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Palava City

A Wish For Happiness: The Story Behind Flying Lanterns

October 27, 2016
Lantern Festival Chinese

Sky lanterns or floating lights have today become a part of pop culture though their origin can be traced back to 3rd Century BC. From battlefields to cultural ceremonies and wedding traditions to festive rituals, sky lanterns have been a part of many ceremonies across China, Thailand, Taiwan and the rest of Asia.

During the Three Kingdoms Era, the sky lanterns were used on the battlefield to communicate with one another, and once peace settled the peasants and royalty used them to thank God for all the blessings, cast away fear and wish for a prosperous future.  A wedding that is symbolic of newlyweds beginning a journey together often sees the couple light one lantern together and the wedding guests light others with personalized wishes for the couple’s future. In Thailand green lanterns are lit for personal growth and purple ones carry personalized wishes. In China, the final New Year celebrations is the Lantern Festival during which locals release Chinese New Year taboos.

Be it prayers for good health, happy marriage, good harvest season or relief from worries; a sky lantern is believed to make wishes come true.

It is believed that the longer and higher the sky lanterns float, the more likely the deities will receive your requests. The sky lantern ceremony has come to represent the releasing of one’s deepest fears and desires. It is a symbolic cleansing, a letting go of everything that troubles you. It is also the beginning of a new, enlightened you, with the light illuminating the path of knowledge and righteousness.

This Palava Weekend, we will be celebrating the joy of Diwali with a sky lantern show on the 29th of October, 2016.  Join in to count your blessings.


Tracing The History Of The Diwali Forts

October 19, 2016
Diwali Fort Making

Diwali is not only about the lighting of oil lamps and lanterns but also about building mud forts or ‘killas’ and decorating them with little figurines. As a tradition peculiar to the state of Maharashtra, making the forts is a Diwali activity that children especially look forward to.

Noted historian Mandar Lawate traces the origin of the practice to the time when the forts were made of cow dung with ‘durva’ (three-bladed grass) and flowers being placed on it. People then offered the Govardhan puja to the dung forts. “It was also believed that all the good deeds that one performed during the holy month of Kartik would all be in vain if this puja was not performed,” added Lawate.

Reasoning why forts were the chosen subject for this purpose, Lawate said, “Traditionally forts have been the strength of the Marathas and are a symbol of their valour. The people feel a certain pride in the ‘killas’ of the Marathas.”

Hence when the British came to power in 1818 after defeating the Peshwas, the first thing they did was to bring down the forts of the Marathas, said Lawate.

“In his childhood, the Maratha king Shivaji made mud forts, so perhaps that is also another reason why the practice is carried out enthusiastically by children even today. Apparently the tradition of fort-making is present only in western Maharashtra. In places like Marathwada, these killas are not made,” informed Lawate.

Fort making competitions, baked mud forts made by the potters of Kumbharwada, forts made of icing and handcarts full of figurines of warriors to adorn the forts keep this unique Diwali tradition alive.

Picture Courtesy: Jagadamb Mumbai

This article first appeared on the Sakal Times.

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Airoli-Katai Naka Elevated Road Project To Begin In 3 Months

October 18, 2016
Palava bridge to ease traffic

Thane’s member of Parliament Rajan Vichare said on Saturday work on the long awaited 15-km elevated road project from Airoli to Katai Naka will begin within three months. The project is expected to cut down the distance between Kalyan-Dombivali and Navi Mumbai by 7 km. Currently, the commuter needs to take a detour from Mahape or Thane, which adds to the travel time on the congested stretch.

Vichare said, “It (the elevated road) will be convenient for commuters and is being built following public demand. Work on the first phase of the road will begin within three months.” He added, “Along with Kalyan and Dombivali, this road will benefit the residents of Ulhasnagar, Ambernath and Badalapur too.” The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is constructing the elevated road at an estimated cost of Rs 385 crore. The MMRDA has finalised the plan to connect Airoli in Navi Mumbai to Kalyan via a tunnel cutting through the Parsik hill.

