Shruti Sinha is a dancer, actor, social media influencer and digital content creator. With more than I.5 million followers on Instagram, she’s changing norms and breaking all barriers. She recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List series. In the exclusive conversation, she spoke to us about how she used her passion for dance to grow professionally, her journey into digital content creation, public response on pole dance and much more.
She commenced by explaining how she got into digital content creation, she said, “I want to clear that firstly an actor and a dancer. People saw me on TV, liked me and started following on social media. That’s how I started creating digital media content. I love being in front of cameras, so content creation comes easy to me. I started enjoying it because of the response and growth I was getting. Sometimes like everyone, I have artist block when I don’t know what to do next. I love following trends in my own different ways. I want to do something out of the box and not just follow trends.”
When asked about if negative comments or trolls have ever come in between the content she wants to create, she replied, “No, not a hindrance for me but it would be for a lot of people. I have grown a thick skin to these comments. I am a pole dancer and people look down upon it. Pole dancing is a beautiful and difficult art form. People think that if you are a pole dancer you are a stripper. I got a lot of hate on that but I didn’t pay any attention to it. Now when I post it, I have millions of views on my poll dancing.”
Explaining the difference between pole dancing and exotic pole dancing, she said, “Exotic pole dancing is what strippers do and is very sexy. You can’t do pole dancing with full clothes because you need skin to grip pole. So automatically there are short clothes which people mistake to be a stripper. I am trying to do more graceful contemporary dance on pole.”
On clearing if she chose graceful pole dancing over exotic pole dance because of social media comments, she added ,”No. People anyway don’t know the difference between the two. I personally don’t do it because I feel like I want to master this first and then go to exotic pole dance. I am much focused while learning anything.”
Sharing an instance from her trip she said, “I wanted to click a picture climbing and doing a move on a street lamp. A girl who’s educated and being in the same industry refused it by saying that this place is very decent and your pole dancing is indecent. I gave back to her by telling her how much hard work goes behind every single move.”
Picking up the cause to normalize pole dance and speaking on if there are many influences and creators to support and respect poll dance as an art form that requires so much, she responded, “I don’t want to take the responsibility to change the world because one person can’t but I am doing my bit. I never liked teaching when I was 13-years-old and I thought that when I will be 30- 35 years and then if nothing workout in my life then I’ll teach. But I started teaching pole dancing because I want to introduce more people to the pole. They come for a free trial class, people who come to me and ask me about pole, I am ready to give them answers and educate them on that. It is basic art form which is fairly new in India but now it’s coming up because Jacqueline did it and lot of people are doing it.”
Talking about her social media journey she shared, “Every time I have to send my insides to my team or any brand and when I open it, they say that your interaction and impressions are so good. Whenever I am creating, I look at it like probably my audience would like to see. I haven’t changed myself. I always put out what I like but keeping in mind that my audience would like it too. I keep asking them what they want to see.”
Emphasizing on the organic element of her creations, she said, “Initially I used to post pole dancing videos and there wasn’t a lot of interaction. But one day I just shoot a video, posted it and I got 5 million views, I started posting again. I knew my pole dancing videos aren’t doing well but still I posted them for myself. I kept a balance and that’s how my growth happened.”
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GFI LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO STRENGTHEN FARMER PRODUCER ORGANISATIONS
Grameen Foundation India (GFI) on Monday launched a special initiative ‘Catalyst Award’ under its MANDI (Market Enabled Access through Digital Innovation) project to support and develop the farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking at the event, Prabhat Labh, Chief Executive Officer, GFI said, “Smallholder farmers, especially women, play the most critical role in ensuring food security in Uttar Pradesh. Grameen’s endeavour is to recognise the role of women smallholder farmers, and support them through linkage to markets, technology and finance in order to increase their incomes.” The MANDI project aims to strengthen the FPO’s capacity to connect smallholder farmers, especially women, to markets and finance, in order to improve farmers’ incomes and resilience. It predominantly works on four thematic areas such as financial linkage, access to market, FPO capacity building on day-to-day operation and compliance, and gender mainstreaming. It also focuses on leveraging data for decision-making and facilitates need-based modern technologies. The MANDI project is implemented by GFI in partnership with Walmart Foundation.
