The passion to chase a dream and the power to perfect it is what geniuses are made of. Two young hearts, of sensitive souls, one blessed with a melodious voice and the other with deep intelligence, seem ready to conquer the world in their chosen spaces. Kamal Joshi is a student of music, raring to perfect the fine art of singing. A teacher at the Sector 14 Government College, Kamal came up tops at the 37th All India final of ‘Sur Tarang’, a national singing competition organised by Sangam Kala Group. Initiated at a very tender age, Kamal has spent ten years learning vocal music and is now in hot pursuit of a musical career. So intense is Kamal on music that he gave up the ‘rough ride’ of engineering studies and opted for a B.A. degree from D.U., which gave him ample time to surrender his soul to Hindustani Classical Music. The other soul, Manoj Hans, 26, is the proverbial nerd and has the honour of being the world’s first person to write a book, Appium Essentials, on the Appium tool; Appium is a framework for the automation of various tests for apps. Appium, the tool, had lacked documentation that could be handily and effectively used to test native, mobile web and hybrid applications. Manish Hans’ success has been in delivering essentially that. But more about Manoj later.
Talking about Kamal Joshi, music is literally in his genes. His mellifluous voice and his melodious rendition is a gift from his mother, who is a good singer. Luckily for him, being the youngest in the family, his parents were more than willing to help him pursue his dream. However, he has not given up on ‘studies’. With a graduate degree under his belt, Kamal now plans to post graduate in Philosophy (M. Phil.). Currently he teaches music at Swar Sadhna Mandir, the institution that helped him flourish under the watchful eyes of his Guru, Anju Munjal. “This is a great platform for singers like me. Swar Sadhna Mandir has already gifted a number of singers to Bollywood, which is today considered as probably the biggest stage for any musician. Noted playback singers Sonu Nigam and Sunidhi Chauhan are products of this platform,” says Kamal. “Getting acknowledged at programmes such as Sur Tarang is certainly a great opportunity,” adds Kamal. He has also won a few other competitions, such as ‘Awaaz Hindustan’ in 2007, “Faridabad Idol’, also in 2007. He won First position in 2009 at the annual district Classical Vocal competition organised by the Rashtriya Sangeet Sankalp, and in 2012 he won a similar competition organised by the Sports Welfare Association. He also bagged First prize at the Yuva Maha Utsav last year. Kamal’s forte is Classical music and he is on the way to forming his own band (Anhad), which intends to pursue various forms of fusion music. Kamal is equally adept at singing devotional songs. A man of just twenty four summers, Kamal, like many other serious artists, believes in working hard and with utmost sincerity. “Luck can support your growth only for some time. Unless you have talent, and back it up with hard work, you are not likely to reach the pinnacle or be remembered as a great in any sphere of life,” says Kamal with a strong sense of conviction. That said, Kamal is an energetic and happy-go-lucky young man. Teaching may be his life-long romance and music his passion, but he is ‘man’ enough to acknowledge his great love for good food. He is also extremely fond of cooking and does so when at leisure. Being a good musician, he is decidedly a natural at the art of playing the harmonium, which he considers his favourite activity. He likes to read books as well. Even as he strives to become a musician of repute, Kamal is somewhat skeptical about the new phenomenon of reality shows for ‘wannabe’ vocalists and composers. “While hard work is what can help people achieve their ambitions, many are often misguided by the lucre of fast bucks, which often kills their talent in the long run,” he says. Some reality shows, according to him, are also spawning corruption – wherein often the less talented ‘artists’ are hoisted to stardom. He is particularly severe on the voting mechanism that is employed to ‘unearth’ talent. “It is known that often candidates and their families spend money to buy votes. The result is that some less deserving candidates have come out as winners,” he says. “Perhaps providence has the last laugh, as these candidates do not progress much beyond the reality shows and often find themselves lost in the maze of talent and cut throat competition at the highest level. The sad part, of course, is that some of the more deserving candidates lose out in the bargain; only the more resilient among them eventually find success,” Kamal opines. Thankfully, Kamal’s success at Sur Tarang did get him a direct entry into Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, the biggest reality show for budding musicians. This has convinced him that good and honest platforms are the best places to hone one’s skills. The young musician has many favourites, but he lists a few as the most revered. “I admire Hariharan, Sonu Nigam and the ageless Asha Bhosle. For Classical I adore Kaushik Chakroborty, and finally I would love to lend my voice to the Bollywood King, Shah Rukh Khan,” he says ‘seriously’. He also prides himself for having performed in front of public icons like Hema Malini, former India cricketer Navjot Singh Siddhu and many others.
