On Zee Business special : Cool Careers

Zee business conceived a two part series on cool careers, careers beyond engineering and medical. This is the first one that went on air on March 29,2018. The second in the series will happen immediately after the board results are announced.


This was an hour long programme. The Zee Business channel failed to upload the episode on to their youtube channel, in-spite of promising that they would.

Surprisingly I found that an edited version of the program was put up by one of my co-panelists on the programme, Mr. Sunil GOel, highlighting all of his interventions, but editing out other two panelists R.Sreenivasan and Parveen Malhotra, significantly. Nevertheless I thought, for the young students who wish to go for non-conventional careers, even this truncated episode will be of value.

As a facilitator, mentor and coach, I just want to say that let us all be a good, facilitating human beings first. Rest will follow.


Inspiring young change-makers – Anchoring an interaction with youth @ Optimum 2015, Shivaji College –

I was invited by one of the old colleges of Delhi University, Shivaji College, to moderate a discussion with a group of young change-makers. It was a pleasure engaging and addressing the youthful audience, while anchoring the session. Here, I profile the inspiring panel and what they shared, in brief.


Optimum 2015, Shivaji College – An interaction with inspiring young change-makers

Saloni is the founder of DesiCrew, a for-profit organization employing over 300 people that’s focused on creating knowledge-based livelihood opportunities in small towns and rural areas. Saloni stepped down as  the CEO in March 2012 to hand over to a professional management team and continues to participate on the Board.

In 2012, along with her friends, Saloni co-founded Safecity, a citizen’s initiative to make Indian Cities safer again. The platform encourages people to share their personal stories of harassment and the location where the incident occurred. As more people pin, hotspots are created. The team then works with the relevant authorities to improve the situation on the ground.

Saloni Shared –

  • An Engineer, started the company at 23,
  • Parents are doctors and professors
  • Started at a startup event at IIT Chennai
  • The aim was to enable technology can reach the hinterland to harness the potential
  • Generate employment for rural youth and uplift the
  • Nasscom acknowledged DesiCrew to be first such initiative
  • In 2011 reached a strength of 300 people
  • Transferred the management to a professional team in 2012
  • 2012 launched SafeCITY… based Voluntary support, cloud sourcing for safer cities and towns
  • Currently heading business alliances, an intrapreneurial role, with Paytm focusing on financial infra from education sector


  • Founder and Chief Executive Officer HarVa (Harnessing Value of Rural India…);
  • Engineer, BITS Pilani;
  • Graduate, Management Technology, SEAS and The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Recipient, awards and honours, including:

CNN IBN Youth Icon/Young Indian Leader (2011); Amazing Global Indian, Times Now (2012-13); Yahoo unsung Heroes (2012-13); Manthan’s Chairman Excellence Award (2011); SKOCH Financial Inclusion (2011); TiE Entrepreneurial Excellence (2011); Rotary International Iconic Youth 2014; 50 most inspiring stories of 50 years, BITS Alumni; 50 most Creative Leaders at THNK.

Ajay shared –

  • Hailing from conventional family, with usual expectations of excelling academically did Engineering from BITS Pilani.
  • Then headed to the US for MS
  • Worked with CITI
  • Then one fine day asked myself, what am I doing?
  • Realized, I have not been doing what I really want to do…left everything and came back
  • HARVA – the challenge …49% of people generate less than 10 percent
  • Focussed on Community farming


Optimum 2015, Shivaji College – An interaction with inspiring young change-makers


Passionate about impact-driven companies addressing social problems through market based solutions & sustainable business models

  • Areas of interest: Decentralized energy and water solutions for developing countries, poverty alleviation, global health
  • Brown University MSc., Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship; University of British Columbia BSc., Electrical Engineering
  • Specialties: Business Planning & Strategy: Technology assessment & ideation, Primary market research, Concept definition & refinement, Market segmentation, Business model development, Financial forecasting

ISAYOrganic – Why?

  • Trying to establish a change, for sustainable life – 2010
  • Food, agriculture… Basic need
  • Helping farmers to overcome challenges
  • Did Farming for one year to understand the ground realities…
  • Realized the problems of scale in the organic agri
  • Web and phone based ordering platform…
  • Network of organic farmers…
  • Connecting the consumer


Anirban Gupta is the Founder and Director, ‘Dhriiti-the courage within’, a Non-Governmental Organization in the field of entrepreneurship and micro enterprises. Mr. Gupta did his Bachelors in Economics from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University and went on to do his Rural Management from Xavier’s Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar. He worked with FODRA, an NGO working in north east Delhi.  A few months later, he moved on to start “Dhriiti” along with two other friends.

