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TATA JAGRITI YATRA – Super 30, the Power of One explored in Mithapur

Team YS
14th Jan 2011
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Tata Jagriti
It is common for individuals to feel hindered by the challenges of lack of a team when starting up. How far can a one man show go in making a difference? Is it the man or the organization that one remembers? As the Tata Jagriti Yatra reached Mithapur for the CNBC TV 18 Panel discussion on ‘The Power of One’, the panelist looked at some of the problems and many more. The first panelist was Anand Kumar, an explorer and architect of talent and creator of opportunities for the underprivileged. He started ‘Super 30’, a highly ambitious and innovative educational program running under the banner of ‘Ramanujan School of Mathematics. It hunts for meritorious students from among the economically backward sections of the society and shapes them for IIT exam. In the last seven years he has produced hundreds of IITians from extremely poor background and during the program, students are provided absolutely free coaching, lodging and food. The second panelist was Anshu Gupta, Founder, Goonj, a social organization that seeks to make clothing a matter of concern and give the underprivileged a more dignified way of living. The third panelist was R Elango, the man behind the transformation of the village of Kuthambakkam, Chennai. From a village of poverty and discrimination, he converted it into a modern village with good infrastructure, livelihood opportunity for villagers and a sustainable way of living. His innovations in his village have set an example for all.
Tata Jagriti

The initial question addressed in the panel discussion was what prompted these entrepreneurs to leave their jobs to achieve something higher in life, to solve bigger problems. For Elango, it is his ‘inner voice’. For Anshu Gupta, as he explained, “It’s all about having that bug in you. It is very important to keep going. To solve any problem, break it down into pieces. When you see the larger picture, you will notice for instance that poverty is not the problem itself but the reasons that cause poverty are the problem. It is important to take one step at a time.” A major problem everyone encounters when starting up is how to cope with the reaction of the family members and close friends. Anand Kumar shares his own experiences, “My family completely supports me. One has to look at one’s inner satisfaction. Once you do good for the society, not just support but glamour will also find you!” Anshu Gupta further breaks down the issue of social mindsets into three phases, “First, there is rejection by well wishers. Then, when others see your work making an impact, there is a phase of silence. In the last phase, they finally start to follow you.”

The panel discussion focused on the power of the entrepreneur to run a one man show and make a difference even without a huge team. At the same time, having a team is also important. The vision of the entrepreneur, however, is what keeps it going. What if the entrepreneur is drawn to a different venture, a different idea or interest area now and again? Is it a good idea to keep shifting? Anand explained, “Do not change your path in life. I started out by teaching small kids. Today, I am still a teacher and a social worker. Do not change your line. Job frustration is normal for everyone. You should not keep shifting.” The others also agreed with these views.

Many interesting insights were shared by the panel, followed by an interactive session with the audience. All kinds of questions from personal journey of change to salaries and incentives in a social organization were discussed in much depth. Post the discussion, the realization that this was the final visit for the yatris slowly sank in. What followed naturally was a heartfelt singing of the Jagriti geet ‘Yaaron Chalo’ and an overwhelming vote of thanks for the team members who made the Yatra possible. Photo shoots and exchange of contact details was a common sight. Back on the train, the Yatris spent their last night on the Jagriti Express dancing till morning. With so many lessons to take home and so many sweet memories, it is natural that nobody wanted the Yatra to end, but as they say all good things come to an end and every end has a new beginning!

- Unnati Narang

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