Thursday, June 18, 2015 Tags: 0 comments

Sumana Shenoy of Udupi shares her experience of her LEAD Prayana journey 2015

LEAD PRAYANA… the life transforming journey
It was in the holidays after a hectic 7th semester that, I was waiting for some kind of tour for a break from the daily routine.  For my surprise, on 8th of January I received a forwarded email from the college which was an application for “LEAD PRAYANA”.

It was a journey of not 3 days, not 5 days, not even a week but a grand 16 days. What stuck my eyes immediately was an opportunity to meet the role models like Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, the 2014 Nobel peace prize winner, N.R. Narayana Murty, the cofounder of Infosys, Phanindra Sama, the founder, Suhas Gopinath, the founder, C.EO.  and chairman of Globals Inc., at the age of 25 and so many other legends whom I had seen only in the media so far!

A journey to 10 destinations across Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh,  meeting role models and more than anything 15 days completely away from the routine chores made me to apply for it immediately. My application with the resume got selected for the next round of telephonic interview and I cleared it successfully too. I was one of those lucky 150 people who had been selected for the Prayana among the thousands of applications across the country.  But when I told this with my best friend, the only exclamation she made was, “Are you crazy? You are going for a long tour with all the strangers!” I really didn’t have any answer for it!

On 23rd January morning I was at Viswesvaraya Technological University (VTU) in Belagavi, which was so innovatively decorated by the young LEADers of Belagavi location. A part of the campus was filled with enthusiastic youngsters, who were finishing up the arrangements for Lead Prayana, wearing the blue t-shirt which read,  Complaints start with they… Solutions start with I
The program for the first day was a VTU campus tour. It was rather a frustrating day for me since I didn’t know anyone in the crowd. But the mesmerizing cultural events that evening by the Belgaum location cheered me up.

Next day an amazing activity whose aim was to make us know one another was organized. The activity was to move randomly with the eyes closed, when the organizers inform we opened the eyes and made a group of a particular number with whoever was around us. This was conducted for a long time and each time we made new friends, knowing a maximum number of people by the end of the activity.
After the session with V.T.U. vice chancellor Dr. Maheshappa, the journey started from Belgaum which is officially known as Lead Prayana kick off.  Prayana was not just visiting the sites and interacting with role models, every second of Prayana had learning with fun. Brain storming & leadership activities were conducted in the buses during journey.

Every prayani had an inspiring story to tell. There was a girl called Varsha who had just graduated from her bachelor’s degree being the topper in the whole university but was surprisingly practicing tailoring. She had denied even an offer letter from TCS. The sole reason for her craziness was she was following her dream of starting up something related to tailoring where she could train and employ hundreds of women who are in need.  Such was her passion and determination in realizing her dream. Sooner or later but without any doubt she is going to realize her dream. There was another brave gentleman called Dinesh who was an engineering graduate, was all set to start up his own food processing industry unlike other common graduates.
Like these, there were countless motivating stories of my co-prayanis, which were no less than any epics.
We reached our next destination- Siddaganga Institute of Technology, in Tumakuru we had the privilege to take the blessings of Dr. Shri Shri Shri Shivakumara Swamiji the so called walking God of Karnataka, who continues his humanitarian work even at the age of 108 and follows his routine time table strictly without any laziness unlike the majority of today’s youth.

Siddaganga Mutt Education Trust provides free education to around 8,000 poor students. At the surroundings of the mutt, we conducted so many activities like organizing games for the children. We also gave them cloth lines. We collected funds from the visitors and bought necessary items for the children, made them aware of cleanliness, we even cleaned the surroundings of the mutt which were made so dirty by the tourists and simultaneously conveyed the message of clean India to the public.
Next we headed for Doddaballapur to visit the organic farmer Dr. Narayana Reddy. I witnessed the real Indian culture at the place of that ‘karma yogi’. I had never seen a person so simple living than him despite of being a well known international resource person. His methods of cultivation have been studied by international experts as well as reputed scientists.We worked in his farm along with him and lost ourselves in the arms of nature. By evening we left the place unwillingly with loads of learning and lessons of simple living. 

Next we reached Kuppam of Andhra Pradesh where Agastya International Foundation is located. It is founded by Mr. Ramji Raghavan with a vision to build a creative India of “thinkers, solution-seekers, creators” by making practical hands-on science education accessible to students of government schools.
We witnessed a scientific and hyper innovative world there, where each and every concept of science was demonstrated and taught practically. It was a wonderful day at Agastya which currently is the largest hands-on science program in the world.
That evening we went to a nearby village and performed a street play with child labor as its theme with hardly any rehearsal. The play was so successfully enacted that the villagers received the message and requested us to visit them frequently.

It was a new experience for me, interacting with the village people where 90% of them were living below poverty line. Agriculture was their main profession but they did not have adequate water supply. All such miseries of the people reminded me of my ‘duty’ to serve the society. 
The stay at Kuppam ended with a grand cultural evening with dandia, folk songs, dance and unlimited fun.

