Category Archives: NEEV Herbals

World Consumer Rights Day : NEEV finds a mention in Guardian Magazine & Sarai at Toria

World-Consumers-Rights-DayToday is World Consume Rights Day. I take this as an opportunity to remind all of you the power you hold as consumers to change the world you live in. Your simple act of buying, purchasing or choosing how and where you spend your vacation can be an act of making this world a better place. Even as you enjoy, you can rest with a much deeper satisfaction of having played your part in taking care for the earth.

No purchasing decision exists that does not itself imply some moral choice, and there is no purchasing that is not ultimately moral in nature. So Ethical consumerism can be defined as the practice of purchasing products and services produced in a way that minimizes social and/or environmental damage, while avoiding products and services deemed to have a negative impact on society or the environment.

As you already may know that NEEV being a social enterprise, your decision to buy NEEV products helps in social and environmental ways.

  • Socially : Provides dignified employment to rural women. Helps young women to complete their degrees. Aids housewives to complement their household earnings. Provides a humane atmosphere of work, free from exploitation and in dignified labour. NEEV also runs a low cost English Medium School in the village for Integral Education of children, thereby causing all round development of society.
  • Environmentally : Creates products with absolutely no or very few chemicals. No pollution caused to surroundings. No sound, smoke or effluents produced in the process of manufacture. More and more land being brought under cultivation of herbs, thus leading to greening of the village. At present NEEV grows it’s own Aloe Vera, Mehendi, Rose and some other herbal plants.

NEEV Herbal Products are supplied to various other Social Enterprises, one of them being Sarai at Toria, an Eco Lodge situated in Panna National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Recently one of the travelers to this lodge, Mr HM Jackson, happened to use NEEV products and was enthused enough by them to make a small mention about them in the Guardian Magazine. Since the article mentions several Socially responsible initiatives in India, I thought today would be a good day to share not only the article but also about our good friends – Sarai at Toria.

The article can be found at https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/mar/07/india-local-heroes-readers-tips-delhi-mumbai-kerala

The Guardian

The Guardian 2

Joanna, who along with her husband Dr. Raghu founded the eco-lodge, has been a great friend of NEEV and has not only religiously stocked NEEV products at her lodge but has actively been spreading the word of NEEV to all travelers. Our sincere thanks to them for being such good friends and for their wonderful initiative. Their website is http://www.saraiattoria.com

I am including a detailed write-up along with pictures about Sarai at Toria so that if any of you are interested, you may consider spending your vacations here.

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Celebrating International Women’s Day : Article on Shikha in Womenia Magazine

Dear Friends,

International-Womens-Day-2014-Feature

Today is International Women’s Day. On this occasion, I am reproducing an article on Shikha and NEEV Soaps that appeared in online Womenia Magazine last month. The article can be found at http://www.womeniaworld.com/home/ContentPage?ContentId=1387 . I am reproducing the same article below.

Womenia Emblem

The  aim of Womenia Magazine is to “help the new Indian women to break free of limitations, and disempowering thinking, get in touch with their own needs, and achieve balance and harmony in all areas of her life and get connected to the news world.” It profiles women achievers who have overcome obstacles or demonstrated courage to rise above their circumstances and get where they are today.

Shikha wrote a beautiful forward to this article, which I am sharing below. Following it is the article which appeared in Womenia Magazine. It is Hindi.

I often wonder what is special about Neev Soaps, and what would I want people to know about it. For sure it is a social enterprise giving dignified livelihood to rural women. But every time, I say this much, I feel that I haven’t been able to convey the true essence of what Neev Soaps is. It is surely not about how many soaps we sell and to how many shops. It is about the radiance on the face of each girl who is a part of the Neev Soaps team. It is about their giggles, their unique role in the whole process which they carry out completely on their own, energized by their spirit rather than by any kind of fear. It is about their spontaneity, their natural and true being, their togetherness and their creativity. To my eyes its a miracle what these girls achieve, laboring ever so happily for hours together, producing fragrant experiences for us. The photographs enmeshed in the article catch some essence of the spirit of Neev Soaps. I am grateful to Priya Shandilya for  writing and publishing this article on Neev Soaps.”

