Niharika Pandit reflects upon alternative ways to celebrate 65th year of the Indian Independence.
June 27, 2012.
It was a Tuesday afternoon when two engineering graduates, now entrepreneurs, had gone to watch Gangs of Wasseypur 1 along with their friends at Thakur My Cinemas, Kandivali. It just so happened that the Indian national anthem shot at Sia Chen was played before the film began. Out of the blue, Divyanshu Asopa says to Surendra Chaplot “Why not send greeting cards to our soldiers posted on the border?”
The idea wasn’t unviable, they had discerned. And how the next two hours were spent conceptualising the idea, Surendra recalls “We had a full-proof idea in our mind. Soldiers do a thankless job and it was time to express our gratitude to them.”
August 13, 2012.
They are trying to gain support for this initiative of ‘Making a Soldier Smile this Independence Day’ on Twitter, Facebook and through their friends. So far, they have tied up with IIM-Kozhikode which has encouraged this initiative. Furthermore, Divyanshu’s current Facebook status reads “We will reach 1 lac cards. Trust me.”
On the night of June 27, Divyanshu and Surendra had already set an aim to make Indian soldiers smile. And there wouldn’t be any big present, but a greeting card as a token of love. They had made their minds and further ideated it through their company, 21 Fools.
The next step was to make the idea work; hence, getting approval of the Indian Army. The passionate duo resorted to asking twitterati to share their contacts in the Indian Army. Everything seemed to work their way when Nishtha Singh, a twitter friend replied to their tweet. Nishtha’s father is a Brigadier in the Indian Army Headquarters, Delhi and that’s when the process of seeking official approval gained momentum.
Several e-mails were exchanged between the Indian Army and 21 Fools. The duo had to toil further and send designs of their card to receive a letter of approval. The final design includes smiling people from twenty-eight Indian states captured by photographers, the world over which was then sent to the Indian Army.
‘Some things are worth the hard work’ was what encouraged the two.
On the 20th day, the mail sent to 21 Fools from the Indian Army read “We are really looking forward to your wishes.”
A mere word of appreciation from the officials made them tie-up with colleges, send personalised e-mails to friends, and spread the word about their initiative on Facebook and Twitter. “There has been immense support so far.” say the two.
Priyank Bakshi a Delhi- based entrepreneur, who has bought hundred greeting cards, believes “In 65 years of independence, there has been no exchange of messages or ideas between the Indian Army and the people of India. This is a pioneering initiative and I extend my complete support.”
But success never comes without bouts of criticism.
And 21 Fools too, were asked questions, tagging their initiative as a money-making venture. To which, the duo humbly reverted-
To keep the initiative out of any controversies, they will be making finances as transparent as possible on the website andthe names people who have bought the cards will be displayed on the 21 Fools official website.
“Because of the security reasons it is not possible to reveal the name of soldiers to whom the cards will be sent. But we will send a Thank you card to everyone for being a part of the initiative and will let them know to which part of India their cards have been shipped,” says Divyanshu.
‘So this Independence Day, why not make a soldier smile?’ – 21 Fools
Note- One can buy a greeting card to make a soldier smile. The entries will freeze on the midnight of August 15, 2012