GAIL Indian Speedstar: Athletics as CSR

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is a state mandate today and organisations are willing opening their purse strings for social causes. After all, not only does it assuage their conscience, it also allows them and their employees to make a meaningful contribution to society. GAIL, India's largest state-owned natural gas processing and distribution company has embarked on a grassroots athletics program GAIL-Indian Speedstar which is aimed at unearthing young talent across the length and breadth of India. GAIL (India) Limited and National Yuva Cooperative Society (NYCS), launched a grassroots athletics program GAIL Indian Speedstar on the 22nd of March, 2016 at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi.

GAIL (India) Limited has embarked on a grassroots athletics program GAIL-Indian Speedstar which is aimed at unearthing young talent across the length and breadth of India. GAIL (India) Limited and National Yuva Cooperative Society (NYCS), launched a grassroots athletics program GAIL Indian Speedstar on the 22nd of March, 2016 at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi.

National Yuva Cooperative Society has tied up with Anglian Medal Hunt Company as its Technical Partner for The GAIL Indian Speedstar project. The persisting, epoch-making attempt before - focused grassroots program aims to create a pool of athletes with knack which will possibly bring honor for India in track events at the highest echelon of sporting events - the Olympics 2020/2024.
The reason to launch this program is to identify, select and nurture the hidden talent in athletes. The targeted age group is 11 - 17 years in 100m, 200m and 800m track events across.

A panel of eminent sportspersons like PT Usha, Rachita Mistry, Anuradha B iswal & Kavita Raut has been appointed in the selection committee to support selections and guide coaching camps. As members of the selection committee their role would include creating the selection criteria or the GAIL-Indian Speedstar program, and developing the training plan and module for the selected athletes at the National Level.

‘Legendary athlete P.T. Usha launched the initiative alongside the organisers Dr. Ashutosh Karnatak, director (projects), GAIL (India) Ltd; Rajesh Pande, president, National Yuva Cooperative Society Ltd (NYCS) and Maneesh Bahuguna, CEO, Anglian Medal Hunt Company.
District trials were conducted under the watchful eyes of coaches and selectors, appointed by the selection committee. The selection of the athletes was based on talent identification and selection criteria set by the selection committee.

The first State level camp and trial was organized on 27-28th of February in Sawai Maan Singh Stadium, Jaipur where 60 boys and girls participated out of which 4 have qualified for the next level. The state trials were held in Odisha (14 Selection), Delhi (28 Selection), Kerala (28 Selection) &Jharkhand(4 Selection)followed by Maharashtra and Gujarat in the last week  of April.  The shortlisted children from the State trials will then participate in the National camp and selection which is scheduled to be held in May 2016 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. Shortlisted athletes from state trials will attend an intensive national level camp. At the conclusion of the coaching camp, final trials will be held. Winners will be selected based on the qualification criteria and their potential. The winners will be given extensive training throughout the year. The top 9 athletes will then be provided with a world class coaching for over a period of 5 years with an ultimate objective of one of these athletes to represent India at the Olympics.

Asus ZenFone Selfie: Review

It has been over six months since I've been using the Asus ZenFone Selfie (ZD551KL) and I'm ready to provide an honest review. At 5.5 inches, this phone has a large display, a feature that I've gotten used to since the last Micromax phone I used also had a large screen size. I have the black 16GB phone with 2G RAM which is currently retailing at Rs 15000. As the name suggests, the phone has a powerful front camera - 13 MP and possibly more efficient than the back camera! The only issue is that Asus as a brand is still in the process of gaining credibility. Here are the detailed pros and cons of Asus ZenFone Selfie.


1. Display and finish

The colours and full HD resolution of the display are excellent, and Gorilla Glass 4 corning provides the phone a strong finish. I have no scratches or chips but I do advice going for a flip cover for maximum protection.

2. Front and back camera

The fantastic 13 MP camera is definitely Asus ZenFone Selfie's best feature. The lighting is just excellent even in dim settings and the torch comes on automatically. The natural brightness it offers is much better than a blinding flash. However, the focus, colours and brightness could be still better. I have no complaints with the front camera - the phone will give you the best selfies you've ever taken. And if you pair it with a selfie stick, you'll never need a photographer again.

3. Memory

The 16 GB internal memory is more than enough for my needs and you can expand the phone's memory up to 128 GB. That's a great plus over phones like Moto G which don't let you expand the memory. And you never know when you might need more.

4. Speed

I've worked with really slow phones with pathetically low RAMs and this one comes as a refreshing change. The phone rarely hangs and even if it does, it recovers quickly. You can have several applications open at the same time and juggle between them seamlessly. It comes powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

5.  Battery

As far as modern smartphones go, Asus ZenFone Selfie has a decent battery life. You don't have to charge more than once in two days unless you're a heavy user, play a lot of games or watch a lot of videos. The phone doesn't become hot easily though the 3000 mAh Li-Polymer contributes to a bit of its weight.