In the first phase of the project, which had been in a limbo for the last few months, MMRDA will construct an elevated road of about 900 metres. The MMRDA had earlier floated tenders for the starting phase of the project. Additional Metropolitan Commissioner Sanjay Khandare said, “The work will start as the contract will be given. In the first phase of the project, the MMRDA will construct an elevated road or flyover measuring 1 km, along with a 1.5-km tunnel under Parsik hill.” The three-lane elevated road will be constructed between Bharat Bijlee and Siemens factory, running parallel to the Airoli railway station.

The four-lane tunnel will start from Siemens factory and go all the way up to Shil Phata. An MMRDA official said the project was delayed as they were awaiting approvals from the MIDC as the project passes through land occupied by two companies in the MIDC area. A consultant was also appointed for getting forest clearances, which officials hope to get soon, sources said.

This article first appeared on the The Indian Express.

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Palava Takes A Big Step Towards Providing High-Quality Healthcare To Citizens

October 14, 2016
Free Health Checkup

Palava partners with Healthspring, India’s leading experts in primary healthcare, to open its first clinic in the city.

‘Healthy citizens are the greatest assets any country can have’, said Winston Churchill. Palava concurs with this and hence strives to provide a healthy lifestyle to its citizens through its infrastructure developments and facility alliances. In addition to having plenty of open spaces and landscaped green surroundings and providing immediate aid with 911 emergency services.

Palava has now launched its first Primary Healthcare Clinic by partnering with Healthspring, India’s leading experts in family healthcare.

Inaugurated in June this year, the Healthspring clinic at Palava presently houses a physician and nurse and an on-call physiotherapist; it also provides pathology services and X-ray facilities. It will shortly have an ENT specialist, gynecologist, orthopedic, dentist and pediatrician, and provide sonography, MRI and other medical services. The clinic will host regular health camps to measure body mass index, daily calorie intake and other parameters, and advise adequate measures to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Healthspring was founded in 2010 by Professor Gautam Sen, a revered general surgeon and specialist in oncology and his son, co-founder, Kaushik Sen.  It presently has over 31 clinics across Mumbai, Delhi and Pune and over 100 doctors and 500 health experts, including nutritionists, nurses and pharmacists.

Harvard alumnus and management consultant with Bain for over a decade, co-founder Kaushik Sen is passionate about reforming the healthcare system in India, and shares insights about the vision and mission of Healthspring in India.

Q: What motivated you to delve into healthcare?

A: Our key drivers to delve into healthcare were to improve the broken healthcare delivery system at the entry level through family medicine, and reduce healthcare cost burden for the customers while providing better health outcomes. My biggest source of inspiration was my father and the Chairman of Healthspring, Dr. Gautam Sen, who is one of the most respected surgeons and leading medical thinkers and visionaries in India. Dr. Sen has been instrumental in a number of pioneering efforts to bring change to healthcare delivery in the country. He has over three decades of experience as one of Mumbai’s finest surgeons and has been on the Board of Governors – one of the six-members – for the Medical Council of India.

Q: What led your family to launch Healthspring?

A: Healthspring was founded with a vision of transforming India’s health delivery system where it matters the most- the entry level of personal care. Healthspring comprises of family health experts and focuses on family medicine, a specialty devoted to providing comprehensive health care for people of all age groups. We provide pre-hospital care, be it at home or responding to day-to-day health care needs, ranging from acute and chronic illnesses to more urgent and emergency medical situations. I believe that if done correctly, family medicine has the potential to keep people healthier and reduce unnecessary testing and hospitalizations. It also helps detect issues at an early stage, increasing the chances of response to treatments. Early healthcare can help in drastically reducing the medical costs by lowering the need for expensive and unnecessary hospitalization and procedures.

Q: What are the fundamentals that lay the foundation for Healthspring?

A: We are a one-stop for all health care services for everyone.  Be it an individual, family, community, corporate house or industrial complex, we cater to all. At Healthspring we are committed to a culture of good health and our vision is to be the most trusted healthcare organization in the country. We strive to provide excellence in healthcare by hiring diligent doctors, training them in medical protocols and supporting them with the right infrastructure. We aim to deliver great customer experiences, focused on convenience, patient friendliness and a team-based approach. We are transparent and ethical, and always look for the best interest of our patients when they need us the most, especially during emergencies.