Mr. Gupta is an individual with a very pragmatic viewpoint towards the solutions of economic problems, solutions that do not just concentrate on stacking the ever-growing pile of ex gratia in the hands of the rich, but solutions that ponder more upon the needs and requirements of the society as a whole. He believes in the modest application of social work in the field of economic development.  Mr. Gupta nurtures strong belief in the fact that development of the society does not just call for “social service” that defines the establishment of social institutions.

Anirban shared..

  • Born and brought up in the steel city of Jamshedpur
  • Every one was an engineer in the town due to TATA STEEL
  • My pursuing commerce upset parents
  • Then took rural management to their utter shock
  • What tension did I create when I did not want to get into placements

Dritii, started with my frustration..
– Inspiring….youngsters to get into entrepreneurship

Think Big, Start Small – “It is all about whether you reached where you want to be” – Sonal Kapoor, Founder Protsahan

MDI invited me to be part of a panel with four other bright young entrepreneurs to address their B-School graduates recently and I am glad that I was there. Each of the four – Amit Kharabanda from tech world, Sachin – a publisher and talent scouter, Sonal Kapoor – a social entrepreneur, Matteo chiampo – an investing evangelist – is very inspiring. As they spoke I captured my own learning notes and their stories. I thought of sharing those notes, one after another…as part of my Think Big Start Small, series..

Being a passionate photography-enthusiast, I am a regular at the exhibitions.. and I noticed at Delhi Photo Festival in 2011, a display of beautiful photographs taken by young boys and girls facilitated by a social endeavor, Protsahan. I was delighted to meet Sonal at MDI who is the might behind this flight of Protsahan.

Sonal Kapoor, the passionate lady of Protsahan

Here is the story of Sonal Kapoor – MBA 2009, Founder – Protsahan

  • I am a microbiologist by training, before I went on to do my MBA
  • I loved making films, so I joined an advertising agency and was making films; I was with a team
  • I have always been sheltered during my upbringing, Delhi does not offer much to learn I realized
  •  I was doing an assignment, shooting a film for a corporation from Netherlands
  •  As part of the assignment, near ashram in Delhi, there is a place where your come across people with Alzheimer’s
  •  A 96 year old who was Alzheimer’s and leprosy patient was made to do something for the shoot so many times, in order to the ‘right effect’. That is so painful for the person and for me to experience.
  •  I protested to the creative guy of the agency, even spoke to higher ups in the agency of no avail; I left the shoot;
  • That day it struck me, why am I not doing something for the marginalized
  • I took a cam, went a little far and shot a woman in the slum in Uttamnagar; she had six daughters; pregnant with the seventh; I had an apple that I gave to the child; for the first time, they ate an apple; then the conversation with the mother started… on a meager support from husband; for financial support, got to know that the eldest daughter is working in a brothel; pregnant with the seventh, she said – “if the child is a boy ok, but if girl, I will strangle her”
  • I judged the mother in a way that I repent now; never judge
  • Opportunity cost of not sending the child to earn is high.
  • I wanted to start a school and I wanted the school to go to Julie’s home
  • How do I make every kid happy; and also  enable them have skills to support the family


  • The school helps them to do creative work – photography – still and film-making, pre-dominantly
  • Rest is a wonderful story.. catch on http://www.protsahan.co.in
  • Core Values that form the bed-rock of our endeavor

                 – empathy        – creativity       – sustainability

  • Last year we worked with 8000 children
  • Now three schools, two in Delhi and one in Pune

There are innumerable stories and learning – The girl child did not talk, as father was no more with the family; child watched mother delivering and was shell-shocked, and we had to help her come out of it..

  • I have found that money never comes. You need to do what you believe in;
  • The investors talking about what will be the ROI in the business of sexually Invectives
  • Since then I kept the investors at bay and told myself that is it..
  • in 14 months I got a call from World bank – they want us to present what we do in front of the world;
  • I realized our work is making that difference…
  • So much to do..
  • entrepreneurship is all about attitude
  • it is all about whether you reached where you wanted to be… the journey is ongoing..

