By: Rajiv Tewari
Ashwani lived in a small house in New Delhi and helped his father in selling Lottery Tickets as a teenager. At the age of 21, he opened his first shop – a mere 200 square feet – with another working partner and three staff members by the name of K & Co! While others saw him selling one Re Lottery Coupons, Ashwani saw his business as a business with a chance of realizing dreams in just Re 1. It was during this phase of his life that he met Nek Chand, the famous Creator of the Rock Garden in Chandigarh who inspired him to grow trees.
Ashwani took a pledge to grow 100,000 trees in a decade!!
He began to grow trees wherever he could find an opportunity but he realized that unless he had more land the dream of growing so many trees may not be fulfilled. It was then his good karma began to change his fate while Ashwani had no realization of it then.
Around this time, Ashwani thought of using the back side of the Lottery tickets for advertising. His team members perceived it as a good opportunity to maximize revenues & they got lucky as one of the largest Advertising Agencies in India approached them with a huge budget for advertising a Cigarette brand on the back side of the twenty million Lottery tickets K & Co were selling every week. This would have dramatically changed the profitability of the Lottery Business and generated the much needed surplus money.
But there was a problem. The problem was that Ashwani was against smoking which not only causes diseases but also pollutes the environment & the littering of the cigarette butts. He decided to decline the offer which was opposed tooth & nail by his team as this meant losing a great opportunity. Ashwani stuck to his principles and decided to use the back side of the Lotteries for social advertising with messages on national integration, population control, oral rehydration and so on.
To every one’s surprise these messages gave a huge boost to the trust factor of his Sikkim Lotteries and the sales jumped from 20 million per week to 50 million per day within 3 years. Wealth simply followed a good karma as this social advertising was never intended to be a business strategy and surprised everyone including Ashwani himself. This changed the status of Ashwani from an honest tax payer to India’s highest tax payer at age 28 in 1989 – a distinction he and K & CO. carried for many years!
With more resources Ashwani began to plant more trees in parks, the local police station, Delhi’s Tihar jail, schools & city compounds. By 1997 he realised that he still had to go a long way tomeet his target of growing 100,000 trees in a decade. To meet his target Ashwani began to buyrural & suburban land for simply growing more trees.
Around this time Ashwani added a new project in his karmic plans and that was to recycle waste. In Delhi, he started a one of its kind (in Northern India) city Solid Waste Recycling Unit, called Nature and Waste Management India Private Ltd. which had to be leased out to another company later. Besides reducing sanitation & health problems in Delhi, the unit effectively converted one-tenth of its daily garbage into a bio-organic soil enricher marketed as CELRICH. The plant yielded 80 – 100 tonnes of CELRICH per day or approximately 24,000 tonnes of CELRICH a year.
The cost of running, maintaining and sustaining the plant was partly met by the revenue collected from the sale of CELRICH, which proved to be an immensely popular soil enricher. The venture turned out to burn a big hole in his pockets, but as he says, “gave joy to his soul “.
In 2000 Ashwani closed down the Lottery business to pursue a different life with total dedication to environment. The land parcels he was buying to grow trees by now had become approx. 300 Acres in the Delhi NCR and the Government of Haryana had begun to develop the entire area around his land into an ambitious industrial township. Ashwani’s land would have been acquired by the Government as his land was abutting & undeveloped to their understanding.
To save his trees and his dream of converting that land into an oasis of environmental friendliness, Ashwani rushed to get an approval for a Golf Resort on this land. Assured of the safety of his trees, Ashwani began to plant more trees. By now he has planted 200,000 trees and created an Oasis known as Karma Lakelands in a fast developing township where his property has become a tourist attraction for the Global Business Leaders who visit their plants in his abutting industrial township that has iconic brands like Maruti Suzuki, Honda, Google and many more.
Karma Lakelands practices responsible living and perhaps is the only place where you can play bare feet Golf or not face the enforcement of golf puritanical traditions of tucked in collared shirts. It converts it’s truckload a day of golf & garden waste to bio compost, has water harvesting systems in place, generates substantial solar energy and treats over 200, 000 Litres of Sewage water a day for irrigation. The Guards respond to sight and not sound as it’s a no honking campus. Interestingly the value of the land has multiplied many times and if evaluated on commercial value very few business enterprises would be able to match its appreciation in the same time period. However, for Ashwani it’s just the beginning of a new inning.
Ashwani is working with several global organizations to share his experience and spread the message of good karma around the world. He is actively contributing to the Conscious Planet mission of Sadhguru in India, has activated several on ground projects involving students & responsible citizens and has begun to align with Conscious Leaders around the world. He will be sharing tips for those who wish to follow the path of good karma for creating emotional, materialistic, emotional, physical and spiritual wealth to live a happy life.