Kamal talks knowledgably about the royalty system prevailing in India, which often is a hindrance to the financial security and success of musicians. He wants to voice his dissent and hopes that the system would soon be reformed, so that aspirants would be encouraged to take up music as a profession more intently.
Manoj is intensely aware of the global environment. His book on Appian Essentials documents the growing power of mobile automation. According to him, the tool that he has developed will help develop automated mobile testing for both Android and iOS systems. “My book is for automation testers and developers who want to enhance their skills beyond web based automation, into mobile application automation, using Appium. Manoj Hans is a senior QA engineer and has rich experience in software testing. He has also worked in other areas of IT, such as web hosting, development and software configuration. He never dreamt about writing a book. But his knowledge, and tenacity and dedication towards his work, gave him an opportunity to dig deep within himself and emerge on a world platform. After completing his engineering studies, he started working at a multinational company in Cyber City. It is here that he started developing his skills. His 6 years at work was extremely rewarding. In fact he was once adjudged the ‘Best Employee of the Year’. What is striking in Manoj is his calm and composed disposition. At the same time he is reticent, and seems to need time to open up. He loves outdoor games, with cricket being his favourite. But nothing comes before Mathematics, his all-time favourite subject. “I am planning to write another book, and for that I need family support. My mom is very supportive. When I was writing my first book, she would always be around, making endless cups of tea to help me with the necessary stimulation that I needed to pen down my thoughts,” he says. “I want to explore myself and make a name for myself in the field of my interest. I am also searching other tools that don’t have documentation and require them, especially for technical people.” he adds. Manoj has certainly made his family proud. It was his father’s dream that Manoj should become an engineer and to do something extraordinary. He basked in his son’s reflection, till his life was rudely cut short. Manoj’s mother says, “I am very happy for him and I wish him all the success in his life. He is hardworking and gives his full dedication to whatever he is keen on.” Elder brother Jitendar is like a pillar of strength. ”He has looked after the entire family after our father’s death,” Manoj gushes about his brother. “I am extremely proud of him. Without his unflinching support I could not have achieved what I have,” adds young Manoj. Although a reticent kid, Manoj is quite active socially. He writes blogs and teaches during the weekends. He is also planning to go abroad. ”I hope to visit several countries and will hopefully learn many new things,” he says. But he does not harbour any desire to live abroad. “I will come back to India and start my own firm. I believe Indians have immense talent – they only lack confidence. That probably hinders Indians from being the best in the world,” he says. Manoj’s first work has given him international acclaim; in fact publishers now want him to write another book. Manoj is convinced that mobile phones will ‘outrun’ all other digital devices in the years to come. A revolution of sorts is already building, as mobile phones progress beyond mere instruments of communication. “People are already more into phones than laptops,” he says. However, he has a word of caution. “There are several negatives as well. There are health issues related to the overuse of mobile. So, awareness is critical,” he says. On his proposed book he says, “This book is specifically for technical people; technology is our future, so we need to learn, understand and grab the opportunity. Even technologically we can go ahead of other countries, because we Indians are not only intelligent but also thirsty for success,” says Manoj. Manoj prefers to work in small firms, where he can explore himself and develop newer tools, which he strongly believes can be achieved in work environments that are not bureaucratic. “In most large companies, decisions take time, as proposals travel up and down the line before they can become a reality. We must remember that finally our work is bigger than any 'name'.” He finds the changing face of India very exciting, and also compliments the present government’s intent. “The Modi government is very tech savvy. It seems to genuinely value technology and is giving it the due importance. Our Haryana Government is also following in the Centre's footsteps. It is also focused and is gradually converting all its processes and aligning itself with the digital revolution that is beginning to sweep the country.
Deep down in Kamal lurks an activist, who wants the society to reform and give Indian women due respect. His sensitivity towards the protection of women and their rights, compelled him to join a rally at Jantar Mantar. He believes that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code must be given more teeth, to create a better environment for women in Indian society. His social activism also displays a modern mind. He waxes eloquent on issues such as homosexuality and believes that sexual choice (for both men and women) must be respected – though he admits that the conservatism in the country will continue to be a hindrance to such human behaviour.