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ThinkBag - Online Stories and Magazines for Children

ThinkBag offers online stories and magazines for children, all with an Indian touch. Visit www.think-bag.com to avail an early bird offer - FREE access to children's e-books and e-magazines.

What happens when three super-enthusiastic mommies get tired of their same old boring routines? C’mon, think! Actually, ThinkBag!

Jokes apart, that is exactly how ThinkBag (www.think-bag.com) started in the summer of 2012. To quote the founders Mathangi, Priya & Srilakshmi, “For 10 long years, we had the same routine:  compete with the sunrise, cook, get the kids ready for school, off to work, back from work, and be with kids, eat, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” So one fine day, they called it quits. Not the same clichéd reason: “spend time with kids”. They sure were going to do that but with a twist.

Each one was thinking, “How can I make my child emotionally intelligent, knowledgeable and a divergent thinker? “  They read a lot, learnt and unlearnt a lot, thought and contemplated. Then all of a sudden, the light bulb went on!! “Why not craft stories for our children that emphasize cognitive, social and emotional development with ability to be independent and appreciate interdependence?”

So the Bangalore, India based trio made up stories for their kids and the little ones absolutely loved them. Naturally, they thought to themselves, “Why not reach out to other kids too?” Thus was born the idea and concept of ThinkBag – brand new stories and magazines for children, all available online.

“Stories have power.They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Consequently, stories often pack more punch than sermons. Want to make a point or raise an issue? Tell a story…..” — Author Janet Litherland.


is ThinkBag’s story series that allows the child to think What, How and Engage-Enjoy.


Here, the stories are set against an Indian backdrop and narrated with the help of protagonists, plots, poems or simple narratives.  The stories emphasize emotional intelligence, knowledge, ethics, values, respect, independence, inter- dependence, positive thinking, problem solving, environmental awareness and much more. There is also a “Thinking Time” page that stimulates both the child and the parent to think beyond the ordinary. Some stories are in Indian Languages, and in some stories the child can decide how the story ends. What a creative concept!























is a fortnightly magazine series that allows the child to learn Why, How and What.


In this format, children will dive deep into one theme with the help of Jojo, the magazine narrator. They will learn many different aspects of simple topics like Water, Paper, House, Wind etc.  How can paper be made at home? What is a food pyramid? Which are the vehicles without wheels? Each magazine ends with a Quiz.
















Bonus Feature - Children can earn reward “Clouds” and redeem these “Clouds” to decorate their own virtual room. Teach them arithmetic, saving and spending in this process! For more information on "Clouds", click here or go to the “Site Map” section in the page footer at www.think-bag.com.

Sounds interesting? Seems like fun? We at Indya Unlimited certainly thought so! 


To visit ThinkBag, click here (www.think-bag.com).

To visit their Facebook page, click here (www.facebook.com/ThinkBag4Kids)

To visit their Blog, click here (thinkbag4kids.blogspot.in)

ThinkBag - Online Stories and Magazines for Children

Learn Colors With Tamarind Tots

Tamarind Tots - To visit their IU showroom, click here. To go their website directly, click here.

“The biggest challenge for kids growing up outside India is to be able to experience and enjoy the sights, sounds, and colors of India in the same kind of way as we did growing up.”

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Aarti Khanna and Shameeli Sinha have very articulately echoed the sentiments of the millions of NRIs across the world. The two young mothers are the creative force behind Tamarind Tots, maker of interactive iPhone, iPad, and Android apps and web-based games about Indian culture and languages.

In a way, Aarti and Shameeli’s story is the story of the quintessential Global Indian. Both of them grew up in India, and the pursuit of better opportunities brought them to the U.S. and Hong Kong respectively. Then came the kids who completely changed their outlook towards their rich Indian heritage. They became more conscious about preserving the Indian culture, and deliberate about passing it onto the new generation. And so Tamarind Tots was born!

