Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Some real interesting updates

I am going home on 30th December,09 and I must mention some very nice things I am working on currently. All my friends at Microsoft and elsewhere are helping me immensely to accomplish these tasks. Here we go:

1. The home library framework : This will be a step-by-step framework which will adopted by anybody who wants to start a library at his/her native place. This will contains all the pre-requisites, timelines alongwith specific guidelines to follow to start the library and sustain it.

2. The presentation: I have got the opportunity to speak about the home library concept at NEIIM 2010 (http://www.neiim2010.com ), an international meet organized by FASS (http://friendsofassam.org ) as a speaker for the session on Rural Development on 12nd January,2010

3. The video shoot : My mother is coordinating for shooting some videos for the above presentation on 13th Dec, 09.

4. The Trust website: www.mnmtrust.org is on the way..

5. The News-Letter : The first newsletter for the library is on the way..

6. The advisor pool Concept : This is a big initiative to expand our reach. Also, an opportunity for any individual to devote his time and hope with community. Details are coming..

7. Session with other NGO/institute : There is a proposed environmental awareness campaign and free computer education program proposed in my home visit on 31st Dec, 09. I will publish detail later

8. Swaranag : Our second home library.Way to go.....

We are available at many places :
1. Join our community in ORKUT:
2. Follow us in Twitter:

Siging off in a hurry,

Manjit Nath (ZING)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

SWRANG....On the way

When I first started thinking about the home library, it was just a library in memory of my father. My thought process took a turn after attending the 'India Literacy Project' workshop at Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. I started looking at the home library initiative as a concept which can be adopted anywhere in our country with a real need of reading. I sat with some of my well wishers in a brain-storming session and we decided on a mission and vision to work upon. One of our vision targets expansion of this concept beyond my place, Agia.

I am super excited to inform you about our second instance of home library. I have to introduce Dipak Basumatary here, a visionary budding social entrepreneur, currently an employee with IOT Design and Engineering (a joint venture of IOCL and OilTanking Gmbh) in Delhi. Deepak, who is also a year junior to me in engineering college, expressed his wish of opening a home library last August, 09. I was like, WoW!! This is an attempt by Dipak and his four friends to give back something to their community at Narabari, in Kokrajhar district, Assam.

SWRANG-- this is what we named the new library. Swrang in the Bodo language means 'the Morning Sunrise'. This will be registered under MN Memorial Trust with the same mission of  home library concept - “To create an interest for reading, provide access to resources and help people realize their true potential”.

I will be writing more about SWRANG and its visionaries in detail. Deepak is also starting a separate blog expressing his friends’ and his dreams and ambitions.

Current Status:

Deepak came to Hyderabad on 20th Nov,09 and we both decided on all the pre-requisites. Also, we met the design company http://www.notun.net , and finished the discussion related to branding. We will be meeting at Assam in the last week of December and we plan to launch the library by the first week of January,10.

I want to paste here the ''To-Do List" I sent to Deepak after our meeting. This will depict the current status of the second venture vividly:

"Hi Deepak,Here is the 'to do' list for you with deadline. Please try to stick to this. Also keep adding to this, if you feel need, but just don't delete anything.

  • 1. Complete designing the library logo and send to Notun.net for final design          -26th Nov

  • 2. Build one tagline for easy understanding if your library name does not contain the word 'Library'      -26th Nov

  • 3. Start writing a dedicated blog only for the library; all of your founder friends can contribute      - 28th Nov

  • 4. Decide the inauguration date       -1st Dec

  • 5. Start thinking of the inauguration plan, guests to be invited, etc  -10 Dec

  • 6. Define your initial scope- orphan home+how many schools, also calculate how many children are there in the whole area nearby which you are targeting-main idea is to find out how many people your library will affect    -28th Nov

  • 7. Designing of a 1-2 pages leaflet for distributing about the cause, vision, background of the library    -15 Dec

  • 8. Prepare a write-up about your initiative which you will be sharing with anyone whom you will approach. I’ll help you by sending the template     -3rd Dec

  • 9. Find a PC in working condition    -22nd Dec

  • 10. Gain knowledge about the local media there, VIPs and people’s general outlook towards reading    -22nd Dec

  • 11. Preparation of Rubber Stamp    -22nd Dec

  • 12. Start a communication thread with all the people who know about this project, want to help etc. This is very necessary to keep all of them updated   -26th Nov

  • 13. Work on the resources who will help you and in what way when you will be at home and will be finalizing all the issues before library inauguration    -14th Dec

  • 14. Complete the vision statement_it should be realistic and achievable   -1st Dec

  • 15. Follow up with the NOTUN guys till the whole part is done, I will start that today -23rd Nov

  • 16. Write your library name in Bodo script, and also anything else if you want to cover in branding in Bodo language -26th Nov

    17. Complete all the legal formalities for MN Memorial Trust, including opening of the bank Account    -2nd Jan, 10

Only these are coming to my mind as of now. I think its enough for you to start working .... All the best, don't get randomized, Main Hu Naa! "

The Purpose of this blog is just to inform you all about SWRANG. I will be publishing more updates. Also, I am exploring a few other mediums for communicating. Stay tuned !