The Catalyst Award is a financial assistance program being offered to select FPOs to support their long-term institutional strengthening and growth. The financial assistance being extended to the FPOs would help them in serving their members, particularly women and smallholder farmers in a better and organised manner. The awards were given at a one-day workshop organized on Monday, 29 November 2021 on “FPO strengthening through Gender Mainstreaming” at the Shatabdi Krishi Prekshagrih, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.
Addressing the participants, Mahendra Singh, Joint Director, Agriculture, Government of Uttar Pradesh said, “FPOs can become business entities serving needs of small and marginal farmers and focusing on women participation. FPOs should focus on market and financial linkages to benefit shareholder farmers.”
The day also saw the launch of another initiative on which GFI is collaborating with ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics). Under the collaboration, it has developed a support fund for the FPCs (Farmer Producer Companies) in response to Covid-19 pandemic mainly to cope better with situation brought on by the pandemic. FPC support fund (FSF) is being given for promotion and expansion of business activities being conducted by registered FPCs promoted under the MANDI project. A total amount of INR 4.5 lakh will be given to the FPCs.
The overall objective is to provide immediate support to FPCs which will help the project beneficiaries cope better with the pandemic while building resilience and bringing things back on track— by providing access to ‘working capital’ to the farmers through the FPCs, so that the farmers can continue with their farming operations uninterruptedly. This will also help FPCs for strengthening business activities, innovative product and services design and delivery which will help the farmer members of FPCs. The program is implemented through GFI’s subsidiary Grameen Foundation for Social Impact (GFSI) with support from ICRISAT and would cover four districts of Ghazipur, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Prayagraj and would benefit about 11,500 farmers.
This event is part of a series of activities being organised by the GFI for generating awareness among the stakeholders of FPOs, and creating an ecosystem to foster women’s empowerment in agriculture. It aims to sensitise stakeholders on increasing women’s participation in decision-making and in the entire FPO value chain.
About 146 attendees representing FPOs, experts from financial technology, markets and convergence participated in the event and subsequent workshop. The companies such as Blue Soils, UPPRO (State Level Federation of FPOs of Uttar Pradesh), EF Polymer also displayed their products and services.
Grameen Foundation India is a leading social impact organisation, working on financial inclusion, agriculture-based livelihoods and health and nutrition initiatives with the mission to enable the poor, especially women to overcome poverty and hunger. Inspired by the work of Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus, Grameen provides works in partnership with leading development organisations in India to ideate, innovate and scale breakthrough solutions that reach underserved populations, particularly women.
YOTTA TO BUILD NEXT TWO DATA CENTER BUILDINGS IN GREATER NOIDA
Yotta Infrastructure announced that it will commence construction of two more data centers in their Greater Noida Data Center Park in January 2022. The two buildings will have a capacity of 30MW IT load each and will be ready to go live in January 2024. The construction of the first of six data center buildings started in January 2021 and will go live for customer operations by July 2022, in a record time of less than 18 months. Once completed, it will have a capacity of 30 MW IT Load.
Commenting on the development and his vision to transform Uttar Pradesh as a technology hub, the Honourable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Yogi Adityanath, said, “Uttar Pradesh today is at the forefront of all-round development. Data Centers are the hub of the digital revolution. They are the temples for digital democracy. The government of Uttar Pradesh has taken path-breaking steps, including a forward-looking Data Center policy helping and incentivising the development of high-quality, large-scale data centers in UP. I congratulate the Hiranandani Group and Yotta for taking this initiative which shall enhance the quality of life for citizens and shall grow the digital economy of the country, promise them all help and wish them success.” The Uttar Pradesh government, in October 2020, gave approvals to the company to set up a 20-acre hyper-scale data center park in Greater Noida. This will be the first data center park in the region, which will consist of 6 interconnected data center buildings offering 30,000 racks capacity powered by more than 250 MW of power. The estimated cost to set up the park is approximately INR 7000 Crore (~USD 950 Mn). The project will also generate direct and indirect employment in Uttar Pradesh as the company expands its team to operate and build the data centers.
