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2014 election campaign

Why Sri Sri Ravi Shankar wants your voter ID card number

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar wants to know everything about your voting preferences, even your voter ID card number. But why?

What does your happiness have to do with elections? Evidently, a lot – according to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the man in white robes and a flowing beard who leads the Art of Living foundation. Art of Living calls itself an educational and humanitarian organisation, but is best known for its expensive yoga classes.

Gurudev, as Sri Sri is called by his followers, has asked the foundation's teachers and volunteers to survey a hundred people each using a 'Happiness Survey’. The survey starts with a profound question: 'Are you happy in life?' But it soon moves to mundane ones on corruption and price rise. It asks you to rate the economic situation in the country, reveal the single most important criteria for you when you vote in 2014, and share what do you believe could bring in the maximum change in the country: existing ruling party, another national party, or a newly formed party?

After finding out your political preferences, the survey asks you to share your voter ID card number. Since it has already taken down your location, email and mobile number, any political party that gets hold of the survey would find it easy to track you down to influence your voting decision before elections, which might be the least worrying possibility of what such data could be used for.

The survey is being carried out as part of the Art of Living foundation’s campaign called ‘I Vote for a Better India’, which was launched in February 2013 with the declared aim of “increasing the awareness and importance of voting in our civil society, especially the youth.”

What does gathering data on people’s political preferences have to do increasing voter awareness? What does the Art of Living foundation intend to do with the data it collects? Does it assure people that their data would be kept confidential and not be shared? Questions emailed to the campaign office went unanswered.

Scroll.in filled a survey online and found no declaration of data protection at the end of the survey. India lacks a comprehensive data protection law and public awareness on data privacy is fairly low.

The Art of Living foundation has more than 500 centres across the length and breadth of India, from Arunachal Pradesh to the Andamans. If every teacher and volunteer were to survey a hundred people each, the foundation would be able to gather a mountain of political information.

In the absence of any assurance given on data confidentiality, the foundation could easily share the data with any political party. While Sri Sri Ravi Shankar claims to harbour no political affiliations, he was seen at Ramlila Maidan in the summer of 2011 supporting the India Against Corruption movement, and in January, he praised Narendra Modi, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate. Addressing his followers in Samastipur in Bihar most recently, he said that India needed a single-party government rather than a "khichdi".

An email circulating in Art of Living circles with instructions on how to carry out the survey offers further insight. “The aim is not to tell people who to vote for but educate and inspire,” it says. Yet it quickly follows up with what people should be inspired to think. “Kindle the feeling that a stable, experienced government is required in today’s situation and that it is a good practice to rotate power to prevent corruption and increase responsibility… An inexperienced party will not provide confidence to investors and further erode the value of our currency. When you are driving on mountainous roads, will you prefer an experienced driver or a family member who has a learner’s License?”

If you should vote for neither the party in power, nor the inexperienced newbie, then it is quite apparent who Sri Sri wants you to vote for. And who he might be sharing your data with.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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As corporate India changes from strait-jacketed to stylish, here’s how you can stay on-trend

For men and women, tips to make your office style game strong.

Office wear in India tends to be conservative. For men, the staple blue or white shirt and dark trouser arranged in a monotonous assembly line has been a permanent feature of the wardrobe (a tactic shrewdly administered to ensure minimum time is spent shopping). For women, androgynous work wear has been ever reliable and just as dull.

But camouflage is of no use in the corporate jungle anymore. The Indian office is no longer a place for dull, unthinking conformity, it is a place that expects vibrancy in thought and action. With a younger workforce and a greater mix of multinationals and jobs, there is a greater acceptance of edgier trends. Men are stepping away from their blues and greys and women are reshaping their workwear to be more interesting and distinctly feminine. As corporate India is proving its mettle on the global stage and to itself, it’s also growing confident in expressing individuality and style in the formal work environment. From clothing to office décor and fashion accessories to work tools, the workplace is becoming a place to display merit as well as taste.

Work clothes have shed their monochrome and moved into the light of technicolor. Bright colours have steadily become popular as Pantone’s annual colours of the year show us. For the corporate warrior who wants to be stylish here is our pick of trends worth considering.


Statement jacket. A statement jacket is one that doesn’t merely stand out in a crowd, but blows it open for you. How do you recognize one? You’ll know it when you see it. Most statement jackets have a non-traditional color. They could also have subtle prints on them if you want to go funky.