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Library Article on Microsoft One India Portal

Just want to share you the good news that this home library initiative has been featured in the weekly e-mail communication of Microsoft India. "Microsoft One India" is an internal portal to communicate out to all the six groups of Microsoft that are in India located in Bangaluru, Hyderabad and Gurgaon. Their weekly e-mail communication has a section "We, The people", where they used to write about the extra-ordinary work carried out by Microsoft India employee(s). The edition published on September 2, 2009 featured the story - "A dream drives Manjit to set up a home library in a village in Assam "

I must thank Rebecca, Shashank,Shwetal and Nidarsana Ba from Microsoft Business Communication group for considering the initiative, interviewing me, writing up the whole story, reviewing with me and finally publishing out in the portal. Thank you very much !

This story has reached more than 5000 MS employees working in India, and till now the most commented article in the whole portal.This has also been shared with NGOs like ILP and HRF (on their requests)as the article boldly calls out their support in shaping the library dream.

Wish you a nice reading !

We, The People
A dream drives Manjit to set up a home library in a village in Assam

To dream is one thing and to realize it is another. It is only after relentless efforts that one can realize a dream. And when the dream is for the sole benefit of others, only effort doesn’t suffice; one needs to put in tremendous energy and innovation to make the dream a reality. Manjit Nath, an Operations Engineer with MSIT – India, tells you how dreams can be achieved.

It was Manjit’s dream to set up a home library for the people of his village in Assam. That was his way of giving back to the village what the village gave him during his formative years. The Maheswar Nath Memorial Library in the Agia village of Goalpara district is also Manjit’s tribute to his late father. The Library has 1850 books today and around 150 regular members. The village has no other library. For Manjit, it is “One wish, one dream, and a realization.”

The Dream
Manjit’s eyes light up when he speaks about the effort he put into the setting up of the library. He is blessed with a family of extremely well-read people. Even today, when he thinks of his father, Maheswar Nath, who was the Principal of the Balbala Higher Secondary School, he sees him immersed in books. Reading was his father’s passion - a passion that he tried to share with Manjit and everybody else in the village. As a child, Manjit read many books; but the one book that captured young Manjit’s imagination was Homen Borgohain’s Saudar Puteke Nao Meli Jai. The book is about two friends setting up a library in Assam during the British rule. “I picked up the idea from that book and soon, it became my dream,” says Manjit.
However, professional life took over and soon Manjit’s dream started slipping down the priority list. And one day, came the news that refueled the dream – the heartbreaking news of his father’s death. “I could not think of a more appropriate token of gratitude and love for my father than to encourage my people to read. It was my father’s wish – he always wanted the villagers to be well read. So, I decided to make my father’s reading room a library.”

The Journey
Other than reading, Manjit was also interested in reforming the education system in India. It was this interest that drove him to join the Indian Literacy Project (ILP). It is during this association that he learned more about library management. He started managing the ILP library in Hyderabad. Manjit was also part of the joint workshop organized by ISB and ILP. Manjit then held several brainstorming sessions on the library project with his friends at Microsoft. He had discussions with members of voluntary organizations that promote similar library initiatives such as Room2Read, Hippocampus Reading Foundation (HRF) etc. He also reached out to the Bhabendra Nath Saikia Foundation in Assam. The idea was not just of a library but that of a concept that can be adopted all over India.

Through his research, Manjit discovered that it takes more than just a stack of books to build a library. “Library management is a science actually,” says Manjit. There is a methodology around its promotion and infrastructure, categorization of the books, branding and so on. “I was getting bogged down by the enormity of the task but Krishna Priya GV, the librarian at the Hyderabad campus, came to my rescue. She taught me how to use different components of the library management software. I prepared the whole execution plan and my roommate, Alvaro, coded the software using Microsoft technologies. It is a feature-rich application that is easy to use. Now everybody, including my mother, is able to operate it with ease,” beams Manjit.

Manjit’s biggest challenge was something else though. “I work out of the Hyderabad campus. It was practically impossible to visit Assam often to set up the library,” he explained. So he started managing the home library activities remotely. He didn’t spend his vacations unwinding, but cataloguing the books and coordinating the necessary paperwork and formalities with the Government authorities.

“It was really challenging to fight the bureaucracy and set up a Public Trust to run a library. People tried to put a spanner in the works instead of helping us,” recalls Manjit. His older brother Bikramjit, an Indian Navy personnel, pitched in too. “Bikramda did a lot of running around with me.” And the brothers emerged triumphant.

Manjit inaugurated the home-library on June 1, 2009 - the first death anniversary of his father Late Maheswar Nath. The villagers and media appreciated the initiative. The initiative was written about in five leading Assamese dailies and two new channels ran a special coverage on the project. A big boost came in, in the form of a letter and a donation of about 100 books from the noted Assamese writer Homen Borgohain. Within a week of launch, the Maheswar Nath Memorial Library had over 70 registrations. To keep his readers interested, Manjit has introduced student concessions, prizes to voracious readers, debates, and essay-writing competitions.

Way Forward
The Trust is committed to the socio-economic development of the society with the home library as its first initiative. “The love of books and reading is a culture – I want to enable more people to read, provide them the necessary resources so that they can gain knowledge and realize their true potential. If our Library inspires each member to read at least five books a year – it will be an achievement,” says Manjit.He is now planning awareness and fund-raising campaigns, expansion of the library storehouse, inclusion of more self-help books, and inspire the like-minded to adopt this concept. Manjit has three concrete plans for 2009:

  • Open a branch of the home library project in Kokrajhar district

  • Target literate house-wives with lots of books /magazines of their taste

  • Team up with three NGOs to work on the computer literacy and environmental awareness campaign

To know more about the Home Library initiative you can visit Manjit’s blog. To partake in his noble initiative please write in to Manjit. You can also donate books and/or funds to the ‘Maheswar Nath Memorial Trust’.

