If Music be the Food of Love Box on

Watching Mary Kom with Our Ears Wide Open.

If Music is the soundtrack to life the songs of the movie Mary Kom does justice to it. Beginning with its signature song Ziddi Dil to the soothing lullaby Charo, the latter sung by none other than Priyanka Chopra, in which she excels. The songs almost narrate the yet to be released movie perfectly.

The energetic song Ziddi Dil manages to encapsulate the entire theme and story of the movie. How women with stubborn passionate hearts can overcome all obstacles; fight against all odds and create history. What Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger was to Rocky III starring Sylvester Stallone in the ring, Ziddi Dil is to Mary Kom.

While Adhure, complements Ziddi Dil, its melody and melancholy, reveals the other side of the story, the thin line that separates struggle from futility: The line that heroes need to transgress and survive. It is the song every struggling hero needs to live for a song like Salaam India to follow. The latter being a patriotic song that salutes victory and pays tribute to both the Country and Mary Kom.

The romantic track Sukoon Mila shows yet another side of the story – a gentle love story in making. Powerful and melodic it is a very nostalgic track, which made Mary Kom’s husband K Onler Kom recall his teenage years, in tears. If that is not moving, nothing is.

Real life sadly doesn’t have a soundtrack. But if it did for the many marginalized women across India who have similarly fought against all odds to establish their own USHA Silai Schools, we believe it would be something like that of Mary Kom. Perhaps some of them are listening to these very songs as they stitch their lives together over their sewing machines.

Diet Hard Or Gone in 8 Minutes

Mary Kom at The HAB by USHA

Mary Kom at The HAB by USHA

Years and months of training are all put to test in just 8 minutes inside the boxing ring. The result of all your disciplined routines of exercises, practice bouts and diet plans either will see you through or rest you in peace with the knockout that you never see coming.

When it comes to Mary Kom, though she follows a regular and a much MC BWdisciplined diet and training routine, it was not so during her initial years. As a struggling boxer she was “fighting five years without any good diet. No supplement, no eggs. No breakfast. Just lunch and dinner, vegetable only and rice. Sometimes when the relative I am staying with in Imphal, when he gets salary, then we get meat. Once a month.”

mary_kom copyHowever as the medals kept coming things got better, both her diet plans and training regime improved. Gone were the days of protein-less life. Today, she survives on light snacks before her training, followed by a healthy breakfast. Lunch around 2 and Dinner before 9 pm. And in between, she drinks a lot of juices, ending her day with a glass of milk. Morning follows with a similar diet routine coupled with her training schedule, which consists of early morning runs, followed by punching and kicking the Punching bag for an hour. And o’ course bouts of practice fighting, follow.

While at The HAB by Usha Mary Kom claimed that this routine helped her to lose 2 kgs a day, after her pregnancy! Impossible though that may seem to us, we all can try and live healthy lives, even with our offices, meetings and daily chores. No, you won’t lose 2 kgs a day but healthy you will stay. The secret dietary plan that normal boxers follow, which you could too in order to stay in shape goes something like this: To begin with skip from 3 heavy meals a day to 6 small meals a day – smaller meals keep you energized and keep your metabolism high.

From: Expert Boxing

From: Expert Boxing

Workout on the above graph would translate into your daily official chores in place of rigorously punching bags or co-workers around the office! We highly recommend you refrain from the punching part.

If you do have a craving for fried food, which is natural – cook them using devices that use minimum amount of oil like the USHA Halogen Oven (click for recipes). For snacks sandwiches work best and USHA has some of the best Sandwich Toasters around, pick one up for your light in-between meals – they are pretty portable too.

Usha Halogen Oven and Sandwich Toaster

Usha Halogen Oven and Sandwich Toaster

And no diet as stated by Mary Kom, Dietitians and a zillion boxers is complete without fresh juices. The USHA Juicer Mixer Grinder can be your best friend here. And if you are looking for what juices to drink, we have a complete Juice Therapy course for you. Click Here.

Usha Juicer Mixer Grinder

Usha Juicer Mixer Grinder

For more USHA Kitchen Appliances Click Here

Mary Come!