When I first talked to them and heard their story, it was a total déjà-vu. After all, Indya Unlimited came about from the same thought process. Beyond that, I was very much impressed with Aarti and Shameeli’s passion for their work and the innovative ideas and products they are bringing to the Global Indian diaspora. So I decided to dig deeper and get to know more about them and Tamarind Tots.

Ladies, tell us a little bit more about yourselves and the inspiration behind Tamarind Tots?

We are both graduates of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, and have been friends for a long time now.

Aarti worked with McKinsey & Company in India, Boston and ChicagoShe also worked as Director of Strategy for Oce` NV, a technology company. Aarti’s husband is a second generation Indian in the U.S., and a Surgeon by profession. She has two little boys, 5.5 years and 10 months old.

Shameeli has worked as a consultant with IBM in India and Hong Kong. Her husband is an Investment Banker and they have two young girls, 9 yrs and 6 yrs old.

We are really keen that our kids appreciate and are proud of their rich Indian heritage, while being raised as Global citizens in a multicultural, dynamic, and exciting international environment.

When we had our kids, both of us searched various stores both in the U.S. and in India, but struggled to find a high quality, contemporary and comprehensive resource, and the ones we did find were somehow not engaging enough for our little ones. They would happily watch the Baby Einstein line of books and DVD’s and learn so much from them, but would quickly lose interest in the Indian books and DVDs. This is what sowed the seeds for Tamarind Tots!


This is a very innovative concept for the Indian market. Can you shed some light on your products? How do they compare to other materials out there like books, videos etc.,

It all started with a simple desire – to have an engaging and fun resource for parents to teach their kids about Indian culture and languages. In fact, that’s where the name Tamarind Tots comes from. As you know, the Tamarind fruit is khatta (sour) and meetha (sweet) at the same time. So, it represents fun and mischief, just like our products.

Our concept is unique because it goes to the heart of how the young generation is learning. We are using the latest technology of mobile apps, handheld devices such as smart phones and tablets, and web based gaming. Any parent today will attest to the fact that kids are very comfortable with and learning so much from  iPhones and iPads. It’s quite simple actually - these devices give kids a platform where they can interact and “be a part of” the experience. So, be it learning or entertainment, these touch driven, multimedia rich “toys” are very effective.

Tamarind Tot’s apps are unique in another way too. While our characters and settings are very Indian at heart, they are also contemporary and modern so that Indian kids, living anywhere in the world can relate to them. Furthermore, our apps are multi-concept, which means that each app covers some language elements, some culture elements and in the future you'll see other key aspects of India visible in them. In short, we are trying to offer a complete and enriching learning experience.

What specific apps/products are available today for the Global Indian kids?

There are 3 apps available for download today. Click each link to download the apps - Learn Colors, Diwali and Holi.

Note: Use the search term “Tamarind Tots” to see all the apps available from this team!

Broadly, we are focusing on two important areas - Indian culture and Indian languages. With respect to culture, we want our little users to develop an overall mental image of India. The idea is to learn about their proud Indian heritage with topics such as monuments, dance forms, famous personalities, and experience the sights, sounds, and colors of India “virtually”.

The other important element is language. Right now we are focusing on early learning and building a robust vocabulary of everyday words. For example, the Learn Colors with Tamarind Tots app teaches kids 10 colors and 15+ everyday words in three Indian languages – Hindi, Gujarati and Telugu, plus the same in English. It also introduces them to some famous Indian monuments, all while playing with our contemporary Indian characters and listening to beautiful Indian instrumental music.

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With each app, we will touch on several of these elements so that kids learn about our amazing country in a fun way, and in fact, without probably even realizing that they are learning each time they play!  We like to think of it as "sneaking in" the learning through fun activities.

How can parents stay tuned to the latest news and exciting offerings from Tamarind Tots?

We would like to start a conversation and exchange of ideas among all Indian parents raising little Global citizens around the world who are proud of their Indian heritage. We’d love to hear about their experiences and challenges about raising kids outside India. How are they teaching them their native tongue? How do they celebrate the festivals?

