Communication…lesson from the avian world ! by Sandeep Silas

Clear #communication and shared #vision is the key to #success!

#Management lesson from the avian world!

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Book Cafe, run by prisoners, at Shimla, India- a reform step; article by Sandeep Silas

In a country of 1.311 billion, 1401 prisons with 4,19,623 prisoners, divided into convicts and under-trials, only one officer has had the courage and sensitivity to recognize that prisoners too are fellow human beings.

True, some Court has sat in Judgment upon them for committing some crime or the other, but do we ever come to know of their real life stories, the actual circumstance, which compelled their impulse to do an act, which was adjudged as crime under a code of law. True, crime needs punishment and the latter is necessary to maintain a discipline in a civil society, but reform is also a possibility.

This opportunity has been realized by a distinguished Police officer posted in Shimla, (Himachal Pradesh) as Director-General (Prisons), Mr. Somesh Goyal, who incidentally is also a dear friend and a batchmate.

One officer Pankaj Raj conceived the idea of a Book Café, and Somesh Goyal executed it to be located at Takka Bench, just above the famous Ridge of Shimla, which is being run by prisoners, all serving a life sentence. Here, they serve pizzas, burgers, biscuits, tea, coffee and the usual stuff inside a Café, which has wall cabinets all around stuffed with books.

Shimla Ridge

Book Cafe, Takka Bench

Montaigne says, “Ordinate conduct, moderation, constancy apart, I believe that anything at all can be done, even by a man who, taken overall, is lacking and deficient. That is why the wise men say that to judge a man properly we must principally look at his routine activities and surprise him in his everyday dress”.[1]

The atmosphere created is of a library café, where one can sit head down immersed deep in the world being unveiled by the book and occasionally look up through the windows far into valleys and beyond, into the realms of the mind…

The Book Café was inaugurated this April 11th by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, who also must be given credit for approving such a pioneering venture as a first in any State of India. The Café seats 40, and has free Wi-Fi. I liked the indoor décor of deodar wood, which gives a warm feeling in a hill city. A lot of books, available to a reader, narrate the history of the evolution of Shimla, which became the capital of the British Raj, with evocative photo prints. Apart from that you have historical philosophies, detective thrillers and travel & tourism books.

I saw many young couples and the recently married ones come to the café and for want of space inside sit in conversation upon the seating area around the majestic tree outside. Having completed my walk of 7.5 km for the day, I thought I could afford a pizza and had one. The courtesy with which I was served is worth mentioning.

Look into the faces and eyes of Yograj and Jai Chand and you will wonder why life made them captives of a criminal impulse and why their life is not like other men. Just for a second of indiscretion they got punished with a life sentence, live in jail as condemned persons, devoid of fresh air, freedom to go anywhere or to eat their heart’s desire. I don’t know the facilities inside the jails in Himachal, but from what I have seen they will be definitely sub-human. I do not have those X-ray eyes, which spiritual Masters possess, blessed with the ability to look deep into your soul, but, definitely I have a feeling heart and a thinking mind. So I don’t know for sure what thoughts a prisoner of fate like Yograj has as he serves the public here, but I saw he was thoughtful.

“I disclaim those incidental reformations based on pain. ‘God must touch our hearts’. I Samuel 10:26. Our conscience must emend itself by itself, by the strengthening of our reason not by the enfeebling of our appetites. [2]

I think that if other States of India could adopt this reformatory idea as ‘sharing of best practices’ a window of reform shall open quietly, inside hearts and our society.
Prison Statistics, India

Country India


Ministry responsible Ministry of Home Affairs
Prison administration Governments of States and Union Territories
Prison population total (including pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners) 419 623

at 31.12.2015 (National Crime Records Bureau)

Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population) 33

based on an estimated national population of 1,289.7 million at end of 2015 (from United Nations figures)

Pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners (percentage of prison population) 67.2%


Further Information

Female prisoners (percentage of prison population) 4.3%


Further Information

Juveniles / minors / young prisoners incl. definition (percentage of prison population) 0.0%

(31.12.2015 – under 18)

Foreign prisoners (percentage of prison population) 1.5%


Number of establishments / institutions 1 401

(31.12.2015 – comprising 134 central jails, 379 district jails, 741 sub jails, 18 women’s jails, 63 open jails, 20 Borstal schools, 43 special jails, 3 other jails)

Official capacity of prison system 366 781


Occupancy level (based on official capacity) 114.4%


Courtesy: World Prison Brief;

[1] Michel De Montaigne; The Complete Essays; On virtue; page 799; Penguin.