Darshan Hiranandani, Group CEO – Hiranandani Group, said, “The Digital India initiative has opened up new avenues for businesses, and India has been on the upward trajectory with respect to digital transformation way before the pandemic hit us. The last couple of years have only reinstated the need to grow digital infrastructure in our country. We are grateful to the Government of Uttar Pradesh and the Honourable Chief Minister Shri Yogi Adityanath Ji for extending their constant cooperation that helped us speed up the construction process. Our Datacenter Park in Greater Noida will go a long way to augment the digital infrastructure not only in Uttar Pradesh but also in the entire north region of the country as Yotta continues to strive to bridge the demand-supply gap in the Indian data center industry.”
Sunil Gupta, Co-founder, and CEO of Yotta Infrastructure said, “Foreseeing increased demand from the region due to digital acceleration, we’ve decided to commence construction of two new data center buildings of 30MW IT load each from January 2022, much ahead of our earlier schedule. The data center park shall be the largest one in the region, powered by redundant 220 KV express feeders and an on-site substation, with an option of 100 percent green energy to customers. With the presence of multiple telco operators, redundant fiber paths and various public and private Internet exchanges and availability of Build To Suit (BTS), Bulk and Retail Colocation and various Cloud and Managed Services, this highly interconnected data center park is attracting customers from across the World and industry verticals.”
Riding on the digital revolution and a huge supply-demand gap in the country for high-quality, scalable data centers and benefitting from its all-around capabilities across the value chain of Datacenter from Build to Operate, Yotta is feverishly developing data center parks across the country. It has also signed MoUs with Tamil Nadu and West Bengal Government to set up data centers in Chennai and Kolkata, respectively. The company recently announced that its first data center in Navi Mumbai – Yotta NM1, is India’s first and the only Tier IV Constructed Facility certified by Uptime Institute (USA).
In sync with Guru Nanak’s ‘oneness’
An exhibition titled ‘Paradigm of Oneness’—a solo show by artist Dr Jaspal Singh Kalra—was held recently in the capital at the Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre wherein the artist attempts to imagine Baba Nanak in the content of his immortal Shabads.
Artist Dr. Jaspal Singh Kalra
Banrae Embroidery & sketch on linen by Dr. Jaspal Singh Kalra
Nanak’s oneness goes beyond just humans. His compositions talk of nature, animals, plants, earth, water, air and to love them all is true oneness with the divine. Imagining self as part of other is the paradigm of Nanak’s oneness that takes us beyond our ego. The series of artworks on display are Kalra’s journey of art as a personal expression. His art is not about deciphering or finding reasons but simplifying the complexities.
This personal expression of setting text in artworks has been part of Dr Kalra’s style for more than a decade. When his mother passed away, it transformed into interpretation.
The word ‘Sab Tera’ is also interpreted as ‘terah’ or thirteen and in keeping with this concept thirteen Shabads have been taken to create this series of artworks. Shabads by Baba Nanak, Kabirdas and Sheikh Farid range from oneness of humans, gender, nature, universe, divinity and value of sharing.
Speaking to The Daily Guardian, Kalra explained the title of the exhibition and said that oneness is about gender, people and moving away from discrimination. “When we started creating these artworks, we had people from different faith who understood his philosophy and tried to associate with it. Here it was about the oneness of thought and connecting it with art,” he said.
He added, “We gave it the name paradigm because it was not just about one single thing. There are smaller aspects. It has so many components to it that makes it a paradigm.”