Q: How are medical experts and team members recruited by Healthspring?

A: All our doctors are MBBS with a minimum of 5 years of work experience. We also have doctors who have professional experience of over 20 years either as standalone practice or working with hospitals or corporates. Irrespective of their experience, once recruited by Healthspring, they undergo a one month training program to learn the best practices of the healthcare industry. This induction ensures standardization of diagnosis, treatment, maintenance of medical records and delivery of customer service.  While attracting great people is one of the challenges for a start-up in India, particularly when one is not an e-commerce platform, our senior team comes from diverse industries, such as education, media, FMCG, telecom, investment banking and also includes entrepreneurs, and in most cases, they have sought us out. Healthspring has an ambitious team that believes in its mission and is passionate about reforming healthcare.

Q: What are the unique characteristics that distinguish Healthspring in the field of healthcare?

A: Healthspring has its own in-house team of general physicians, pediatricians, gynecologists, physiotherapists and dietitians, supported by in-house diagnostics (pathology and radiology), as well as pharmacy. Unlike hospitals or polyclinics, the entire medical team comprises of employees of Healthspring and their sole objective is to keep one as healthy as possible and avoid hospitalization, unless absolutely necessary.

Condition management at Healthspring is not limited to interaction between the patient and doctor; it involves comprehensive care given by a team of doctors, dieticians, physiotherapists, nurses and others. Take diabetes for instance; 97% of our members who have enrolled for our diabetes management program have witnessed improved sugar levels with an average of 40% decline in sugar counts while under our care.

Q:  Did you encounter any challenges while setting up operations in India?

A: The top 3 challenges that come to mind while building this healthcare service network are getting capital, convincing the medical fraternity or internal stakeholders, and changing the mindset of the society towards primary preventive healthcare.

Firstly, establishing a robust world-class primary healthcare delivery network is capital intensive. Attracting investments is a challenge unless you demonstrate quality, which we have successfully managed to do over the last 5 years.  Secondly, it is a challenge to find the right talent who is motivated to serve customers in the best manner possible. We took a while to change the mind-set of the medical fraternity and have it see itself as service providers and strive for complete customer satisfaction. In India, doctors hardly treat patients as their customer, which is why there is lack of professional attitude towards managing the health of patients. At Healthspring, be it any team, customer first approach is ingrained in all our employees from day one, as it is crucial to achieve the desired service levels. Thirdly, there is a lack of awareness and people are reluctant to move away from reactive healthcare and adopt proactive and preventive healthcare. We continue to educate people on the multifold advantages of opting for preventive healthcare services as such as preventive health check or membership. These investments don’t just ensure good health but also save lacs of rupees spent on hospitalization or health recovery.

Q: What would be your most memorable success stories through the journey so far?

A: Healthspring has catered to the needs of over 3 lac customers in a span of 5 years and grown to 32 clinics across Mumbai, Pune and Delhi, which are owned and operated entirely by us. We have witnessed robust growth because we’ve been able to build credibility amongst customers. We have brought health improvement to corporate health programs and systematically managed to reduce the high-risk percentage in our corporate members. As a result, in 5+ years of doing corporate programs, we have a 100% renewal rate, which is very rare in the healthcare industry.

Another service that we have received accolades for is our unique 24×7 doctor led medical emergency response system. We have doctors on-call to cover emergencies at any odd hour of the night. We have till date attended to over 2000 emergencies in which over 80% of the time the patient has been stabilized on the spot without needing hospitalization. A tremendous amount of testing, drills and processes are required to run this seamlessly, and we have been able to pull off each one with 100% uptime.

Q: Do you believe the urban audience values customized healthcare services?

A: The fact that we have been able to serve more than 3,50,000 customers stands testimony to the fact that people do appreciate the value of personalized healthcare services that we offer. We have over 50,000 people who have enrolled for an annual membership, which means that there is adequate traction for annual health management programs.

Q: What would the demographics of your audience be?

A: While most of our customers are above the age of 40 years, we see the customer base between 40-50 years growing rapidly. We receive a lot of queries from youngsters as well, enquiring about the packages that we could offer their parents. In terms of the socio-economic profile, we primarily see prime interest from Sec A and above, however there’s a growing degree of awareness and interest from others strata as well.