Technicolor socks. Multicolored socks (or hipster socks as they are known in some quarters) peek out every once in a while and brighten things up in the workplace. From polka dots and caricatures to geometric patterns, you can choose a pair to suit your mood or your workplace. A great way of telling people you don’t take fashion rules seriously (except these ones).

Plaid: Well played is well, plaid. Great for your 9-to-5 and even performs well after. Plaids, in shirts and jackets, are perhaps the most versatile tool in the corporate warrior’s armory, and straddle the fine line between formal and casual effectively. They’re also age-resistant meaning a young buck in his twenties can rock them as much as your seasoned forty-plus campaigner. Plaid, though Scottish in origin, has an Indian connection too, in the Madras checks that became popular all over the world after the World War.

Inside collars and cuffs. If you like to keep it classy but still a little edgy, nothing does it like contrast or printed insides of your collar and cuffs. After the work day, when it’s proper to roll up your sleeves, it even adds a touch of evening character.

Coloured Shoes. Alternate your staid blacks and browns with variants like burgundy, light buttery browns and ashen blues. Play with moccasins, tassel loafers and lace-ups. Go beyond leather and try suede and maybe even canvas. But do remember to take a quick course in matching.


Floral prints. Flowers are back (though one could argue that they never went out) and now they’re storming the bastion of your office. Even the traditional Indian paisley is making its way into formal wear. With the prevalence of digital printing, with a little hunting, you’ll even find beautiful florals in watercolour style.

Scarves. The first rule of wearing scarves is to rid yourself of the notion that they are to be worn only in winter. A colourful scarf paired with a monochrome top works wonders. A dozen online videos will teach you to wear it in a dozen ways. Plus, it always comes in handy when the thermostat isn’t to your liking. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw wears scarves frequently, and is a great example of how you can use it strikingly.

Pants. Yes. Pants. Experiment with different styles and you’ll be surprised how they can really spruce up a boring look. Silhouette is everything when it comes to pants. Choose from high-waisted, wide legged, pleated to ankle length pants and what not! The best part is offices rarely prescribe silhouettes, so you can always get by with some style even if your workplace demands a uniform.

Houndstooth. The houndstooth pattern is at the sweet intersection between casual and formal and can be worn to make a splash in either occasion. Whether its jackets or a dress or a simple top, a houndstooth pattern is incredibly versatile.

Chic suits. A sharp suit is a must for a modern professional’s wardrobe. And please don’t even look in the direction of black. Pastel colours or even greys with patterns are great options for suits. Uncoordinated suits are also a great option depending on how edgy you want your office attire to be.


It isn’t enough to be well-dressed in the modern workplace. A good professional is known by his or her tools and how they carry it.

Designer laptop sleeves. Your high-precision instrument deserves a cover chosen with as much care. Black Neoprene is out. Pastel monochromes, geometric patterns and bold designs are very much in. Different materials like cotton, leather and even paper are a great option.

Natural fiber or leather bags (yes kill your black synthetic one now). Briefcases are ancient and black messenger bags are done. Go for a color variant or a subtle pattern. Pay attention to the different leather finishes. Adding a few nicely done metal trims can make all the difference. But convenience and ease are top priority. If you travel a lot, get a stylish strolley and thank yourself later.

Commute pack. The urban corporate needs to be productive at all times, or at the very least, needs to be accessible. A modern commute pack should include wireless headphones, a USB battery pack (power bank) and a wire/gadget organisation pack just so that you’re always prepared.

Machine. We’ve all showed off our latest smartphones. Your work machine is way more important. And like in smartphones, a good laptop is no longer only about performance. The specifications must be top-notch but it has also become an expression of your personality. It can up your style quotient and significantly impact your experience.

Source: Dell
Source: Dell

The Dell XPS 13 is one device that achieves excellence in both form and function. With a virtually borderless infinity display that maximises screen space, and measuring a super slim 9-15mm, the Dell XPS 13 is an unalloyed delight. A sixth generation Intel® Core™ processor and the latest Intel HD graphics gives cutting edge performance for 18 hours and 14 minutes per charge—the longest battery life in any 13-inch device. The Dell XPS 13 epitomises the ethos of the modern day corporate warrior—chic and smart. To make even more of a fashion statement, you now get a free TUMI laptop sleeve worth Rs. 9000 with your XPS notebook purchase (offer valid till 31st October). For more information about the Dell XPS 13, see here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Dell and not by the Scroll editorial team.

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