Everyone knows that Guru Nanak is an important religious figure in Sikhism. But in the case of Kalra, he says it is important and a conscious effort to humanise him in order to understand his teachings. “When we humanise something, we connect to that person much closer. When we make someone a god or a demi-god, there’s an awe that comes in. If you have to love someone’s poetry and follow, the first step would be to be in one with that person,” he said while speaking to The Daily Guardian.
On the issue of the hurdles he faced while creating these works, he said that he did not face much of it and added that he was being guided by a force through the creative process. Kalra further said that every time he was working with a Shabad or a Doha of Kabir on his artwork, he was reliving them. “Every time when I was working on it, I would go deeper into the meaning because we were spending so much time in sketching and conceptualising. Then you really look (at the work and the verse) and get into another time zone,” he added.
“The whole process for us (of creating these works) became an act of respect and worship,” the artist said further. From his artwork, he said, the thing that the viewer must capture is the human values and make your own meanings out of them.
SARDAR UDHAM SINGH WOULD LEAD TO DISCUSSIONS ABOUT OTHER SUCH UNSUNG HEROES: VICKY KAUSHAL
In the exclusive conversation with us as part of NewsX India A-List, Vicky Kaushal and Shoojit Sircar opened up about the response to Sardar Udham Singh, their favourite scenes in the film and much more.
Actor Vicky Kaushal and Filmmaker Shoojit Sircar, who are basking in the success of their film Sardar Udham Singh, joined us for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, the duo opened up about the response to Sardar Udham Singh, their favourite scenes in the film and much more.
When asked whether he expected so much love from the audience for the film, Shoojit Sircar said, “We knew that the final climax of the film will evoke some kind of a reaction but we didn’t expect these many praise-worthy messages and texts. That was absolutely overwhelming.”
On Sardar Udham Singh being a difficult character to portray, Vicky said, “Everyone attached with the making of the film, was in sync with why this story is important and why this story needs to be told. We were always in sync with that. Yes definitely, when you see that the film has resonated in such a beautiful way with the audience and connected with the audience, it does make you feel good. It makes you feel that your efforts have landed well. Not many people knew who Sardar Udham Singh was or what his sacrifices were. Now people would be aware of it, they would discuss it and this would probably lead to discussions about other such unsung heroes and other such sacrifices of that time. That of course is a big takeaway for a big victory for us.”
Speaking about that one compliment that stood out about his performance, Vicky said, “Actually in the initial stages, it was something that I read for the first time and it really brought a smile in my heart, rather than my face, was when somebody had just appreciated that this could have been the best tribute to Irrfan Saab. That really made my heart smile. That was really special for me.”
To this, Shoojit Sircar added, “When the film got over, most of the people were not able to talk and they felt a little numb. For some time, they didn’t want to talk to anyone and just be quiet. Everyone wrote to me and also on social media I read. That for me is quite a deep impact. I also get a little emotional when someone feels exactly what we feel. That is the biggest compliment I got.”
Talking about his favourite and the most difficult scene in the film, Vicky shared, “For me, the most challenging one has to be the Jallianwala Bagh scene. To recreate that and to touch upon the innocence of the 20-year-old Udham Singh, who was probably going through that kind of aftermath. You, as an actor, can never be too prepared to know what you are going to do, how you are going to do, how you are going to emote those sequences till you are thrown right in the middle of it. So, that was for me the most challenging.”
“The one scene I was looking forward to shoot was the jail portion, that lead up to that sequence. The conversation between Sardar Udham and Suhel. That trajectory was for me like the thread of the film. Shooting for those portions was kind of also telling me the graph of the character. Those sequences in the film were special for me,” Vicky added.
Aatmanirbhar bharat is a ‘phenomenal initiative’: Volvo group’s president, Kamal Bali
The President and Managing Director of the Volvo group, India, Mr Kamal Bali joined NewsX for an exclusive round of interview. Mr Bali has a distinguished career traversing over 3 decades, predominantly in the automobile division.
