To the FDA, This Indonesian Smoke Is Close but No Cigar
With Ban on Clove Cigarettes, Importer Claims Its Product Is All Stogie
By BARRY NEWMAN
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar — unless the Food and Drug Administration and a congressional committee think it might be a cigarette.
The cigar (or cigarette) in question is called a kretek. Kreteks are cigarettes that blend tobacco and cloves. Billions are smoked in Indonesia, wreathing that country in the scent of studded oranges. A few weeks ago, though, clove cigarettes were banned in the U.S. on the grounds that their fragrance is a come-on to children.
It was the FDA's first act under a law giving it the power to police tobacco. But as soon the clove-cigarette edict went out, a California kretek importer brought in a new line of clove cigars.
Djarum-brand cigars are the shape and size of cigarettes. They have filters. Their wrappers contain tobacco but could pass for brown paper. The puffery on the packs promises "a smoking experience you have come to expect."
Getting wind of this, the FDA reminded the public that its ban applies to anything that fits a cigarette's profile, even if it's labeled as a "cigar." And the House Committee on Energy and Commerce announced an investigation to find out whether the "flavored cigars are no different than flavored cigarettes."
Immediately, Kretek International Inc., the closely held importer in Moorpark, Calif., sued the FDA, accusing it of "deliberately obfuscating" the "definition of cigarette."
"If a product is a cigar, it is not a cigarette and vice versa," says its complaint. "Kretek contends that Djarum cigars are cigars."
The company has asked the U.S. District Court in Washington for a declaratory cigar-is-a-cigar judgment. The FDA declines comment and has yet to file a response. Without legal guidance, meanwhile, America's clove-conscious now have to judge for themselves whether Djarum's new cigars, deep down, are concealing an alter ego.
At the Indonesian restaurant he owns here in Alexandria, Sonny Setiantoko passed one under his nose. "That smell!" he said.
On a quiet Monday night, he sat at a rear table after a spicy meal of satay and coconut rice. Born in Java, he smoked his first kretek at the age of 14. Coming to the U.S. in 1994, at 24, he switched to Camels, then soon quit smoking. Now he was lighting up a Djarum "Splash."
"Hear that crackle?" said Mr. Setiantoko. "That's why we call them kretek. It's the sound." He took a drag and inhaled. "This is really authentic," he said. "Makes me think of my childhood, going fishing. I feel like I'm not in America. Crazy, huh?" Mr. Setiantoko studied the object between his fingers and said, "This is a cigar?"
Cloves are dried buds from trees in the Molucccas, once called the Spice Islands, in eastern Indonesia. Columbus was after cloves when he bumped into America and was given some tobacco by people he met there. Nobody combined the two until a Javanese man rolled a clove cigarette in the 1880s, hoping it would ease his asthma.
It didn't, but the mixture was a hit anyway. A century later, Indonesia had millions of kretek smokers. About 30 years ago, the industry began to export. In the U.S., kreteks went over big with sullen adolescents. Sales rose past $100 million, roughly in tandem with nose rings and black hair dye.
As tobacco bills moved through Congress, early drafts made no mention of cloves. But in 2006, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. brought out some new brands — "Winter Mocha-Mint," "Kauai Kolada" — that looked kid-friendly. Outrage ensued, and Reynolds withdrew them. A ban on flavors, from licorice to grape, stayed in the final bill.
Cloves made the list, too. With Reynolds out of the game, they were the only big flavor left — except for the 90 billion menthol cigarettes Americans buy in a year. But a menthol ban, congressional aides and tobacco activists say now, would have ignited a huge bootlegging crisis. So the law exempts menthol. That leaves clove heads facing kretek cold turkey on their own.
They number 1.2 million, by Kretek International's calculation, averaging five smokes a week. It comes to less than a tenth of 1% of U.S. cigarette consumption. For high-schoolers, kreteks are one of those "short-term fads that have not caught on with mainstream American youth," according to a 2006 University of Minnesota survey that traced a 40% drop in 12th-grade clove smokers since 2001.
Apart from Indonesian expatriates and Americans who travel abroad, the kretek market is fleshed out by aging body-piercers and the occasional neophyte like Connie Faye Richardson.
