellery’ is how one of the co-founders of Leaf Wearables, Paras Batra, describes his product, an eye-catching, smart pendant — pairable with your mobile phone — that one can double-click the back of to send out a distress signal to your friends and family in case of an emergency. From that point, it’s easy to track the wearer’s location, in case they’re in need of help. The best part? This works on the internet, as well as on SMS, which makes it truly accessible. Paras’ team, including Chiraag Kapil, Manik Mehta, Ayush Banka and Avinash Bansal seem to have really gotten their final prototype right. This small pendant was born of a much larger idea, though, over a year ago.

Source: ketto.org/safer

Source: ketto.org/safer

The Incident That Sparked The Idea

“We started off working on a city-wide Wifi project in March 2014, which eventually didn’t work out because of government rules and regulations,” Paras recaps the journey for us. “I happened to be living in Munirka in Delhi at the time, as a student at IIT-Delhi. I was catching a bus back from there one evening, when I took a look around and realised how shady and unsafe the place, especially for women. This also happened to be the location of the Nirbhaya case.” Paras recalls protesting at India Gate after the horrific incident with thousands of outraged others, but realised at this point, that it was time to do something more tangible. He regrouped with his partners and that was the turning point — they started experimenting with wearable technology to reduce the communication gap between women in transit and to improve the response time, in case of an emergency. It is, after all, every citizen’s right to lay claim to a public space regardless of their gender.

Source: ketto.org/safer

Source: ketto.org/safer

The Various Prototypes

Telling us about some of the prototypes they worked on, he reflects that they had a lot of assumptions that would go on to prove wrong later on, a lot of experimentation before hitting the right note. “We realised that battery life was too low in the prototype that ran on GPS and 3G,” he recalls. “With each idea, we started making a small prototype and giving it to a group of users for the feedback.” Luck was on their side — as hardware like that hardly comes in cheap — and the Leaf team went on to emerge world champions in the Gitex Technology Week they attended, held in Dubai, that year to fund this trial-and-error process, supplemented by success in other business competitions as well.

SAFER: The Present & The Future

The final prototype is a classy, extremely user-friendly pendant you’re going to want to flaunt. Features like SAFERwalk, which enable a loved one to monitor your walk through unsafe areas, notifications in your app about calls from parents or friends, and the quirky ‘selfie’ feature make this an instant hit — what’s not to like, right, ladies?

Urban women in the metropolitan areas of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, are going to be the first to enjoy this product, but Paras admits that their long-term aim is to make 1 million families safer by 2017. “SAFER is women-centric right now, because of the state of the country and the urgency of the need,” Paras elaborates. “We aim to create wearables for the elderly, for men and for children as well!” As for his expectations from Crowdfunding India, Paras is elated about the success about the campaign, but admits that his expectations were higher. “Perhaps it’s because of the response we’ve seen to international crowdfunding campaigns, or maybe it’s because the Indian community isn’t ready to pre-order a product they haven’t actually held in their hands and tried out before — we really hope that projects like ours are paving our way to a brighter crowdfunding future in India.” He concludes with an interesting point, “You are writing a success story right now on the crowdfunding campaign which met its goal, but I think it would truly qualify as a success once we sell a lot of our products, and have people use them in their day-to-day lives to hopefully make a real impact on society.” Technology has been getting closer and closer to us, physically, if you think about it. At first, it was on your desk, then your lap — the next step is to be able to wear technology as easily as you would your clothes. With SAFER, the Leaf team has made this notion an innovative reality.

By: Aditi Dharmadhikari

He’s Got The Power!

vikas gawda with flag

Vikas Gowda is one of four Olympic medal aspirants who, with the support of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), is campaigning on Ketto to raise funds and compete with  his international counterparts. 

The 6-feet-9-inches-tall Vikas Gowda has several feathers in his cap – a Major in Mathematics from the University of North Carolina, a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, a national record and an eighth finish at the 2012 London Olympics. With an already luminous career, this 31-year-old discus thrower and shot putter is all set to make India proud at the upcoming Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

You were the first Indian to ever enter the finals of a throwing event in the Olympics. How does that feel?

It feels good. I work hard and there is a lot that I want to accomplish.

You are a Mathematics Major from the University of North Carolina. How did you balance your time between academics and sports?

When I was in school it was tough to manage time. You have to prioritize and make sacrifices so you can succeed in both academics and sports.

How were you introduced to this sport?