Sonal is very inspirational. We need more  Sonals to make this world even better… I would love to contribute in a small way to the cause….

Kejri and AAP, evolving rapidly on the three-phase trajectory of Acknowledgment!

Any new idea or a cause, originating from an individual or a movement has to invariably go through three stages of severe thapasya or Agni- pariksha :

  • Initial summary Rejection
  • Grudging silent acknowledgement
  • Finally, respectful embracing, recognition and celebration

Interestingly, the receiver goes through these stages in a particular cycle, vis-a-vis larger public; while every giver goes through this cycle in an asynchronous manner – time cycles vary. Go through, every individual of standing. And that individual of standing has to go through these stages every time he or she espouses a cause!

Arvind Kejriwal and AAP are somewhere between the first and second stage, politically speaking, vis-à-vis the khas parties and a few thinkers who are little behind on that trajectory compared to the AAM AADMI (ordinary people), who is somewhere between the second and the third stage. Yes, these givers will traverse those phases, eventually.

The sounds that are emanating from BJP and NaMo, who are aiming for the Gaddi in Delhi is redeploying their Weapons and Ammunitions towards AAP and Kejri, away from their main target a month ago, talks a lot about what they are perceiving is happening in the minds of AAM AADMI. The very fact BJP has not played their usual political games in Delhi to form the government, and getting embroiled in their own game to find themselves helpless is a great eye opener. NaMo’s roar in GOA yesterday and the BJP’s secret conclave focused on checkmating AAP says a lot…. Congress sees AAP as their savior from BJP bulldozing them… So, the big two political players have moved from stage on of Rejection (that existed before Dec 8, 2014) results to the stage of grudgingly acknowledging the new game changer…

Kejri is much more than what the opponents and criticizers see.. Gandhiji went through similar reactions in his initial phase of the battle for ‘Swaraj’, before he managed to attract eminent like-minded people to make it a mass movement of that could make his dream a reality. Kejri, a staunch Gandhian, is playing Gandhiji’s game…. Most critiques are failing themselves, by not seeing what is happening on the ground.

Aam Admi on the move…

Having known Kejri, at a one degree of separation for the last quarter of a century, and at zero degree of separation in the last three years, I know for sure, that he and his team will end up at the top. His record of the last two decades of public service speaks for itself….

  • Moving from a private enterprise to work in the governmental set up, was a conscious choice to serve people and the nation; to understand the working from close quarters…
  • Parivartan, was the first step towards working towards honest governance. It came about in the late nineties, when he was in the IT department, with the sole aim of taking on the corrupt and help the common man receive the services in a honest manner.
  • Then the realization dawned upon him and his team, that information, instead of being for the good of public, has become a source of power in a few hands, and the movement for RTI happened with like minded people like Aruna Roy and ilk. Eventually, RTI act became a reality. Since then it has empowered every common man to demand his right to know and be heard.
  • Then the realization that the RTI remains ineffective unless the corrupt are prevented from becoming the law makers, who patronage the corrupt all the way down the hierarchy in government and the society. Stringent watchdogs is the of the hour. A strong framework to aid the stringent watch dogs is the need of the hour. Hence the struggle to have an effective lokpal, began. The movement needed an identity. Kejriwal roped in Annaji, and many joined in. Annaji became the face of the movement, while Kejriwal created the whole support system along with a few eminent individuals who added their might. But the corrupt lawmakers did not yield. They challenged the movement to face the public in the electoral turnstiles. A few years of mass movement, though supported by large populace, did not yield result as the law makers gloated at the power they have. Kejri’s reposte, “Keechad ki safai, keechad mein utarne se hi hogi, tho hum utarenge” [If garbage can be cleaned only by stepping into it, we will]Annaji rejected the idea (not sure for what is the real reason; would he have done it, had he been a 40 year old now? I am not sure). A few of the esteemed colleagues in the movement rejected too calling politics ‘dirty’, forcing the man with conviction, Kejri, to forge ahead and AAP came Into existence. The rest is history.
  • The kichad is getting cleaned for sure….. Delhi outcome has been an eye opener for the most… compelling even a few of the ‘nay’ sayers in the IAC movement to eye BJP. I wonder what happened to the opinion of “politics is dirty” that they all threw at Kejri, just a year ago?

From Rejection to Recognition, through silent acknowledgment ….