1. Call audio

For some reason, people aren't able to hear me very well on calls though I can hear them without any problems. This problem has presented itself since the last three months; until then everything was fine. It could be that it's an issue only with my piece.

2. Volume button 

Again, after a few months of use, the volume button began to act up and sometimes the volume would go up and down on its own. It would be great if I never had to change the volume but unfortunately, it's higher for music and lower for FM radio; which necessitates constant toggling.

Verdict: The few issues with sound aside, at Rs 15000, this phone is a steal. For a couple thousand rupees more, you can get the 32 GB version which comes with a faster 3 GB RAM.


I've also tried the Lolliflash attachment and found it to be quite effective. It's not really required for the ZenFone Selfie as it has it's own selfie beautification modes and in-built torch for low-light settings. But for phones which lack these features and simply when you're in a mood to play with your pictures, the Lolliflash is useful.

Here are five great features of Lolliflash (priced at Rs 899): 

1. A great shot from any angle: Thanks to its 360 degree rotation ability, the Lolliflash can get you a perfect picture even from awkward angles.

2. Better colours: The dual-colour LED matches the real colour of your skin tone.

3. Perfect lighting: You can choose between three brightness levels.

4. Red eye removal: Shadows and dim lighting are the culprits behind red eye in photographs; lolliflash eliminates both.

5. Colour filters: You can attach colour filers in vivid red, calm blue and bright yellow as per your preference.

All photos courtesy:

Soho Tapas Bar: Review


Soho Tapas Bar is located deep into the western suburbs, a 10 minute walk away from Versova Metro Station. I'm seldom in that part of town but on Sunday evening, I was in possession of two tickets for the 6pm show of Dinner With Friends, an award-winning play at Prithvi Theatre, Juhu. So my mother and I ended up at the super stylish Soho Tapas Bar at 9 PM for dinner.


It wasn't easy to find the restaurant but eventually, we made it. And we were totally wowed. Clean white interiors, refreshing open spaces and only a smattering of tables, spread out wide enough to afford privacy, greeted our eyes. The restaurant wasn't as crowded as it should have been on a Sunday evening, probably because of its out of the way location. But it's worth making a trip here for the impeccable service and uber delicious food. It may be a tapas bar but this is definitely fine dining. The only negative was the volume of the music - quite loud and combined with chatter from the next table, it made it difficult for us to hear each other. However, I enjoyed the choice of songs - they were youthful, peppy and likely to put you in the mood for drinks and a great time.


The waiters and staff were extremely solicitous and service was speedy. They were also knowledgeable about the menu and asked for our feedback after every dish. Since we are light eaters, we only had a starter and main course. But both exceeded our expectations completely. As far as quantities go, there were five pieces in the starter which is very good, but the main course was quite minuscule and a bigger portion of the rice was warranted.


'Tapas' refers to Spanish snacks and starters but the menu here has a variety of exotic mains and desserts as well. We had the Stuffed Bhavnagri Chilli even though my mom feared they would be too spicy. They were stuffed with cheese and mushroom and tempered with a creamy, supremely flavourful yoghurt dip. The texture was perfect - succulent but not too soft and the juices of the chili were intact.


I had already earmarked the Stuffed Cottage Cheese - Chennai Relish & Biryani for mains because I'm a big fan of cottage cheese and it's always important to have more proteins than carbs. The waiter brought us two mounds on a flat serving plate - one of white cottage cheese topped with a thick brown tamarind relish and the other of fragrant, light brown vegetable biryani. One bite and we knew we had made the right choice. The cottage cheese was soft and flaky, reminiscent of Italian ricotta and generously stuffed with paan leaves (beetle) which gave it that sweet and minty taste that I'm so fond of. The Chennai relish took me back to my childhood days when I would gorge on puliyodarai, a sweet and spicy rice and tamarind preparation.


I've only deducted half a star for the loud music and tiny quantity of rice in the mains. Otherwise, this is a must-visit restaurant. And the pricing is quite nominal for a beautiful place like this - our bill came to Rs 646 with taxes. I'd love to return another day after a walk on Versova Beach.
Soho Tapas Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bloggers are the new journalists

Making money out of a blog has always been tricky business. And in reality, in shouldn't be, because brands are actually as eager to leverage bloggers as bloggers are to work with them. What was missing all this while was a bridge that removed all the chaos and confusion and simplified the process of hiring a blogger to post about your latest product or launch.