1For once a lot more went on behind the scenes of the upcoming movie Mary Kom, than the normal diet of SloMo and CGIs that we have got used to. It is real and it is gritty to begin with, no wonder we all are waiting with abated breath for the movie to release on September 5. Oh Mary Come! Come soon.

For instance Priyanka Chopra underwent two years of training to get in shape as a boxer and the bruises you see on her face are as real as they get. Since, she fought real boxers and not actors or stunt artists. Further when Priyanka visited Manipur to meet the legendary boxer she got a few parenting lessons too! How do you handle two kids and a family in between rigorous training?

Priyanka Chopra, Mary Kom, Sanjay Leela Bhansali & Omung Kumar

Priyanka Chopra, Mary Kom, Sanjay Leela Bhansali & Omung Kumar

A lot of people think that fame approached Mary Kom after she won the Olympic medal, which is not exactly true, because the director of the movie Omung Kumar visited Mary Kom in Imphal at her place before the 2012 Olympic Bronze! Her story was inspiring enough even then to make a movie on, the London Bronze just added a greater sheen to all of it.

2 Mary Kom and PCSpeaking about Priyanka as Mary Kom in the movie she stated that the actor’s body was structured much like of a boxer and that she was the one and only perfect choice. Add to that Priyanka’s vigorous training and whole of Bollywood got talking about the new look even before the first stills of the movie were officially released.

For instance Madhur Bhandarkar, tweeted: “Hard-hitting, passionate poster of Mary Kom! The versatile @priyankachopra in a never-before-seen avatar! Looking forward to this Jalwaa!” And so did her contemporaries from Dia Mirza to Bipasha Basu; this is what Preity Zinta had to say about Priyanka’s looks: “PC loved the new poster of #MaryKom. So proud of you! Hard works always pays. Looking forward to seeing it soon.”

As for the actress herself she admits that this was the hardest role she has ever played.

The director Omung Kumar was looking for a larger-than-life character for his debutant film after working with the colourful Snajay Leela Bhansali in many of the latter’s movie. And in Mary Kom, Omung did not only find a character that surpassed his expectations but to quote his words his “Mother India”

USHAGoing beyond the biopic there are many “Mother India’s’ not the larger than life kind, but poor marginalized women who USHA Initiatives is trying to reach out to through their many Silai Schools. These women too, remember posses a Ziddi Dil with which they struggle everyday to survive. Perhaps somebody will discover their story someday and adapt it not just to entertain us but also to acknowledge them for their struggle against all odds.

But for now we all wait anxiously counting days, minutes and seconds to see all the hard work unfold seamlessly on the Silver screen. Are you with us?

Free Sewing Tutorials: Where Knowledge is Free

Gandhi copyUSHA Initiatives brings Gandhian principles to the new age by adopting new technologies to empower women and thereby awaken the world to new possibilities: “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high / Where knowledge is free…” (Rabindranath Tagore)

On 21, October, 1936 Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur “If you women would only realize your dignity and privilege, and make full use of it for mankind, you will make it much better than it is.” The Father of the nation believed both in women empowerment through education and the power of the Spinning Wheel. USHA Initiatives with the help of the growing power and penetration of Internet in the country is trying to reach out to self-motivated women either with a passion for sewing or beginners who would like to take it up as a source of income or hobby.

Besides its many Silai Schools, USHA has made available a series of free downloadable Sewing tutorials under various titles. These books range from basic sewing tutorials to complex stitching and tailoring of garments and embroidery work. The Books so far released are:Downloads

  1. Indian Garment Design Course Book
  2. Little Girls Dress Making Course Book
  3. Machine Embroidery Course Book
  4. Western Casual Wear Course Book
  5. Sewing and Design Course Book
  6. Creative Design Course Book
  7. Cutting and Tailoring Course Book

Each Book caters to different needs and together contains thousands of instructions on how to sew, starting from the basics of a stitch and fiber choice to complete garments, home décor items and fashion accessories.

You can download them at: www.ushainitiatives.com/free-sewing-courses or at the Usha International website

Usha Golfing Initiatives: A Well Laid Course

Ace Golfer Sharmila Nicollet

Ace Golfer Sharmila Nicollet

Google Sharmila Nicollet, and you will be flooded with ace and glamorous golf articles. Well, that’s Google for you. But all thanks to Usha Initiatives.