  • What else can one say about what has happened in the thought process of the political parties in the last one month –
    • All parties passed one version of lokpal (diluted) in flat two days in both houses as they saw the writing on the wall. The years of the movement of IAC did not yield what AAP’s performance compelled the parties in the parliament within a week.
    • BJP did not dare to form the govt.; the thod-phod politics has been kept in the back burner!
    • From rejection phase, BJP and NaMo have moved a great distance into the second phase..
      • BJP is getting back to its RSS roots of using volunteers to build its base
      • BJP also building the NRI connect a-la AAP for funding
      • BJP called a special national meeting of conveners to create a strategy to stall AAP
      • NaMo’s roar with direct AAP centric speech at Goa yesterday, is the latest
  • AAP’s government is delivering, one at a time, each of the promises made – the 17 point charter being implemented, brick by brick. Quite a few actions have taken place in the short period of a fortnight…. The grudging acknowledgments follow….. both from Congress, BJP and other CMs…
    • Suddenly a few states have slashed power tariffs – Haryana, Maharashtra…
    • Free water of 666 litres per day….. Maharashtra – Shivsena taking credit..
    • The Read Beacons vanishing – Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, …
    • CM Housing not taken – Vasundhara Raje,
    • Corruption lines are buzzing, and team increased the heat with a few arrests already – Chattisgarh
    • Mohalla sabhas gaining the shape of what Gandhiji believed in ‘poorna swaraj’ by people

AAP has to be on the path, unwaiveringly, and get their act together with a lot of thought and disciplined execution. It will make sure every one move to the third stage of ’embracing and celebrating’.

This could turn out to be really a movement of ‘poorna swaraj’ cleansing the system to give honest governance; and every responsible Indian need to step out and make it happen!

Dream It! Do It! Think Big, Start Small! – Nirmal Kumar, G-Auto, transforming INDIA!

I came across the latest endeavor of G-Auto, launch of its auto-rickshaw service in Rajkot recently. Nirmal’s endeavor that started in 2009, slowly and steadily is transforming the nation through sustainable, friendly and secure transportation service. You will soon see the impact of his endeavor in your city or town too, wherever you are in India.

I have been following Nirmal ever since he started G-Auto over four years ago in Ahmedabad. Nirmal happens to be an inspiration and a good friend too. It is all the more motivating since he has been a student of Career Launcher in Hyderabad, before he headed to do his B-school education at IIMA. Every teacher and mentor will always be delighted to see his mentee outperform himself. Salute you Nirmal!

It is a moment of pride to see the mentee outperform the mentor, especially in an endeavor of PUBLIC GOOD! Salute you Nirmal!

It is a moment of pride to see the mentee outperform the mentor, especially in an endeavor of PUBLIC GOOD! Salute you Nirmal! Photo taken on the day of inauguration of Airport Express Service at Ahmedabad Airport.

I have been using Nirmal’s story along with many other stories in one of my hugely popular motivational talks – THINK BIG, START SMALL! – to goad youngsters, especially B-School grads, to become entrepreneurial leaders. You can find the earliest version of the talk on this very website – Think Big, Start Small!

From all my research on the web and personal interaction with Nirmal, that have yielded enough data and information, I am briefly sharing the story to inspire myself and you too.

Nirmal, born in a humble farming family, in the hinterland of Bihar has been afflicted by polio at the age of three. He has done his schooling from the village school in the Hindi medium. His first brush with the alphabets of English happened when he moved to Patna after class 10, for want of better education, that his parents saw as only salvation from the hardships and vagaries of being a marginal farmer.

Since he was from a farming background, he perhaps felt or was mentored to go for higher education in Agriculture. Through the national entrance exam for agricultural universities, he got selected into N G Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad. This was his first move to outside Bihar. It was a struggle initially, especially with the language, English, in understanding and speaking. This made him create a club, Phoenix, at the university to help himself and others like him, to master English language. He managed to convince his fellow students, who are good in English, to take classes on spoken and written English. His journey of Entrepreneurial Leadership began in this act.

When in the pre-final year, got to know about, Business School education and CAT, and the prospects of having a secure and respectful job prospect, if he goes into one of the IIMs. He worked hard, gave everything to get into IIMs. He eventually made it to IIMA.