 Womenia Magazine

महिलाओं को भी मिला रोजगार

  • 2/15/2017 8:24:30 PM
  • फोकस

प्रिया शांडिल्य

देसी और हर्बल प्रोडक्ट की ओर लोगों का रुझान बढ़ाने के लिए शिखा ने नीव की शुरुआत की थी और आज इसकी लोकप्रियता इतनी बढ़ गई है कि विदेशों में भी इसकी खूशबू फैल रही हैं. शिखा की आठ साल पहले शुरू की गयी हर्बल प्लांटेशन के प्रोडक्ट की  भारत सहित जापान, सिंगापुर, न्यूज़ीलैंड आदि देशों में भी खूब पसंद किया जा रहा है.

anurag and shikha

शिखा मूलरूप से फरीदाबाद की रहनेवाली है. शादी के बाद शिखा झारखण्ड राज्य के जमशेदपुर में बस गयी. साल 2007 में अपने पति अनुराग जैन के साथ मिलकर शिखा ने एक छोटी सी हर्बल प्लांट की शुरुआत की. इससे पहले नीव ट्रस्ट नाम से उनकी एक संस्था चलती थी. जो की गरीब तबके की महिलाओं और लड़कियों के हित में काम करती है. यह संस्था जमशेदपुर के पास ही हुरलुंग गांव में स्थित है. जब शिखा इस संस्था से जुड़ी तो उसके मन में महिलाओं के लिए कुछ अलग करने की ख्वाहिश जागी. अपने इसी ख्वाहिश को नीव उत्पादों के ज़रिये आकार दिया शिखा ने.

जब हर्बल प्लांटेशन की नींव रखी गयी तो इस फैक्ट्री में प्राकृतिक उत्पादों का निर्माण तय किया गया. फिर आस- पास के गांव की लगभग 200 औरतों को हर्बल साबुन, शैंपू, तेल, इत्यादि घरेलू सामान बनाने की ट्रेनिंग दी गयी. धीरे धीरे और महिलायें इससे जुड़ती गयी. शुरुआत में तो दस बीस उत्पाद ही बनाये जाते थे, मगर आज नीव हर्बल प्लांटेशन की अपनी 100 से ज्यादा उत्पाद है. वर्तमान में 30 से ज्यादा महिलाओं को शिखा ने नीव के ज़रिये रोजगार से जोड़ा. आज वह महिलायें खुद का और अपने परिवार को आर्थिक मदद देने में समर्थ है. शिखा की इस पहल से आगे और भी महिलायें को रोजगार मिलेगा.

Shikha with women 1

नीव प्लांटेशन में प्राकृतिक जड़ी बूटियों से हर्बल प्रोडक्ट बनाये जाते हैं. वुमनिया से बातचीत में शिखा ने कहा कि  नीव का मक़सद लोगों को आयुर्वेद और एरोमा थेरेपी का एक मिश्रित स्वाद देना है जिससे लोग अपनी प्रकृति से जुड़े और खुद को स्वस्थ रखें. भारत में 175 जैविक (आर्गेनिक) दुकानों में नींव के उत्पाद सप्लाई किये जाते हैं. इसके अलावा 7 अन्य देशों में भी नीव के उत्पादों की काफी मांग है.

नीव की खासियत है की ये फल फूलों से बना होता है और इसमें किसी प्रकार का कोई केमिकल नहीं इस्तेमाल किया गया. शिखा को नीव हर्बल प्लांटेशन के लिए उन्हें बेस्ट खाद्य विलेज इंडस्ट्री के लिए राष्ट्रपति से भी सम्मानित किया गया है. शिखा को फेमिना मैगज़ीन के लिए भी नामांकित किया गया था. इन सब के अलावा शिखा को उनके कार्य के लिया काफी सराहना मिली है.

shikha with women 2

 

NEEV Herbals at Dastkaari Haat Crafts Bazaar, Kalakshetra, Chennai (24th Sept – 2nd Oct) – Meet Shikha there :-)