NB: I can't mention the web link here as 'Microsoft One India' is an internal portal and hosted on MS Corpnet,hence people from outside can't access the internal links

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A few inspiring words

The other day I was discussing with my brother how great you feel when someone really encourages your efforts, gives suggestions and offers help to take it to the next step. I am really thankful to all who shares their thoughts and showers wishes to me and the home library mission. Some of my friends are working on an article on this concept and of the opinion to publish a few comments recieved from different people. I have picked up a few from the comments that I received personally (After taking their permission) and a few from public forum like Orkut, Facebook, Picasa album etc. Idea is to publish a sort of guest book that I have at home at the library, a virtual guest book, if I am permitted to say so.

1. "Always something different with you man. Keep up the good work. Update your blog regularly. At least I can read and be happy..."

Venkata Krishna N
University of Arizona, Tucson, USA

2. "I am proud of you my dear....Last vacation I did something like this in my village school.... it was counselling session... you have encouraged me more to work on social cause...."

Dichan Lepcha
Atos Origin, UK

3. "awesome work i must say ... i wish u all the luck man !!

Jugantar Chetia,
Vanderbilt University, USA

4. "abbe yaar dil khus ho gaya ye sab dekh kee...All I can say "Now Manjit will be a satisfied guy ". I really respect what you did. It's something which everyone will say "Nice one dude" and inside your heart you will feel "Its The Best". I am hoping to join the same category soon"

Aditya Dogra,
Cisco, Bangalore

5. "Amazing effort buddy! I'm so proud of you. I never knew that you were on such a mission and I'm glad that you have accomplished what you had set out to do. The enthusiasm in the snaps of all people involved is so infectious. Keep up the good work and do keep us posted if we can help take forward this initiative in any way"

Anup Nair,
SAP , Bangalore

6. "Thanks so much for sharing this. It is very inspiring!! "

Niresh Kumar,
Former Head, Hyderabad Chapter of CRY-Child Rights & You

7. "Abe mast....the whole story was like a small documentary..."

Debaroon Sarma,
IBM, Bangalore

8." Hi Recdgpians, Below is the invitation from Manjit , who has started a "Home Library" in Assam now. Manjit is 2007 batch passout of CSE department of our college and has worked in Microsoft for two years. Now he has setup a home library in his hometown in Assam with a vision of opening these Home Libraries in whole Assam to make India a more litrate country. With a motive of giving back to the society, he has started pursing this Dream and I am sure as with his strategy and execution he will reach to the stars and make it happen. Best of Manjit We are with you"

Aditya Dogra's invitation to REC Durgapur Alumni worldwide

9. "Good Luck Manjit. This is a very novel concept. My heart-felt appreciations for the same.Do let me know if I can help you in any way. I just read through your blog now....and saw through your fotos too.....dont mind if I am repeating my lines.....u make us proud.....keep the good work going.....dont let ur motivation dip at any point of time.....i ll definitely contribute to home-library through funds and support in due course of time wen i start getting paid.....lemme know if thrs anything I can do....and I ll be happy to contribute. "

Arun L Narayanan
University of Florida, USA

10. "I am in final year now IT, of NIT,dgp, you probably don't know me. Just wanted to say that this is a great work you are doing and I hope to participate in it in the future..:)"

NIT Durgapur

11. "It was a pleasant surprise seeing this mail first thing this morning and even more when I saw your name. A huge congratulations! Going through the album has been an absolutely wonderful experience"

Abhik banerjee
NTU, Singapore

12. "Is your organization registered as a not-for-profit institution so that donations can be tax-exempt?I have spread the word in a couple of fora - also posted in my facebook page.
Let's keep our fingers crossed that more and more people hear about this and do something to support your initiative. I hope your blog has a mechanism for people to contact you"

Ashish Kole,
EE'83 Pass out of NIT DGP,
Former Director, Cisco Systems

13."This reminds me of our stay in Assam way back in 1984 . Everything going Lahe Lahe!!
In my opinion, this is a superb effort from our junior at college to ensure that what he has taken from the society"

Dilip Kartha,
1983 Pass out of NIT DGP

14. "We are proud of you my dear Recollian...keep it up...all the best in your coming days.by any chance when will you be in this city of joy ? Pls get in touch when you are here so that we can take you to the Alumni Committee to share a few words of your experience. We have an absolutely great alumni named NITDAA whose head qtr is at Dgp but operated from Kolkata. That might be of some help to you"

Ashok kr Roy
1972-77 EE, NIT durgapur

15. "First of all heartiest congrats for inauguration of ur Home Library, formaking your dream come true...for "The END of the BEGINNING". I havealways heard about successful personalities...how they started...abtthere struggles...and abt their success. While going through your mailmy inner self visioned you as a successful man and your dream comingtrue with rainbow colors. I wish you all the success and heartiestcongratulations once again"

Maninder Saini
CSE 2008 Pass out, NIT durgapur

16. "Indeed an excellent initiative.. Let this flourish at faster pace"

Avijit Roy
1979-83 ( ME ) NIT D,
Tata Technologies

17. "Simply amazing zing!!!!!have to say, one of the very few of us who has gone out there and lived his dream....hats off to u buddy...."