Usha Initiatives women’s empowerment programmes are not just restricted to just remote and rural corners of the country but go on to include urban areas too, through various sports initiatives. There is a need to uplift women to positions of power and limelight even in urban metros – be they be in the sphere of sports, politics or corporates. Usha Initiatives is aware of this ground reality and realizes that both require two different approaches; If Usha Silai Schools work well for the rural areas, it is Golf that swings the women empowerment movement in the latter.

Usha International has been a major supporter of Golf in India since 1987. Today Usha is a title sponsor for a majority of the Indian Golf Union (IGU) Amateur Ladies tour. The company recognizes the importance of supporting golf at the junior level and thus has been associated with the Junior Training Programme at the prestigious Delhi Golf Club since 2006.

A  USHA Junior Golf Camp

A USHA Junior Golf Camp

It was in one of these junior camps that the now famous Sharmila Nicollet got her first Golfing lessons. Before moving on to stardom and hobnobbing with the likes of Tiger Woods and the alluring world of star models. The current favourite who is slowly gaining ground hole after hole in Usha Initiatives various Golfing tournaments is Gurbani Singh. Keep a look out for her; we see a great future ahead.

Golf Empowers Women

Golf Empowers Women

Yes, not all who go through Usha’s Golf Camps become ace Golfers, which doesn’t mean that it is not an all-inclusive empowering programme for women. Recent research on corporate architecture indicates that most of the important company decisions at middle to higher levels, take place, either after-hours in exclusive clubs or over a game of Golf. Thus being a woman, if you are aiming to climb the corporate ladder –Golfing is not just a game it is a way to empowerment.

Sports & the Spirit of Rural India

Celebrating The Sporting Spirit of India through Rural Frisbee Workshops

Celebrating The Sporting Spirit of India through Rural Frisbee Workshops

Usha Initiatives believes that the spirit of a game lies in collective and all-inclusive participation, whatever the game may be. A belief that has led USHA Initiatives to take encourage and promote various sports initiatives at the most remote corners of the country.

While travelling abroad immigration officers in Cricket playing countries are likely to ask you who is your favorite Cricket player? Whether it is a trick question to figure out if you really are an Indian or they just making pleasant conversation, is hard to figure out. Yes, we are a Cricket crazy nation, but we do play other games too and with each passing day good things are happening – Hockey and Football leagues, Golf, Boxing, Badminton, Lawn Tennis and other wrestling medals, to state just a few.

A new sport that Usha through its sports initiatives is trying to popularizes since 2012 is Flying Discs or Frisbee, as it is more popularly known (for those who love facts Frisbee is the name of a company that manufactures these discs and not the actual name of the sport). Besides holding major tournaments in the country like the recent Bangalore Ultimate Open, USHA also conducts workshops both in urban and rural areas.

Holding firm to the belief of ‘Sports for all’ Usha conducted a community development and rural outreach Flying Discs workshop in a remote village near Coimbatore last year.  In it 105 children from ten nearby villages were trained by experts during the two day workshop. Among them the experts found fast learners who perhaps if provided with the right opportunity would excel at the sport. Children who had the potential to make a difference both to themselves and the country, not just through Flying Discs but also in other sports – given their enthusiasm, willingness and determination. But what mattered during those few days was the joy of sharing, which brought smiles, giggles, jumps and flying leaps to children who otherwise live overburden lives between dilapidated schools and child labour.

These shouts of joy were almost a call to action for USHA Initiatives, who now plan to hold more such workshops and camps in remote corners of the country and even taking the sport to others SAARC countries beginning with the mountain Kingdom of Bhutan.

Usha Silai School: Breaking Gender Barriers

Logo-03Among the Top Ten Commandments enforced by traditional and regressive backward-looking  rural Indian communities the first duly states “Thou (women) shall do all hard labour at home and fields, while men being the bread earner will dictate the 9 other rules!”