Ms. Richardson, who lives in Grandbury, Texas, sent Kretek International a pained email on the ban's eve: "I bought all they had in the store today," she wrote. Reached by phone, she was reluctant to see her name in print. "My mom would have a fit about me smoking," she said. "She's a great mom, but she's stern."
Then Ms. Richardson said: "I'm 61 years old, so I can choose to tell my mother or not — and I want a clove so bad I can't stand it!"
She began smoking five years ago — Virginia Slims. A niece told her about cloves, and she switched. Now her stash was almost gone. "Last night," said Ms. Richardson, "I half-smoked one, and I put it out. I only have that half. What am I going to do?" Told of Kretek's cigar, she said: "But a cigar's not a cigarette, right?"
Possibly, but what else is there?
You could roll your own. There's lots of clove-grinding advice on the Web already; one blogger expects hand-rolled kreteks to be "all the rage among hipsters." You could buy direct from Indonesia: A recent Internet order arrived promptly, if illegally, identified for customs as a "booklet." Or you could wait for Indonesia to file — and win — a threatened complaint to the World Trade Organization, claiming U.S. clove discrimination in favor of menthol.
Given the choices, Kretek International's noncigarette may be the best bet. The company insists it can prove that its cigar is a cigar: The wrapper is homogenized leaf, the tobacco air-cured, and the finished product comes in boxes of 12, not 20. While a judge puts the subject through analysis, America's clove aficionados will be holding their breath.
Matt Eden was on his roof deck in Washington not long ago, flipping open a fresh pack of Djarums. He is 24, spent a summer in Java, and has a job at the United States-Indonesia Society. It was sunset. At a mosque on his street, the call to prayer was sounding.
"This is the moment to have a kretek," he said, lighting up. "There's the crackle. And that smell!" He sat on a folding chair and blew a smoke plume. "I'm back in Indonesia," said Mr. Eden. "This is a fine replacement for a cigarette. I really hope it's a cigar."
Write to Barry Newman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A30
Monday, October 19, 2009
Surfer's water filters help desperate quake workers
A.M. READ: An OC surfer's water filters helped desperate workers in the earthquake-ravaged city of Padang, Indonesia.
Jon Rose was on a boat in Indonesia when the Padang 7.6 earthquake hit, killing hundreds, injuring and leaving thousands more missing. He was en route to Bali to take water filters, and quickly changed gears after seeing the devastation, helping the local Red Cross in the early hours after the quake.
LEONARD ORTIZ, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Jon Rose sits on the back of a moped, scouring the crumbled city of Padang.
He passes hotels he's stayed in, looking straight into the rooms. The walls have collapsed. Cracks in the ground run five-feet deep. Entire structures are crumbled like so much broken glass.
The pro surfer had just spent days on a boat off the Indonesian coast, riding waves with friends. When a massive earthquake hit a day before their trip finished, they barely felt it.
But now, he hears screams echoing beneath buildings.
Unable to move concrete slabs that lay on top of the cries, he keeps on searching the streets for plastic containers.
"It was hard to leave," he said later, tears welling in his eyes as he recalls the memory.
"I had to block it out. I had a mission."
CHARITY IN THE FAMILY
Like many surfers, Rose, of Laguna Beach, has spent much of his adult life traveling to the poorest countries in the world to search for waves. Living the pro surfer lifestyle, he'd set out to these regions for photo shoots, or just to play.
But, recently, the 31-year-old felt a nagging need to give back.
"You begin to realize how selfish that life is."
His father, Jack Rose, started a nonprofit a few years ago called raincatcher.org, which helps educate villages in Africa on how to catch and filter rainwater. Jon Rose began to wonder: Why can't this be done in surf regions, where many of us travel but leave the land no better than we found it?
"I knew in my heart surfers would give back," he said, "if they knew how."
So, a few months ago, Jon Rose launched Waves for Water, a concept similar to his father's organization. And, after an already planned surf trip to Indonesia with friends, Rose was planning to take 10 water purifiers to a mountain region in Bali.
He kept the purifiers – basically, grapefruit-sized ceramic clay balls attached to a drip filter — tucked away in a bag on the boat as he surfed for 11 days, isolated and cut off from the rest of the world.