Shalil Guha
Covensys, Bangalore

18. "Great job done my friend. We Recollians are indeed proud of you. Just keep it up. We are all with you.With all my best wishes"

Shyamal Chatterjee
1974 - Met.E, NIT Durgapur

19. "Congratulation Manzit!! Photo bilak sai khub bhal lagise...really Gr8 ...keep it up"

Mantu Kalita,
Co-Founder & MD, Notun

20. "Dude... hats off to u man... i can say that u are one of the few amongst us who has gathered the guts to do what he feels he should do! Best of luck on your endeavor!"

Somnath Chatterjee
Tata Motors, Pune

21. "can't say anything dats not already been said...nd dats something"

Kanad Sinha
Purdue University, USA

22. "tammam be manjit da..what to say more..i might ask ur help one day..."

Dipak Boro
Indian Oil, New Delhi

23. "Great work Manjit. May God bless you to carry this mission to ultimate success. This is not the result of one day effort, I know you were devoted for this since long. Most of us think a lot in several aspects, but to convert our thoughts to reality is done by few of us. I liked the caption a lot "One wish, one dream and a realization"...All the Best"

Neeraj Tripathi
Microsoft, Hyderabad

24. "fect...fantastic stuff!!! this is simply gr8 dude!!"

Tathagata Mukherji
IIFA, Delhi

25. "I wish all the best for your noble endeavor"

Nitu Chiring
Oracle, Hyderabad

26. "Awesome. Really inspiring. I am touched by your commitment and zeal"

Manmohan Jain
Vice President, Computer Associates

27."This is a really heart-warming endeavour, Manjit.As a book lover, I too believe that books can bring about a positive difference in these children’s lives... wishing the library all the best
Next time I go home, will try and get some books too, if you’ll be able to carry them to the library..."

Ashwin Sudhir
Microsoft, Hyderabad

28. "I must give you credit for pursuing and succeeding. Its not easy to dream and then actually materialize J Congrats "

Ranjeev Lahkar
HR, Microsoft Corp

29. "Manjit,This is wonderful..I am planning to post this to support a child Assam yahoo group , hope you are ok with that"

Ankur Bora
Microsoft, Redmond

30. This is the most unusual ‘something’ I have ever attended in my whole life

A audience, on the day of inauguration

Signing off,
Manjit Nath (Zing)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Quick summary of important events during my library inauguration visit

Today, let me try to give an overview of the important events/activities that happened before and just after the library inauguration. This will depict the journey we took to achieve the first milestone of home library mission.

1.The meeting of all institution’s heads @my residence, 25th May, 2007-evening
We tried to give heads up to all the people of my locality about the library through this meeting. This was very important because in such a small place like ours, when somebody tries something new, people became suspicious. They start to think –“is this a new way to earn money”. To mitigate this we targeted the prominent people of the locality.
We invited the heads (Principal/head masters) of 7 schools in the locality, presidents and secretaries of 5 NGO/societies operating in our place, heads of a few government institutes like Police Out-post, Block/circle office, Jana Sewa, rural library, etc., heads of a few financial institutes like (two) local banks, bazaar committee, (two) micro finance orgs, etc., and managing committee members of 4 private schools running in our locality. Despite rain, people showed up in good numbers and we started the meeting with around 30+ attendees.
First I explained to them the whole concept, how we were trying to affect ‘one wish, one dream a realization’ to a reality. This was followed by comments/suggestions session from all the people present there. People opened up so many directions/points which we never thought of. My bro captured all the points as MOM (minutes of meeting) and read those out to all at the end of the meeting with thanksgiving. I will publish the MOM in some of my later blogs.
Result was awesome—Everybody gave a ‘thumbs up’ to the idea.

2. Meeting some greatest personalities of Assam, 27th May, 2009
Dada and I set out to Guwahati (which is 140 KM from our home) to invite 2-3 people for our opening ceremony on 1st June, 09. Though we were told nobody will be ready in just 4 days of notice, we wanted to make the attempt for our own satisfaction.
Home Borgohain—I already mentioned his name in my blog, as my whole concept is inspired by his novel ‘Saudor puteke nao meli Jai’. He is the number one novelist of Assam (according to me) and compared to Karan Thapar for his TV interview shows. Meeting him personally was like Wow!! I explained to him this was the real implementation of what he had written years back. He greatly admired our efforts but informed us of his unavailability on 1st June due to ailing health. But this brought all contentment to our visit when he promised us to donate some 150+ books from his personal library and sent out a letter wishing good luck.
We also met Mr Ajit bhuyan, the famous writer and editor-in-chief of the number one assamese daily ‘ASOMIYA PRATIDIN’, Mr Simanta Kalita, head of CEE-North East, Mrs Anuradha Sharma Pujari, the new generation and most popular writer of Assam to name on forefront. I must say this was like one of the most memorable days for me and Dada---meeting all of them (without any prior appointment), explaining to them the home library concept and receiving their whole-hearted appreciations.

