Summerscool guest speaker 1- Mr. Aniruddha Raich (Ncyclopedia)

We started our SUMMERSCOOL2019 on Sunday, 21 April! Our inaugural guest speaker was Mr. Aniruddha Raich – or as we know him, Aniruddha Ncyclopedia!
Aniruddha left a stable job in journalism as an editor and took a leap of passionate faith towards cycling. He returned to Nagpur to change the face of the city into a cycling city. He is passionate about encouraging people around him to use cycling as the chief mode of transport. He is Chief Promoter of Ncyclopedia, a one-of-its-kind bicycle store in Nagpur selling a wide range of high-quality Indian and international brands of cycles along with the best of cycling gear and technologies. The store also offers international cycles on rent to on daily and monthly basis.
Aniruddha’s Talk during summerscool ranged from cycling to life ethics. He told about the concept of changing lives around you and doing that as a profession. He spoke about the enjoyment one feels when doing something that we enjoy! ‘I have been on vacation since the last few years!’ he said. He named the website which led him to this dream project – http://www.80000hours.com .India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are lagging behind the world in their use of cycles. Most other countries use cycles as a routine mode of transport even in the cities. It is Aniruddha’s goal to make cycling popular for day to day use in Nagpur and India.

He said that cycling was the solution to most problems around us – pollution to depression. He spoke about benefits of cycling to the city through refusing pollution, giving the cyclist an advantage in traffic jams, saving on fuel and much more. He stated the benefits of cycling to our physical as well as emotional health! Cycling encourages friendship and gives a good mood as a bonus due to the changes that occur in the brain during the exercise! Cycling helps you make memories for yourself.

Children interacted with him, asking him questions. E.g.-
Q- Can anyone who has stopped cycling start again after a gap of several years?
A- Yes, they can. They have to be careful about choosing the correct bike and should consult the proper person. To start with bikes can be got for a rental for a month as a trial.
Q- What is the story behind the name and logo of Ncyclopedia?
A- The name was a fusion of cycling and encyclopaedia. N in Ncyclopedia also stands for Nagpur. And the store has all the knowledge required about cycling. The logo was designed by a friend and is under copyright!
And so on.
The kids clarified various myths about exercise.
He said he is glad when, in Nagpur traffic, people get irritated by cyclists, because it means the number of cyclists is increasing and that people are noticing cyclists. It is his mission to advocate for a safe zone for cyclists in and around Nagpur city.https://www.facebook.com/aniruddha.ncyclopedia

Summerscool 2019

This is the third time that SUMMERSCOOL is being held in Nagpur. A group of people whose passion it is to spread the message of emotional intelligence across age groups has taken this initiative to use the summer time for upgrading the skills in kids. Usually the summer afternoons are blank periods for kids. And now the only option is to watch TV or Netflix or the internet. Or the kids might opt to watch ‘whatever’ on the smart phones. SUMMERSCOOL designed to inculcate the ten core skills meant for emotional health as suggested by WHO – WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION. We introduce participants to skills through talks, discussions, presentations, videos, songs, meditation, activities, theatre and so on. It’s a mix of teaching methods. And it’s fun through two way learning.On the first day we divide the participants into 6-7 groups. We start with listening skills which flows beautifully into empathy. Children e much pen to the idea of listening with eyes, ears and mind. Second day brings on the two main organised thinking skills – critical and creative. We take simple interactive examples for these complex thinking skills. Creative thinking has an activity which opens the minds of the children to possibilities without limits. And we remind them to limit with critical thinking!The third day flows into problem solving and decision making. And we introduce them to basics of effective communication. Communication cannot be taught without resorting to the tool of theatre. We reshuffle the groups in this day. New leaders are appointed. LEADERS are encouraged to delegate task and select the appropriate person for each activity. Each group has a group mentor who is a person who has already been through the workshops and also has got experience of training.Emotion management and stress management is conducted with great care as this is the very core of emotional intelligence. Rationalisation of emotions for personal strengthening is taught using a simple ABC model based on REBT technique devised by Albert Ellis.Assertiveness is taught separately. It is a quality and a skill which is at the core of emotional health. It traverses across multiple domains of the intra- and inter-personal intelligence. It is not just a communication style, but also a way of life.Relationships and the need to manage them carefully and attentively is addressed. An activity of how our birth order affects the way we think is very popular across all age groups. It is also a process of self exploration and introspection. When done carefully, these activities are light and easy to grasp the essence of.This is followed by self awareness, which is actually the mother of all skills! But it is taught only after the participants have become open to possibilities and have developed a keener vision after going through the activities for the other skills.

Guest speakers as Human Libraries– we invite people from different fields of expertise to give a talk to the children. Children are encouraged to ask questions, so that they can access the Information from these living humans rather than the internet.