On Sept. 30, the boat started to shake slightly.
"Did you feel that? he asked a friend sitting nearby.
As they reached shore the following morning, the boat captain relayed updates he heard on the radio.
A 7.6-magnitude earthquake. Large aftershocks. Hundreds dead, perhaps more than a thousand. Countless injured and missing.
Rose looked at his bag of water filters.
"I'm staying," he told his friends. "I have to find a Red Cross."
Rose knew the water systems in the capital city of Western Sumatra – home to more than 750,000 people — had likely been destroyed. Rescue workers would need clean water to help the wounded. Bali would have to wait.
It was so soon after the massive quake that international relief had yet to arrive — and wouldn't for two more days. People were still screaming in the streets, others just stood in shock.
"The devastation and destruction was so great, you don't know where to start," Rose said. "Nothing in my life had ever prepared me for that."
He was the only westerner around, asking desperately for anyone who spoke English. A man understood his plea, and took Rose to the local Red Cross workers.
"The language of survival is universal," Rose said.
DEADLY TO HEALTHY
"Do you need water filters?" Rose asked the only English-speaking relief worker, Alfri.
The short man's eyes seemed to pop out of his head, as if he'd just won the lotto.
While Rose had the essential parts needed to operate the water filters, they still required plastic buckets to hold the water. On any other day, finding such buckets would be no problem. But with the city demolished, they set out to scour the rubble.
As they started on their mission, Rose got a glimpse of how bad the crumbled city was.
"It was like an over-sensationalized movie," he said, "but it was real."
After searching stores – ready to loot if they had to — Rose and Alfri finally saw some unused plastic gas containers on the side of the road. Not ideal, but they'd have to work.
Everyone gathered to brainstorm on how to create water filters from the gas containers. They sliced them up with Rose's 7-inch knife, punctured holes in them with a hot metal rod, and taped up the new filters so they'd be secure.
Alfri took Rose to a well behind their building. It was a stagnant pool of funk with clumps of weird, unidentifiable things floating around in it.
"It was the sketchiest thing I've ever seen," Rose said. "This stuff was as bad as it gets."
They scooped up the yellow water, poured it into the top of the filter, and waited.
A NEW MISSION
After about a half an hour — as the foul water dripped through the filter — the bottom plastic container started filling with crystal clear water. Rose put a cup under the makeshift spigot and filled it up.
"Here ya go, boys," he said, trying to hand off the cup.
You first, the Red Cross workers told him.
Rose slammed the drink. The workers cheered.
Clean water. And, for about 10 seconds – in the middle of the devastating chaos – they celebrated their small victory.
"It was a real surreal moment, and we were all smiling," Rose said.
"Then reality set in."
With the workers trained, Rose left the remaining filters and headed to the airport to come home.
His new mission would be to raise awareness about the devastation, and to raise funds. The money would get Alfri and others more water filters as their city struggles back to life. They are in contact via e-mail, with messages of how the filters are helping.
"I'm consumed with this," Rose said.
"I dig deep in myself, and it just feels like the right thing to do."