3. Awareness campaign at the local schools, 30th May, 2007
This was part of the publicity campaign. We rightly thought in such a place like Agia, where people just can’t think beyond earning a livelihood, reading books is treated as a luxury by some adults. So, main target should be the local students initially.
My elder bro, me and bro-in-law visited 8 schools and addressed the students. In some schools, the students were asked to gather at a common place and we explained to them the whole concept. In others, it was a classroom to classroom visit, repeating the same contents. All permission and timing issues were taken care on 25th May meeting at my residence.
I had the experience of addressing more than 2000 students at a time. So, it was not a problem. But of course, you will get distracted when a group of girls start whispering in the middle of your lecture ‘This guy has lost all his hair, nobody will marry him’

4. “Maheswar Nath Memorial Trust”
Registration of the library was the priority 1 item before going home, as I already had mentioned in my last blogs. We considered several options and decided to go with the trust option rather than society or NGO. Main reason behind this was easiness in legal formalities, this being a family initiative and the whole aim of non-profit.
Our first meeting with the best advocate in the district court was super frustrating. He discouraged us completely, show casing hundreds of legal formalities and asked us to donate all the books to his trust which in turn runs a private school in the district.
Then we got in touch with Mr Nayan Deep Nath, batch mate of my bro, just 2 years in the profession. Thanks to his young enthusiasm, we registered our trust at the office of district register on 4th June, 09 and also opened a SBI bank account for the trust.
Just imagine, in four days we had it done in such a scenario when the advocate had to go through his class notes for opening trust, and the bank manager had to revisit his rule book and call up higher authorities to understand the guidelines for opening trust account.
I will be publishing a separate blog explaining the objectives of the trust, trustee details and the programs undertaken by the trust.

This is the name of the souvenir, published in the memory of Deuta. This was a great work accomplished in a particular style by Maa. The souvenir was contributed by people who had known Deuta either directly or indirectly. Starting from his childhood different people expressed their experiences with Deuta. His work, lifestyle, style of thinking, vision, responsibility and all of his dreams were beautifully captured in the souvenir. The souvenir was inaugurated by Sri Birendra Nath, very close friend of Deuta who had given shelter to Deuta in his struggling days and will always be a well wisher to our family.

6. My experience with internet
I must mention as this being the most frustrating experience during my stay at home. My roommate Alvaro and I completed the initial version of a small software to track the daily activity of the library. As my PC was 5 years old, it was not having dependency other than on .NET framework 3.5 SP1. I downloaded the freely available setup file at Hyderabad and brought it home. To my bad luck, that particular sector of my hard disk got corrupted. I was left with no other option but to download again.
I visited all the cyber cafes of my district, several govt/pvt offices and numerous relatives/friends home having broadband connection. Finally I was able to download a 50+ MB file which again needs internet connection to download rest of the files. To add to this--this file shows me the dependency on another framework-- windows installer 3.1 ..Huh!!!!!

Impossible in my district!!!!!
My bro and I drove 100 KM away to a different district, started the same download via phone in 3 of my relatives’ houses located at that district, waited 3 hours, then made backup copies on laptop, external hard disk, pen drive and CD Drive and then returned home. It was 11-30 at night; you won’t believe it, we covered 100KM in 45 minutes.
My PC did not complain after that.

7. Ceremony Day, 1st June, 2009
I have planned to publish a separate blog on the activities of D day—1st June, 2009. This was Deuta’s first death anniversary. The day started with Adhya Shraddha, which started at 6-00 AM and finished by 9-00 AM. Many of my relatives missed the occasion thinking we will be late even though we have specified exact timings. The most common mind set of being late does not work with this family----a lesson learnt by many people, and I must say, a very necessary lesson.
We started with the proceedings of the meeting at 11-30 sharp. For now, I am just listing down the programs chronologically:
a. Addressing the crowd and choosing a president (By Big Bro)
b. Felicitating the president and meeting starts
c. Describing the purpose of the meeting (By me)
d. 1 min silent prayer in memory of my father followed by offering shraddhanjali to father’s portrait
e. Reading of the letter wishing good luck sent by Dr. Nagen Saikia, Former president, Asom Sahitya Sobha.
f. A lecture on Smriti Karandi, the souvenir published in memory of father (By Maa).
g. Inauguration of souvenir by Biren Jetha
h. Felicitating Mr Bruhid Rabha, the 10th position holder in Assam in 12th exam from Agia centre (An initiative from MN Memorial Trust)
i. Short speeches from attendees on the work and philosophy of late father, an effort to relive the memories.
j. A lecture on the home library concept, where we were, where we are now and where we want to be in the future (By me).
k. Lecture by our library inaugurator and chief guest
l. President’s speech and thanks-giving
m. Inauguration of the library.
n. Press Conference for media
o. Lunch service

8. The publicity through local media
We took extra care about the media participation for the event. The local reporters of almost all the leading dailies of Assam participated in the event. The two TV channels of Assam—NEWS LIVE and NE TV were also there. After the meeting we had a small press conference where we discussed all their queries mainly on the trust and the library. I also had an exclusive interview with the TV channels. The news published in various news papers and the news show on TV gave us nice exposure of the post library inauguration.

9. The response from students
One thing that worried us much was the amount of response after opening the library. One of the often-repeated view that come out after 25th may meeting at our home was that we should not get discouraged even if we manage to get only 1 reader in first one week.
But reality had a different story to tell—we got 77 readers in just the first 4 days. Important point is that they are not simply coming as an ignorant user, but have thoughts and enquiries in their mind.

Currently the library is functioning perfectly with my mother as main librarian and other 3 deputy librarians who volunteer on different days of the week. We are thinking of buying some new books particularly to serve the needs of the student community.

Recently I have developed a feeling of regret in my heart—This library should have happened when I was a student. I would have definitely been the first guy to finish all the books in the library and………

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

End of a Beginning

I am back to hyderabad, in other words to internet again. It was the most hectic vacation i ever had, but there associated a big satisfaction of accomplishment, the joy of fulfilment of 'one wish, one dream and a realization'. I want to term it as the 'End of a Beginning'.

Lots of things to share, just thinking from where I should start.
Ok, let me share the photos first. I have tried to capture most of the moments where people has put their efforts, commitment and the helping hand with me and my family. I am putting lots of efforts in making the photo album to share with all with the photo captions and the ordering so that it looks like a documentary (sort of).