Nirmal, one who got into IIMA with a dream of getting a respectful corporate career, had a life-changing experience when he had to deal with a rude auto rickshaw driver in his second year at IIMA. This set his thought process rolling. “Why cannot we have a safe, secure, comfortable and delightful public transportation. Why not world-class Tuk Tuk Service!”

Auto Drivers to turn into city’s ambassadors

He went into his introspection and brainstorming mode to come out with an Auto Rickshaw service, and named it G-Auto. He went about talking to the Auto Rickshaw drivers and their unions to convince them to join G-Auto. After a lot of interactions, a handful joined his endeavor. He ran the service for a few months that made him polish the concept and with the leap of faith, sought an appointment with the chief-minister of Gujarat, Mr. Narendra Modi. Finally, his presentation to Mr Modi convinced the CM to add his government’s weight behind Nirmal’s dream. Nirmal convinced the CM to official inaugurate the service, and I suppose it was done with a drive to his office from home, escorted by Nirmal. This small gesture of the CM, was widely published in all media, an in no time more Auto Rickshaw drivers started looking at G-Auto as the god send. The numbers started swelling. From a couple of hundreds the numbers today exceed 15,ooo across cities of Ahmedabad, Gandhi Nagar, Vadodara and now Rajkot.

Some time in 2010, I happen to land at the Ahmedabad Airport and noticed an A4 sheet on the pillar next to the luggage belt announcing the launch of “G-Auto Airport Express Service,” the very day. I quickly lifted my luggage and headed out looking for the G-Auto booth only to be confronted by the other auto rickshaw-drivers who were blocking my way towards the G-Auto cabin, casting all kinds of aspersions. Later, Nirmal shared about the challenges of dealing with the unruly drivers and unions that at times even endangered his life. I have been using G-Auto ever since it has been launched, whenever I am in Gujarat.

What is so special about this Auto Rickshaw service –

For the Customer :

Drivers are trained in English and Hindi to interact, also trained to provide customer delight. They also are taken sessions on the heritage of the city to make them into heritage ambassadors. What more you can ask for than a friendly advise from the auto driver the moment you land in the city, on everything that you can imagine about the city.

G-Autos have News Papers/Mags, Mobile chargers, PCO, and water, above all safety and security with a contact number for immediate action on any complaints. The 24×7 call centre takes care of all your needs of transportation by Auto now. Children and women can move around anytime of the day and night without any alarm. You get the receipt for your payments with all details and numbers whenever you board a G-Auto. The Pilot insists on your taking the receipt!

For the Auto-rickshaw driver, called PILOT in G-Auto :

Drivers have insurance cover – both accidental and life, child-education loan and other loans, addition revenue streams from PCO, selling newspapers and mags etc. More importantly gave them security, dignity along with prosperity. The brand value now rubs onto the image of the PILOT. He now proudly says “I am with G-Auto”.

Recently, after spate of highly publicized cases of harassment and rape of women, Delhi government has thought of doing something more to its public transportation system, especially Auto service. Nirmal Foundation after its presentation has been short-listed to provide services in the Capital. Soon you will see G-Auto enthralling the Delhi commuters too!

How does the business of “Auto Service” look like? The numbers story!

Now if you are keen on looking at the potential, here are the numbers, my back of the envelope calculations..

– Every time you hire G-Auto, G-Auto for its world-class secure services, charges Rs 20/- as service charges, over and above the meter reading. Even after paying this amount your bill will be far lesser than what otherwise the auto rickshaws fleece.

– Now, an Auto plies on the streets for no less than 10-12 hours. Even if I conservatively say, it services 10 customers in a day. It amounts to Rs. 200/- Nirmal foundation earns from every auto every day.

– For an estimated 15,000 auto rickshaws that ply on the roads under G-Auto, the collections is 15,000 * 200 every day. That amounts 30 lacs a day!

– Nirmal’s target is to create 10 Lakh auto rickshaw power by 2020!

– Does that end there? No. Since G-AUto has become a reliable and security giving brand, every company wants to associate and reach out to the end-customer. Nirmal now gets various services, like the Airport express service, branded. It was called ‘State Bank of India – Airport express service’, if I remember correctly when I got into the G-Auto from Airport on that day in 2010. The announcement inside the Auto said, “Welcome to State Bank of India, world-class G-Auto service”. The Auto becomes a great space to engage with your prospective customer with all the collaterals like brochures and leaflets thrown into the beautifully styled auto. Every such deal is going to fetch a few lakhs every month. And many such sponsors are queing up to create a multi-crore stream there. Nirmal shared, “Now my work has become more of networking business that adds immense value to every partner who partners with us.”