Kala 1

Shikha – looking gorgeous as usual, along with Reema, at the Dastkaari Haat Crafts Bazaar, Kalakshetra, Chennai

Dear Friends,

If you enjoy the experience of shopping while a sea of soft sand caresses your feet rather than the ubiquitous vinyl flooring, of a beautifully disordered riot of earth toned colours striking your eyes rather than the geometrical flashing of neon lights and of makeshift bamboo tents under the foliage of Neem trees rather than air conditioned malls, then you must visit the ongoing Dastkaari Haat Crafts Bazaar at Kalakshetra grounds, Chennai. Here is the banner for the event

Kala 2

Not only do we have very old and precious memories associated with Chennai, but Shikha made it a point to personally be present at this Mela because we have the most number of loyal customers for NEEV Herbal Cosmetics in this city than any other city of India. A big thanks to all our friends of NEEV in Chennai who have supported us by using NEEV products.

NEEV Herbals, for us, is what Khadi was for Gandhi – not just a commodity but a vision. It is a vision of self reliance, of throwing the yoke of domination of market forces enslaving the minds and hearts of individuals. Not only are NEEV Herbal Cosmetics environment friendly, they give a dignified means of employment to Rural women (like Reema, seen in the photo above) and also gives free education to the kids of ladies working in NEEV. But wait, it is also more than that. It is a source of regeneration of rural economy based on non-exploitative use of natural resources. Last but not the least, the NEEV Herbal products are hand crafted to excellence with enormous care being taken to ensure the quality of products right from their sourcing to processing to packaging.

Buying NEEV products helps ensure that Village Hurlung remains a haven of natural beauty because more sales ensures more backward linkages of farming and cultivation of herbs. Lands that would have been otherwise left derelict and sold to building contractors would be reclaimed for cultivation of herbs and herbal processing. Not only that, NEEV Herbals gave Shikha and me the economic self reliance to forge a new vision in education manifested in the NEEV CIL school coming up in the village.

OK. Enough of philosophy. Let me end with a list of my personal best NEEV Products. I have used them for years and I can tell you that I have seen them performing miracles for me. They are

1. Bhringraj Hair Oil

2. Kumkumadi Oil for applying on face

3. Herbal Pain Relief Oil

I am sure others shall have their own list of favourites. I would be happy of you could share your list with us.

Finally, I am signing off with a little jaded but happy photo of Shikha, savouring our favourite Paratha Korma in Chennai. (Damn, you cannot find such Paratha Korma anywhere else but Chennai) and a few pics of the Crafts Bazaar.

Kala 3

Shikha savouring our favourite Paratha Korma in Chennai – looking a little jaded after a 32 hours marathon train journey in Tata-Allepey

Kala 4

NEEV Stall under the shade of the Neem Tree in Dastkaari Crafts Bazaar, Kalakshetra, Chennai

Kala 5

The Riot of Colours at Dastkaari Crafts Bazaar – Kalakshetra, Chennai

NEEV Interns Finding the Space in the Open Sky !

Interning at NEEV has been a life transforming moment for many of the interns. Their experience with us is not something that just leaves them with a certificate of internship to be used for getting jobs, but something much more deeper and vaster. It leaves them with a profound dissatisfaction with the current world, based on technology and consumerism. Once they go back, the dissatisfaction is not quelled. In some cases it seethes and even grows, finding expression in their communications with me.

NEEV is about creating a psychological revolution in the brain of man so that he sees the monstrous falsities of current world that are perpetuating conflict at global, social and environmental levels. And such a revolution does not come about by “adjusting” to society, but questioning all its values. The process of questioning requires enormous hard work. All the forces of society exert an immense gravitational pull to give in to to its prevailing values of ambition, competition, power seeking and consumerism. Questioning this enormous whirlpool of ideas that construct society requires one to stand completely alone psychologically. There are no gurus, no experts, no texts, no guides, no scriptures to lead you. One has to walk this path alone, in immense solitude. All comfort from every form of authority has to be put aside and one has to meet life afresh with one’s own intelligence and questioning. Whole life long we have been ‘schooled’ by our parents, schools, temples, science and governments to not think but follow. To throw aside this enormous burden requires unceasing intelligence.