Usha Initiatives through its Silai Schools are not just about sewing and tailoring, one of its primary aims through these training programmes is to break this unholy sacrament forged unjustly by a misogynist society. Not to blog our own trumpet, but Usha Initiative has thus far succeeded in its own little ways, helping women to transgress gender roles every now and then.

The story of  Mrs. Saroj Namdew, a resident of Satlapur village of Raisen district in Madhya Pradesh, is one such. She belongs to an OBC family. A mother of three – one daughter and two sons. Her household spiraled down towards chaos and poverty when her husband lost his job during one of the company retrenchments. However Saroj did not take to self pity or the village commandments, instead she stepped up to improve her family’s condition by joining a Usha Silai School training programme and later opening one on her own at home.

Saroj NamdewShe recalls ““Pati ke naukri jaane ke baad, hamare pariwar ki  stithi bahut kharab ho gayi thi, fir maine soch liya ki mujhe apne pariwar ke liye kuchh karna hai aur tab main NIWCYD ke  pramod bhaiya se mili aur USHA company ki madad se silai traning maine liya” (after my husband lost his job, my family condition became very bad. Then I resolved to do something for my family. With the help of NIWCYD and USHA I attended the sewing and stitching training)

Over the course of time she has trained over 30 women and even started her own tailoring business. However her greatest achievement lies in motivating her husband to learn sewing and stitching. Initially her husband was reluctant to undertake this task. After much persuasion, he agreed to get trained under her!  Today both husband and wife work in the Silai School and their income is about Rs 5000/- a month.

Mohini

Mohini

Mohini’s story is a similar one. A twenty eight year old, mother of a 4 year old son she hails from Delitalai village in Bikaner district of Rajasthan. Her husband works as a cleaner in a nearby NGO earning a meager amount – not enough to support a family of three. After attending the Silai School Programme under Usha Initiatives, today Mohini, is not just an Usha Silai School teacher but she is also running an NFE Centre. And o’course is the chief bread earner of the family.

There are many such other inspiring stories where women have broken gender barriers to take destiny in their own hands. In the video below we present a testimonial by another such woman:

For more such videos Click Here

Usha Silai Schools Working with Magnificence

Usha Silai SchoolsWe all gleam with achievement now that Polio has been eradicated – a milestone that we are all proud about. Oblivious in our pride we have somehow forgotten the people who are still afflicted by it. Do you still feel proud?

A lot needs to be done, but Usha Initiatives does feel proud of Ms. Laxmi Maheshwari from Bhuj Gujarat. Though both her legs are polio afflicted and she still lives with her parents confided between four walls, she is no longer dependent on them but instead supports them! Thanks to a simple seven days Sewing Course and an Usha Sewing Machine given free of cost to her as part of the Usha Silai School Programme.

After the training Laxmi, started a Silai School on her own village. Initially, due to her mobility impairments, she found it extremely challenging to mobilize students from the village. The village women and girls were also skeptical about coming to her as they doubted her abilities as a teacher. After much convincing, she acquired 2 students and thus began her Silai School. Her teaching was extremely good and through word of mouth her skills gained great popularity in the village. More students came to enquire about the school and numerous got enrolled. Laxmi has trained about 15 women/ girls and 8 are pursuing their training currently at her School. With time, Laxmi’s confidence grew more enabling her to start a tailoring shop as well. Today, the village women come to her for getting most of their clothes stitched.

Ms. Laxmi Maheshwari from Gujarat Similarly, Purnimasi Devi is a very important person. But you haven’t heard of her. Yes, you have heard of Mary Kom who comes from the same Northeastern state of India, Manipur.  Perhaps if they make a movie about Purnimasi you will pay attention! Go ahead do a Google search. Found her? No. Why should Google pay attention to her, when you being her fellow citizen have neglected her and millions like her?

Let Usha Initiatives introduce Purnimasi Devi to you. She is the icon of a small village  near Imphal. No, she didn’t win any medals for her village, but she changed its socio-economic landscape. Like Mary Kom she comes from a very poor farming community, where her father is a private school teacher – earning a meager income once in a while since the school does not receive regular Govt. grants. Purnimasi’s father has to depend on this irregular incomes to take care of his family.