My father introduced me to sports. He was a decathlete and national coach in India. I would go practice with him when I was a kid and that’s how I started.

Walk us through your training regimen.

I throw three to four times a week. I also lift weights, do sprints and plyometrics. There’s a lot of work that goes into preparing for the season.

How many hours a day do you have to practice?

I train a minimum of four hours a day but most days are about six hours.

What are the costs associated with your training?

There are a lot of costs associated with my training. Coaching, training equipment, access to facilities, supplements, proper diet, travel, medical, and rehabilitation require a lot of funds.

How would you compare the standard of training in India and that which is available abroad?

The standards in India are improving. Around the world it is very easy to access good training facilities. India has good facilities but not very many. When I was a kid growing up in Maryland, there were so many tracks and tennis courts, basketball courts, and other sports facilities within a ten-minute drive of my house.

What has been your biggest achievement yet?

I think my silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, making it to the finals at the London Olympics and winning gold at the Asian Championships in India are my biggest accomplishments.

How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?

It is very important. It shows the athlete that people care and want you to succeed. It’s going to help me bring my coach with me to Commonwealth and Asian Games.

Explain OGQ’s role in your life and career.

OGQ has played a very important role in my career. They believed in me when no one else did. Without them I don’t know if I would have reached this level.

What systems, structures and establishments do we need in India to give Indian athletes a better chance at winning at the Olympics?

I think the most important thing that can be done is making access to facilities easier. That will increase the talent pool and give India a better chance of winning medals in the Olympics.

Vikas-Gowda with gold

Ace Shooter Hits Bull’s-Eye

AP

Ayonika Paul is one of four Olympic medal aspirants who, under the wing of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), is campaigning on Ketto to raise funds to compete with  her international counterparts.  Learn more about the ace shooter in this in-depth interview.

Ayonika Paul is a young and talented 22-year-old rifle shooter who has represented India in many international tournaments. She made her mark globally in 2008 when she won the gold medal in the International Junior Shooting Competition in Munich.

A complete all-rounder, Paul is also studying engineering in Bombay and is equally committed to sports and academics. She has won several medals in the Juniors category over the years and today she is a serious threat in the Seniors league with her consistently excellent performance. With her fierce dedication and determination, you can trust this woman to shoot a bullet right through the competition.

In this exclusive interview with Ketto, Paul speaks to us about her journey, how she balances her time between sports and academics and what she requires to make India proud at the next Commonwealth Games.

How were you introduced to this sport?

Summer holidays for me were about lazing around and also exploring different sports and arts. I indulged in many different sports like basketball, water-polo, skating and dancing, whereas swimming was a regular activity. However, when I heard about shooting I was thrilled because guns had always fascinated me. In my first inter-school competition, I scored 144 in open sight, and over time, the sport took me over. I couldn’t get enough and wanted to shoot regularly.

You are only 22 and you have achieved so much. How do you balance studies and play?

I have a good sense of time. Since I was a child, my mother would tell me that I need to first complete my studies and only then would I be allowed to go for my training. Even now that discipline works for me. Whenever I study, I am fully focused and the same applies to shooting. I carry my books during all my tournaments. I believe in quality over quantity and enjoy whatever I do each moment.

Walk us through your training regimen.

4 AM: Wake up

4.15 AM-7 AM: Study

7 AM: Breakfast

7 AM-9 AM: Nap

9.15 AM: Yoga

10 AM-1 PM: Training

1.15 PM: Lunch and Rest

2.30 PM-4 PM: Training

6 PM-7.30 PM: Swimming or Gymming and Stretching

8.30 PM: Dinner

10 PM: Sleep

How many hours a day do you  practice?

Four and a half to five hours a day.

What are the costs associated with your training?

My shooting jacket and trousers cost approximately Rs. 70,000. Shooting shoes cost Rs. 18,000. Weapons are  Rs.1,70,000. I also incur additional costs for physiotherapists and sports psychologists.

How would you compare the standard of training in India and that which is available abroad?

The past world champions and record holders are now into coaching and sharing their ideas and experiences. There is a path that they have found and they’re open to new ideas and experiments. They know how and when to peak. There is research and development on sports science, which is yet to be developed in India.

How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?

Individual sport is still not a recognized area. It is motivating for all athletes around the world to learn that our Olympic dreams are being supported by a number of people in our country. It boosts my confidence to train harder as I can go abroad for a longer training period and play more matches and leagues, thus taking me closer to the six coveted grams of gold.