Now, before some one ask the question, I must clarify the reason for using Picasa(in stead of live) as I wanted to link this album with my Library blog which is on Blogspot.com (That too because my personal blog is on LIVE), under Gmail Account and this automatically took me to Picasa.

I will be writing quite a few blogs in coming days. I will try to give you the summary, then the details of all important events, many new things like 'MAHESWAR NATH MEMORIAL TRUST', post-inauguration experiences, current and future plans.

Here is the link to the photo album.

Thanks God, Deuta, Dada & Maa and all the people who has helped or wished luck for this mission. I will write one separate blog on all those people.

Again, this is just the beginning. I want to repeat Frost's lines one more time here:

And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Last minute Update

In another 30 minutes I will be starting forAssam. Thought of publishing the rule book, but running out of time.The logo and other designing stuffs got completed. The version 1 of the library software also ready. I will be posting details about all after I come back.

Ready to go !!!!!

See you all, after 7th June, 2009.........

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ten more days to go, what I am doing now

Only five days left for me going home and around ten days to start my library. I am trying to finish the maximum of library related works prior to arriving home as I know, lots other are waiting for me there. The recent resource alignment at Microsoft and the on-going 'May Quarterly Release' activities at office have not been giving me much time to focus on the home library mission. In spite of that, I am LIVE and optimizing my time fully.

Yesterday, I went to meet the design solution Company NOTUN(http://notun.net/). I have been associated with this start-up for last 1.5 years. This is a very inspiring effort mainly by Mantu Kalita and Deepak Saikia, two very enthusiastic, skilled and highly professional individuals, committed to make an impact here at Hyderabad.

We together finalized the following things for the library today:

1. Library Logo : This has been a big headache for me. You can't expect creative art from a guy who has not got more than 60% in drawing test in his whole student life.

2. Membership Cards : We decided on the basic design of membership card. The different types of memberships will be distinguished by the color of card and variation of the paper used. I also changed the basic membership category name from ORDN to GENL.

3. Acknowledgement Memo : Before reaching there, I thought of designing and printing this by myself; But after discussions there, I really felt the necessity of acknowledging someone's help and donation to our mission. I completed the content of the epistle and left the designing part to Notun.

4. Signboard : I also completed writing the wordings on the signboard to be put up in front of our house at Agia. For the assamese letters thanks to the smart key board of Xobdo(http://www.xobdo.org/ ). Earlier I thought of making this at my native place using tin and wood. But, of course I can carry this from hyderabad (in fact my plane will carry it, not me) if it ensures better material and artistic design.

[I am keeping the cost part out of the scope of the blog for now]

There are a lot of other things I am working on currently. Many a times, i myself feel like getting randomized. Just want to list down all the things which I am working on and also things that will happen before 30th May, 2009.

1. Registration as a trust/NGO: This is priority 1 item on the list. Haven’t done much apart from gathering information so far. First assignment after reaching Asom.

2. Rubber Stamp: Completed the design of rubber stamp to be put on each book on the library today with NOTUN. I will carry out the activity with my local shop in Asom.

3. Letter Pad: I have decided on the designing but not printing as of now. Will do it in Asom if necessity comes.

4. Follow Up with all helpers: I am following up with all who helped me and well-wishers for the last time. Also finalizing the timing and place to meet all of them at Asom after I reach there.

5. Working on inaugurator: I am also working on deciding the inauguration ceremony on 1st June and inviting some prominent personality for the inauguration. My one dream is to have Mr.Homen Borgohain as his concept of HorGobinda Library has an influence on my concept. I have drafted a letter for him and trying to get my sister to go out there at Guwahati to meet with him, to see how to make it happen. I need to work on some alternate plans too.

6. Final testing on the software: I am working with Alvaro to deliver the software with all the basic functionalities working perfectly. I am getting my laptop formatted tomorrow to make a replica of my home PC environment. It will be followed by rigorous testing.

7. Arranging resources to work: My sister's 2nd Semester exam clashes with my home visit; my bro is also getting leave from 24th May only. To mitigate this resource crisis at home during this crucial time I have already talked with many of my relatives and found two resources. My cousins Nabajit and Moni will be there to help me from 24th May onwards.

8. Rule Book : I am yet to finalize the rules and regulation for the members. I am planning to take print outs and distribute it to every member who enrols.

9. Printed catalogue copies: I am planning to take print out of the old catalogue (Published in my last blog) to give people an idea about the current stock of books and what is required.

10.People to meet: I am also finalizing the people who have expressed the wish to help me with this mission. I have to meet 9-10 people at Guwhati and some at different places. Trying to make the most out of my time and from them.

11. Publicity at my native place: This is one of the most crucial things that needs much attention. I am thinking on several ways to reach the people out there and particularly the school students. Creating a donor awareness is also one of the aims.

12. Keep the momentum going : The most important thing. I think this is not for me, but for the people and well wishers who are and want to be part of this home library concept, who will be undertaking this journey.

Conclusion: Are you thinking I am getting randomized? No, you are wrong now, as I finish the blog.

Wish me luck. See you all after I come back to Hyderabad on 8th June. And, you know I will be having a lot to share with you by that time

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Library Catalogue

Cataloguing is most vital for a well maintained library. Even without knowing the meaning of words like catalogue, ISBN etc, we (me, my bro and sis) have been maintaining a long register copy since 1992, in which we used to write down each and every name of books that graces our home with a unique identifiable number. I leveraged the practice in a more efficient way and extended the same to study reference books and all the magazines during my October’08 visit home.