On the last day the participants present skits on the topics given to them. This is done through a mixture of playback theatre and Naya theater. A topic is given to each group by the fourth day and the participants become writers, directors and actors. As they learn the skills, they inculcate them into their script, dialogues and attitudes. The stories develop and reflect the insights of the learners. We are always surprised by the depth and boldness the new generation has. We are impressed by the possibilities offered by neuroplasticity !

SUMMERSCOOL. Everyone learns.

Headache (#UnHIDE)

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Poet: Shreya Poharkar (Pursuing Engineering, first year at RGCER, Nagpur.)

  • A continuous pain is pounding in my head

Which can surely make ,me feel dead !!!

  • How drowsy it can make

And it is commonly known as HEADACHE

  • I tried to remember things which remind me of it

I spent hours on this topic-  bit by bit

  • After sometime the pain faded away but the thought remained

Then I found the various causes for this topic, were all actually chained!!

  • I found various causes with valid reasons

But they have many solutions just like various seasons

  • The first cause I thought behind it was some tension

But it can be cured by paying it less attention

  • Secondly , i thought it may be due to lack of sleep

Soon I realized it was due to the mobile I keep

  • Then I thought it was beacause of my bad mood

But the best way to heal is to cool down and think good

  • Soon I realized ,

Headache  can also be caused due to irritation

Sometimes due to anger ,sometimes due to frustration

  • But the best solution is just to calm down

Just keep a smile and not a frown

  • A positive outlook may reduce the pain

A new view towards the world you can gain

  • A helping hand may bring change

It may tell you the severity range

  • DON’T HIDE THE BAD THINGS ,DISCOVER NEW WAYS TO OPEN UP AND ALWAYS HAVE A FRESH WALK
  • AND IF YOU WANT TO GET INSPIRED THEN SURELY VISIT OUR OYE TALKS!!

THE POEM ON PROCRASTINATION

Author/poet: Rajat Thatere (Engineer)

Here’s a poem on procrastination –
The cause of my desperation!

The cause of my pain and sorrow,

My habits of doing it all tomorrow.

Here’s a little story

Of my procrastination’s glory,

It was a hot Monday I guess,

Nothing I can more detest!

But the professor came barging, like a mess

‘On Saturday you have a test!’

A week, a week, so much time!

With joy I internally chimed!

So many days! I can easily score French

Probably top it and woo the pretty girlnext bench!

So smart! So smart!!

Oh me! So smart!

Test is so many days apart-

From Tuesday I’ll start

Tuesday morning I woke up late –

Breakfast was already in my plate,

Brush and bath all had to be done

Had to play PUB-G for some fun!

Finally I sat to begin my study,

But first I had to call my buddy.

I haven’t talked to him in months

Mustn’t I call him before he confronts?

Of mine he was such a good friend-

If I don’t call him…He’ll get the offend

What would I say my mind started running witty

Cause for me friendship is not about being free…It’sabout priority!

With phone in my hand

I look at my syllabus’ unfinished state.

Closing it I say,

“Studies can wait!”

Wednesday! It was so cold

I cannot handle it – I’m only 22 yrs old!

The morning the evening everything was chilly!

How could I study if I am shivering silly?

I know, I have to revise, work and be good

But how can I if I am not in the correct mood?

I should be patient; I’ll wait for things to getbetter

Anyways- I can always do it later.

Thursday came oh so fast!

Why doesn’t time ever last?

I panic, I cry, my brain darkly dreams

When will I start? My ego screams!

The story is same everyday all repeated!

My dreams are created, recreated, delayed and cremated!

Distractions! Sabotage! Self manipulation!

Oh my my, where have I lost my determination

I wonder, I ponder, and I run my minds creation

Oh, I get it, I just need some motivation.

Scores of videos and many blogs later,

My mind has just elevated greater,

I’ve finally found the knowledge divine,

From tomorrow everything will be fine!

Friday felt so optimistic and alive!

Oh, so this is how my motivation has arrived!

Why only change my academics when I can change mywhole life,

Get rich, great body, probably get a sweet wife!

And just as I was about to revise

My memory lit up like a surprise!

Finally my brain started thinking ahead –

I’ve learned from my videos, first make your bed.

Make your bed, help your friends, read good books,exercise and go for runs!

I was so happy I was finally getting some stuff donefor once!

I did so much in a day

Self-congratulated and said hooray!

But the reminder of last minute panic struck

And I said oh no what the f$#&

The panic screamed “YOU SHOULD STUDY NOW”

The thoughts came in like a fight!

I opened my books some how –

But what’s the point it’s already midnight

I screamed “TO HELL WITH EDUCATION”

So much stress

With learning I am unimpressed

So much pressure – it’s not my age!

Even Bill Gates dropped out of college!

I slept so sound without any ambition –

With the warm pillow of my self-rationalization!

