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Ali – The Banjara

Born six decades ago, he has spent his life wandering, exploring, learning, and thinking outside-the-box.  He shares only what he has learnt from others, from the wisest and most respected Masters to the urchins and street dogs.  He talks or trains only when invited to do so, as he has all the time in the world, and no commercial interest.  He enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and learning while he teaches.

He writes books and columns, he speaks when asked to, and tries to be as honest and genuine as possible in whatever he conveys.  He listens and counsels, only because he feels that every human being should be given a chance to improve his quality of life.  His aim is to help develop innumerable competent people, so that he can become redundant and go back to making paper boats for the rain water.

A Montessorian, an engineering graduate of IIT Bombay, MIE, MIIM, with a Ph.D in behavioral sciences — he has always carved out his own path and been a free-lancer, ensuring that work is joy every day.

He enjoys teaching classes at the academy and ensures that he meets all the students every class not only imparting his insights on the subject but also with an earnestness to learn something new from the students.

He is the author of 30 books and nearly 80 booklets. He is regularly invited by many prestigious and reputed Schools, Colleges, Universities, NGOs, Corporates and various other institutions for lectures, talks and workshops.

A graduate in law with a Masters in Management, she started her career with a reputed business house of Mumbai known for its integrity and ethics. Working closely with the top management, she acquired the skills of handling different types of people and maintaining a pleasant and harmonious atmosphere wherever she was given responsibility. Moving to Bangalore she took a major decision to keep away from the corporate rat race and armed herself with a Diploma in Counselling Skills while pursuing her Masters in Psycho-therapy. Subsequently she took the plunge to become a full time counselor, trainer, coordinator and mentor to those who either seek emotional support or wish to become part of the counseling and life skills world.

Purnima Ganesh

Coordinator and Director

Having had a varied successful stint as an entrepreneur Indu decided to commit herself to meaningful work and was one of the founders of Banjara Academy when it was in its infancy a quarter century ago, and she also armed herself with a Diploma in Counselling Skills. She has smoothly taken over the functions of administration, personnel, finance, and ensures that the institution runs efficiently despite the financial constraints of not having business income. She ensures that there is a right balance of work, philanthropy and services to the needy by keeping a check on the overall functioning.

Indu Kamal

Director Administration

A qualified Advocate, she realized early in life that her calling lies in helping children improve their quality of life and their future. She underwent extensive training not only in counseling but also in child development, assessments and special education. Her passion made her commit full-time to Banjara’s Gurukul, of which she is the founder and driving force. She oversees a wonderful team of highly committed, compassionate and humane teachers, therapists and counselors who are willing to take up the cause of any child with any types of special needs or emotional support.

Sonal Patel

Director and Chief Counsellor of Gurukul

Transitioned from a very successful technical career in the IT sector, rising up to very responsible positions in MNCs in India, USA and the Middle East – to the human world of Counselling one decade ago, He found his calling as he was genuinely interested in understanding human beings and reaching out to them for their emotional needs. He used to identify the need for raising awareness of EQ, especially among the youngsters who were joining the corporate mainstream right after college. After completing his Certification in Life Skills and Diploma in Counselling Skills at Banjara, he decided to follow his passion for social work and chose to join his alma mater as a counselor, mentor and faculty member. He also completed his BA in Psychology and M.Sc. in Counseling and Family Therapy

Sridhar Srinivasan

Counsellor & Coordinator

Mr.Ramaswamy is always available to anyone who is undergoing trauma. He is a living legend among highly specialized doctors as he looks after each individual patient, guides and leads him or her to the best possible treatment. Without any formal qualification in medicine or psychiatry, he armed himself with qualifications in counseling, was trained At Banjara, in NIMHANS and other prestigious institutions, and since the past twenty odd years he has been giving his free services for people in emotional, medical or mental distress. Retiring from a very senior position in an aviation public sector unit, Mr. Ramaswamy was offered very lucrative positions due to his expertise as a design engineer. But he chose to move on to a path less travelled and has created a path where none existed.