Purnimasi’s amazing triumph lies is the fact that she helped to draw her family out of this abject deep dark hole of poverty and uncertainty. Today, Purnamasi not only supports her father in the household needs but also bears the educational expenses of her four younger sisters and a brother.  And she does it all through her Usha Silai School. An initiative started by Usha which empowers rural women in the country by teaching them sewing and basic machine repair. Not only does she takes on sewing work but also has 22 students under her.purnismasi copy Ace Boxer Magnificent Mary Kom felicitated five such women from different parts of the country at a Mumbai event held by Usha in association with Viacom. They were all recognized and awarded for their successes against impossible odds. To Read more Click Here: www.ushainitiatives.com

Silai Schools Fights Opium Addiction

Opium or doda, as popularly known in Rajasthan, is largely known for all the wrong reasons. The USHA Silia School team visiting the bordering villages of Pakistan in Western Rajasthan in Bikaner district witnessed the massive ill-effects of opium on healthy human population. Opium is offered and consumed in these villages as a socially sanctioned gesture (when people visit each other’s home on social occasions and otherwise). The prevalence and usage of opium is so rampant that it has resulted in a colossal decline of health of most of the male population in the villages. Bed-ridden opium addict men in the age group of 25 -40 years, is a common sight when you walk through the villages. Since such men cannot contribute to the family income, it becomes imperative for the women to work for a living. However this becomes all the more daunting for the women, as agriculture work in these dry arid areas is difficult and social norms restrict these women from going out of the village.

Suva Kanwar

Suva Kanwar

This human interest story is of one such Silai School teacher named Suva Kanwar aged 38 years, in the village called Bhelu Ki Dhani , some 135 kms from the  Bikaner district headquarters . Suva has never been to a school and has learnt some basic calculations all by herself. She is married to a person who is an opium addict and from whom she had 3 children. The addiction habit of the husband cost a fortune for the family (Rs 1500/- a month on medicines etc. ) and this was meted out by Suva Kanwar by selling all the land and other assets that they possessed. Her son, aged 10 years, was sent to work as a child labour, in one of the restaurants in district Mathura in the state of UP. Her daughters had to drop out of school in order to help her in the household chores. Hence due to the opium addiction of the husband, the entire family got into a deplorable state of affairs financially, physically and educationally.

Suva Kanwar was determined to take her family out of this vicious circle. Hence she wanted to move out of her village to work. But social restrictions prevalent amongst the Rajput communities prevented her from moving out of the village. At one point Suva Kanwar did not have any idea about the road ahead. She could neither move out nor stay in the village.

Not until, the organisation called Urmul Seemant Samiti, a partner organisation of Usha International Ltd, implementing the Silai School Program came in contact with her, with a suggestion to her to start the Silai School. She was identified as one of teachers to run Silai School in her village -Bhelu ki Dhani. The 7 days residential training, held at Bikaner that she attended proved to be a life changing event for Suva Kanwar as this helped her to start a Silai School at her own home.

Post training,   “armed’ with the Usha Silai School Signage, a syllabus and a new found confidence and hope, Suva Kanwar started to undertake community meetings, door-to-door visits, informing people about the Usha Silai Schools. 2 girls from the neighbouring families enrolled at her school. Word spread far and wide about Suva Kanwar’s Usha Silai School. The signage added to the excitement and curiosity of the people. This was the first time a “resource” had been started in the village after the inauguration of the Govt Primary School or the Primary Health Centre (PHC). The community whole-heartedly supported her initiative and enrolment of women and girls in the Silai School gradually increased and today she is teaching 12 women in her Silai School. About 18 students have successfully completed their courses in this Silai School.

Today Suva Kanwar earns Rs 4000-5000/- a month from this effort. To put the effects of increased income in her own words she says, “My daughter has resumed her school. I want to bring my son back home. My husband’s supply of medicine is today uninterrupted and most importantly meri izzat bahut bad gayee hai “ (people’s  respect for me has gone up)

When asked about her future plans she says enthusiastically, “I will shift this silai school to the village crossing. In this way, more learners will be able to have access to my school”.

The Usha Silai School has stitched joys in her life in more than one ways.