TATA Jagriti Yatra 2010: Entrepreneurial Exercises on board
The Tata Jagriti Yatra Express has left the hustling bustling industrial city of Mumbai. Tracing India in all its glory, the train continues to traverse down the Western Coast. As the scene outside the window changes from city buildings and skyscrapers to the mighty Western Ghats and beautiful water bodies, the feelings of those on board also undergo many ups and downs. There is the excitement of being on the yatra, there is the anxiety of what will happen next and the natural physical and intellectual challenge of getting comfortable in their new ‘home’. But just like snow melting from mountain tops, the Yatris have also mingled with each other so well that one has no way of guessing how twenty four hours ago, they were complete strangers. How did thischange happen? A major part of it is attributed to the interesting entrepreneurial exercises being conducted onboard.
One of the activities that the Yatris started with was the lifeline chart exercise, an icebreaking session in which every yatri was to draw his/her life story in the form of a graph, with the freedom to choose and define the axes of their graphs or even to do away with them. What it essentially required was for one to narrate one’s experiences in life to fellow Yatris and depict the same as a ‘lifeline’.Yatris, who have been allocated to particular cohorts and groups, enthusiastically engaged in animated discussions about each of their fellow yatris’ stories. Rewati Prabhu, Board member, Tata Jagriti Yatraexplains the idea, “The lifeline exercise is about how to get our 400 yatris to engage in creative dialogue. It’s about opening up and sharing what life has meant to you. No CV or formal introduction can create the kind of bonding that one’s emotional graph can. It brings everyone to a common platform. Entrepreneurship has majorly been associated with sciences and engineering backgrounds but one cannot do without a lateral thinking mind and the voice to express your emotions. An entrepreneur is someone who not just has the idea but also the collaborative genius to make it work. This requires one to have a more open and fluid mind. This is exactly what the lifeline exercise aims for.”
While this exercise did enable Yatris to get to know each other better, what it also did was to expose Yatris to unique experiences their fellows have had, be it those of someone from rural areas narrating the very challenges of growing up in terror inflicted areas of India or those of an artist engaged in a creative enterprise. Apart from interacting amongst each other, the Yatra also opened up new avenues for Yatris by establishing a ‘blog room’ in one of the compartments. Almost a hundred and fifty Yatris came forward to volunteer as bloggers, highlighting once again, their willingness and capabilities.
In addition to the officially planned activities, the Yatris engaged in plenty of exercises beyond the box in their free time. Many Yatris picked up their paint brushes and sketch pens to colour the beautiful artworksdone by Edward Murray, a London based artist, a Resource person in the yatra. I wonder how art can inspire entrepreneurship and Edward shares his insights, “Just how artists have different subject matters and different aspirations around which they want to create something, so do entrepreneurs. Through their art, artists remind you that it is important to be free, playful and to enjoy the process of creation. At the same time, art teaches you to question the kind of message you are sending out through art. This is exactly what entrepreneurs need to do along with a need to study other enterprises and role models, just how an artist would study other artworks and art history. The same set of skills are required in entrepreneurship, be it self-discipline, focus or facing failures.”
Whatever be the manifestation of entrepreneurship or the methods used to nurture it, essentially it is about the ability to challenge and change status quo for the better. That is what the Yatris are here to do!
- Unnati Narang