Explain OGQ’s role in your life and career.

Whenever I wanted something in shooting, I asked my parents. But I realised that training under the best coaches and mental training would be too expensive. Even though I felt the need, I couldn’t ask them to fund it. OGQ has given me this opportunity. I have to walk this path to reach my destination and OGQ is the light to guide me along this journey. They have provided me with a sports psychologist and world-class physiotherapist, which is essential for me.

What systems, structures and establishments do we need in India to give Indian athletes a better chance at winning at the Olympics?

Good planning, research and development and strong belief in our athletes.

Want to help Ayonika realise her dream and bring home a medal for India? Support here!

Shooting For The Stars

Pooja-Ghatkar

Pooja Ghatkar is one of four Olympic medal aspirants who, with the support of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), is campaigning on Ketto to raise funds and compete with her international counterparts.  

Pooja Ghatkar, a 25-year-old air rifle shooter, created history this March after clinching gold at the Asian Air Gun Championship in Kuwait by defeating world champions Yi Siling and Du Bei of China.

Ghatkar has proven her talent at various international tournaments  sports and plans to continue to shine at the international circuit in the upcoming World Cup competitions in Germany and Slovakia.

How were you introduced to this sport?

During my school days I started training under the National Cadet Corps as an extra activity. The main purpose behind this was to remain physically active. While going through the NCC camps, I was selected for the All India Thal Sainik Camp, Delhi, where I won a gold medal in the juniors category. But since I needed to focus on my academics at that point of time, I had to give up shooting. It was my mother’s belief and will that got me back into training for shooting again.

What is it like being a woman in a sport so closely associated with men?

For me, any sport is a sport, irrespective of whether the competitor is a man or a woman. Both require equal levels of stamina, hard work and concentration to excel. It is our mind which sets up these differences. In fact, I think shooting is more woman-oriented.  If we check the participation levels in shooting matches, the number of women participants is far more than men. The best part of shooting is that there is no age bar for competing. Everyone can enjoy the sport.

How many hours a day do you have to practice?

My training depends on my annual competition schedule. Generally during a non-competition period I train for about 5-6 hours daily, which gradually increases as a match approaches.

What are the costs associated with your training?

Shooting is one of the most expensive of the sports. I am a rifle shooter and my basic requirements like rifle and shooting kit (jacket & trouser, shoes) cost around Rs 300,000. For my daily training, I need quality pellets to shoot, which cost Rs 900 for a tin with 500 pellets. In a year, I need approximately 80 pellet tins for training and matches.

I am also training under world record-holder Thomas Farnik. A seven-day training camp under him costs approximately Rs 300,000-350,000. These are a few important costs associated with my training.

How would you compare the standard of training in India to that which is available abroad?

India is still at a developing stage as compared to other marksman countries. The main drawback in India is the lack of quality Indian coaches.  A coach plays a very important role in any athlete’s life. If we look at China, we find that each athlete has his or her own team, which includes a personal coach, physical trainer, mental trainer, doctor and nutritionist who work with them. All these people plan a perfect routine for the athlete.  They consider each and every small aspect that can help the athlete improve. Such team work is not found in India. Every athlete needs good support and qualified people to show them the right way and to help them understand themselves better.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

After wining various domestic and international competitions, my biggest achievement was winning the gold medal at the Asian Airgun Championship, Kuwait in March 2014 by defeating the World No. 1 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist.

How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?

According to me, crowdfunding is one of the best ways in which an athlete is helped to conquer his or her dreams through the common man.  People are able to know the athlete not after he or she wins an Olympic medal but before, and are able to help them on their road to success.  Crowdfunding will boost my confidence as people’s support and blessings are very precious to me. Indirectly, it shows the trust people have in an athlete. So the dream of an athlete doesn’t remain only to himself or herself but it is shared and becomes the dream of all Indians.

Explain OGQ’s role in your life and career.

The difference in me before and after becoming a part of OGQ is vast.  OGQ is like a strong ladder which is helping me climb each step firmly towards my goal. After OGQ offered to support me, everything changed. I received proper technique and physical and mental approach towards shooting. OGQ has supported me in acquiring my new rifle, pellets, shooting kit and other small requirements. The team has helped me in participating in international invitation matches which helped me gain international exposure.  It was because of OGQ that I was able to train abroad under the world’s best coach. OGQ is like a family, which is always there to support you in times of need, push you when you feel low, drag you up when you are falling back and always be with you in each loss and win.