Contact the writer: email@example.com
>Kabinet Indonesia Bersatu berdasarkan latar belakang pendidikan S1
atau setingkat itu:
1. Menko Polhukam: Djoko Suyanto — Akmil
2. Menko Perekonomian: Hatta Rajasa — ITB
3. Menko Kesra: Agung Laksono — UKI
4. Menteri Sekretaris Negara: Sudi Silalahi — Akmil
5. Menteri Dalam Negeri: Gamawan Fauzi – Universitas Andalas
6. Menteri Luar Negeri: Marty Natalegawa – LSE Inggris
7. Menteri Pertahanan: Purnomo Yusgiantoro — ITB
8. Menteri Hukum dan HAM: Patrialis Akbar — Universitas Muhammadiyah Jakarta
9. Menteri Keuangan: Sri Mulyani – UI
10. Menteri Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral: Darwin Saleh — UI
11. Menteri Perindustrian: M.S Hidayat — Unpad
12. Menteri Perdagangan: Mari Elka Pangestu — Australian National University
13. Menteri Pertanian: Suswono — IPB
14. Menteri Kehutanan: Zulkifli Hasan — Unkris
15. Menteri Perhubungan: Fredy Numberi — Akmil
16. Menteri Kelautan dan Perikanan: Fadel Muhammad — ITB
17. Menteri Tenaga Kerja dan Transmigrasi: Muhaimin Iskandar — UGM
18. Menteri Pekerjaan Umum: Djoko Kirmanto — UGM
19. Menteri Kesehatan: Nila Djuwita Moeloek — UI
20. Menteri Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan: M Nuh — ITS
21. Menteri Sosial: Salim Segaf al Jufrie — Universitas Madinah (Arab Saudi)
22.. Menteri Agama: Suryadharma Ali – IAIN Syarief Hidayatullah
23. Menteri Pariwisata: Jero Wacik — ITB
24. Menteri Komunikasi dan Informatika: Tifatul Sembiring — STI&K Jakarta
25. Menteri Negara Riset dan Teknologi: Suharna Surapranata — UI
26. Menteri Negara Koperasi dan UKM: Syarief Hasan — Unkris
27. Menteri Negara Lingkungan Hidup: Gusti Muhammad Hatta — Universitas Lambung Mangkurat
28. Menteri Negara Pemberdayaan Perempuan dan Perlindungan Anak: Linda Agum Gumelar — ?
29. Menteri Negara Pendayagunaan Aparatur Negara: EE Mangindaan — Akmil
30. Menteri Negara Pembangunan Daerah Tertinggal: Helmy Faishal Zaini – Univ. Darul Ulum Jombang
31. Menteri Negara Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional/ Kepala Bappenas: Armida Alisjahbana — UI
32. Menteri Negara Badan Usaha Milik Negara: Mustafa Abubakar — IPB
33. Menteri Negara Perumahan Rakyat: Suharso Manoarfa — Akademi Pertambangan & Geologi Bandung
34. Menteri Negara Pemuda dan Olah Raga: Andi Mallarangeng — UGM
35. Kepala BIN: Sutanto – Akpol
36. Kepala Badan Koordinasi Penanaman Modal: Gita Wirjawan – Berkeley, Amerika Serikat
37. Jaksa Agung: Hendarman Supandji – Undip
Business Innovation Center (BIC) showcases Indonesia's Top 100 Innovations
Innovation – Yes Indonesia Can!
By Meraj Mohammad, Expert Contributor
Business innovation has had a lot of buzz created in the last few years. The difficulty with innovation is that we all have an intuitive understanding of the topic and we aspire to be innovative, but struggle to make it real and tangible. This challenge is further complicated when we see “others,” – companies, communities and countries – innovate and yet we are not able to repeat those successes. This is especially true for emerging countries as they try to keep pace with innovation that is coming from the developed world.
To address the innovation challenge, Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest country by population, has come up with a bold and innovative (what else!) approach. In 2008 the Ministry of Research and Technology established a Business Innovation Center (BIC) with the vision to “become the leading Business-Innovation intermediary, in order to promote Indonesia’s economic and business competitiveness.”
Top 100 Innovations Report
A practical and inspiring output of this initiative has been to showcase Indonesia’s leading indigenous business innovations that already exist. An impressive list of Top 100 innovations was compiled covering relevant sectors of food, energy, health & medicine, ICT, defence, transportation and others.
Indeed, the report is a source of inspiration and shows how high impact business innovation is within the grasp of every entrepreneur from any developing country.
A selection of the innovations highlighted in the report are as follows:
Source: BIC Top 100 Innovation
These top 100 innovations were selected from a total of 623 proposals spanning multiple segments. The selection was conducted by a jury of 14 members comprising a cross-section of industry, academia and government that used 8 criteria for selecting the finalists. The criteria were deliberately chosen to emphasize the business aspects of innovations.
Readers are encouraged to browse through the Top 100 Innovation report. As of press time, the report is partly in English and partly in Indonesian – later the website will support English as well.
This report is designed to be read by a broad population – this is not a detailed patent description or an academic write-up of the innovation. The report uses simple language, clear visuals and elaborates color-coding to make it an easy read for the average person. For each selection, the report articulates what is the innovation and why is it useful. This is important as it helps bring down the innovation from the ivory tower to the common masses.