That was a four day marathon of work (40% of my week-long vacation) with my sis-Moina and cousin-Moni. They helped me with the tough job of identifying all the books with a unique number, classifying them into different categories and sub-categories, recording relevant info for each book like language, author name and finally placing the books in the almirah and rack with the particular shelf matching with particular categories of books.

One of the main intention was to get the all the information into computer (in excel format), so that these can be used later by the library management software or to make the catalogue online (Long term plan!!).

Two quick disclaimers here:

1. This lists only the books on 1st Jan, 2009. There are a good number of additions after that.

2. There were around 350 books (on that day) still available which I could not catalogue because of various reasons. This number has increased a lot by now.

Things I am looking forward with the catalogue:

1. Create a balance between reader’s preference and the different categories of books available. Procurement of new books will be impacted by this.

2. Make it online so that can be accessible by anyone easily.

3. Keep the resource statistics up-to-date

Here below, I give detailed information on the different types of books that we had by 1st January, 2009. There are seven broad classes of books which in turn have different sub-classes. This is just to give an idea about the resources in the library

Main Categories


Total Number

Yet to be categorised












Folk Tales
















Adults- Light Reading











Translated Novel




Adults- Deep Reading













General Knowledge

















Language Learning Guides






Study Reference Books

Competitive Exam preparation book




Language & Literature








Magazines-Adult Reading



Competitive Exam


Current Affairs










School/College Magazines



















This is just a beginning. This library will achieve new milestones going forward in case of the number of resources.Currently, I am working on number of ways to get new resources to the library.

Any help/book-donation/feedback/suggestion from readers is welcome.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A full-fledged venture, not mere a library

From the time I have decided to work on realizing the ‘home-library’ dream, I have not thought of it as merely a library. It is not my intention to only have a collection of books and allow people to read them. I want to bring about a change in the mindset of people, of my locality to start with, and want to promote the library as a catalyst for achieving this change. For me, it is a full-fledged project with a definite mission and vision.

I have come up with mission and vision statements for the venture. This would not be possible without my attending the ILP workshop at ISB, Hyderabad - the 15th ranked B-School of the world (FT ranking-2009). The workshop was the result of a project taken up by four students of ISB along with India Literacy project (ILP), Hyderabad chapter. Out of numerous things we did there, the 4 hour brainstorming session to come up with the mission and vision of ILP was a big learning experience.

So what does a mission and a vision mean for any venture you undertake?
MISSION – it is the reason for your organization’s existence. It clearly communicates your organization’s purpose:
· What your organization does
· For whom it does it
· How the organization differs from others appearing to address similar needs
The idea is that mission statement reflects the organization’s big picture. It should not be too specific because it must remain broad enough that your organization can work with it in different ways as the needs and the climate change.

VISION – It is an interpretation of your mission statement. It paints a picture how we expect the community to look—how we expect it to be better, once the mission has been achieved. The best vision statements for result areas describe outcomes that are five to ten years away, although some look even further out. The vision statement should focus on the desired outcome for the project/goal at its completion date.

I applied the same learning to my concept. I and 3 of my friends viz. Neeraj, Pratap and Zing brainstormed for hours together in a conference room over our mission and vision. Finally we came on the same page, and we were in exact agreement on “what we are and want to achieve”.

The home library project objectives
To create an interest for reading, provide access to resources and help people realize their true potential.

To expand the concept and to target
1. A readership base of 1000
2. Members read at least 5 books a year
3. 5000 resources in library

By June, 2011 through
1. Donations
2. Publicity
3. Associating with established institutions
4. Conducting awareness programs
5. Encouraging like-minded people to adopt the concept

To start with I have considered the interested people residing in my locality-Agia and its surrounding area as the target audience. This has included all classes of people starting from children, adults, students and house wives. By statistics, there are 10 panchayats i.e. 100 revenue villages in this area, where around 27000 people used to reside. In another statistics, there are total 7 government high schools, 17 government lower primary schools and 4 private schools in this area, whose students will get benefited largely by this library. Above all, this library will enable one general common man from a diffident place to think – “How can I contribute something to the society within my limitations?”

Ground rules:
1. Library Timings: Library will be opened for 3 hours each day (excluding Sunday) from 3-30 PM to 6-30 PM

2. Membership: One has to be a member of the library to borrow books. He will be charged with INR 40 to be member. There will be 3 level of membership, which will decided based on many factors:
a. ORDN : Can borrow 1 book at a time
b. ELITE : Can borrow 2 books at a time
c. ROYAL: Can borrow 4 books at a time; will be part of any important activities/events of the library.

3. Librarian: To start with below mentioned persons will carry out the responsibility on honorary basis:
a. Hiran Prova Devi , MA (Assamese), Subject teacher
b. Yet to be identified; will update later

4. Donor: We will be keeping track of all the donations (books/Money) to the library through our automated software. Once donated, donor will not have any authority on the resources. I can think of a few scenarios here:
a. Individual donating books: Any individual donating more than 3 books will be provided with ELITE or ROYAL membership without membership charge. Also, names will be published on blogs/registers.
b. Organization donating books: We will acknowledge it highly and will track all their contributions. The organization can use library name in any of their social cause (Not money related). Also, names will be published on blogs/registers.
c. Anybody donating money: Efforts are on to register it as NGO so that people can gain the income tax benefit for donating to this project. Other benefits will be applicable as previous ones.