Parents can stay connected with us by liking our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/tamarindtots. They can also email us at info@tamarindtots.com and we’d love to share their stories with the Tamarind Tots community.

We have many product launches planned for the forthcoming months! So stay tuned!

Aarti and Shameeli, what is your parting message to the contemporary Global Indian parents and youngsters?

We feel that there is a strong common thread that ties all of us Indian parents around the world. And that thread is the fact that we want our kids to feel connected with their Indian roots. And, we are hungry for resources, tools, and ideas that will allow us to do just that! With Tamarind Tots, we hope to make such a resource and platform available to all Indian parents and their kids. The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is very apt when it comes to this task. Each of the parents we talk to has amazing ideas on how best to pass along our culture and traditions to our kids, and it would be wonderful to share these ideas with each other. We need the help of the parent community to make this Global exchange happen, and to help us make our products work for you! Please like us on Facebook, and share your stories, ideas, and feedback with us.  We look forward to hearing from all of you!

Learn Colors With Tamarind Tots

TaxMunshi For Indian Income Tax eFiling - Fast, Easy and Reliable!

It's time to file Income Tax Return for 2011-2012! TaxMunshi makes it fast, easy and reliable! Avail this special offer to get even more value for your money!!


SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL OFFER! (valid till Jul 31, 2012)

We have negotiated special discounts for you, just because you are a loyal Indya Unlimited reader. So take advantage of this offer and get a great price and the best possible tax preparation and filing experience with TaxMunshi. Please go to the bottom of this page for further details.

 

Who (or what) is TaxMunshi? And how can they help me?

TaxMunshi provides online (internet-based) Indian Income Tax Returns (ITR) preparation and filing services for individuals and businesses. So if you fall into one of the following categories, or work as a Tax Preparer, and want a fast, easy, reliable and secure way to file Income Tax returns, TaxMunshi is the way to go!

TaxMunshi offers various services for:

-       Salaried Indian Professionals in India

-       Self-Employed Professionals in India

-       Organizations with Employees that file Indian ITR

-       Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) needing to file Indian ITR

In many cases, TaxMunshi offers a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ option, meaning you can self-prepare and eFile your Income Tax returns in a simple, convenient and accurate manner. However, if you prefer to get professional help, TaxMunshi also provides ‘Assisted’ services where their experienced tax consultants can prepare and file your ITR. Additionally, TaxMunshi offers a Tax Planning service where their tax consultants help you plan your finances and select investments such that your taxes are optimized.

One big advantage of TaxMunshi is that they are an authorized eReturn Intermediary of the income Tax Department of India. This means that they can directly transmit Income Tax Returns data to IT department and thus provide complete eFiling. Without this ability, filers have to upload their own ITR data on to IT department’s portal in a separate process. This is just another way TaxMunshi makes filing taxes easy and convenient.

No matter what service you choose, TaxMunshi saves you time, money and a whole lot of hassle and frustration.

Visit TaxMunshi today at http://www.taxmunshi.com

  

What services are currently offered by TaxMunshi?

TaxMunshi offers a wide variety of Indian Income Tax preparation and filing services.

Salaried Professionals can

Self-prepare & eFile ITR-1 and ITR-2 or

Choose to have tax consultants prepare them for you, send it to you for review and then eFile it for you via email or

Prepare your ITR yourself and then have it reviewed by a qualified and experienced tax consultant.

Self-Employed Professionals with under Rs. 40 lac in annual income and with no book of accounts can

Self-prepare and eFile ITR-4 or

Choose to have tax consultants prepare them for you, send it to you for review and then eFile it for you via email or

Prepare your ITR yourself and then have it reviewed by a qualified and experienced tax consultant.

 

Non-Resident Indians can take advantage of a comprehensive portfolio of income tax filing services for NRIs. They can use a self-serve option on TaxMunshi and through assisted services.


Professional ITR Preparation service is available if you meet any of the following criteria.

