Satyanand Mukund graduated from NIT Jalandhar with a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. He worked with HCL Infosystems for a brief period of 6 months after which he joined Tata Consultancy services Ltd. He has been a software engineer with TCS Ltd for the past 8 years working on various assignments in India, Australia, England and Scotland.
Satyanand has always believed in inclusive growth. The lack of equal opportunities in basic areas of human development like education, healthcare, employment and housing have troubled him in the past. “In order to achieve sustainable growth in both urban and rural areas, it is critical to ensure that opportunities are available all across the country. Can India ignore such growing disparities? History is replete with examples where such situations have led to large scale destruction in the form of either wars or revolutions.”
It was this concern that convinced him to take a one year sabbatical from work and pursue the SBI Youth for India Fellowship programme. Satya, with complete honesty, acknowledges that the Fellowship may not be the best idea from a career point of view. However, he hopes that this programme will “skill him for life by affording him a better understanding of our society.”
Satya quotes the famous adage that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” He continually strives to question his beliefs and actions, which helps him to stay open to new ideas and challenges. He hopes to become a well-rounded person by the rich learning and experience of this programme.
Anu Elizabeth Jacob has a Bachelors degree in Mass Communication and an MBA with a specialization in marketing and HR from the Asian School of Business Management. She was previously working with BS Transcomm, a steel manufacturer that provided turnkey solutions to telecom towers, power transmission lines and power distribution lines.
Anu decided to apply for the SBI Youth for India Fellowship programme because of the blend of practical field work, learning and research work it offers. She is interested in learning about the various structures and processes that exist in rural India, particularly those related to the dissemination of information on healthcare, nutrition, weather alerts, banking procedures, farming techniques and so on. She describes a project by MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in association with the Indian Space Research Organization that uses traditional and modern technologies like notice boards, mobile phones, cable TV, WiFi enabled video conferring, Internet Radio, etc, to disseminate locale specific information to the community. She finds this project particularly interesting, given her background in Mass Communication and her experience with telecom industries.
She is at ease about committing the next year of her life to rural India. “There are risks in everything”, she candidly says. “And one year of your life is not that much time really. When you look back at your life, how many ‘one years’ do you actually remember? It is an experience. It is how we will grow.”
Soumyashree Omprakash Sahoo is a science graduate from Orissa who also has an MBA in Marketing. He was previously working with Ripplesoft Private Ltd., Bhubaneswar, a company that has been credited with bringing Orissa into the IT mainstream of India via its IT training initiatives.
Soumyashree had the opportunity to experience the interior depths of Orissa from a very early age because of his father’s work as a veterinary officer in the state government. It did not take much time for Soumyashree to notice a tremendous disparity between the developed eastern parts of Orissa and the neglected western parts of Orissa. Soumyashree describes the acute poverty, landlessness and malnutrition experienced by the tribal and rural populations of these parts. “They sometimes survive just on mango kernels, which provides no nutritional value and results in starvation deaths.” The lack of healthcare and education also concerns him. “I believe if you have the opportunity to do something, you must do it – not for recognition but for self-fulfillment.”
Soumyashree is working with the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation for the next one year. He is interested in learning about cluster development, education and healthcare. According to him, the SBI Youth for India Fellowship programme is the perfect platform to work at the grassroots, to learn from people and develop your own thoughts and ideas.
He is very clear about his goals after the programme is over. “I want to open my own CSR company. I want to target each and every person from western Orissa. I want to make sure no one is left out. And eventually I want to save for my dream,” he adds with a smile, “to open a hospital and medical college in this region someday.”
M S Swaminathan, member of the National Advisory Council and father of the Green Revolution, tells Business Standard that the government’s allocation for agriculture is insignificant
Doesn’t the Union Budget reflect a new focus on agriculture?
I have got tired of this kind of lip service. In the last budget there was an announcement to encourage 60,000 villages to grow pulses. But the allocation was so small that each village would have barely got Rs 50,000. Revenue foregone in corporate taxes is Rs 3.75 lakh crore and you give Rs 300 crore for a second green revolution. It is all lip service!
Read the full interview on Business Standard.
Pruthvi Raj has done his Masters from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, specializing in forestry and marketing. He has been working with Tata Coffee for the past three years, living and working on a plantation in the Kodagu district of Karnataka. He is on a one-year sabbatical from Tata Coffee while he attends to the SBI Youth for India Fellowship programme.
Pruthvi is interested in the marketing of NTFC (Non-Timber Forest Crop) products, such as honey. He will be working with the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, focusing on natural resource management and rural marketing. He believes that many problems in tribal areas are related to the lack of regular employment. According to him, the development of NTFC products will provide a good platform for tribal populations to earn for themselves. He gives an example of how honey is being cultivated and processed in a special school by the Tata Trust by the tribals themselves.
Pruthvi also wants to help in the transfer of technology from the “lab to the land.” He wants to ensure that technology has a direct impact on the end user. This is possible only when you understand both sides of the story.
Anusha Radhakrishnan is an engineering graduate from Chennai who has been working for IT companies like Infosys and WABCO-TVS since 2007. Giving up her hectic work life was a very simple decision for Anusha. According to her, it is not a job or place that makes a person happy. It is the state of mind. She confidently believes she can enjoy herself anywhere and in any circumstances. Her biggest challenge in life is to find a path where she can make her life even simpler. She decided to join the SBI Youth for India Fellowship programme as an experiment that will lead to her own personal evolution. She views the programme more as a journey than a final destination. She hopes that the personal growth she experiences will allow her to have a greater impact on society.