Q: How did you decide to collaborate with Palava?

A: When Healthspring learnt about Palava’s desire to provide high-quality, dependable and easily accessible healthcare to its citizens, we quickly realized that it was very much in sync with our ethos and hence decided to explore a partnership.  Healthspring endeavours to work closely with the team at Palava to craft an integrated health solution for the city, and is happy to see our efforts come to fruition.

Q: What is the plan of Healthspring to better the health quotient of citizens in Palava?

A: Healthspring’s array of services at Palava include a group of highly-trained doctors, nurses and associated medical professionals who together form a “care team”; a pharmacy, diagnostic capabilities as well as dental services.  Citizens can simply walk into our clinic to avail of this care, or explore some of our unique membership models. 

Healthspring firmly believe that the road to good health should start with a simple health check, and we have some great health check packages to offer to all citizens.  Following the health check, our doctors devise a customized health plan for each patient, and follow up regularly to ensure that the patient is on track with the agreed regimen.  We back up our clinic-level care with home doctor and nurse visits (whenever required), as well as 24×7 emergency medical response.  Essentially, we want to create an ongoing relationship with Palava citizens as that is the fundamental premise of our healthcare model.

Q: What is the vision of Healthspring for the near future?

A: We plan to open at least 200 clinics in major cities in the next 4-5 years. This requires great amount of know-how and expertise, and above all a set of motivated individuals, which we are fortunate to have. Response from the customers towards our service has been overwhelming and we are truly grateful for their appreciation and support. Our goal is to also take the elements of our model and scale it to rural populations through a public-private partnership with the government. We are currently in discussion with a few state and local governments, as well as some of the best international aid agencies to scale our model further. On the corporate front, we are relatively fledglings though we have already achieved remarkable success with some of the best companies in India. We expect this area to grow significantly as we see more and more companies invest in their employee base.

(The Healthspring Clinic is open from 8 a.m until 4 p.m. at the PCMA building in Casa Rio, Palava and accessible to all. Please contact +91 94339 39684 for appointments and further details.)

Better Infrastructure To Lead You To Palava

September 29, 2016
government plan to improve transport

A 13-km stretch will be widened with concrete roads, which will have electronic sensors that will activate lights to guide motorists.

With Kalyan, Bhiwandi and Dombivli set to become smart cities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), the process to have better road connectivity in and around these locations has also started — the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) will be spending over Rs 77 crore for widening and construction of a road from Shil Phata Junction to Kalyan Phata Junction.

More than two weeks ago, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said that his US visit was to sign an agreement with software giant Oracle for making Kalyan, Bhiwandi and Dombivli smart cities.

Laying the groundwork
“MMRDA’s vision has always been to do development in the MMR and provide better facilities to people… we have invited tenders for the widening and construction of a road from Shil Phata Junction to Kalyan Phata Junction. This will definitely solve commuting woes,” said MMRDA Joint Project Director Dilip Kawatkar.

At present, due to bad roads, motorists going to and from Shil Phata to Kalyan have to face a lot of problems, including traffic jams during morning and evening peak hours. In order to solve this problem, the repairing and widening of the road has been taken up. The tenders for the project that were invited state that the final date of submission of bids is October 21.

The scope of the work, which is part of the project cost, includes widening and laying a cement concrete road that is around 13-km long.

At present, the stretch has uneven patches, with monsoon compounding the problem with an increase in the number of potholes.

Smart moves
The company that will bag the contract will have to complete the project in 30 months, including the monsoon. This road will also have electronic sensors, while the bitumen stretches on either side will have electronic sensor pavers.

These will activate the lights, which too will be installed in the road to guide motorists navigate sharp turns.The MMRDA is also planning growth centres around Kalyan, and as part of this, 27 villages surrounding Kalyan and Ambernath taluka will see mega development in the coming years. A private consultant has been appointed, who will be preparing a Detailed Project Report for the same.

The growth centres would come up in over 1,000 hectares; MMRDA plans to acquire 330 hectares of these, a majority of the land is privately-owned, but is lying vacant.

