By Unnati Narang
Flags have been hoisted. Conch shells have been blown. The beginning of a national odyssey has been made, as over 400 youngsters from every nook and corner of the country and many other parts of the world, came together yesterday at Prabha Devi, Mumbai to mark the beginning of a revolution. These youngsters are spirited. Their faces shone with the thirst of discovery and a glow that symbolized their confidence. As their excited voices echoed in the courtyards of Ravindra Natya Mandir, I couldn’t help but notice the single most important factor uniting their diverse aspirations. It is the undying spirit of entrepreneurship. The air was filled with inspiring stories of ambitious journeys that they had taken or aspired to take in their lives as they now embark upon an 18 day long national odyssey spanning over 9000 kilometers. The Tata Jagriti Yatra is all set to unfold the true entrepreneurial potential of the real India.The excitement of the yatra began right from the minute when counters opened up for registrations. Bright, eager faces quickly queued up to get their luggage tagged, have the initial medical checkup and collect their yatri kits, to get into the full swing of the yatra. What followed next was plenty of informal discussions and icebreaking amongst the yatris. Within one hour of reaching the venue, I had already met almost a dozen entrepreneurs. From students building green start-ups to entrepreneurs creating personalized gifting solutions, and those working for education at the grassroots, their stories truly found a new voice, one that transcended cultures, genders and even national boundaries. Participants came from all over the globe spanning countries like Germany, Spain, US, Japan and so on. Amanada Morall, a student of public policy at Duke University, North Caroline, US explains, “I came to know about the yatra from an Indian friend when I was studying in Italy. I found the concept very exciting. Personally, I was motivated to be on the yatra because I felt that even though US and India are such different countries, they have similar problems. I want to see how we can allocate small resources to fix big problems. I am looking forward to the panel discussions and the role model visits the most!”
The informal sessions were followed by a formal induction programme organized by the Yatra team. Rewati Prabhu, Board Member, Tata Jagriti Yatra explained the genesis of the yatra and screened a movie based on the 1997 Azad Bharat Rail Yatra, a brainchild of Shashank Mani, Chairman, Jagriti Sewa Sansthan. A session was also conducted by Gauri Shankar Mani, a ronwned Kathak dancer and choreographer of the famous Jagriti Geet, written by Prasoon Joshi wherein, in no time, she had the entire auditorium moving to the tunes of this motivational anthem and joining in with scintillating movements represting their vigour and the spirit of nation building. The room resounded with energetic singing of ‘Yaaron Chalo’.
The innagural of the Jagriti Yatra 2010 was held in the evening. Shashank Mani shared his inspiring ideas, “Purpose in life is what drives you to perform with passion. The task of finding that purpose is daunting and difficult. The purpose has to be extraordinary. It has to stretch. The purpose of Dr. G. Venkataswamy of Aravind Eye care Centre, for instance, was not to eradicate blindness in Madurai or in Tamil Nadu; it was to eradicate blindness in the whole of India. That purpose drives us, gives us energy. You, as yatris, have that capability. But purpose on its own without trust and collaboration will be a set of nice lonely ideas. You can only trust if they’re ethically honest and competent. Both of these are under attack in this country. This yatra is about seeing lamps of intergity burning all over the country. It is about reaching out, trusting, being able to trust yourself and trust others. The biggest fear is that of starting to accept lack of trsut. This yatra is not about such copmpromise. We need to become an army of integrity, to be able to say that we will build a country without compromising, through enterprise. Honesty will get us ahead and not beating the system. These twelve role models will reinforce these beliefs.”
Expectations from the yatra
On the first day of the yatra, one can’t help but wonder what one’s expectations from this unique endeavour should be. Kishore Chaukar, MD, Tata Industries, who symbolically flagged off the Jagriti yatra was the best person to ask. When questioned about what a yatri should expect from the yatra, he added, “It could be joy. It could be sadness. It could be annoyanc, irritation or exhiliration. We don’t know. The yatra is what you make of it. It is an attempt to permit you to look at your opportunities and what you want to do in life. All I can say is it it is one experience you will never forget in your life.”
The keynote address was delivered by Siddhartha Kak, culutural entrepreneur, documentary filmmaker and producer, who added, “The Tata Jagriti Yatra is the beginning of a movement. You feel a movement when not just your team but when the entire world joins you. Today, this yatra is joined by hundred of yatris and volunteers. You all have the chance to know who you are, irrespective of where you come from. It is where georgraphy becomes history! On this yatra, the participants will meet the real heroes, the real people and the real India. It is a chance to recognize the genius within you, to stand up for the India that we and our previous generations have not beein able to bring to fruition. You will come out of this yatra as a more mature person, as a more qualified person, as a person who will drive solutions.”
This Christmas eve, for many yatris, was their first Christmas away from their homes. Yet, a spirit of nationhood had so united them in a matter of one day, that all they could hope for was more! As they lit candles and celebrated the joy of Christmas, their hearts also brimmed with a patriotic fervour, and they boarded the Jagriti Yatra Express, their home for the next eighteen days .