Anusha is joining the NGO Seva Mandir which works for the development of rural and tribal populations in the Udaipur and Rajsamand districts of Rajasthan. For a non-Hindi speaker, Anusha seems remarkably comfortable about the prospect of going to an area where the predominant language is Marwari. “I want to see if language can be a barrier to love,” she says. “The fastest way to grow is to transplant yourself into the unknown. I’m hoping I can help someone else in this process of personal evolution.”
The issues she is passionate about are education and health. However, she doesn’t want to restrict herself at this early stage of her journey. She first wants to “understand the needs of people in rural India.” When asked about where she sees herself in the future, she poetically replies, “I have just lit a candle. The flame will reveal the next ten steps. What lies beyond that, I don’t know.”
Mansi Vora has a Postgraduate Diploma in Finance from Bradford School of Management. She has spent most of her life in the major metros of India. She was previously working with C-Edge Technologies, a TCS-SBI enterprise, when she heard about the SBI Youth for India Fellowship programme. The urge to do something different had been consuming Mansi for quite some time. She narrates the experience of interacting with her maid, who lives in a small box-like apartment with five family members. The maid owns a large plot of land in her village, but prefers to stay in barely habitable conditions in the city. Initially, Mansi found this very hard to understand. “You can’t tell what the problem is from the outside. You have to be on the inside to understand and be able to do something.”
It was for this reason that Mansi chose to apply for the SBI Youth for India Fellowship programme. She will be spending the next one year in the interiors of Rajasthan working with Seva Mandir, an NGO that works towards the development of rural and tribal population.
Mansi is not too apprehensive about committing herself to rural India for the period of a year. “All experiences are good and help us grow,” she says. “However, my parents are nervous. Being a girl, it is far more challenging to embark on a journey such as this. There are many questions we have to answer, especially from our family members. ”
Vaibhav is a communication and computer engineer from Jaipur who graduated last year. He was offered a well-paying job with a communication technology firm, but decided to go in another direction. He began teaching in a rural school in the outskirts of the National Capital Territory. “I was fresh out of college and I didn’t want to restrict myself. I wanted to see what all I was capable of.”
Not long after, Vaibhav was “bitten by the research bug.” He started working for the Center of Conflict Resolution and Human Security in New Delhi. He began exploring the issue of communalism in Uttar Pradesh. He conducted field research across the state to understand the micro-level causes and ideologies that lead to problems like terrorism. His academic paper was even presented at a conference in Belgium.
Vaibhav considers himself a pure academician at heart. He joined the SBI Youth for India Fellowship programme to understand both the micro and macro level impact of NGOs over a sustained period of time. He will be working with Seva Mandir, an NGO that has been working towards the development of rural and tribal populations in Rajasthan since 1966. “People like to quote figures which creates a single point of view,” says Vaibhav. “We need to look at alternate points of views. Perhaps then we may discover that there are better ways of doing things. We have been putting a lot of effort for a really long period of time, I am interested in knowing why we are not getting returns as we get everywhere else.”
Vaibhav is passionate about learning various models of governance and their effects. He is looking forward to doing his Masters in Economics in the future.
Abhishek Prabhakar completed his Bachelors of Technology from Delhi College of Engineering and began working for Tata Motors Ltd in the outskirts of Jamshedpur soon after. His workplace was located very close to the tribal communities of Jharkhand. Abhishek slowly became sensitive to their needs. With the help of Tata Motors’ CSR initiative, he began arranging medical and communication assistance for the otherwise deprived tribal populations.
When Abhishek heard about the SBI Youth for India Fellowship programme it took him only five minutes to make up his mind and fill up the form. He had complete faith that he would be selected for the programme. Abhishek is contributing the next year of his life to the BAIF Development Research Foundation, where he hopes to learn more about cluster development and integrated infrastructure management. He sees the next one year as an investment to both himself and to the society. Having spent some of his childhood in rural Maharashtra, he is confident that he will adjust physically to the toil of rural life. However, mentally adjusting to rural life may be harder.
Abhishek was very impressed by the passion embodied by his peers and his mentors during the orientation period of the Fellowship. Once the Fellowship is over, he sees himself embarking on a social entrepreneurship project, drawing on all that he has learnt over the last year. He views the flagship batch of Youth for India as a trendsetter. In his own words, “all of us have a dream for rural India. The only difference is in our approaches.”
Shaik Parveen is a trained lawyer who has spent the last five years in the District Courts of Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Over the years, she observed that 80% of the people who come to the Courts are from rural areas. They are usually illiterate and travel enormous distances – spending money at each step of the way, simply to be told that they need to come again at a later date. “There is a lot of corruption,” she says, her eyes shining with anger. “Everyone is out to make money; No one is willing to help.” This is one of the primary reasons she left the courts.
Parveen says she has already experienced the comforts of life. As a child, her parents were able to provide for her. As an adult, she has the ability to go anywhere, earn money and do anything. “I could join the corporate sector if I wanted to,” she says, “but I want to get close to people. As a junior lawyer, people usually don’t trust you as much as senior lawyers. I want to be able to gain that trust from the people.” It is for this experience that she has joined the SBI Youth for India Fellowship programme.
Shaik Parveen is passionate about initating change in several areas of social development including women empowerment, child education and farmer suicides. “Maharashtra is lagging behind in many of these fields,” she says with a hint of sadness. “For example, I myself have seen widows in my neighbourhood who sit at home and do nothing. They feel as though all hope is lost and there is no reason for their existence. I want to change this attitude. I want to be able to help wherever I can, as much as I can.”