He addressed what a stressful and unprecedented sort of situation the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has created for the automotive industry. “This pandemic came out like a bolt from the blue and no one was prepared for it and especially our industry, the automotive industry which was already reeling under a demand slowdown towards the end of last year”.
Mr Bali was looking for better times with a lot of optimism, especially with the new emission norms coming in and lots of new models which were to come in for the entire auto industry. He told how the automotive industry’s slowdown impacts the entire country. “It was very big of a U-turn for the auto industry, it accounts for 7-8 per cent of our GDP, so it is a big jolt to the country and to the whole economy as such”.
Mr Bali believes that in terms of numbers, the recovery in the sector will be very slow. “The reason is that the industry was already going through a slowdown as I mentioned and in the current financial year 2020-21. There are estimates of different kinds but its likely that the industry will see a further contraction of between 25-35 per cent”.
According to Kamal Bali, it’s very difficult to say that what exactly they will end at because it will depend on the pathways of the pandemic. “How it does, how as an industry and how as a society we come in terms with. As ultimately, itsalso a question of lives and livelihoods”. So he thinks that its going to be challenging but he is still optimistic.
“Seeing numbers in June, there has been some improvement over May. May to June has been a huge, a positive reinforcement, which is good news for the industry even though it is much much lower than the June of last year”. So he thinks that there are some positive things but he also thinks that a lot more can be done. “Of course, it won’t be business going forward as usual but, a lot of other factors are going to come into play but I think if we can get a good fiscal stimulus, this industry can bounce back sooner than we expect”.
The Volvo President appreciates the limited elbow room, the finance minister had, and he thinks that despite that, she did a wonderful job. “I think the supply side thing was largely addressed, a lot of liquidity and monetary measures have been taken for the economy as a whole and also, addressing several vulnerable sections of the society and economy including the MSMEs and people at the economically weaker sections of the society, having said that I think the demand side also needs to be looked at now, this is the right time”.
He further said, “I think as the supply side is getting addressed, as factories have started manufacturing and remanufacturing, now, we have come to levels of 50-60 per cent of our original pre-COVID levels. I think now is the time when we also need a demand stimulus because discretionary demands have gone down. Since the economy is not at its full throttle the demand is not there”.
Mr Bali feels and what according to him the industry would like is four or five key things. “One is, a temporary reduction in the GST rates, things like trucks and buses fall under the luxury rate of tax which is 28 per cent GST. If this can be brought down to 12 or 18 per cent, if not permanently then at least for the next 6 months”.
He thinks that this can be a big boost because in any case, the industry has to spend more cost on the vehicles because of “transition from BS 4 to BS 6”. So this cost probably cannot be passed on fully to the customer as there are weaker sentiments in the marketplace.
So, if this reduction in the GST can be done temporarily, just to jump-start the economy, that’s one. The customers would be excited and they would like to look at the possibilities. “The second thing is lower interest rates, if some subventions can go on from typically 9 to 10 per cent to 6 per cent, I think that would be a big booster”.
According to Mr Kamal Bali, the third thing which could be the game-changer for the industry is the “scrap pitch policy”. He said, “So if they can decide on a 15-year or an 18-year scrappage policy, I think that could be a game-changer for the industry”.
Talking about the “Aatm nirbhar” campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Bali called it a phenomenal initiative. “We completely support it. I think this gives very very good confidence to the industry and the society at large. If you look particularly at the automotive industry, we are in a large way self-reliant. Our industry as such is well matured. There are still some gaps, which of course we will, if global companies can start doing more and more work in India, I think we can fulfil the dream of aatmnirbhar Bharat”.
He said that as far as Volvo is concerned, they are fully committed to India. “We have been serial investors in India. In fact, over the last 20 years, we have made serial investments”. Mr Kamal shared an anecdote about a venture Volvo made with Eicher motors. “Eicher motors, which is a very very successful joint venture as well. So we believe in the India story and we believe that India is the market which is going to grow. There can be a temporary pause because of pandemic and because of certain other structural reasons. But I think, our trajectory, our direction is spot on”!