Then, the next destination was Bengaluru and was the most exciting one because here the 40 LEAD Prayanis of route 2, Andhra Pradesh, joined us to travel the further journey together. At Bengaluru we had an exposure visit and session at Microsoft ventures.
There was an interactive session with TEAM INDUS and it was the most inspiring, most surprising session in the whole journey. TEAM INDUS was started by space enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and industry experts, who weren’t astronauts, weren’t scientists but they just had a dream to go to the Moon.

Many people in this world say that their dream is to land on moon but they actually don’t mean it since they already consider it is impossible. But these people actually followed their dream, they contacted the ISRO SCIENTISTS and learnt from them, did a research on space science and finally with such reckless hard work, now theirs is the only Indian entity in the prestigious Google Lunar XPrize. Soon they might create the history of being the first private organization to land on moon and that would be a very proud moment for Indians.
Further in the journey, we visited Infosys Mysuru, Dharamastala -where we even had a session with Dr. Veerendra Heggade. Then we visited a cashew industry of Mangaluru and had an interaction with Mr. Sasishekhar Krish. Then we proceeded to the Manipal University campus & had a session with Dr. Vinod Bhat.

At the end of the prayana we returned to Hubballi. Next we had an exposure visit to Akshaya Patra, the world’s largest kitchen. They fed 1.8 million children daily with a hygienic, healthy and a balanced meal, just because of the fact that they realized that when the basic needs of a child are not met, education often becomes the last priority. So this meal is an incentive for them to attend school daily and continue their education.
Next we landed up in a musical world at Kalkeri. It was founded and run by foreigners who provide musical & academic education to more than 200 underprivileged children free of charges.
More than a school Kalkeri sangeet Vidyalaya is a living and working ideal where students were given modern education and also taught the ancient disciples of Indian classical music. The prime emphasis is on teaching English as the main language of communication. Even the first standard students speak excellent English there.

Back in Hubballi 6 and 7 February were very important days, not only for the prayanis but also for the whole family of LEAD from 5 states of the country because of the annual grand celebration, awarding and appreciating the initiatives and actions of the LEADers, the YUVA SUMMIT.
It is a renowned conference on leadership, development, innovation & entrepreneurship and is a meeting of galaxy of academicians, entrepreneurs & enthusiastic youth. The chief speakers of the summit were Mr. Kailash Satyarti and Mr. N.R.Narayana Murty. Prior to the summit, the Prayanis had moved around the entire Hubballi and collected pledges from thousands of the people against child labour in support of Mr.Kailash Satyarti’s  Bachpan Bachao Andolan .
We performed flash mob at Urban Oasis mall and at the end of the performance, conveyed Mr. Satyarti’s message to the people gathered there. Yuva summit was the most mesmerizing occasion I had ever witnessed in my life.  So many legendaries like Mr.Narayana Murty, Mr.Rajanish Menon, Mr.Naveen Jha, Mr.Goutam Ostwal were all gathered at the Deshpande Foundation. Young successful entrepreneurs like Mrs. Shravani, Mr.Abhishek Bendigeri, Mr. Phanindra Sama, Mr. Suhas Gopinath and countless others were guiding and inspiring the LEADers who approached them. The famous writer Rashmi Bansal was giving her e-mail address to the students who were passionate writers but needed guidance in that field. Thus Yuva Summit provided a golden opportunity for us to interact directly with the otherwise not reachable legends.  

There were interactive sessions with founders of Deshpande Foundation, with Mr. Kailash Satyarti, with Mr. Narayana Murty, Mr.Phanindra Sama and also Mr. Suhas Gopinath at whose session I got the privilege to propose the vote of thanks.
Yuva summit best LEADer award ceremony was held at Taj Gateway hotel with more than thousand people witnessing the ceremony & Mr. Kailash Satyarti presenting the best LEADer award.
I had started the journey with strangers and finally it was the last day of the journey- 7th of February. By the,we, all the 150 special and unique prayanis had become the life time closest best friends and guides of each other. We learnt a lot from each other more than what we had learnt from the role models.

Before coming in contact with all my co-prayanis, I was just like a frog in the well! Most of the prayanis who were already the LEAD members & were in the first or second year of different fields like engineering, commerce, science, medicine etc. and  had completed so many projects in different fields - social, technical, agricultural, health and many more - and were making an impact in the society. They were literally following the idea of being the change that they want to see in the world.
Through prayana we got the courage to question anything, learnt excellent communication skill. We actually came out of that shell of hesitation and got that urge to achieve greater success in life by being different from the crowd. The journey taught us to be the problem solvers than being the complaint boxes. Throughout the journey we were made so close to the word entrepreneurship by providing us close interaction with successful, young and inspiring entrepreneurs. 
On the night of February 7, we had a dinner party arranged for us at the Gateway hotel Hubballi. We promised our friend and philosopher, LEAD and LEAD PRAYANA functional head Mr. Ajay Suman Shukla that we would apply the learning that we acquired during those golden 16 days into life and make an impact in society.