Want to be part of Pooja’s dream to bring laurels to India? Support her!

KT Irfan: The Malappuram Express

images

KT Irfan is one of four Olympic medal aspirants who, under the aegis of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), is campaigning on Ketto to raise funds and compete with  his international counterparts.  Learn more about the speed walker in this in-depth interview.

KT Irfan is fondly known as Malappuram Express, a moniker inspired by the name of the small Kerela town that he hails from. He became the pride of the nation after finishing 10th at the London Olympics in race walking, a sport rarely heard of in India.

Irfan’s contribution to India and sport is immense, and he consistently proves his mettle at international events and as a part of the Indian army. Irfan holds a national record in the 20 km race walk with a timing of 01.20.21 seconds. It is now time for the country to give back to this soldier who needs a helping hand to recreate magic at the upcoming Asian Games.

Here’s a Ketto exclusive as we talk with Irfan about how his relentlessly training, the costs he incurs and what this country needs to change the landscape of sports in India.

Tell us about your time in the Indian army.

I joined the army as part of the sports quota in March 2010. I trained under Subedar Ramkumar in the Madras Regimen Centre. I participated in the ATNK & K area meet and won the gold medal in 2010, clocking 1:33:12 seconds. In the same year, I won gold at the Services Meet with the time 1:27:12 seconds. In 2011, I started my journey with my current coach Gurdev Singh.

Has your army training benefited your athletic abilities?

After joining the army, I was posted in Ooty where I trained most of the time. The climate in Ooty was extremely effective for conditional workouts. The army facilities were top class. It was a very crucial period in my sporting life.

How were you introduced to this sport?

My entry to sports was accidental. I come from a small village in Kerala. Football is the most popular sport there. I always liked sports. There was one walker in my village named Ribas. He was considered the best walker in Kerala. I used to serve refreshments to Ribas and sometimes note his training timings.  One day, some of my friends suggested I try race walking when I accompany Ribas. I tried it for a few days and started liking it. That was the turning point in my life. After that, I participated in my school meet and defeated the state champion. In 2007, I was called for trails in SAI Calicut and was selected. That marked the beginning of my professional sports life.

Walk us through your training regimen.

My training starts at 5am every day:

Morning training:

  • 1km run warm up
  • 5km walk warm up
  • Full body stretching and then my training work out starts

Evening training:

  • 1km run warm up
  • 1km walk warm up
  • Walking training
  • Ends with stretching

How many hours a day do you have to practice?

Morning – 3 hours

Evening – 2.30 hours

What are the costs associated with your training?

It’s difficult to estimate, but I require a minimum of two pairs of special walking shoes every month. Each shoe costs about Rs 10,000-15,000. Additionally, I need nutritional and medical supplements every month coupled with physiotherapists and a masseur’s fee.

How would you compare the standard of training in India and that which is available abroad?

The standard of training abroad is far better than India. In terms of infrastructure, support staff etc., they are way ahead.

What has been your biggest achievement yet?

Finishing 10th place in London Olympics in 2012 with the time of 1:20:21 seconds, which is a national record.

How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?

Crowdfunding is very helpful for those athletes who want to continue in their respective sports but can’t do so because of financial problems. It’s the main reason why young athletes drop out from sports. Through crowdfunding, people come to know about the sport and the athlete, who are working tirelessly to bring laurels to the country. I am sure every proud Indian wants to see India as a top sporting nation.

Explain Olympic Gold Quest’s role in your life and career.

I signed with Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) after the London 2012 Olympics. It was a very good step for me in my sporting career. I am thankful to OGQ for their full support. The cost of accessories in my sport is very high and for someone like me who comes from a middle class family, it is very difficult to afford it all. But with the support of OGQ I am getting world class shoes, sports equipment and physio assistance. And it is not just the financial support but also the mental support which the OGQ team gives me, which is really beneficial. They are available for me 24×7.

What systems, structures and establishments do we need in India to give Indian athletes a better chance at winning at the Olympics?

Lots of things have to be done. For example:

  • Need to provide world class infrastructure
  • Athletes should be given quality food supplements
  • More international exposure for training and competition
  • Each athlete should have a personal physio and masseur
  • Proper financial assistance as per the need of the athlete

I feel there is immense talent in India. If given proper attention, India can be one of the top sporting countries in the world.

Want to help KT Irfan represent India and vie for an Olympic medal? Click here to support!