Key goals of the Business Innovation Center (BIC)
Speaking to DinarStandard, Kristanto Santosa, Executive Director of the Center, highlighted that the key drivers fro establishing the Center were the opening up of the Indonesian economy and the imperative to make it globally competitive. In prior years, local companies had protection in terms of tariffs and other barriers, and relied extensively on partnering with foreign firms or licensing their technologies.
BIC Offices in Jakarta
A broader goal of the center is to promote innovation so “in 10 years, innovation activities in Indonesia will be superior (benchmark) to other countries in ASEAN bloc.” This is a key point for other countries that embark on a similar initiative. The conscious tracking of innovation activities leads to better utilization of resources and allow the Center leadership to change track if results are below expectations.
Triple helix of business, academia and government to support innovation
A key challenge for facilitating innovation across a nation is to ensure that all constituents are involved in the activity. The BIC overcame this by bringing together Academia, Business and Government to form the integral core of the institution – something the centre calls “the triple helix.”
This combination ensures that many innovations do not remain in their traditional silos – such as developments that do not cross a university’s boundary due to a lack of business commercialization skills. Mr. Santosa emphasizes the importance of effective communication as the “language used by R&D is very different from the one used by business teams. The business focuses on development time, cost and returns, whereas R&D focuses on features and functionality.”
Another advantage of having a consortium of academia, business and government is that it helps in open innovation – innovation that requires multiple entities to partner together. This is especially important for major innovation breakthroughs that require significant expertise and capital that may not available to a single company or a university. Thus, other countries wishing to start a similar institution would do well to emulate the BIC model of ensuring that government, industry and academia are involved from the very beginning.
Thou shalt innovate! – does not work;
Instead inspire innovation
Innovation is not a top-down activity, that is cannot be mandated on an organization. Ideally, it should flow in all directions – from junior employees to senior executives, from human resources to R&D department. So given that innovation cannot be forced, however, it can surely be facilitated. This is especially important for emerging countries that do not have the benefit of say a Silicon Valley – to provide role models, mentors, venture capital, etc. In these cases a formal institution to help broaden the thinking, generate aspiration and provide support goes a long way in helping innovation.
An effort like the Top 100 Innovations report publication helps inspire the broader community about innovation. This happens in multiple ways. First, it helps de-mystify innovation. Innovation is no longer perceived as some magical activity that is being performed by the gifted people. Seeing common people come up with new ideas helps make it real! Second, it breaks the myth that innovation requires huge investments or some special talents. Third, this type of activity creates healthy competition amongst the participants for future innovation competitions. Fourth, awareness of innovators will help create role models, mentors and communities of interest to spur future innovators. Finally, the awareness of innovations helps connect the innovators with other interested parties that may help commercialize them.
As institutions try to promote innovation, they oftentimes fall into a trap of focusing on one or two areas while neglecting other promising areas. ICT (Internet and Communication Technologies), Bio-tech and Renewable Energy are the favorite focus areas for many innovation groups, VC firms and startups. The BIC did a good job of ensuring that it covered a broad spectrum of innovation areas, based on the National Research Mission of Indonesia. Thus multiple industries that are important at a national level were included such as food, transport, and others, thus identifying a wide variety of innovation topics.
Supporting hands-on day-to-day innovation
The BIC supports a lot of hands-on work to realize innovations. This assistance is crucial, as it translates the theory into practice. A lot of promising ideas across the globe go waste, as they were not matured to their logical conclusion. This is a bigger problem in emerging countries where innovators have difficulty getting answers and support for the very basic questions – like how to patent an idea? How to develop a business plan? How to market or commercialize a product? Etc.
The BIC provides a range of service from access to facilities to conduct research, to leading workshops on specialized topics like patenting, to conducting customized consulting for companies, universities and government bodies. Apart from tangible knowledge sharing, BIC also facilitates the soft side of innovation, like networking amongst innovators, connecting innovators with appropriate businesses or industry groups, etc.
|…a key challenge BIC faces, is “the lack of a system to invest in risk-bearing investments,” says Mr. Santosa|
Road ahead for BIC
The BIC is a young institution, with impressive results and ambitious goals. However, some of the key challenges it faces, is “the lack of a system to invest in risk-bearing investments,” says Mr. Santosa. From a government perspective, its easy to invest in bridges, roads and defense, but difficult to invest in risk-laden innovations. In addition, there is an absence of a venture capital community, angel investors and of trading markets like the NASDAQ. There is potential for a Shariah based investment approach that equitably shares the risks and benefits across the innovators and investors. Finally, the businesses are used to focusing on the operations and market development instead of R&D.