(Saturday’s portion will be done later)

Bhagyashree Deshpande at OYE TALKS 2.0

Author – Mili Sharma (Graduated with Bsc in Microbiology from Shivaji Science College, Nagpur.)

OYE TALKS 2.0 WAS AN EVENT HELD ON 20 JANUARY 2019 ON THE OCCASION OF VIVEKANAND JAYANTI WHICH IS ALSO SYMBOLIC OF NATIONAL YOUTH DAY. FIVE TALKS OF AROUND 18 TO 20 MINUTES WERE HELD. THERE WERE SEVEN SPEAKERS. BHAGYASHREE DESHPANDE’S WAS THE SECOND TALK.

She is a simple lady with an extraordinary story. She, along with her engineer husband left her lucrative profession to dedicate their lives to build Abhudaya- an agro-centic village school. She dared to leave her comfort zone : security of job, big fat pay check every month, luxurious life in the city. That, to me, is commendable.
“I went from just existing to conscious living and now I am happy to have a purposeful life” said Bhagyashree. She narrated how she evolved, not just physically but also mentally, by highlighting how her choices (rational and irrational) led her to find the purpose of her life.
*”Grow through what you go through”*
As all young people, she too made some irrational choices in her youth like pursuing engineering, without knowing whether she really liked it. Her sincerity and dedication led her to get selected for a job after finishing her degree. “Panchi banu udti firu masta gagan me, aaj mai azaad hu duniya ke chaman me‘ was on her mind when she began her professional career as an engineer in Surat. There, she initiated the tradition of celebrating Independence day at her office and left a legacy behind. This shows that she wasn’t doing her job mechanically, and she is a lady with visionary ideas.
During her corporate life she always knew that she doesn’t fit in the world where gossiping and back stabbing was a part of their jobs. So I learnt that your gut feelings should be taken into consideration and we should never settle for less.
“We focus more on the DOING part and less about the BEING part” she said.
Being a girl in her 20’s, I know that our parents get concerned about our marriage when we reach that age. So were Bhagyashree’s parents. Rather than worrying about whom to marry and how to find a perfect match, she took that as an opportunity to get to know people. ‘Albela sajan aayo re‘ was playing in the background when she first spoke to her would be husband, who was also an engineer. The frequency of their wavelengths instantly matched.
“Looks were never the parameter in the list, while maturity topped the list” said Bhagyashree while elaborating her checklist for the perfect groom. With dignity being the strongest pillar of their bond, they related to each other as a complete individual and not just bodies. This is a take away for the youth who are finding their life-partners.
She is a lady with a mission, so no amount of criticism or challenges weighed her down. She joined hands with her father to build ABHUDAYA. There they emphasize on developing agriculture based entrepreneurship in farmers’ children, creating many Agri-preneurs. Such application based education is the need of the hour and is very different from normal curriculum of Indian Education system.
*SOME TAKEAWAYS FROM THE TALK*
> Being Understanding over being judgemental
> Eternal happiness over temporary pleasure
> Purposeful living over simply existing
I am immensely thankful to SAF for organizing OYE TALKS. I not only enjoyed volunteering for OYE talks, but also learnt a lot in the whole process.

MR. Chandrashekhar Makode at OYE TALKS 2.0

Author – Shreya Poharka (Pursuing Engineering (BE), first year at RGCER, Nagpur)

I was a volunteer with Samarpan Awareness Foundation for OYE TALKS 2.0, which was an event held on 20 January 2019 on the occasion of Vivekanand Jayanti which is also symbolic of National youth day. Five talks of around 18 to 20 minutes were held. There were seven speakers. Mr. Chandrashekhar Makode’s talk was the last in that days series. His talk was truly a show stopper.

Fitness enthusiast, Mr. Chandrashekhar Makode is  a sub-inspector in Betul, MP , India. He is performing his duties from over 10 years. For a such a healthy, earnest and efficient man, losing a leg, loosing an actual body part, was like losing the most important battle of life. Chandrashekhar lost his right leg in a major road accident while performing his duties. Though the doctors tried hard to save his limb, the infection made it necessary to ampute the leg. He lost his leg up to his knee. Despite being in severe pain and a lot of stress of what will  happen in future he kept looking at the glass as being half full and not half empty. He was motivated when he read that the disability is in the mind of the person and not in his body” said MR.  Chandrashekhar. He further continued “during this phase of 3-4 months I started motivating myself and thought that if God had saved me then he wants me to perform some good deeds and important tasks in my life“. Therefore he decided to ‘not just walk but run’. He started using a regular artificial limb. But he did not have financial resources for affording an athletic limb (the blade). That phase of his life when he had to prove his worth and abilities in running to earn the blade was really a difficult one and therefore inspiring. His hard work helped him to get the sports limb from an organization. Mr. Makode said, “as soon as this friend came to my life a new journey began“.