[2] Michel De Montaigne; The Complete Essays; On repenting; page 920; Penguin.

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Today is #International #Day of #Peace…make a #Garland of #Peace!

On September 21, 2009 my original and innovative idea “GARLAND OF PEACE-  Declare War Ruins As Peace Heritage Sites“, was launched and dedicated to the world by Hon’ble Minister of Labour & Employment, India, Shri Oscar Fernandes.

A video of the Launch Ceremony follows:

News and Views:

I recall my Professor Mr. Steve Lux, Director, Executive Education Program at Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University, New York, USA telling me, “Sandeep, this is an idea worth living a lifetime!”

Professor Catherine M. Gerard who serves as Associate Director of Executive Education Programs and Director of the Program For the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, my favorite Professor, encouraged me on this path and supports the idea with full enthusiasm. She says,”The Vietnam generation is out, the second world war generation is almost out. The time for this idea has now come.”

I would also like to acknowledge ‎Louis Kriesberg, ‎Maxwell Professor Emeritus of Social Conflict Studies Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Associate Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration who started me on the work of building peace bridges between nations and communities.

Professor Dr. Michael Tomlan, Graduate Chair of Historic Preservation, Cornell University had invited me to deliver a talk on Garland of Peace at Cornell.

Dr. Kapila Vatsayayana, a renowned international expert on culture and Member UNESCO Committee on Heritage, told me in a conversation after watching the presentation: “You are attempting to change the memory of war, the human cognition. I am with you. Run to the Prime Minister and request him to take it to the UN. The moral prestige of India will reach the heights of Swami Vivekananda days.”

Ms. Bhaswati Mukherjee, former Permanent Representative of India to the UNESCO writes: “The proposal is interesting and innovative and closely linked to conflict resolution, peace education and peace building. These issues would need to be discussed among interested delegations in the UN General Assembly in New York.”

I remember in Syracuse I was fondly called the Garland of Peace Man!

My website stands for global peace and requests all citizens of the world who crave for world peace to participate and transform it into an international peace movement.

I invite all lovers of peace to kindly participate in this peace movement, visit the site and write comments on the Peace Wall.

Please nominate such sites from your countries on the Nomination page as you think are deserving to enlarge the garland of peace!

Together we can make a difference!

How long do we wait for peace…?

Please visit

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#Memories from the #September of 2003! #First-ever #Commemorative and #Currency #Coin on ‘#Railways in India, made by Sandeep Silas!

#Memories from the #September of 2003! #Finance #Minister, #India, Shri Jaswant Singh and #Minister of #Railways, India, Shri Nitish Kumar had released the #First-ever #Commemorative and #Currency #Coin on ‘#Railways in India’ in its entire 163 years history so far!

Idea, design and making by Sandeep Silas!

September 1st, 2003!

Some pictures to bring those moments alive!

recounting-railways-glorious-pastSandeep Silas speaking at the Commemorative & Currency Coin Release Ceremony!sandeep-silas-speaking-at-the-coin-release-ceremony

honble-minister-of-railways-shri-nitish-kumar-speaking-at-the-coin-release-eventHon’ble Minister of Railways Shri Nitish Kumar delivering his Address! Proud to have served under you Sir! Truly, you are a visionary, great, fair & impartial administrator with a sound grip on the system! A statesmanlike person who respects his talented officers and works as an exemplary team leader! You taught me many important lessons of life, Sir!

honble-finance-minister-india-speaking-at-the-ceremonyHon’ble Finance Minister of India, Shri Jaswant Singh addressing the audience!

releasing-the-commemorative-and-currency-coin-on-railways-in-india-1-sep-2003The Release of the Commemorative & Currency Coin!

First-ever on ‘Railways in India’ in its entire history so far!


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Civil servant, travel writer and poet Sandeep Silas strings a garland of peace, write-up in THE HINDU Oct 21, 2009

Civil servant, travel writer and poet Sandeep Silas strings a garland of peace

The Hindu covered the Launch ceremony of “Garland Of Peace” idea and initiative on October 21, 200922dmc_sandeep02_jpg_j_8895g 22dmc_sandeep03_jpg_j_8896g


The recently concluded photo exhibition by Sandeep Silas at the India Habitat Centre propagates war ravaged sites of the world to be united in a “Garland of Peace.”