Mr. Santosa is optimistic about the road ahead for BIC. The next report has a foreward written by the President of Indonesia, as a sign that the institution is gaining traction. The center is evolving rapidly and wants to be an open platform for innovation – they are open to collaboration with other parties and countries. In conclusion – they use the analogy of entropy to encourage innovation – that is a positive movement on innovation by one molecule increases the innovation energy for the entire system!
Meraj Mohammad is a management consultant focusing in the area of strategy and innovation. He serves as an Independent Consultant of DS Consulting – growth strategy services). Meraj has over 10 years of experience, most recently, working with PRTM Management Consulting, where he led a variety of engagements on innovation management.
Meraj has B.Tech from IIT, Kanpur, India; a MS from Virginia Tech and is pursing an Executive MBA at Columbia University. He may be contacted for comments at Merajm@Gmail.com.
Author: Mr. Meraj Mohammad
Volkswagen's $600 car gets 258 mpg
This $600 car is no toy and is ready to be released in China next year.
The single seater aero car totes VW (Volkswagen) branding.
Volkswagen did a lot of very highly protected testing of this car in Germany, but it was not announced until now where the car would make it's first appearance.
The car was introduced at the VW stockholders meeting as the most economical car in the world is presented.
The initial objective of the prototype was to prove that 1 liter of fuel could deliver 100 kilos of travel.
Spartan interior doesn't sacrifice safety
The aero design proved essential to getting the desired result. The body is 3.47 meters long and just 1.25 meters wide, and a little over a meter high. The prototype was made completely of carbon fiber and is not painted to save weight.
The power plant is a one cylinder diesel positioned ahead of the rear axle and combined with an automatic shift controlled by a knob in the interior.
Safety was not compromised as the impact and roll-over protection is comparable to the GT racing cars.
$600 car gets 258 mpg
The Most Economic Car in the World will be on sale next year:
Better than Electric Car – 258 miles/gallon: IPO 2010 in Shanghai
This is a single seated car
From conception to production: 3 years and the company is headquartered in Hamburg , Germany ..
Will be selling for 4000 yuan, equivalent to US$600..
Gas tank capacity = 1.7 gallons
Speed = 62 – 74.6 Miles/hour
Fuel efficiency = 258 miles/gallon
Travel distance with a full tank = 404 miles
Volkswagen 258 mpg car on sale in 2010
The 'youngest headmaster in the world'
Tour of the school set up by 16-year-old Babar Ali
Around the world millions of children are not getting a proper education because their families are too poor to afford to send them to school. In India, one schoolboy is trying to change that. In the first report in the BBC's Hunger to Learn series, Damian Grammaticas meets Babar Ali, whose remarkable education project is transforming the lives of hundreds of poor children.
At 16 years old, Babar Ali must be the youngest headmaster in the world. He's a teenager who is in charge of teaching hundreds of students in his family's backyard, where he runs classes for poor children from his village.
The story of this young man from Murshidabad in West Bengal is a remarkable tale of the desire to learn amid the direst poverty.
Babar Ali's 'school' has some 800 students
Babar Ali's day starts early. He wakes, pitches in with the household chores, then jumps on an auto-rickshaw which takes him part of the 10km (six mile) ride to the Raj Govinda school. The last couple of kilometres he has to walk.
The school is the best in this part of West Bengal. There are hundreds of students, boys and girls. The classrooms are neat, if bare. But there are desks, chairs, a blackboard, and the teachers are all dedicated and well-qualified.
As the class 12 roll-call is taken, Babar Ali is seated in the middle in the front row. He's a tall, slim, gangly teenager, studious and smart in his blue and white uniform. He takes his notes carefully. He is the model student.