Are you ready to take the charge of your own life and that of your city? Nirmal is here to help you take the leap!

I will not be surprised if G-Auto makes about Rs. 100-120 Crores a year for Nirmal Foundation. This has helped Nirmal to venture into many more social transformation projects like — ‘CoCoFresh’ to help street hawkers, ‘Umeed’ for skills education of urban marginal youth, ‘Nirmaljobs’ for deploying all the trained youth into gainful jobs. I can visualize a grand transformational NIRMAL FOUNDATION spanning the entire country in the years to come.

In fact, Nirmal, a couple of years ago, asked me whether I know of young, dynamic entrepreneurial youngsters who want to take G-Auto endeavor to their own cities. I have been sharing this possibility with youth in every city that I do my sessions in, challenging youngsters to jump at the opportunity to impact themselves and also their own city, in every way. Are you ready for the game? If so, write to me sreeni@careerlauncher.com or go to http://www.g-auto.org and write to Nirmal directly

Gandhiji and his relevance today : Dr R K Pachauri, Chairperson of Nobel Prize winning IPCC

Dr. R K Pachauri sharing the Gandhian Values that are relevant today, and for ages to come

Dr. R K Pachauri sharing the Gandhian Values that are relevant today, and for ages to come

Padma vibhushan Dr, R. k . Pachauri, Chair of intergovernmental panel on climate change (ipcc) addressing the gathering at BIMTECH on the occassion of inauguration of the golden jubilee celebrations, shared a few inspiring thoughts from the journey of Mahatma Gandhi, as it was also OCT 2nd, Gandhiji’s birth Anniversary. Here I try to recall for my own self and also for those who are keen learners.

Dr. Pachauri, apart from being instrumental in IPCC getting the NOBEL peace prize for the work it has been doing under his leadership, has also been decorated by the governments of France, Japan, finland, mexico, belgium. He is the director of TERI (The Energy Research Institute of India, formerly TATA ENERGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE)

His speech revolved around the question “Can the MOTHER EARTH bear the brunt of materialistic world? For how long?”, especially in the context of business and the conscience business management graduates need to have in the dynamically changing world.

Tatas and Birlas, being at the forefront of industrialization of the country have been conscious about contributing to the nation and the environment. GD Birla’ left his vast empire to his son B K Birla, advising that he will use the wealth for the cause of humanity apart from growing the wealth in a fair manner. We can see their contributions, in terms of institutions they have created that are identities of our nation, INDIA.

Dr. Pachauri shared Gandhiji’s list to his grandson of ‘Seven sins that will destroy us’. We need to be very conscious of these in the emerging socio-political conditions.

– Wealth without work
– Pleasure without conscience
– Knowledge without character
– Commerce without morality
– Science without humanity
– Worship without sacrifice
– politics without principles

Gandhiji wrote this on a piece of paper to his grandson, on the very day, a few hours before his assassination.

It is time to rediscover Gandhiji. Gandhiji has to be with us 365 days a year. It is not about one single day…We need to leave behind a legacy for our children

SEVEN thoughts culled out from the principles that Gandhiji said and followed.. and its relevance..

1. Industry should regard themselves as trustees of the society

Jagdish Bhagavati said “It is pity that the leaders in the industry are earning only to do the vulgar display”

G d Birla is a great example of being a follower of Gandhiji. He was a visionary who has created such a value for the nation, and never displayed vulgarity of the wealth. CSR has to be within. It has to come from within each of those who are going to lead the industry in the future. We need to lose ourselves in those whom we have to serve, the society at large; nothing as satisfying as serving to the society.

Gandhiji is far more relevant today than at any other point in the past.

We need to go beyond the consumerist values prevalent today. We are acting like the locusts. We need to protect and preserve natural resources around us. We are binging unmitigated, without any constraints. Where will it take us?

We want to buy cars, more cars. In a society where substantial numbers are deprived, can we increase the disparity.

2. Model of development

India cannot prosper if rural India is left behind. Urbanization is inevitable. But at what rate? Are we destroying social values, culture and tradition. Are we able to adjust with the rapid urbanization.

