Sunday, August 2, 2009

Return of the Villagers!

Just came back from one of the most humbling yet enjoyable experiences of my life. 1o of us visited various villages which are being supported by Gram Vikas Kendra, the NGO started by Tata Motors as part of their CSR drive.
We were a group of 10 people and I for one had an absolute blast during the trip. I've just highlighted some of my observations below.

1) Tata, as a group, has really done wonders in many spheres. Apart from successfully setting up a profit making business model, they have also inclulcated a culture of values within most of the employees. Their CSR drive started long before any of the other businesses in India and moreover, without any ulterior motives(read Carbon Credits and/or Tax Evasion).
The cursory view of their initiatives which I had in those 3 days related to what GVK had done for the various villages that it had 'adopted'. And well, I was truly impressed. Holding training sessions for farmers to increase their yield, adopting and promoting organic methods of farming, converting entire streches of wasteland into literal forests where wildlife has got an opportunity to flourish, spreading the message of cleanliness and sanitation in villages and making it feasible for the villagers to own private latrines, so on and so forth. All these initiatives are truly 'social' in nature and shouldn't be something which we should admire superficially. Far from being 'business'(profit)oriented initiatives, these are schemes which sometimes take decades to mature. To reconcile this lifestyle with that of a corporate one does prove to be hard to accept, but they have done it. Without any loss of efficiency or red tapeism setting in, they have CAUSED changes.

2) My second observation is something which struck me as and when I observed the reactions of some of my group members to the harsh environment that we were staying in. No light, make-shift bathroom arrangement, mediocre food and the unforgiving weather. Our generation, is suffering from a sense of disconnect far greater than what the others might have undergone in a time frame of say a 150 years. The youth of today might believe that our past was a slave to traditions and worthless rituals, but how far are we behind in aping the West without consciously evaluating what is good and what is not? How sure are we of the fact that urbanization is the answer to all our problems? Every individual is so engrossed in his own comfort zone, so unwilling to get out of it, that it seems very logically to conduce that soon we shall become independent beings devoid of any compassion whatsoever. If the managers of tommorow, who will someday become CEO's of huge organizations which have effects on the market, politics and ultimately society, do not appreciate who they serving, it is hard to imagine how this country will progress and ever come out of the seemingly unsurpassable rich-poor divide. Class structure in any society is inevitable, necessary in fact, but current trends just go on to show that the levels of skewness shall be magnified in the times to come. I might sound like a thoroughbred utopian, but it just doesn't go down with me well that no one is ready to sacrifice an inch, rather even attempt to strike a balance. Personal gain has become far more important in today's context.

This analysis shall be continued in the further blogs as more important things await.

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