Babar Ali is the first member of his family ever to get a proper education.
"It's not easy for me to come to school because I live so far away," he says, "but the teachers are good and I love learning. And my parents believe I must get the best education possible that's why I am here."
Raj Govinda school is government-run so it is free, all Babar Ali has to pay for is his uniform, his books and the rickshaw ride to get there. But still that means his family has to find around 1,800 rupees a year ($40, £25) to send him to school. In this part of West Bengal that is a lot of money. Many poor families simply can't afford to send their children to school, even when it is free.
Chumki Hajra is one who has never been to school. She is 14 years old and lives in a tiny shack with her grandmother. Their home is simple A-frame supporting a thatched roof next to the rice paddies and coconut palms at the edge of the village. Inside the hut there is just room for a bed and a few possessions.
Chumki Hajra, a pupil at Babar Ali's school, describes her day
Every morning, instead of going to school, she scrubs the dishes and cleans the homes of her neighbours. She's done this ever since she was five. For her work she earns just 200 rupees a month ($5, £3). It's not much, but it's money her family desperately needs. And it means that she has to work as a servant everyday in the village.
"My father is handicapped and can't work," Chumki tells me as she scrubs a pot. "We need the money. If I don't work, we can't survive as a family. So I have no choice but to do this job."
But Chumki is now getting an education, thanks to Babar Ali. The 16-year-old has made it his mission to help Chumki and hundreds of other poor children in his village. The minute his lessons are over at Raj Govinda school, Babar Ali doesn't stop to play, he heads off to share what he's learnt with other children from his village.
At four o'clock every afternoon after Babar Ali gets back to his family home a bell summons children to his house. They flood through the gate into the yard behind his house, where Babar Ali now acts as headmaster of his own, unofficial school.
Lined up in his back yard the children sing the national anthem. Standing on a podium, Babar Ali lectures them about discipline, then study begins.
Babar Ali gives lessons just the way he has heard them from his teachers. Some children are seated in the mud, others on rickety benches under a rough, homemade shelter. The family chickens scratch around nearby. In every corner of the yard are groups of children studying hard.
Babar Ali was just nine when he began teaching a few friends as a game. They were all eager to know what he learnt in school every morning and he liked playing at being their teacher.
Without this school many kids wouldn't get an education, they'd never even be literate
Now his afternoon school has 800 students, all from poor families, all taught for free. Most of the girls come here after working, like Chumki, as domestic helps in the village, and the boys after they have finished their day's work labouring in the fields.
"In the beginning I was just play-acting, teaching my friends," Babar Ali says, "but then I realised these children will never learn to read and write if they don't have proper lessons. It's my duty to educate them, to help our country build a better future."
Including Babar Ali there are now 10 teachers at the school, all, like him are students at school or college, who give their time voluntarily. Babar Ali doesn't charge for anything, even books and food are given free, funded by donations. It means even the poorest can come here.
"Our area is economically deprived," he says. "Without this school many kids wouldn't get an education, they'd never even be literate."
Seated on a rough bench squeezed in with about a dozen other girls, Chumki Hajra is busy scribbling notes.
Her dedication to learning is incredible to see. Every day she works in homes in the village from six in the morning until half past two in the afternoon, then she heads to Babar Ali's school. At seven every evening she heads back to do more cleaning work.
Chumki's dream is to one day become a nurse, and Babar Ali's classes might just make it possible.
The school has been recognised by the local authorities, it has helped increase literacy rates in the area, and Babar Ali has won awards for his work.
The youngest children are just four or five, and they are all squeezed in to a tiny veranda. There are just a couple of bare electric bulbs to give light as lessons stretch into the evening, and only if there is electricity.
And then the monsoon rain begins. Huge drops fall as the children scurry for cover, slipping in the mud. They crowd under a piece of plastic sheeting. Babar Ali shouts an order. Lessons are cancelled for the afternoon otherwise everyone will be soaked. Having no classrooms means lessons are at the mercy of the elements.
The children climb onto the porch of a nearby shop as the rain pours down. Then they hurry home through the downpour. Tomorrow they'll be back though. Eight hundred poor children, unable to afford an education, but hungry for anything they can learn at Babar Ali's school.