The social fabric and cultural ethos is under enormous pressure. Neighbors do not know each other. Community involvement has to be promoted. Individual enterprise is important and is a corner stone of growth, but are we conscious of our social responsibility?

3. Value of maintaining natural resources

“Mr Gandhi would you want India reach the level of prosperity as great Britain” was a question put to Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji responded -“Great Briton needed Half of the planet. How many planets do we need?” We cannot have a plan B, as there is no planet B.

4. The pattern of economic developement, in a subtle way. GDP is seen as the measure of growth. There a few significant things that if overseen then we are in the wrong direction

Speed is irrelevant if you are going in the wrong direction- Gandhi

5. Wildlife is decreasing in the jungle, but increasing in the cities? The more we prosper, the greater is our propensity towards profligacy and irreverence towards the nature and systems

6. Gandhi always was concerned with the underprivileged. Apply the test of what is the underprivileged going to receive? We are worse than most of the African countries.

Gandhiji spoke about holistic living –

– Keep focus on the benefit of the poor
– keep responsibility of the society in mind

7. India must emerge a pattern of sustainable development. We need to set an example. Each one of us has the responsibility. We are now a population of 9bn from 2bn in the beginning of 20th century. what do we pass on to the next generations..



1. Corporates and individuals know there is no planet B. we are losing cultural ethos. How do we work to facilitate?

A. We need to ask ourselves what is the impact on ecosystem and poorest of the poor.

We clean our home and empty on the streets, philosophically speaking! We need to inbuilt conscience in our every day life..

2. We as B-School graduates are heading to MNC companies. We are looking at only profits. Your advise?

A. Kindly exercise your conscience. These need to dictate terms. Organizations are not incensitive. Can we individually or in groups influence. Companies are sensitive. Subject of triple bottom line. The reputation that you will gain due to sustainability practices is immense. We will be thru immense public scrutiny. You can be leaders to make the shifts in the direction

3. Mahatma Gandhi suggested many about environment. Which of these is the best to followed?

A. Mahatma Gandhi had a very comprehensive view of development. It is holistic. We need to express much greater solidarity with the poorest of the poor. It is a causality. Welfare programs are poorly administered. NREGA is poorly implemented – noble cause, poor outcome. We can use the resources judiciously. We cannot afford to have this level of poverty. It has to be very high on the agenda.

4. Each time I hear a person like you and about trusteeship, I wonder -‘ Is trying to create wealth a crime? Is poverty a byproduct of wealth creation? How to create trusteeship. How do we define this trusteeship

A. Wealth need not be created along with elimination of poverty. Poverty is being patronized. Politicians have done it for obvious reasons. If we had created skills and capabilities to pull population out of poverty, we would have been much better off. We need greater focus now.

What is the education that our children in the rural India is getting. Can we use resources effectively.

Jimmy Carter commented, “when I was governor of Georgia, very small number were in jail; today the number is seven times, largest per capit in the world”.

Four countries are responsible for the capital punishment – Iran, Russia, China and the US

Scandinavian countries are rich yet welfare rich too

5. CSR – based on your experience, kindly share

The TERI program, ‘Lighting a billion lives’, initiated. Reach 400mn who do not have access to electricity. Low cost, light weight LED lanterns, to train villagers. Women charge and rent to the villages… Corporates are supporting it. No direct benefit to them.. Covered 2000 villages. It will snowball.

We have no idea what it makes to a household by providing such a simple solution..children, women, family healthier with less fumes, more time to study and do other household work…

6. Land use and forestry are major contributors. Urbanization contributes to degradation. How can we be inclusive.

Delhi has areas that are green. We need pattern of urbanization that promotes natural beauty and greenery. There is a large area in this country that can be consciously worked upon. Nainital, where I was born is in a sad state – degradation

We can have green cities. Safdarjug airport can be converted to green spaces. We get stuck between departments. I hope we soon do it.

7. We saw you with a Lantern in hand with Al Gore in the Chicago summit… Could you share your thoughts on Role of government

A. I have a vision. Programs that can feed power into the national grid. How do we go about convincing the nation

Solar roof programmes. Delhi can really contribute with vast amount roof space. Solar water heater, can. Not do it consciously. We can save several hundred megawatts of power. We need leadership, that acts.