In the midst of our busy lives, locked in the gridlock of job, family and entertainment, where does one find space for such questioning? Or have we become so docile that all questions have died down (read dumbed down)? An unexamined life is not worth living – Socrates had said this at a time when the world was still not caught in the vice like grip of techno-economic forces. How true would this maxim be today? A mind that ceases to question, ceases to learn. It becomes mechanical – a mechanical race for acquiring power and pleasure. Can we find and create spaces for questioning life?

I would like to share with you some beautiful pieces of communications with two of NEEV Interns – Abhishek and Lisa. Both interned with NEEV in 2012, that is four years ago. They still carry the perfume of questioning in their lives, a questioning that disturbs but nonetheless makes them alive.

Abhishek 1

Abhishek studied engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology. A few days ago, in response to one of my postings on facebook, he shared with me this :

“I think most of the people have become slaves of the machine. They think what it wants them to think, see what it wants them to see, teach what it wants them to teach, like what it wants them to like and may be the most dangerous knows and learns what it want them to know and learn. Our media, economy, even cultural and social values are being dictated by the machine. And gradually as time is flying by, I am realizing that I have also become one of the slaves. But the good thing thing is I still find out the time to watch the open sky at night and for that small span of time I leave this world and go to a place which give me my daily quota of peace. And I think travelling to that place is very simple and everyone should find a way by which they could travel to that world and muster the strength to return and live in this world for one more day.”

– Abhishek

Lisa, was another intern from Belgium who studied economics from Gent University Belgium and then later went on to become President of AIESEC Belgium. Some time ago, responding to one of my articles she wrote

“Thank you for sharing this with us. (Water Woes and the Rich, Educated Sin-gineers (Engineers)) I’m going through similar frustrations at the moment. Last night I couldn’t sleep, I haven’t been fully able to concentrate the last couple of days actually, and I was thinking about the world we are living in. I really hope with all my heart that we will start evolving into a more aware and thoughtful society, where real things start mattering more, like water, air and earth instead of TV, cellphones and other technology.
 
A couple of weeks ago I was still in South Africa (and in Namibia), and even though you also have educated sin-gineers and other rich people living there and not caring enough about the scarcity of natural resources, I somehow have the feeling people, or at least my friends, are still more in touch with nature there. In Belgium we mostly live in and around bricks and concrete. A friend of mine recently posted a research outcome of the % of the country which was concrete and I don’t remember the exact amount but I remember it was a lot. And it makes me a bit confused because my heart is yearning for that touch with nature but I can’t seem to escape the bricks here. Of course there is a lot of nature still present, and every small flower and bush can bring me joy too. I just need to still adjust from my trip to South Africa and appreciate nature in a different way here (or appreciate the different type of nature we have here).”

– Lisa

Lisa also sent me a couple of photographs from her trip in Namibia. I am sharing one of them (I am sure Lisa, you would not mind this). This is the one in which Lisa is sitting on the rocks with a star shining brightly in the background of open sky. She seems to be finding that space in the open sky which Abhishek talked about : a space for contemplation on the immeasurable that rises beyond the world. Co-incidentally Abhishek and Lisa were able to meet each other at the time when they were interning in NEEV.

Lisa 1

I finally end with sharing a few pics of Lisa in the NEEV Soaps unit. Lisa had a special love of all the children living in the village in which NEEV’s Herbal Unit is located. They used to all crown around her like bees hovering near a hive 🙂

Lisa 2

Of all the kids, Lisa had a special love for one of them called Kishan, who was the son of a very dedicated lady Jasomati who works in the NEEV Herbal Unit in Hurlung Village. At the time Lisa met Kishan he was not going to any school as his parents could not afford to send him.
Lisa 3

Lisa’s love for Kishan finally manifested in the form of sponsoring Kishan to NEEV Vidyalaya, a commitment she has preserved through all challenges for the past four years…..till today !

