It was not the usual events at IIT Delhi’s seminar hall on 11th August 2009. A place where most eminent personalities of India have lectured the brainy lot of IITians, this time they were listening to a person who represents the era of Investigative Journalism in India. This time it was none other than Tarun Tejpal,
the man himself from Tehelka.
Tarun started with the whole idea of “India Shining” being a demeaning narrative. He explained “It’s just 250 million out of 1.2 billion people in India, a part of the Indian elite who think India is shining. Whereas the fact is that India’s malnutrition level is 47 percent as compared to China’s 6 percent, 350 million Indians still live below the Sub Saharan poverty levels, 250 million Indians are Dalits and still denied basic amenities of life and more than 33% of the Indian districts are facing Naxalite violence. If you look at these statistics, India shining would sound such a distant dream. And then you would realize your responsibility, responsibility of we the privileged ones, of bringing the highly medieval, impoverished, illiterate and poor India close to India that’s shining.”
The students, awestruck by the statistics, kept listening to Tarun as he moved on to explain the biggest challenges that India faces today. “Inequality” and “Communalism” are two things which India has to come over if we want an equal, free, and democratic society. He explains how we are a complete unequal and prejudice driven society right now. “On one hand we have enormous wealth and on the other hand we have extreme poverty. 33% India is seeing violence in form of Naxalites and Maoists. These are not our enemies these are fellow country men, people who are poorest of the poor, who have been pushed out of their lands, house, forests and thus they recourse to guns. If we continue working this way we are in for a big trouble. This unequal society can not be sustained for long. WE people have the responsibility to give rise to a more equal India. Prejudices prevail everywhere. There is too much corruption in judiciary, in police and everywhere.” He then urged the students not to be a party to all these things. “Be wise be rational and don’t promote any of these cheap ways” was his message to the students.
Tarun then shared the journey of his becoming an entrepreneur. The students were excited enough to listen to the story of a “One man show”. After discussing all the ups and downs that he came across while building Tehelka, tarun told the students “The biggest challenge is to know “How to move?” I say Look around yourself with greater sensitivity and then listen to your inner voice to understand where the purpose of your life fits in, in the larger purview of other things. Then you would know how to move. We did not have money, we did not have support, and moreover there were negative forces willing to put us down. But I always knew I had to go through this struggle to succeed and we did.
Tarun ended his talk by sharing the story of a Sufi master whose mischievous students played a trick to prove the master wrong. The students shot a bird, held it in her hand and asked the master if it was dead or alive. The master got the trick at once. If he said that the bird was dead, the students would say it’s just shot but still alive and if he said it was alive they would strangle the bird under their hands and say it was dead. He answered the students wisely. He said “I don’t know my child if the bird is alive or dead, all I know is that its future is now in your hands”. He conveyed the same idea to the students. “The future of not only your life but of India is also in your hands”.
Tarun’s speech ended with thunderous applauds. He interacted with the students after that and answered all the curious minds present at the event. It was delightful to see many youngsters approaching him and asking “how could they make a difference”, “how they could become a journalist like him” and he welcomed all to work with him and know how they can!!!
The event organizers were ecstatic about the whole event and said that this was the first time a huge crowd had come to hear someone in the hall. It was quite evident that the event was an extremely enlightening experience for all the students of IIT Delhi.
We wish the EDC team all the very best in their future endeavours and hope to see many more successful entrepreneurs coming out of our country’s prestigious institution.
See more on EDC@ IITD http://www.edc-iitd.org/