[Sreeni: One of my friends from Germany shared about the solar farms on the roof tops that pump into the national grid. Imagine with 340 days of bright sun across the country, how many Terrawatts of energy that we can generate..]

8. Climate change. A lot of hue and cry…

Is it really a reality. It is natural for the earth to have the changes. Is it natural? Climate of the earth changes gets due to natural and human factors. A large change is very likely because of human induced changes. With our behavioral patterns we are changing the planet. Right now we are overwhelming the changes, which may bring about natural overwhelming. Small islands, coastal area, rain fed agriculture and … Are getting impacted. Let us be conscious of our every act.


Unsung Heroes : Sahooji, Pohewale – Raipur, Chattisgarh

Unsung hero Sahooji, Raipur

Unsung hero Sahooji, Raipur

On my travel through chattisgarh, I reached Raipur from Bhilai, one early morning, after my day long workshop with about two hundred young b-school aspirants in Bhilai. My workshops usually end with my favourite session on entrepreneurship. And I am always on lookout for new stories all the time to add to the session.

When I stepped out of the bus, it was early morning 7am, the roads were deserted in Raipur. In a while, school children started emerging on the streets to take their school buses. Since I had reached earlier than scheduled, I started capturing the children with my camera. I still had about an hour to spend before the CL office opened for the day. I thought of walking along the road further.

As I moved, about a couple of hundred feet, I noticed a huge crowd around a ‘thela’ (a hand cart’). Also I saw that cars of various sizes and shapes were parked. I could just see the roof of the thela. This cart was parked in front of a large shopping mall, which was closed since it was too early in the day. I reached the place and started observing. The crowd was mostly a mix of youngsters – college students and, rich and wealthy who are on their way from their morning walks and workouts. The gentleman manning the thela, along with a young support staff, was too busy serving pipe hot ‘poha’.

I was observing the action, while clicking a few photos too, from the vantage point of the mall. A group of youngsters, whom I could identify by their discussions as engineering college students, who live in nearby paying guest accommodations, finished their breakfast, packed a few more plates of poha and vanished. Crowd kept coming. Just then a group of four gentlemen, In their track suits, Got down from a car, ordered for their breakfast and started stretching and relaxing. I approached them to ask a few questions.

Are you all coming from your morning workouts ? Yes, we go for a walk at Gandhi Udyan, which is a couple of kilometers from here.

Do you go by this way every day?The way back from our work outs, we come here for our breakfast every day.

Since how long have you been coming? We have been regular here for the last four years.

What makes you come here? After our walks we tend to continue our chat. What a better way than to do it over hot, tasty and healthy breakfast. And Sahuji’s poha is the best.

Meanwhile Sahuji delivers hot poha for them to relish. And I moved on to the thela.

The crowd still coming. I accosted another gentleman who was eating his third plate of poha and started asking him about why and what of his choice of having breakfast here. He owns a Chevrolet showroom and has been a regular for the last two and half years. Here is the video.

While Sahu ji was still busy, I tried to elicit some information about his business. Though I shared with him that all data I need is for motivating youngsters, Sahooji was very reluctant to reveal any numbers. He was willing to share a l other worldly knowledge, very comfortably. While interacting with me, he refilled the hot pan with the next tranche of poha from the stock.

I pieced the heard and unheard, observed and sensed information :

1. His day starts at 4am, when he starts making poha
2. By 6:30am He reaches the business location, with his thela well equipped
3. His wares get exhausted by 10am
4. Then he spends an hour shopping for the next day
5. By 12pm, he is free for the day


1. Twenty Kilograms of poha made every day
2. Every plate of poha is about 50gms
3. So every kilogram yields 20 plates;
4. And twenty kgs yield 400 plates
5. Each plate, sold at rs. 20/-, yields about rs. 8000/- per day
6. His costs do not exceed 1500/- a day

On a conservative estimate he makes about Rs. 2 Lakhs a month

When I went for the motivation session in a college later in the day in Raipur, I started my session with this example. All of them immediately shared that the Pohawala is Sahooji and he is popular by the name Sahooji pohewale!

What would happen if a young MBA grad goes and sits with Sahooji and, helps him think big. With his popularity, I am sure we can launch ‘many theles’, mentored and facilitated by him. Each of these theles can be branded ‘Sahuji pohewale’ working on standards and consistency in taste and experience.

How many of us, well qualified B-school grads, are willing to take Such a challenge?

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