Each country of the world has hidden its war wounds for reasons of disgust, shame and hurt national pride.

He feels that so classified war ruins and sites can create a powerful movement for peace amongst all nations.

Images of Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor on the same platform along with sites like Lion Hill, Waterloo, Belgium; Menin Gate in the town of Ypres, Belgium; the Auschwitz concentration camps; Anzac Cove, Turkey; Fort Siloso in Singapore; Bridge on the River Kwai, Thailand; St. Paul’s Church, Ambala, India; the Berlin Wall, Germany, and the Bamiyan Buddhas, Afghanistan, were on display as reminders of past wars. Quotes and thoughts of Gandhi and Nehru on peace and war were thought provoking.

Let there be peace

Silas belongs to the rare group of crusaders whose formidable asset is the cerebral world of ideas. Such is his ability that the ideas grow faster than grass and thought in layers, as enumerated in the Yaksh Prashna put to Yudhishthir in the Mahabharat.

The idea is to declare war-ravaged world sites and buildings as peace heritage sites.

The concept “Garland of Peace” is to string these ruins and sites into a garland of peace building, peace education, peace tourism and peace activism having a lasting influence on present and future generations — the leaders of tomorrow.

To delve further, Silas suggests formation of a peace heritage committee by the United Nations with the objectives of identifying the ruins, preserving them, and putting into place a mechanism to develop these sites as the property of the world community, as the indifference and neglect of the nations gives rise to feelings of revenge and hate towards the aggressor.

The esoteric idea may emerge in a form that seems formidable, but already the impossible has been made possible. The Wailing Wall at Jerusalem is worshiped by the Jews and the Muslims. Similarly in India, Kurukshetra, the battleground of the epic Mahabharata, is a place of pilgrimage to understand the futility of war and learn the essence of the Gita.

Silas, while following the doctrine of the Gita, i.e., do your duty without expecting the reward, has tasted the fruits of his ideas.

As a civil servant, travel writer, poet, he has successfully implemented the concept of a mobile science exhibition on rails in 2003.

“Discover India by Rail” (Sterling publication), “Morrows Face” and “Borrows in the Mist” are significant contributions to the world of poetry. Recently the Sri Lankan government has accepted his suggestion of a Sita-Ram heritage tourism trail in Sri Lanka for the promotion of tourism.

Life is beautiful

Now busy with his novel concept, “Garland of Peace”, he feels that life is beautiful and unique, and let there be no “apocalyptic third war”. Torture, atrocities and humiliation are natural consequences of war, and by wearing the “Garland of Peace” he resolves to prevent war.

With his thought-provoking concept, he has already been well received by stalwarts such as Karan Singh, Kapila Vatsayan, Martand Singh (INTACH) and his alma-mater, the Maxwell School, New York.

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Bholu The Guard, Mascot of Indian Railways- idea, design & contribution of Sandeep Silas

Bholu The Guard, Mascot of Indian Railways, brain-child of Sandeep Silas!

Mascot of Indian Railways' Bholu the Guard, brain child of Sandeep Silas

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Date: August 20, 2016


It is the August of 2016 today!

On Sunday 9th August 2009, the Times of India had carried a full page Special Report titled:




  • 1,300 AND GOING DOWN
  • 7 Reserves on alert
  • 0 tigers in Panna
  • 35 tigers disappeared from Sariska

Not much has happened since then to save the tiger except setting up of an expert group, which deliberated and recommended, but tigers keep on disappearing.

What we need is a practical approach to the issue, a workable proposition and an institutional framework that works!

Project Tiger was started by late Smt. Indira Gandhi, then Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, as her vision to save the tiger and also to promote Wildlife Tourism.

Tigers totally disappeared again in Panna after Sariska, which was a most alarming fact. Last time the news filtered in about Sariska, the then Hon’ble Prime Minister had publicly expressed concern over the vanishing tigers from National Parks. The Government reacted by constituting a Task Force. The Task Force came up with certain recommendations but, tigers still keep vanishing.

 The exact number of tigers as per the last tiger census was 3,500 but this is done by the ‘pug mark method’ and the real number probably would be anybody’s guess. The letter of the then Chief Minister of Rajasthan to the then Hon’ble Prime Minister in case of Sariska was indicative of the lack of will at the State level to save the magnificent Indian tiger from the menace of poachers and manage the National Parks to promote Wildlife Tourism. Similar is the case in other States.