The Prayana was not just a journey but was a package of immense pleasure;  hardships at times but it instilled in us some life transforming values  which would inspire us to serve our society, and in turn, the nation.  With the end of Lead Prayana, the real prayana of our life had begun with a new sense of purpose and direction.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 Tags: 1 comments

Leadership journey to unleash the leadership potential

LEAD Prayana a leadership journey to unleash leadership potential, from January 23rd to February 7th with 137 college students from throughout the country traveled across Karnataka, interacting with role models and experienced speakers.  As the LEAD Prayana tagline suggests, students became inspired in order to unleash their leadership potential through exposure to individuals and institutions that have innovated and implemented solutions to major challenges. Through this leadership journey on wheels, the LEAD Program aims to build in youth the need to bring a change through effective leadership.  
Throughout the 16-day journey, the Prayana students traveled 1,800 km to interact with more than 20 role models and speakers throughout 9 locations. Each day was full of excitement, enjoyment and learning to ensure that Prayana participants kept their energy high.

Day 1 and Day2: Belgaum
137 students started their journey at VTU in Belgaum. After, the students completed their registration process ,they spent the day learning about VTU and its impressive efforts. The day ended with cultural programs. Next day , the flag off ceremony was hosted by Chief Guest as Mr. Vivek Pawar(Founder of Sankalp Semiconductor), Guest of Honor as Naveen Jha(CEO of Deshpande, Mr. Ajay(Functional Head of LEAD Program, Desphande Foundation) was also present. Dr. H Maheshappa (Vice Chancellor of VTU) was the first role model speaker.


LEAD Prayana participants began its third day of the journey full of energy. They did Yoga under the guidance of Dr. Ramaswamy(Executive Director of Patanjali Yoga Shikshana Samithi). The students also visited Siddaganga Math and were blessed by Sree Sree Sree Shivkumar Swamiji. They also participated in community activities at the Math.

Later, in the evening students interacted with Director of SIT,Tumkur, Dr. M.N. Channabasappa . He spoke about the market scenario for the engineering students.

Day 4: Dodballapur
The fourth day of Prayana began with celebration of 65th Republic Day at SIT Tumkur.  Director of SIT, Tumkur, and Dr. M.N. Channabasappa hoisted the National flag and spoke about the importance of constitution in a democratic country like India. After the celebration, the participants of Prayana moved towards Marelanahalli near Dodballapur where they met real life example of '' simple living and high thinking '' who is Dr. Narayana Reddy. 
The participants of LEAD Prayana visited the farm of Dr. Narayana Reddy at Marelanahalli and learnt the importance of organic farming and the harmful effects of using chemicals and  pesticides in farming and crops production.
Day 5 & 6: Kuppam

The participants of LEAD Prayana arrived to Agastya International Foundation on Jan 27 to learn, explore and develop new perspective about their environment. During their two day stay at foundation which was on 27 and 28 of February, they created a high energy wave by working on science models and involving in community activities. The LEAD Prayana participants performed a street play in five villages of Kuppam -Mushtrahalli, Kothapalli, Dhonimadgu grama, Kamasamudra and Bangarpeth and created awareness about dowry, child marriage and superstitions. The participants also involved themselves in several communication activities like plantation of saplings and painting a bus stand at Salachinthanapalli.
Day 7: Bangalore
The LEAD Prayana participants spent their 7th day of Prayana journey at Bangalore with Rajnish Mennon, Director of Microsoft Ventures and Team Indus. They also interacted with Ramji Raghavan, Founder of Agastya International Foundation.
The director of Microsoft ventures interacted with participants and shared life incident which caused him to achieve great heights. Students were inspired by the unique dream of Team Indus and their dedication towards it. Later in the day, students interacted with the founder of Agastya International Foundation, Ramji Raghavan.

Day8: Mysore    
Participants began their day at S-VYASA with a session by Pro vice Chancellor of S-VYASA, Dr. H Nagendra. He spoke about the importance of Yoga in daily life and advantages of practicing it.
After the short visit to University campus, Prayana team began their journey towards Infosys, Mysore. At Infosys Mysore, the participants spent their day at Infosys Centre of Learning. The students were marveled at the brilliant architecture and the hard work that was put in to bring a beautiful campus of 337acres which trains 14000 employees. Along with the campus visit, students were given a session on leadership qualities by Mr. Sundar K, Senior Lead Principal of Education and Training Unit. 
Day 9 & 10: Dharmasthala
Participants of Prayana were fascinated by the holy town of Dharmasthala. The cleanliness, rural development programs, sewage treatment, organic farming, waste management are followed at Dharmasthala. The participants of LEAD Prayana 2015 were inspired. They also interacted with the man behind the success of Dharmasthala, Dr. D Veerendra Heggade.
Day 11: Mangalore

On the eleventh day of the Prayana, LEAD Prayana participants had an educational tour to Kalbhavi cashew nut industry at Mangalore. Students saw nanoPix Cashew Sorting Machine first-hand. While cashew sorting can be a lengthy process because of the need for visual inspection, the nanoPix Cashew Sorting Machine relies on its ImageIn Technology to inspect the cashew nuts more quickly and efficiently. The students then engaged in a session with nanoPix, Sasi Sekar (Founder and CEO, nanoPix). He inspired the students with his advice to identify passion and channel it to become an entrepreneur. 
Day12: Manipal

On twelfth day of the journey with LEAD Prayana 2015, participants  visited campus of Manipal University and interacted with Pro Vice chancellor of Manipal University, Dr. Vinod Bhat. He spoke about the great heights that Manipal University has reached recently. It is imparting education in all the fields including medical, management, hospitality etc. 

On the same day they reached Hubli and attended session at Seven Beans, a popular hangout café in Hubli. Mr.Gautam Ostwal, the President of TiE addressed the gathering and spoke about starting up a business. He also spoke about the advantage of having good networks.

Day 13: Dharwad
Akshay Patra and Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya was the destination of LEAD Prayana on their 13th day of journey. The participants learnt about the working of Akshay Patra and interacted with Pramod Swamiji. 

Pramod Swamiji spoke about the history of Akshay Patra and how it is serving food to 9000 schools and thus covering 8 lakh students. Later in the day, the participants had a pleasurable experience of exploring the campus of Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya and interacted with the students.

Day 14: Hubli
LEAD Prayana participants 2015 interacted with Mr. Gururaj Deshpande and Mrs. Jayashree Deshpande in the morning on 14th day of their journey. Gururaj Deshpande advised students to concentrate on their health and develop the habit of yoga every day.
He said that - without health you cannot achieve much. So do not ignore health. Later in the day, the participants interacted with Gaurav Shah, founder of seven beans and Shravani, co-founder of safe hands 24x7.

Day 15: Hubli
The morning started off with a morning session with Suhas Gopinath.  The students also interacted with Rashmi Bansal, Kailash Satyarthi and N R Narayan Murthy. They shared their life story and motivated students to dream big and work hard. 
The Prayana students also visited the LEAD project displays and LEAD Talk sessions. Later in the day, the students participated in the YUVA Summit, rally held to create awareness against child labour. The rally was held from Deshpande Foundation till The Gateway, Hubli.

Day 16: Hubli

The last day of the Prayana was spent interacting with entrepreneurs Phanindra Sama(founder of , Raju Reddy(founder of  Sierra Atlantic) and Anshu Gupta (Founder of Goonj) .They had their last Prayana dinner at Open Gateway and bid farewell to each other with a heavy heart.

Friday, January 24, 2014 2 comments

Recap: LEAD Prayana 2014

From January 7th to January 21st, 114 college students from throughout the country traveled across Karnataka, interacting with reputable way.  As the LEAD Prayana tagline suggests, students became inspired in order to unleash their leadership potential through exposure to individuals and institutions that have innovated and implemented solutions to major challenges.  Through this leadership journey on wheels, the LEAD Program aims to instill in youth the need to bring about change through effective leadership.  

Throughout the 14-day journey, the Prayana students traveled 1,800 kms to interact with 12 role models throughout 9 locations. Each day was packed with excitement, enjoyment and learning to ensure that Prayana students kept their energy high.

Day 1: Belgaum
The 120 students kicked off their journey at VTU in Belgaum.  After the students completed the registration process, they spent the day learning about VTU and its impressive efforts. The day ended with the kick off ceremony, which included Guests of Honor and Dr. H Maheshappa (Vice Chancellor, VTU), Dr. Raj Melville (Executive Director, Deshpande Foundation) and Mr. Naveen Jha (CEO, Deshpande Foundation).  The Guests of Honor addressed the students and wished them luck on their leadership journeys ahead.

Dr. H Maheshappa (Vice Chancellor, VTU)

2014 LEAD Prayana Group
Day 2: Sagar
After a flag off from VTU in the morning, the students made their way to Sagar.  They got to know their travel companions along the way through various bonding activities.  After arriving in Sagar, the group went on an exposure visit to Charaka.  An evening session with Charaka and DESI founder, Prasanna, helped the students learn how they can cope with the mistakes in their lives.  The got a taste of rural lifestyle during their night stay in Heggodu village.

Prayana Flag Off from VTU

Session with Prasanna (Founder, Charaka and Desi)
Manipal University Site Visit

Day 3: Manipal
The students spent the day at Manipal University!  They begin their Manipal experience with interactive sessions with Manipal University Chancellor Dr. Mohandas Pai and Pro-Vice Chancellor, Dr. Vinod Bhat.  After the session, the students were given the opportunity to tour beautiful and futuristic Manipal campus.

Mr. Sasi Sekar (Founder and CEO, nanoPix)

Day 4: Manipal
Students got to see nanoPix Cashew Sorting Machine first-hand.  While cashew sorting can be a lengthy process because of the need for visual inspection, the nanoPix Cashew Sorting Machine relies on its ImageIn Technology to more quickly and efficiently inspect the cashew nuts.  The students then engaged in a session with nanoPix, Sasi Sekar (Founder and CEO, nanoPix).  He inspired the students with his advice about identifying passion and channeling it to become an entrepreneur. 

The students left Manipal and traveled towards Dharmasthala.  On the way, the students participated in sharing and more bonding activities.

Dharmasthala Site Visit
Day 5: Dharmasthala
The students started their day with an exposure visit to SIRI.  Next, the students performed street skits to create awareness about cleanliness inside and outside the Dharmasthala temple.  Students commented that this activity taught them teamwork and communication skills. The day ended with a role model session with Dr. Veerendra Heggade (Dharmadhikari, Dharmasthala).  Dr. Heggade addressed the students regarding religion.

Dharmasthala Site Visit

Session with Dr. Veerendra Heggade
Day 6: Sullia

An exposure visit to a suspension bridge was beautiful and exhilarating.  A role model session with Mr. Girish Bharadwaj, the bridge builder behind these suspension bridges, helped the students understand the necessity of improving connectivity between rural communities and urban cities.

Session with Mr. B. Girish Bharadwaj

Day 7: Mysore
The students spent the day at Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM). They visited the hospital, radio station, and different schools run by SVYM.  Students enjoyed learning about SVYM, its history, and its success.

Site Visit to SVYM

Day 8: Mysore and Dodballapur
Site Visit to Infosys
Students were given a sneak peek into the future at Infosys.   Students were awe struck by the cleanliness and efficiency that they saw.  After a brief orientation about Infosys and its history, the students were divided into groups and given the challenge to come up with their own company and business plans to be created from a Rs. 50 lakh investment.  The group then made its way to Dodballapur, near Bangalore.  They had dinner and spent the night at the organic farm of Dr. Narayan Reddy (Organic farmer).

Site Visit to Infosys

Session with Dr. Narayan Reddy
Day 9: Dodballapur and Bangalore

The students started their day bright and early with an interactive session with Dr. Narayan Reddy.  He spoke to the students about the importance of living a life full of simplicity and self-satisfaction.  After the session with Dr. Reddy, the students enjoyed exploring his farm.  The group then left the farm and made its way to Bangalore for a session with Mr. Ramji Raghavan (Founder, Agastya International Foundation).

Session with Mr. Ramji Raghavan

Prayanis Enjoying in Kuppam
Day 10 and 11: Kuppam
The students were lucky enough to spend two days enjoying at Agastya International Foundation in Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh. At Agastya, students gained excitement for learning through many hands-on activities. From constructing a model of a dear out of waste products, to trying out hands-on science projects, to exploring the surrounding nature on early morning nature walks, students were constantly engaged in learning and building upon their teamwork and creative abilities.

Community Activities in Kuppam

Day 12: Chitradurga and Hubli
The morning started off with a morning session with Dr. Sri Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, present head of the Math in Chitradurga.  He told the students about his role in the Math and spoke to them about the importance of maintaining concentration and focus in life.  After the session, the students made their way towards Hubli to help with Yuva Summit preparations.

Session with Dr. Sri Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru

Session with Mr. T.V. Mohandas Pai
Day 13: Hubli
Day 13 marked the first day of Yuva Summit, an annual national conference on promoting leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation within youth.  The Prayana students spent the morning visiting the LEAD project displays and attending the LEAD Alumni and LEAD Talk sessions.  In the afternoon they had sessions with Mr. Raju Reddy (Executive Vice President for Global Services, Hitachi Consulting), Mr. Srikanth Bolla (Founder, Aashadeep Pvt Ltd), Mr. Phanindra Sama (Co-founder and CEO,, Dr. Gururaj Deshpande (Chairman, Sparta Group LLC), Mr. Suhas Gopinath (Founder, CEO and Chairman, Globals Inc), Mr. T.V. Mohandas Pai (Chairman, Manipal Global Education) and Mr. Naveen Jha (CEO, Deshpande Foundation).

Session with Dr. Gururaj Deshpande and Mrs. Jaishree Deshpande

Session with Phanindra Sama

Session with Mr. Srikanth Bolla

 Day 14: Hubli
Community activity in Hubli
The students spent the day engaged in community activities.  They were divided into groups and set out to the streets of Hubli to perform skits to create awareness for social issues.  The students’ skits drew crowds of hundreds of people who came to watch. 

Community activity in Hubli

Day 15: Hubli
The students learned about the social impacted created by NGOs with visits to Akshaya Patra and Kalkeri Sangeeth Vidyalaya. The students enjoyed a full kitchen tour, as well as an interactive learning session where they were able to ask in detail about Akshaya Patra’s method, outreach, and successes.Upon their arrival to KSV, the students toured the grounds and observed some of the children during their music and acting classes.

Detailed information about Role models

Jairam Ramesh (Hon. Minister of Rural Development and Member of Parliament, Government of India)
Mr. Jairam Ramesh currently serves as the Rural Development Minister.  From 2000-2002 he served as Deputy Chairman of the Karnataka State Planning Board and on the Economic Advisory Council of Andhra Pradesh.  Following the formation of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2004, Jairam joined the National Advisory Council.  In 2009, Jairam was given independent charge of Environment and Forests.  He was also the chief negotiator for India at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference that took place in Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition to his work in politics, Ramesh has been a columnist for the Business Standard, Business Today, The Telegraph, Times of India, and India Today. He is a founding member of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad.

Dr. Veerendra Heggade (Dharmadhikari, Dharmasthala)
The Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala, Dr. Veerendra Heggade is a leader, philanthropist, educator, social reformer, and an emissary of art and culture.  Dr. Heggade is the Director of Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI).  He is also a member of the National Foundation for Communal Harmony, Delhil; Shree Amarnathji Shrine Board, Jammu and Kashmirl Advisory Board of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development; and Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams Development Advisory Council.  He has undertaken project programs for the economic, social, and moral uplifting of poor agricultural laborers, artisans, and others.  

Dr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande
Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande is the Chairman of Sparta Group LLC, A123 Systems (AONE), Sycamore Networks (SCMR), Tejas Networks, Sandstone Capital and HiveFire. He was also a founding investor in Airvana, Cimaron, Webdialogs and Relicore. Dr. Deshpande serves as a member of the MIT Corporation, and his generous donations have made possible MIT's Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation. Dr. Deshpande is a trustee of the Deshpande foundation. He and his wife are involved in several non-profit initiatives that include support for MIT, IIT, TiE, Akshaya Patra Foundation, Public Health Foundation of India and the Social Entrepreneurship Sandbox in India.

Dr. Ramdas M Pai (President and Chancellor, Manipal University)

Dr. Ramdas M Pai is the current President and Chancellor of Manipal University and the President of Manipal Education and Medical Group.  Dr. Pai strongly believes that higher education builds up the nation’s intellectual capital and plays a vital role in the government transforming from a regulator into a facilitator and a catalyst.  Dr. Pai is the son of Manipal University Founder Dr. TMA Pai.  After taking over the reins from his father, Dr. Ramdas Pai made sure the university progressed to achieve its potential.  Under Dr. Pai’s initiative, campuses in Pokhara, Nepal, Melaka, Malaysia, and UAE were started. 

Dr. Pai joined the world of education after beginning his career as a hospital administrator.  Since then, Dr. Pai has advocated for public-private partnerships in both higher education and healthcare.  His commitment to excellence in both of these sectors has led to great success.  Under Dr. Pai’s leadership, Manipal was given university status. Morever, in 2005-2006, over Rs. 73.91 crores were generated through the treatment of over 150 lakh patients in Manipal Group Hospitals, direct employment to more than 13,000 people, and indirect employment to over 25,000 people. 

In addition to his successes within the wold Manipal University, Dr. Pai has contributed to education at the national level.  He was a member of the Medical Council of India, Dental Council of India, Senate and Syndicate of Mangalore University, National Assessment and Accreditation Council, and more. In 2000 he was nominated by the Union Minister of Human Resource Development to a special six-member committee to advise the Ministry on Higher Education.
Raju Reddy (Founder and CEO, Sierra Atlantic)
Raju Reddy is the Founder and CEO of Sierra Atlantic, an IT services company headquartered in California, US.  Under Raju’s leadership, Sierra Atlantic grew to be a best-in-class global services company over a period of 17 years and was consistently ranked amongst the best managed companies.  Raju is actively engaged in the community and serves in leadership roles in various non-profits.  He currently serves on the Board of India Community Center in Milpitas, California, and is the Chairman of BITSAA Intl, the alumni body of India’s #1 private university, BITS Pilani.  Prior to this, he served as a member of the Board of Trustees for Puente, a Wharton School non-profit program which helps underprivileged communities worldwide gain access to technology.  He also co-founded SIPA (Silicon Valley Indian Professional Association in 1987 and was instrumental in starting the TiE Chapter in Hyderabad. 
Ramji Raghavan (Founder and Chairman, Agastya Foundation)
Ramji Raghavan’s dream to build an India of thinkers, problem-solvers and creators who are humane, anchored, and networked gave birth to Agastya International Foundation. Founded in 1999, Agastya's stated vision is to build a creative India of "tinkerers, solution-seekers, and creators" that are "humane, anchored and connected" by making practical, hands-on science education accessible to rural government schools. Agastya has so far lived up to its vision, as it currently runs the largest hands-on science program in the world.  Ramji is also a member of the Karnataka State Innovation Council of Innovation.  He is a recognized public speaker and has spoken at the Education World Forum, the annual INK Conference, the Clinton Global Initiative, Harvard India Conference, and the MIT Media Lab.  

Dr. H Maheshappa (Vice Chancellor, VTU)
Dr. H Maheshappa is current Vice Chancellor of Visvesvaraya Technological University.  Dr. Maheshappa has more than 25 years of teaching experience.  He obtained his B.E. degree from UBDT College of Engineering, Davangere, his M.E. from Visvesvaraya College of Engineering, Bangalore, and his PhD in Mechanical Designing from Bangalore University. He is also a Fellow of the World Academy of Productivity Science in Canada. 

Phanindra Sama (Co-founder and CEO,
Phanindra Sama is Co-Founder & CEO of, India’s first and largest bus ticketing company.  Founded in Aug. 2006, redbus today has operations across 22 states and offers services for ~19,000+ routes and has built relationship with about 700+ bus operators and 40,000+ travel agents. redbus was nominated by Forbes as one of the top five startups in 2010. redbus is ranked #1 amongst the fastest growing companies in India in a survey conducted by the All World Network. Phanindra is ranked #3 among India’s "Most Promising Entrepreneurs" by Business World. He was also chosen as a Global Shaper in the 2011 World Economic Forum.

Suhas Gopinath (Founder, CEO, and Chairman, Globals, Inc)
At the young age of 25, Suhas is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of Global INC, a multimillion dollar software company that maintains a presence in the US and several European countries.  He was 16 when he incorporated his country and launched his website. One thing that sets his company apart from other Indian software companies, and probably one of the key reasons for the company's success, is that the company focuses on both English and non-English speaking countries. Suhas plans to get his company listed by 2015 and has goals to start expanding into African countries. 
Srikanth Bolla (Founder, Aasadeep Projects Pvt Ltd)
Srikanth is currently an undergraduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Having been visually challenged for most of his life, he has fought hard to overcome challenges brought on by a misconceived prejudice against disabled people.  In addition to serving as a Board Member for the Samanvai Center for Children with Multiple Disabilities, an NGO in Hyderabad, Srikanth has recently founded Aasadeep Projects Pvt Ltd. Aasadeep Projects uses an innovative approach and employs disabled people to produce eco-friendly products using recycled paper and agricultural waste. 

Dr. Narayan Reddy (Organic Farmer)
For more than two decades, Dr. Narayan Reddy has been a role model for many organic farmers. He is enthusiastic to innovate, experiment, learn and share.  As a farmer, he surpassed national record crop yields but soon realized the ill effects of chemical farming and switched over to organic farming.  His farm is a model for several alternatives, including SRI paddy cultivation and his methods have been studied by international dignitaries as well as reputed scientists.  Dr. Reddy travels widely across the country, interacting with thousands of farmers and NGOs and is also a special invitee for national and international seminars and policy discussions. 

Mr. P. Manivannan (IAS) (Chief Project Officer, Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project)

Known as "Mr. Transparent", IAS Officer P. Manivannan is attempting to introduce a new transparency into proceedings.  When Manivannan was previously working as Commissioner of the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation, he was known the "Demolition Man" for hard decisions and their equally stern implementation.  In fact, his steadfastness led to the demolition of big buildings constructed by influential people in order to make way for the construction of a public road.  During the 2008 Karnataka Assembly elections, as candidates tried to lure voters through illegal means, Manivannan, a 2008 batch IAS Officer, set up 12 control rooms and 130 mobile police stations with a 20,000-strong staff to help seize illegal money and file cases against those who violated the Model Code of Conduct during elections.

Manivannan also previously served as Managing Director of the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM).  

B. Girish Bharadwaj (Karnataka Bridge Builder)

B. Girish Bharadwaj received his B.E. Degree in Mechanical Engineering (I Class) at P.E.S. College of Engineering, Mandya, Karnataka State, University of Mysore in 1973. Afterwards, he started a small-scale industrial unit at Sullia in 1975, by the name of Rational Engineering Industries. In 2000, during the Silver Jubilee celebration, the name of the Unit was changed to “Ayasshila,” which, in Sanskrit means “Steel Sculpture.” 

Ayasshilpa has been engaged in repairs of farm machinery, construction of gobar gas plants, general fabrication work and roof trusses. Since 1988, Ayasshila has been involved in building “Suspension Foot Bridges” (S.F.B.) to connect rural Indian villages to urban areas.  So far,  102 S.F.B’s have been built and another 10 are in being constructed.

Prasanna (Founder, Charaka)

Prasanna is an actor, writer, director, and Gandhian who passed over his opportunity to do his Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur to pursue his love of theatre.  What sets Prasanna apart from other passionate people, though, is that he combined his passion for theatre with activism and led "Samudaya", a radical theatre movement for masses and workers. He later founded Charaka, a women’s co-operative society near Shimoga, Karnataka, that produces naturally dyed cotton handloom garments, which are sold under the ‘Desi’ brand name. Charaka employs nearly 200 women and has a decent turnover of a crore of rupees and each woman takes home an average of Rs. 3000 a month. The value of this money that a woman earns with clean technology and clean air here is much higher than what her counterpart in the city earns at an export-oriented garment factory.

Vijay Sankeshwar (Founder and Managing Director, VRL Logistics Ltd)

Vijay Sankeshwar is an entrepreneur and politician from Gadag.  He is Founder and Managing Director of VRL Logistics Ltd., which is currently the largest fleet owner of commercial vehicles in India.  Prior to founding VRL, he owned Karnataka’s largest circulating newspaper, Vijaya Karnataka.

Vijay is also the founder of the Kannada Nadu Party.  He is a former Member of Parliament from the North Dharwad constituency.  His other roles in politics include serving as a Member of BJP, in which he held various positions at the district and state level, Members of the Committee on Finance and Consultative Committee within the Ministry of Surface Transport, and Members of the Committee on Commerce and Transport and Tourism.

Naveen Jha (CEO, Deshpande Foundation)
Naveen Jha is the CEO of the Deshpande Foundation, India.  He has been with the Foundation  since its inception and has pioneered a series of youth development program, including LEAD, that helps transform the attitudes of young people into solving problems locally. Under Naveen’s leadership, the Foundation has touched thousands of lives including non-profits, students, youth, academics, and universities.  He holds a Masters in International Development from Brandeis University in the US. 

Shravani Hagargi (Founder, Safe Hands 24x7)
Safe Hands 24x7 is the first company in Karnataka that appoints and manages women security and housekeeping personnel to different households and organizations.  By providing women security guards, Safe Hands 24x7 is able to meet the specific needs of organizations such as girls’ hostels or women’s colleges.  Safe Hands 24x7 coordinates with self-help groups to recruit its female security guards from slums or villages.  By employing these women, Safe Hands 24x7 is helping improve the their own livelihoods as well as the livelihoods of their families.

LEAD Prayana 2014 Itinerary
 (January 7, 2014- January 21, 2014)

*Journey will start on January7th at 11 AM at VTU and will conclude at the Deshpande Foundation in Hubli on the evening of January 21st.
 January 7th: Belgaum-Reporting and Hosting Day
  • Journey Introduction at VTU
  • Session at VTU with Prof. H. Maheshwappa (Vice Chancellor, VTU) and Naveen Jha (CEO, Deshpande Foundation).  

January 8th: Belgaum/Sagar
·       Morning Flag Off from VTU
  • Evening at Sagar and Role Model session with Prasanna (Founder, Charaka/Desi) and exposure visit to Charaka/Desi.
  • Night stay at Heggodu village near Charakha

January 9th-10th: Manipal
  • Exposure visit to Manipal University.
  • Speaker session with Dr. Vinod Bhat (Pro-Vice Chancellor, Manipal University)
  • Exposure visit to cashew industry and session with Mr. Sasi Sekhar Krish (CEO, Nanopix)

January 11th: Dharmasthala
  • Dharshana and site visits to SKDRDP and SIRI
  • Role model session with Dr. Veerendra Heggade 
January 12th: Sullia
  • Exposure visit to suspension bridge
  • Role model session with Mr. Girish Bharadwaj

January 13th: Mysore
  • Exposure visit to Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement work at Saragur and Hosahalli and experiencing tribal life.

January 14th: Mysore/Infosys
  • Exposure visit to Infosys

 January 15th: Dodballapur/Bangalore
·       Hands on Mud and experiencing organic farming Mavanhalli Farm and role model session with Dr. Narayan Reddy
  • Panel session in Bangalore

January 16th: Kuppam
  • Exposure visit to Agastya Foundation and hands on science activities

January 17th:  Kuppam
  • Full day of activities at Agastya Foundation and exposure visit to rural community.

January 18th: Chitradurga/Hubli
  • Session with Murga Mathi Swamiji
  • Exposure visit to VRL

January 19th: Hubli
  • Yuva Summit: Innovative leadership projects showcasing and panel sessions by LEAD LEADers
  • Role model session with Suhas Gopinath

January 20th: Hubli
  • Yuva Summit: Innovative leadership projects showcasing and inspiring speakers session. 
  • Community Activity
  • Panel session

January 21st: Dharwad
  • Exposure visits to Akshaya Patra, Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya, Safe Hands, and Seven Beans