“ 18 days ….no way” this is how the preparation for Tata Jagriti Yatra started as my boss rudely declined my polite leave request. This was a chilly Novemeber morning and I could still feel the heat of a simple leave request. Me justifying 18 days leave and my boss, for a very first time telling me, how important I was for the organization! (I suppose that was a good strategy to convince me to cancel my plans for the Yatra). But since this dispute was unending, a simple leave plan was passed on to higher authorities.
Mean time we were working harder and longer. Usually even 15 min past 5 used to be longer but this time it meant seriously harder & longer. I just didn’t realize that the days were flying and last date to send a confirmation on participation along with fees was just a couple of days ahead!! Fees to be sent to Mumbai, we were building vehicles at Uttrakhand, my boss not sanctioning my leaves & TJY was too good an opportunity to miss….Oh! boy…What a mess!!!
With all these thoughts trafficking in my usually empty brain, with lot tiredness, a skipped dinner and dingy hands smelling oil & grease, I didn’t realize when I slept ….
There I could see some papers…some more papers… and …I saw …me !!! Sitting between a bunch of papers as if writing an exam. (I was quiet used to the nightmares of chemistry paper even after I graduated but this time it was different). The paper read “What is one thing that India needs to change or improve to be a superpower? How you will contribute”?
Next morning I woke up with the thoughts of yesterdays dream still very fresh in my mind just to realize that these were the questions from ‘TJY entrance exam’. Though theoretically I had cleared this exam, these questions kept coming to mind again & again. This developed a bigger desire for me to join the Yatra & know people & their work that has actually brought the change. That morning I called my parents in Nashik & requested them to send my fees & confirmation for participation thus ensuring my Yatri status…..but my leaves… were still not sanctioned.
Dreams, changes, entrepreneurship, kept cranking my brain motors. Probably for me this was the starting point of the Yatra – ‘Starting from Self or Discovering self’ and the immediate agenda I had was to get my leaves sanctioned!
I was happy that my work was getting completed in time. Never before, time was speeding so fast and events pouring in. My Yatri ticket was confirmed and so was MD visit to our plant, thankfully events didn’t overlap. Cold war between me & ‘you know who’ was at its peak with my superboss being an ally of my boss.. bahut nainsafi thi. “Brave warriors never run away & I was there to stay” all filmy dialogues convincing me to fight till I win.
The climax began
“Two times negative makes …positive …” a witty reply from my side but very bad timing as my superboss entered the discussion.
After a dozen Nos my superboss said that I can go…..(but this was not to be a bollywood movie climax that a hero always wins) …but only for 8 days! Believe me this was a great deal to crack and I learnt next lesson never to give up & promised I shall be back in 8 days.
The count down begins:
In college, engineers discuss technology, doctors discuss medicine & generally the discussion sticks to a monotonous field & direction. But in a yatra where yatris come from all across the country & a few from other countries all with different backgrounds and culture some studying engineering, some medicine, MBA, Media & mass communication, someone discovering a new specie of reptiles, someone into jewellery & fashion design, share market analysis, a dancer, fine arts, sociology…. If I had to mention all of them then that could well complete a separate 350 word article! But this was an experience of strength of diversity and a big knowledge bank and one can imagine the level of knowledge sharing happening onboard!
7-6. Traveling from Mumbai to Thriruvananthapuram
On board discussion amongst the yatris were great. People who didn’t talk much otherwise were also heard saying many things passionately.
Session on Water management & rain water harvesting implied sensitivity towards natural resources like water which we otherwise take for granted. Yatra inculcated the importance of such things that are not related to any business plan but, when followed by entrepreneurs make huge difference to people around.
A close look towards the development of IT industry and related infrastructure, very useful for next gen Narayan Murthys …a few were amongst yatris.
Thanal – a zero garbage village showed us simple ways of waste management and reuse of waste materials in a very beautiful way. Again not part of any business plan but guided the aspiring entrepreneurs to deliver our responsibility towards environment.
With Kanyakumari one thing that comes to everyone’s mind is Vivekanand Rock memorial. A structure amidst mighty ocean gave a spiritual sense that forms the backbone of an individual.
Aravind Eye Care centre was a true example of out of the box thinking to make facilities available to common man. A superb example of human resource management that blends with the upcoming technology to provide world class medical facility at a very affordable price. I thought the founder member of this organization must be an Economics graduate with masters in HRM & a second masters in Lateral thinking, but the noble man was a doctor with a vision and sincere efforts to serve the society.
One of the innovations that the Aravind eye care has developed and revolutionized eye check up in remote areas is the mobile van. The Aravind mobile van has a camera to examine the eyes of the patients. The camera via satellite is connected to the base hospital and sends the information and images to the ophthalmologist stationed at the base hospital.He could then diagnose and advice the patient before the patient leaves the van.
R Elango’s self sustaining enterprise that provided livelihood to his village men, guided youngsters for education and most importantly spread happiness amongst villagers who otherwise were distressed, poor, addicted to alcohol and didn’t even delivered their responsibility towards their families. R Elango lead from front for establishing an ideal village and clearly indicated Responsibility towards the society.
1. Going back??
After these 8 days I realized – Kudos to the organizing team who had put in great efforts to keep yatris happy with great food on boards then a PA system for communication and some out of the world bathrooms so it was more like a caravan !!!
Visit to Tata Steel was scheduled on day 12 and I badly wanted to see this particular institution which is a live example delivering all the responsibilities towards environment, resources, society apart from being a world class business organization that has played a key role in industrial & economic development of our country. Then it was Amul, visit scheduled on the 17th day. There was this great temptation to stay back with the yatra and get to see my favourite institutions!
But 8 days were over & I was happy that I had seen some really different perspectives in these 8 days. I wish I could complete the yatra but after all “a promise is a promise”!
P.S. There are people who get frustrated because of dependent visas & no work permit etc. Here TJY will open up your perspective on various avenues of business & social entrepreneurship that will give you immense satisfaction, more than a 9 to 5. Also I don’t think any country asks for work permit for betterment of people around you.
A good reason for students to participate is that the education expenses have gone rocket high (thank god the inflation index is not calculated on the basis of rise in cost of education).So there will be an acute necessity to think out of the conventional education system and take the road less traveled.