-       Self employed with over Rs. 40 lac in annual income

-       Firms, AOPs (Association of Persons ) and BOIs (Body of Individuals)

-       Companies other than companies claiming exemption under section 11

-       Trusts

For Organizations with Employees filing ITR, TaxMunshi offers a service to e-Prepare & e-Sign Form 16 and enable employees to e-File ITR.

.

For further details on TaxMunshi’s offerings, visit their website at http://www.taxmunshi.com

Tell me a little bit more about Tax Munshi…….

TaxMunshi is the flagship product of Paisaa Innovative Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Its Headed and Managed by Manish Raj (CEO) & Pallavi Raj, (Chief Customer Officer), who both have MBAs from Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, USA) and together have over 25 years of work experience in Product Management, Marketing and Analytics at Fortune 500 companies.

They are ably supported by a highly qualified and experienced Advisory Team of Chartered Accountants and Advocates to develop up-to-date and practical tax solutions. TaxMunshi’s Tax Consultants who interact with customers on a regular basis are highly skilled and experienced as well.

What is the advantage of TaxMunshi over other such providers?

TaxMunshi provides several benefits that make Income Tax filing convenient, accurate and affordable for you. They take customer experience very seriously and have over 20 hours of chat support per day during the peak season to help online filers. Additionally, they also strive to get an answer back to clients’ questions within 24 hours. Who would have ever imagined that filing taxes could be so easy? Well, that’s exactly what TaxMunshi does for you.

Simple - A very clean and easy-to-use user interface which guides you through the entire tax preparation process.

Fast - You can complete your entire tax preparation in less than 10 minutes for ITR-1 and less than 20 minutes for ITR-2.

Accurate – TaxMunshi has been tested by Chartered Accountants to ensure the correct tax deductions and calculations.

Secure – Ensures secure data transmission and complete confidentiality of your data. Once you've prepared your tax form, the form needs to be either

Outstanding Value – Very affordable pricing, 24x7 access to filing your taxes and support/help when you need it – through online guides or via email.

Peace of Mind – Know that you will receive the maximum possible tax refund, without all the hassle

Are there any new services that TaxMunshi is going to be rolling out soon? What are they?

Yes, TaxMunshi will be introducing a new Do-It-Yourself NRI Income Tax filing service that will allow Non-Resident Indian Tax payers to prepare and file their income tax returns on http://www.taxmunshi.com on a 24x7 basis. This is certainly a very helpful and convenient offering for all NRIs.


SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL OFFER! (valid till Jul 31, 2012)

Use any of TaxMunshi’s Do-IT-Yourself (DIY) or File-By-Email tax preparation and filing services through Indya Unlimited and get –

-       10% discount on DIY services for ITR-1, ITR-2, ITR-4 for Indian Residents and NRI services

-       5% discount on File-By-Email services for ITR-1, ITR-2, ITR-4 for Indian Residents and NRI services

How to get the discounts? Very simple!

Go to http://www.taxmunshi.com and use the coupon code IndyaUnlimited for DIY and IndyaUnlimitedEmail for File-By-Email during checkout.

TaxMunshi For Indian Income Tax eFiling - Fast, Easy and Reliable!

Holi Celebration With Tamarind Tots – A Learning App for Kids

Tamarind Tots - To visit their IU showroom, click here. To go their website directly, click here.

To download the Holi App, click on the appropriate link - Holi App for iPhone , Holi App for iPad , Holi App for Android.

Many of us grew up in a world where festivals like Holi and Diwali were a big part of our life year after year. We learned about them from our family, friends, neighbors, and most importantly by being an active participant in all the fun and celebrations. Remember the days when the preparations for the festivities began days or even weeks in advance?

Take Holi for example, which is just around the corner. A certain joyous mood would permeate our homes and neighborhoods, as stalls selling Holi colors and gulaal sprung up by the roadside. The sweet smells of Gujiyas and Puranpoli would waft through the air. Kids would get busy collecting wood and sticks for the upcoming Holika dahan, and getting their pichkaris and colors ready for the big day.