The State Government’s reply, as the Press had then reported, was routine and non-committal. The situation in other National Parks of the country is also disturbing. Often the tourists, especially foreign visitors, go back disappointed after having heard so much of the famous Indian Tiger, spent so much money in planning logistic arrangements, hotel arrangements and fee to visit the park. Most of the times, the forest guards who accompany the group in an open jeep inside the park show visitors only the pugmarks of the tiger. Such disappointments are having their toll on visitors and thereby resulting in loss of tourism earnings and that expenditure which is done locally by the tourists and goes to small hotels/ restaurants/operators/shops/guides etc.


Forests are on the Concurrent List (Item 17. Prevention to Cruelty to Animals. 17A. Forests & 17B. Protection of Wild Animals and Birds), which makes it easier to handle the problem.


To create a body titled, NATIONAL PARKS MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY at the national level with the under-mentioned terms of reference and responsibility areas it will help not only the Indian tiger but also promote India as a Wildlife Tourism destination.

To create a brand- WILDLIFE INDIA

A detailed Bill to be prepared and later an Act passed by the Parliament to create this unique body. It shall be a feather in the cap of the Government for nowhere in the world has anybody thought of such an idea to integrate the National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Biosphere Reserves in a dual bid to preserve wildlife, flora and fauna and also to promote wildlife tourism.

We must intervene now before it is too late. Task Forces’ will not be able to give a solution as they think in a straight line and nobody indulges in ‘out of the box’ thinking. One has to think at the national level and propose a workable practical solution. It is time for a systemic change and laying down a workable process.

We apply dressing to a wound when it is raw. What I am proposing is like invasive surgery, but at the moment it is in the best interest of the country.

My idea and concept can be made subject of a national debate if required and if it stands its test, it may then be accepted and implemented by the Government of India.


  • The NPMA shall be provided budget allocation from the Central Budget.
  • All National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Biosphere Reserves in different States of India be brought under umbrella of the Authority for management and policing.
  • Raise a special police force under the name of ‘Wildlife Protection Force’, which will police all the National Parks on the pattern on CISF, and be responsible for safeguarding the flora and fauna.
  • The officers and staff of the NPMA shall be trained in environment conservation and recognition of flora and fauna apart from policing training.
  • the Wildlife Protection Force shall have powers to prosecute for offences committed within their jurisdiction.
  • A Wildlife Protection Force Act will require to be drafted to provide the legal framework for this special force.
  • The earnings from the National Parks shall be utilized for the upkeep of the parks.
  • The Force will also regulate the entry and exit of visitors to the parks and be responsible for patrolling inside the parks.
  • Proper coordination at the Central Authority level for publicity purposes, booking arrangements and publishing of relevant brochures, books, other literature etc. would help in branding and marketing of ‘Wildlife India’.
  • The Authority shall become a central body for co-ordination with all relevant Central Ministries and State Governments.


The advantages from setting up of such an Authority will be tremendous in the following respects: –

  • The management and protection of wildlife, which is at present as per the present level of commitment of a State Government will be standardized and be uniform.
  • Wildlife shall actually be saved.
  • Job opportunities shall be created.
  • A discipline will be enforced throughout the country in the National Parks.
  • A uniform ticketing system will be in the interest of visitors and the Authority. This will save visitors from being cheated by touts and harassed by locals who do not following any standard pricing system for organizing jeep / elephant rides inside the parks.
  • Information to visitors on the available flora and fauna inside the particular park shall be available in a systematic manner apart from books and other literature.
  • Branding of tourism product ‘WILDLIFE INDIA’ shall become possible.
  • Consumer satisfaction index shall go up.
  • Concern for protection of wildlife shall be felt at the national level and by people individually.
  • The communication within the park and in between the parks will become possible for the benefit of Management Authority and visitors both.
  • Information on other parks and its peculiar flora and fauna shall also be available to visitors in each park thereby prompting their visit to other parks.
  • Vested interest of one set of officials and their linkages with poachers will not be able to develop, as it now exists, as the officers/officials will move to another park on transfer.
  • Government will be seen to be keen to protect wildlife and the magnificent tiger.
  • Railway and Airline tickets, plus reservation in Park Hotels all over the country, when available inside each Park will have a direct bearing on increase of time period a tourist stays in India thereby increasing tourism receipts.


  • Cabinet Note for approval to be prepared by Ministry of Environment & Forests


  • Bill for enactment of the National Parks Management Authority to be drafted by MOEF.

© Sandeep Silas


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