As a journalist, I know how difficult it is to acquire earned media, especially for product launches. Rather than knocking on the doors of newspapers and magazines till your knuckles get sore, you'd be better off approaching top bloggers with the relevant readership to promote your latest baby. That's where IndiPR comes in.

Indiblogger is already the country's foremost blogging community and it was only a matter of time before it launched a platform dedicated to assisting brands in getting their press releases published by top bloggers in less than 72 hours. assists digital marketers with a variety of tasks including, but not limited to, SEO, content marketing, generating awareness and gaining much needed conversations around the product, driven by internet users on influencer platforms like blogs.

So how does it work? If you represent a business, you have to upload your press release and the ‘Automated Influencer Targeting Engine’, or ‘AITE’ for short, proceeds to accept applications and automatically shortlists bloggers based on various factors including internal ratings and rankings. Once shortlisted, the influencers do their research and publish their articles. Anoop Johnson, co-founder & director of marketing at IndiBlogger, says, “With a starting budget of just USD 150, a business of any size will be able to get their press releases published by influential bloggers with a few clicks.”

Often, plum assignments go to bloggers who don't even have the requisite reach or quality of content. With IndiPR, such mistakes may be a thing of the past. Karthik DR, Co-founder & Business Head at IndiBlogger says, “The amount of time that people spend in trying to identify and contact influencers is huge. With, you don't have to worry about any of this as the system just needs your press release. The rest is history!”

The folks at IndiPR have big plans for the future. Once the platform matures, influencers will be able to bag creative assignments, get invitations to attend the trendiest launch events and be privy to the latest news on the planet before the world wakes up to it. Renie Ravin, founder and CEO of IndiBlogger, says, “We believe that this system will help influencers with fresh and new content on their site every day. In a way, you could be writing about the next Google without even realising its immense potential.”

Incidentally, this post you've just finished reading has been made possible by IndiPR. Cool, eh?

Govinda's, Chowpatty: Restaurant Review

I arrived here for luncheon on Sunday after watching The Jungle Book with my friend in tow. We aren't Jains but we still managed to enjoy the predominantly Indian vegetarian fare sans onion and garlic (a fact I wasn't privy to until I was seated at my table).


I wasn't expecting a great ambience given the price point but I was pleasantly surprised by the cosy interiors - a quintessential family restaurant. The tables and chairs are comfortable, the walls well decorated and maintained and the lighting in the style of fine dining restaurants. Frankly, you should have nothing to complain about.

Rating: 5/5


The waiters are excellently trained - polite, knowledgeable and non-intrusive. Sure, the service is a bit slow but you can't blame them when the place is packed to the hilt. Upstairs, it tends to be quieter and that's where we sat. I recommend a corner table upstairs for a pleasant meal. You also enjoy a tranquil view of Iskcon temple from this table.

Rating: 5/5


Overall, I'd say the food is decent. Some of the items are par excellence while others are a tad disappointing. So be careful what you order. Or order several items so you'll end up with some winners at least! Here's what I tasted:

1. Pizza Margherita

What I liked were the generous toppings and the desirable tang to the cheese. Those who enjoy tomatoes will be very pleased with the plentiful slices and tomato sauce. However, the crust was a disappointment. It was overdone and too hard. It tasted like whole wheat crust though it wasn't. The pizza is why I haven't given Govinda's a 5/5 rating. Compared to some of the other items on the menu, this one loses its sheen. We had the 8 incher and it was very filling for two people. It's not bland but not too spicy either - tastes best drizzled with the condiments and ketchup.

Rating: 3/5

2. Paneer chatpata and roti

It was brilliant. I'm a great connoisseur of paneer and this dish is a dream. It's a refreshing change from the staple paneer makhanwala and paneer tikka masala. The gravy is quite different from both of the abovementioned dishes. I don't know what exactly they put into it but it's tasty and faintly spicy and you never sense the absence of onions or garlic. In one serving, there were five large chunks of paneer and copious masala. The quantity's good enough for three people - we had to pack the extra. I had it with roti while my friend had the butter naan.

Rating: 5/5

3. Khichiya masala papad

I have not tasted a better masala papad in my life. Khichiya is the Marwari style of papad, made with rice flour and thicker than the conventional urad papad. The one we were served for gloriously perfect and the toppings included chopped tomatoes, cucumber in lieu of onion, coriander and chaat masala. We couldn't get enough of this. The papad is large and the chunky nature makes it very satisfying.

Rating: 5/5


We had absolutely no room for dessert after working our way through all these dishes and the tab came to just 700 rupees.

Rating: 5/5

The variety of dishes on their menu is inspiring but from my experience, I'd say sticking with the Indian would be a good culinary decision.

Final rating: 4/5
Govinda's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato