Thursday, June 18, 2015 Tags: 1 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.

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