Kishan

Today Kishan is a happy, confident and proud student of NEEV Vidyalaya 🙂

NEEV Case Study in American University in Bulgaria & Changing Stories

A couple of days back I got an email from Eva – an effervescent youngster – graduating from her MBA degree from American University in Bulgaria. She said that she and her friends have been inspired by NEEV’s case study which came as a runner up in the Global OIKOS Case study competition , and that they would be presenting this study to their entire social entrepreneurship batch of the college.

                                               Eva Alich and American University in Bulgaria

In Ancient India education of children was mainly done through stories like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Panchtantra or Jataka Tales because stories have the power to go beyond the mere rational and intellectual mind. They appeal to a deeper consciousness that lies untapped by the modern world. Now the Ramayana and Mahabharata have been replaced by other stories, stories we call science, development, progress and modernism. We gulp these stories down, right from childhood where they are preached from pulpits as if they are the word from God. These stories form the basis of how we define our selves, our lives and our world.

However, unlike the ancient stories, the stories created by modern man suffer from grave lacunae. They talk about matter, about body and mind, but remain mute about the soul and spirit. This has created a soulless world, a world from where the spirit, the vast, the immeasurable has been banished and where we become petty, ambitious, insecure humans trying to find their wholeness in material objects.

The greatest work of NEEV has been changing this story. When I went to Eva’s facebook profile page, I saw this banner

I was quite taken in by this. Very few of us want to change the world. I am not quite sure whether we all even agree whether there is anything in this world that needs to be changed. Or even if we do entertain such a notion in some of our saner moments we are unable to figure out where to begin. Several start off and then are extinguished by the gusts of the world.

So how do we change the world? Of course this is a very complex question; not something which I would like to make a topic of this article. But one big way to change the world is to change the stories that make this world. Of course one has to live them too.

Over the past one decade of NEEV’s existence I have seen how sharing our story has created so many different stories in different parts of the world.

“We humans live by stories”, says David Korten, one of my favourite writers who has written the book, Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth and the stories that now govern our society set us on a path to certain self-destruction. In this profound book, Korten shares the results of his search for a story that reflects the fullness of human knowledge and understanding and provides a guide to action adequate to the needs of our time.

Korten calls our current story Sacred Money and Markets. Money, it tells us, is the measure of all worth and the source of all happiness. Earth is simply a source of raw materials. Inequality and environmental destruction are unfortunate but unavoidable. Although many recognize that this story promotes bad ethics, bad science, and bad economics, it will remain our guiding story until replaced by one that aligns with our deepest understanding of the universe and our relationship to it.

To guide our path to a viable human future, Korten offers a Sacred Life and Living Earth story grounded in a cosmology that affirms we are living beings born of a living Earth itself born of a living universe. Our health and well-being depend on an economy that works in partnership with the processes by which Earth’s community of life maintains the conditions of its own existence – and ours. Offering a hopeful vision, Korten lays out the transformative impact adopting this story will have on every aspect of human life and society.

Of course all this is nothing but what our ancient scriptures have always said and which I am simply putting in a ‘modern’ language.

We sincerely hope that Eva becomes another recruit in a new generation of path leaders who would surge to script a new story for our ailing societies and earth.

I would also like to thank our amazing NEEV family of friends and supporters who have played such a vital role in helping NEEV create and disseminate new stories of human destiny. I am reproducing the email by Eva below in the hope that this story may inspire some more kindred souls to take the road less travelled. And thank you Eva for being what you are and for daring to do what you want to do.

Love,

Anurag

Email from Eva

Dear Anurag and Shikha Jain,

Like sent to your NEEV Soaps Facebook page, my name is Eva, I am from Bulgaria and soon graduating from my MBA with the American University here.

For the first time this year the University is offering a Social Entrepreneurship course and as a part of it together with a group of enthused colleagues we are going to present the case of NEEVs social enterprise J

My colleagues are copied to this e-mail and their names are respectively – Ivan, Poli, Mariya and Bogdan.

This brought us to your incredible initiatives and we would like to express our humble admiration to what you have achieved!

We aspire to the same goals and dreams, and stories such as yours pose a great inspiration to us and I am sure to a great many people all over the world. So already thank you very much for that!

We thought that it would be magnificent to include you directly in our studies, to spread your inspiration among the entire group of students, to light that spark in them as well! There are so many issues here in Bulgaria that need such kind of an entrepreneurial spirit and a deep desire to help others and live a meaningful life! The case we are looking at is the one from the Oikos case writing competition in 2015. Our task is to prepare a presentation and answer the questions related to the case – so the challenges you were facing at that time concerning a potential on-line sales growth and international growth.

My group and I have been deliberating how can we make that presentation in the most engaging and inspiring way and we could think of no other way but asking you to address our Cohort directly and personally by means of maybe a short Youtube video.

If by any chance you would be interested in that I would gladly provide more details or we can even arrange a skype call between my group and you if that would be possible.

Thank you so much in advance for considering our idea!

With kindest regards from Bulgaria,

Eva, Ivan, Poli, Mariya and Bogdan

NEEV (Shikha) Participating in the Kala Ghoda Festival : Mumbai

We are pleased to inform you that NEEV is participating in the prestigious Kala Ghoda festival Mumbai.

The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival this year will open doors from Saturday 6th February to Wednesday 17th February 2016. With a kaleidoscope of music, dance, theatre, literature, food, street stalls, cinema, workshops, visual arts, urban design and architecture and heritage walks in store, this 12-day extravaganza promises a cultural palate like never before witnessed!

We request all our friends of Mumbai to please make a visit to the NEEV Herbal Cosmetics Stall No. 56 and meet Shikha. (psst………tomorrow, 6th Feb is her birthday :-)

Kala Ghoda

  • The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is a community celebration of the arts within one of the most beautiful and historic precincts of Mumbai, The Kala Ghoda Art District.
  • It is open to all, free of charge.
  • The Festival has grown exponentially, and is hugely successful, drawing over 150,000 people from all over the city to KGAF 2015 hosted a total of 590 events over 9 days.
  •  Funds raised from the festival go towards the restoration and upkeep of the area. Several heritage buildings and institutions in the area have benefited from this.

 

Interview of Anurag with Tuhin Sinha on Radio 92.7 Big FM – Misaal Series

Last Sunday I was interviewed by Tuhin Sinha in Radio 92.7 Big FM.

Part 1 of the Interview

Part 2 of the Interview

Tuhin is a well known author and social commentator who narrates a social empowerment series on 92.7 Big FM Jamshedpur and Ranchi called “Misaal”. The show profiles people who have creditable work in the uplift of society.

We sincerely thank Tuhin for profiling the work of NEEV in the Misaal series. Co-incidentally Tuhin’s son’s name too is Neev J

I am including some interesting facets of Tuhin’s work

Career

Starting in 2006, Tuhin has written five novels. They include of Love And Politics, The Edge of Desire, The Edge of Power, 22 Yards and That Thing Called Love. He is credited for inventing the genre of political thrillers in contemporary Indian writing. A review of his book, Of Love And Politics in The Hindu, published in December 2010, wrote, “In today’s age, it is commendable to have a writer like Sinha who can so adeptly weave Shakespearean phrases with Shashi Tharoor-esque aplomb in his work” – The Hindu.

Of Management and Politics talk series

With a view to educate the youth and understand their viewpoint on contemporary national and social issues, Tuhin has initiated a talk series called Of Management and Politics. The first two sessions took place at XLRI, Jamsedpur and the Symbiosis Institute of Management and Human Resource Management, Hinjewadi, Pune. The driving objective of the initiative is to bring a significant change in the common perceptions towards politics and to encourage the youth to participate more in the political system of India. In the next few years, Tuhin intends to take this series to every part of the country.

“Love Thy Leader” series

In March–April 2010, Tuhin wrote a controversial four-part series of columns called “Love Thy Leader” for Times Life of The Times of India. Each column dwelt upon a romance, involving a key political figure. The column disputed existing notions and sought to provide a differential perspective about facts that have often remained clouded in history. While the first column delved into the power play in the Sarkozy-Bruni romance, the second questioned the veracity of the Akbar-Jodha hyphenation, the third probed the possible political implications of the Nehru-Edwina romance, while the last one dwelt upon the bond between Hitler and Eva Braun, which still remains shrouded in mystery.