The authority has made it clear that the owners of the land would be made stakeholders in the project and all the people would be taken into confidence before arriving at any decision, so that there is no opposition to the project and problems do not arise during land acquisition. As per the Town Planning Act of 1973, the regional plan of the MMR had also stated how the area can become a successful place for growth centres.

Future planning
The growth centres will be connected through Metro as well as highways and better roads. Every office building in the business hubs will have to have shops and hotels, which will have permission to operate 24×7, so that those working in these hubs can go at these places. There will also be other features in these places, such as smart parking, Wi-Fi connectivity, and smart streetlights, similar to what’s been planned in BKC.

This article first appeared on Mid-Day.

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Sustainability Is The Key For The Future

September 25, 2016


The sustainable city of tomorrow

One of the main tenets of a sustainable city is that it is safe, accessible, comfortable and enjoyable. A city that you have helped to grow, and grow within one that you have ownership and pride in and that supports you to thrive, is surely one of these. And such a city will last a long time. Copehagen, the capital of Denmark resonates of all of this and much more and is popularly known to be among the leaders in sustainable living. Danes are often said to be the happiest people in the world, and Copenhagen is widely acclaimed to be one of the world’s most liveable cities. A green city surrounded by natural beauty, fantastic climate and friendly citizens, it combines sustainable solutions with growth to provide a high quality of life.

Known as the European Green Capital in 2014, Copenhagen has large number of green oases and open spaces with fresh air, some of the cleanest city harbours in the world, sustainable hotels, and high availability and consumption of organic produce. It has electric bi-cycles used as common mode for transport around this old maritime city and thus propagates eco-tourism.

Innovations in green energy

Copenhagen has the ambition of becoming the first carbon neutral capital by 2025. Increased mobility through integrated transport and cycling solutions has reduced congestion significantly and improved the health of its citizens. It is making great strides in reducing energy consumption, improving energy efficiency of new buildings, and encouraging the use of renewables. The city has a new district cooling system which uses the naturally cold seawater directly in the cooling production during the winter and electric compressors cooled via sea water in summer months to produce cold air. This saves 70% of the energy compared to traditional air-conditioning. The city is working with companies, universities and other organisations to develop green growth, providing local jobs and sustainable employment.

A great way to commute

Life in Copenhagen is almost lived in the saddle of a bicycle. The city is famous for being one of the most bicycle-friendly centres in the world. Only 29% of the households in Copenhagen even own a car and traffic lights in the city are coordinated in favour of cyclists during rush hour. Nearly half of its citizens primarily use their bikes to work, to school, to shop for groceries and to social gatherings. Even top politicians ride their bike every day to parliament! Cycle super highways are a reality in the city and lead cyclists in and out of the city from as far as 15 kilometres away. By 2025, the city wants 75% of all journeys to be made by foot, bike, or public transport.

Organic food culture

Unlike most cities of the world, organic produce is an integral part of dining in Copenhagen households. Organic produce makes up 20% of the total food sale in the city, which is the highest in Denmark. Nearly 90% of the food consumption in the city’s public institutions, such as daycare centres, nursing homes and schools, is organic. For citizens here, organic produce is not luxury; it is simply the most logical option.

Sustainability in hospitality

Extending sustainability to hospitality, 71% of all the Copenhagen’s hotel rooms hold an official eco-certification and more than half of the city hotels have an environmental plan regarding water, laundry, house cleaning, waste, energy consumption, food, smoking, indoor climate, and administration. The city boasts of organic restaurants that are climate friendly and serve local seasonal produce. It is home to Geranium – the world’s only all-organic restaurant with three Michelin stars.

Whether it is new bike routes, urban parks or new residential areas, Copenhagen is constantly preparing for a more sustainable future. Water, light, open spaces, sustainability and quality of life seem to be the key elements in the capital’s architectural development. Copenhagen’s most ambitious urban planning project so far is the development of a new district in the city’s northern harbour, Nordhavn, which is the largest urban development project in Northern Europe. State-of-the-art knowledge from all over the world is contributing to make Nordhavn the sustainable city of tomorrow.

As Brain Vad Mathiesen, an associate professor of development and planning at Aalborg University, told the Guardian, “In Denmark, sustainable city planning is not a niche; it’s just what we do.”