He thinks that they need to make the supply chain more integrated with the global supply chains. “I think the industry will respond to the clarion call of the Prime Minister for making India aatmnirbhar”. On behalf of the Volvo group, he said that Volvo group is completely committed and will do whatever is required in the interest of the country as well as the group itself.
Need to bring in tech to make India Atmanirbhar, says Arjun Bajaaj, Director, Videotex & Founder, Shinco
Director of Videotex & Founder of Daiwa & Shinco Arjun Bajaaj joined NewsX for an exclusive interview session and talked about his education, brands, making bases strong in the technology sector, India’s ban on Chinese apps, and more.
Mr. Arjun Bajaaj did his education from Pathways World School, a few kilometers away from Gurgaon, and then went to the University of Essex, UK to study Business Management.
The boarding school and the exposure overseas have really helped him become ‘confident and independent’. He also believes that this really helped him in the business world today.
The young entrepreneur, Arjun Bajaaj is really grateful to his parents for giving him this opportunity.
He also feels that the transition from college to his family business was not at all smooth and easy. He said that while he was in university, he did a lot of part-time jobs there. He went to retails, he also worked in some night clubs to get some exposure and understand the audiences. After completing his studies he came back to India and did his first internship in Samsung’s marketing department for a couple of months.
Mr. Arjun Bajaaj was put under six months of training when he joined his father’s company. That’s when he realized “we have a lot and we can take advantage of the infrastructure and the experience we have”.
When asked about his brand Daiwa, Arjun said that it isn’t easy creating one’s own brand. Sharing the details of the process, he said “My brand was pretty new in the market so I thought we will start with the e-commerce platforms. I reached out to a few e-commerce companies but they didn’t show a lot of interest initially. Then shop clues decided to support me.”
Arjun Bajaaj asked his father to lend him 50 TVs because no one was that confident that whether it would turn out well or not. Shopclues then predicted that they could sell probably around 100-150 TVs in the first month. So Arjun gave it a shot and ended up selling 50 TVs in a day. After this big achievement, he asked his father if he could lend some more TVs. He took around 150 more TVs which again were sold in 3 odd days. And that’s when they realized their potential that they can do well. In 2016, the journey of Daiwa began. They sold around 600 TVs in the first month. In 2018, Arjun Bajaaj took Daiwa to the offline space and it has been growing since then.
In 2018, Mr. Arjun launched another brand Shinco which is exclusively sold on the online space. Shinco became the best selling brand last year.
On asking how does Arjun makes his customer base strong, he replied that the manufacturing structure helps them today and they have the experience to build products for the Indian market. They design their products by knowing and understanding the likes of the audience, the problems they face.
The founder of Daiwa and Shinco also shared his views on the Chinese ban on 59 apps, the strict terms, and regulations on imports from China. He said that not many industry leaders are supporting the ban at the moment. A lot of things are manufactured in China and they have no choice but to buy certain parts from there. Talking about the TV industry, the biggest cost goes to the screen of the TV and that is not manufactured in India. ‘To make the Aatmnirbhar Bharat mission successful, we need to bring in that technology so that we can cover that major share that is missing.’
The government should ask the big brands who are selling in India today to bring the technology here because it requires very heavy investment and a lot of production. With that, it can open up gates for export. The entrepreneur, Arjun Bajaaj, advised other young entrepreneurs to learn from the mistake and try to fix them and keep moving forward. Sharing his success mantra on the NewsX A list show, Arjun Bajaaj said that he believes in staying positive. “If you stay positive and have the ability to work hard, then there is no way anyone can stop you”.
The products of Arjun’s brand are available in offline space with local retailers as well as some big retailers. Daiwa is present in the northern and western markets and in the Hyderabad area as well. By the end of this year, they will have coverage in entire India.
Shinco is available on Amazon as well as its website Shinco.in. So users can purchase the product either in the offline space or online space.
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