Today’s children don’t seem to get the same wholesome experience though. It’s especially a growing challenge for those living outside of India and in big Indian metros. Many reasons contribute to this – lack of time, lack of resources and sometimes even the lack of a conducive environment. So us parents are left wondering - how to introduce our little ones to all these wonderful festivals? How to recreate the festive atmosphere that we grew up with? How can we help them share the customs and traditions with their friends? How can we make a lasting impression on this generation of cell phone toting, touchscreen savvy netizens?

Aarti Khanna and Shameeli Sinha may just have the answers to these questions. Classmates from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, and ex-management consultants with McKinsey Co and IBM respectively, both are moms of young kids. Aarti is based in the U.S. and Shameeli lives in Hong Kong. With the arrival of their little ones, the duo faced the same challenges that many Indian parents encounter today. They felt a strong need to introduce their children and their children’s friends to the rich cultural heritage, festivals and languages of India. They began to look for new, innovative ways to help the kids stay connected with their Indian roots and identity. It was precisely this desire that led to the birth of Tamarind Tots!

Tamarind Tots creates fun, interactive learning apps about Indian culture and languages for mobile devices. This includes iPad, iPhone, and Android devices like Samsung phones and tablets. Their journey started with an app called Diwali with Tamarind Tots’Recently, they launched ‘Holi with Tamarind Tots’. Kids between the ages of 2 – 10 will find these apps very useful. Both Aarti and Shameeli have always believed in the mantra that “learning should be fun”. And that philosophy reflects very well in their products. The two apps let kids celebrate Diwali and Holi virtually on their handheld devices. Kids get to play, have fun, and at the same time, learn about Indian traditions and languages. It’s certainly a win-win proposition!!

In the Holi app, kids can celebrate Holika dahan by making their very own bonfire on a starlit, full moon night. Then they can grab their pichkaaris, gulaal, and gubbare, and rack-up points as they play Holi with their three virtual Indian friends, Niki, Krish, and Tara! When they're done and hungry, they can find their way through the lotus maze and enjoy delicious Holi food. They can do all this and more with their very own personalized avatar! Along the way, children get to learn over 20 new Hindi words associated with Holi. Whenever a keyword is encountered, a voiceover and written text appears to help kids learn and internalize it.

Tamarind Tots is also on Facebook. It’s a great way to stay abreast of the latest news and offerings from this highly innovative company. Tamarind Tots Facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/tamarindtots

Vandana Razdan, mother of a 5 yr old sums it up very well - "The Diwali & Holi apps by Tamarind Tots are great at getting kids to know the traditions around these two festivals....very cute characterization that appeals to the kids and keeps them coming back. The little ones then want to do as they see - so moms be warned that you will be getting requests for gujiyas and rangolis. There is a real dearth of engaging educational apps for Indian kids and looking forward to lots more from this talented duo!"

Happy Holi & Happy Learning! (err…playing that is)  

 

Holi Celebration With Tamarind Tots – A Learning App for Kids

ProBugs Organic Yogurt Drink

LifeWay ProBugs Kefir is a totally fun and flavorful way to get your kids to consume their daily quota of dairy. It comes in a variety of flavors like Strawberry Banana split, Gooberry Pie, Slime Lime and Orange Cream. My kids (preschooler and toddler) have tried the first 2 flavors and absolutely love it! In fact, they demand it for their afternoon snack. The fun factor seems to be amplified by the fact that the drink comes in a squeezable pack. Just twist the seal out and kids are ready to suck the drink directly from the plastic spout. No mess, no fuss, great for snacking on the go.

The kefir is made with organic whole milk and contains live and active cultures of probiotic bacteria, which are essential to maintain a healthy digestive system. It is also rich in protein and calcium. It does have a little bit more sugar than I like in my kids’ snacks, but its not excessive. Honestly, if my kids are craving for a sweet snack, I much prefer this over cookies and other sugary treats.

While the kefir makers say that it is for kids, I very much enjoy an occasional indulgence myself. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

ProBugs Organic Yogurt Drink

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