NB: I am currently working on writing a constitution/Rule Book for the management of the library keeping the vision and mission in compliance. I will publish it on due time.

1. Place: One separate room of size 21``X 13`` at the front part of our house.

2. Furniture:
a. 1 steel almirah with general sized book capacity of around 3000
b. 1 wooden almirah of general sized book capacity of around 800
c. 1 wooden rack of general sized book capacity of around 600
d. 1 small wooden rack of general sized book capacity of around 300
e. 2 wooden tables of medium size for studying
f. 2 wooden benches
g. 5 wooden+ plastics chairs

3. Others:
a. 1 Personal Computer with AMD 2600-32 bit processor, ASUS motherboard, 256 GB RAM and 60 GB HDD.
b. 4 long register books

4. Software: The library management software is the process. A nice effort to maintain symphony between simplicity (due to hardware restriction) and use of latest technology (After all, we work for MicrosoftJ) is being carried out by Alvaro, my flat-mate. A detailed and dedicated blog on the software will be published later.

Monday, April 6, 2009

One Wish, one Dream and a Realization

---"This Rs. 1000 is retained for buying books. Baba--Are you done with your listing of books? Aaijoni--Look at the news paper and let me know if the book fair is at Judges' Field or Saanmari Field?"
---"Bhagin, this book is prized to Manjit in yesterday's Quiz. On first glance, seems like this is not for a boy of his age, can you please read it and let me know?"
---"Putu, this is really a shame that till now you are not able to bring a basic ABCD book for your child. Aaijoni-Bring one of the two elementary books to my rack and give it to this poor fellow"

Above are a few representation of Deuta (Father in Assamese language) at various moments of his life. Point to note here is all of them orbit around a common theme--Books. Imagine a place, where, there is no existence of the word 'Library', where subsists only one book shop whose key purpose is to keep some story books along with pen and pencils so that People can buy them for gifting brides/grooms, where people simply can't think beyond the text books; in spite of being in such a place, I can proudly proclaim with 100% firmness that I have read all the best books of all Assamese writers (Published till 4 years back). The leading constituent of this smugness is contributed by Deuta and Maa. The way they brought up all three of us, we always compromised on many things 'by default', but never did in case of Books; which was a bit startling for a lower middle class family of a backward place like Agia.

One wish:
Ever since I came out of my native place for study, whenever I have to visit again, I always take 1-2 books for Deuta. Most of the time that book is the one published from my college/institution, may be a newsletter or a magazine. Usually on the evening of the first day of my arrival, my parents and I used to have a round table chat during the evening tea. Among many other things, Deuta was always keen on knowing one fact -"What is the main difference between the people of my present and my past. What is missing in the 'Urpad Jyoti' of Balbala HS School or 'Kuhipath' of JNM, Agia which is present in the 'Cottonian' of Cotton College or 'NewsLetter' of NIT Durgapur".
Many a times, the answer is simple -- "The people of Agia don't know much about the external world. This lack of knowledge has completely narrowed down their exertion, even their thought process". But this is practically impossible for all to go outside and expand awareness. What else can they do?? The way out is--'To read books' .
"I will do something after retirement, may be a small book shop in the Agia market by renting out a room. Or, with the books we have at home, I will get going with some initiative for these people ".... Deuta used to finish the discussion.

One dream:
Cicero once told--'To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul'
First time I came across the concept of 'home-library' at class V while reading the novel 'Saudar Puteke Nao meli Jai' by noted Assamese thinker and literate Mr. Homen Borgohain. In the story, two young boys set up a library in their rural community. From that instant, there has always been an imaginary library in my psyche. But its absence in real life always makes me feel curtailed. I used to run after that dream with even a coin gifted to me for having chocolates by some kind relatives.
Going by Cicero's words, me, my home, my school and even my native place have been living without a soul. There is not a single public library in the entire vicinity. Without going into the discussion why this is so, I always keep on pondering what I can do for my part. The question to sustain a balance between my capability to do things and the possible impacts—has always restrained me. But in the midst of all these uncertainties and internal disputes, my childhood dream still hunt me----A room full of books with all the finest collection of epoch, and people talking about them...gradually realizing their potential in this progression.

A Realization:
I observe whenever more than two software engineers meet, other than criticizing IT industry to be the worst, they always discuss one thing- ‘We have to do something extra, something completely new and innovative’. In most of the cases the discussion results nothing but simply exasperation.
After the decease of Deuta, whenever I used to enter (even in my thought) the ‘optical room’ (the study room positioned on the extreme left corner of our house), all the books lying on the rack seem to echo the incomplete desire of Deuta. I was feeling sort of fidgety; my restless mind kept on reminding me I needed to do something. I began thinking all the three things together-Deuta’s wish, my dream and the software engineer’s immense intend to do ‘something extra’. I came to a sturdy realization: In real life, there should always be a moment when you have to stand up on your feet and declare—“Enough of dreaming, from now on my efforts will be focused to make every dream a reality”.
This was a big realization on my part. I stood up on my feet. I discussed the concept of a library at our home with my Maa, bro and sis. Also, I conversed the whole idea with ILP (India Literacy Project) Hyderabad Chapter (I have been associated with this NGO, and have been a part of their Community library and Pustakam Program) and got advice & feedback. They gave me many contacts and valuable info.

1st October, 2008--- I packed my luggage and started for home with only one intend in my mind—to gather all required resources and to finish the initial plan and set-up. Dreams were still chasing me, but I was feeling more enthusiastic and lively, not restless.