Ramaswamy Natampally

Crisis Manager

Data Sciences & Analytics

Since data, information and statistics available through Internet is increasing exponentially at a very rapid pace, there is going to be a need for thousands of professionals who will be able to collect, sort, analyze and project the right information required by decision makers.

Data Analytics is required by retailers, health care professionals, scientists, technologists, legal fraternity, marketing personnel, agriculture, in fact in almost every activity that we can think of. Harvard Business Review has ranked it as the biggest employment provider of the next decade.  Estimates predict over 2 lakh vacancies in India alone in the next few years.

The jobs on offer will range from Data Mining (extracting the data from various sites and portals) to Data Warehousing (like the way Storekeepers keep components in their right place and keep track of their inflow and outflow), Data Analysis  (analyzing, sorting, prioritizing the information and understanding the importance of each bit), Data Management (managing the staff in Data Analytics department) and those who are capable of using the Data to predict future trends and its proper use.

Personnel will require to be good in math, statistics, or information science, while at the higher end there is need for experts in human psychology, and those who have a vision of the future and are risk-takers. Latest software that train professionals include Hadoop, Python, Apache Spark, Julia and R.

Some large companies like TCS and WNS have formulated the curriculum to be taught to students at PG level to make them industry-ready, and are willing to provide immediate employment on fairly lucrative remuneration. Both M.Tech (for engineers) and M.Sc. programs will be offered. 75 colleges all over the country are already offering Retail Analytics as a subject in B.Com or BBA.

Functions in Data sciences include: Data classification, clustering, cleaning, mining, navigation, visualization, warehousing, decision tree, applying models.

Career in Animation

Interested in a career in animation?  Ensure that you have, or can build, creative thinking.  In any design field, a person who can explore, look outside-the-box, and do lateral thinking, becomes most successful.  Many people do not understand the concept, and only focus on their drawing skills.  Drawing is only one part of being a good animator.  Developing a mind that can generate new ideas and fascinating visuals, is more important.

What is creative thinking? 

Creative thinking is an Ability, attitude, and a process.

Believe it or not, everyone has substantial creative ability. Just look at how creative children are. In adults, creativity has too often been suppressed through education, but it is still there and can be reawakened.

Thinking out of the box: the ability to generate new ideas by combining, changing, or reapplying existing ideas. Some creative ideas are astonishing and brilliant, while others are just simple, good, practical ideas that no one seems to have thought of yet.

Often all that's needed to be creative is to make a commitment to creativity and to take the time for it.

As children we are all capable of thinking out of the box then why is it that as we grow we stop, the reasons could be any of these blocks that we put in our mind as we grow up:  “Oh no it is a problem, it can’t be done, I cant do anything about, I am not creative, that is being childish, what will people think? I might fail.”

Ali’s Notes

I belong to the era when everything was repaired, recycled, re-used till it became totally useless.

Clothes were handed down, altered to suit younger people, then cut into smaller pieces for babies or kitchen use.  Cars were used for 20-40 years with expert mechanics repairing even at your home if they do not start. Home appliances were tied with cloth or sticking tape till they stopped completely.

Today we want instant gratification in the form of replacement instead of repairing. We want Version 2.0, 3.1 or we want 4G and 5G.  We easily discard the old and move on. What happens to the old, tried and tested?  What happens to delayed gratification, and what happens to a sense of belonging to our old things?

We are risking becoming rudderless and without a mental anchor.

Republic Day came and went.  We all celebrated not only having become a Republic, but having upheld and sustained the constitution and democracy that defines India today, 75 years down the pages of history.

While we got a well-deserved holiday to celebrate and relax, I saw around me thousands of daily-wagers, auto-drivers, farm workers, pourakarmikas and street-side vendors, who had to work even on the auspicious day.  They could not afford to take an off…. but they are the ones who make our life comfortable 365 days of the year. They are the real heroes and heroines.

Whenever possible please spend a few moments reaching out to them, giving them a small gift or some sweet and a kind word of acknowledgement of their services to us.