Now, Mr. Makode is a fit athlete and runs various marathons all over India. He has completed 7 national marathons at Delhi, Bhopal, Lucknow etc. Mr.Makode keeps reminding people to keep themselves fit &healthy and “always keep motivating and believing in yourself.”

Dr. Prithika Chary at OYE TALKS 2.0

Author – Tania Singh (pursuing BCom 2 nd year, Also preparing for CS)

The entire team with all the speakers and volunteers

I was a volunteer with Samarpan Awareness Foundation for OYE TALKS 2.0, which was an event held on 20 January 2019 on the occasion of Vivekanand Jayanti which is also symbolic of National youth day. Five talks of around 18 to 20 minutes were held. There were seven speakers. Dr. Prithika Chary’s talk was the fourth.

She is a unique person, being Asia’s First Lady to be both a neurologist and a neurosurgeon. Dr Prithika Chary faced many ups and downs in her life but she realized her purpose in life very early – that of being a doctor. She worked hard for her goals and her innate talent also helped her stay on track. She believed ‘Never bury your dreams’.

in the recent past she was diagnosed with cancer of the rectum (large intestine). She went through surgeries and chemotherapy with great strength and resilience.

She always showed her gratitude towards life. She believes, ‘The baggage of past will lead you nowhere in life’! This thought struck my mind and gave me the direction to lead my future or rather to live peacefully in present.

She has an extremely powerful mind and a lot of positivity in her.

Her statement ‘Blueprints can be re-written’ gave me a confidence to re-write my own blueprints and focus on important things in life and be grateful towards them

This talk series has definitely brought a positivity in me and I’m thankful to Samarpan Awareness Foundation for organising OYE TALKS. It’s a very inspiring program. I enjoyed volunteering for the program and getting to know such great speakers at such a close distance.

The POHEWALA Trio at Oye talks 2.0

Author – Pratiksha Patil (Pursuing BE from Shri Ramdeobaba College Of Engineering)

Start-ups are emerging in the country as the new avenues to depict the innovative ideas of the talented youth. Start-ups eventually helps transform the youth from job seekers to job creators.Taking risks and having faith in ideas is essential for forging ahead in the long run. Developing well functioning teams becomes an essential ingredient of start-ups.

OYE TALKS 2.0 was an event held on 20 January 2019 on the occasion of Vivekanand Jayanti which is also symbolic of National youth day. Five talks of around 18 to 20 minutes were held. There were seven speakers. The POHEWALA talk was the third talk. They were three speakers who spoke together as a team.

The Pohewala trio – Ganesh Bankar, Pawan Wadibhasme and Chahul Balpande , makers of the emerging startup ‘Pohewala’ in the city, shared their exemplary and energetic story of their successful startup.

   “POHEWALA is a flourishing startup, only because of our wonderful teamwork and unity”, said Ganesh, an engineer turned into an entrepreneur. The POHEWALA trio was seen in the same T-shirts which also marks their unity. Pawan talked about how he always desired to do something unique and how the three of them met and started ‘POHEWALA’. He shared the challenges and all the odds encountered by them because of the weather conditions and the night delivery hours which started from 10 pm to 3 am. He also shared how they got motivated from the blessings earned in return from some customers.
    “Having faith in your ideas and taking risks are the keys of being successful entrepreneurs”, said Chahul who is into the startup industry since six years. “Entrepreneurship is all about being crazy, curious, creative and energetic,” added Chahul who finds himself energetic enough which helped the team in making ‘POHEWALA’ a thriving startup.
      These three guys came out from their comfort zone, gathered courage, took risks, pursued their passion and desire of standing out from the crowd. The youth got immensely motivated which would help them in their avenues to achieve their goals.

I enjoyed volunteering for OYE Talks 2.0 and am grateful to Samarpan Awareness Foundation for organising the event.

From Houston to Gadchiroli: In Search of a Mission and Meaning





transcript of talk given by Yogesh Kalkonde during OYE TALKS 1.0 on 12 August 2018

https://youtu.be/FX_MpTh2KnU

We’re almost getting into the afternoon and I have this challenging task of speaking at the last after such fascinating talks.I heard Shubham and I thought, what was I doing when I was in 10th grade?

For some of you who might think that you missed the bus, I am an example of someone who is still figuring out how to live life. I’m a slow learner – a very slow learner. I’m a guy who is still trying to figure out what it means to live. We are all given life only once and it’s like a journey. A journey starts when you are born. One day you’re going to be dead whether you like it or not. So we have one chance to live this life and we’re here to figure out, how to live it. This is sometimes seen as a philosophical question and sometimes thought of as a very hard question. But the key is, if we do not think about ourselves who else will?

So I’m going to share with you this journey and the thoughts behind this journey. People think that I’m crazy to quit what I was doing in the US and come back and work in rural Gadchiroli. People think that’s something very different. So what I’m going to share with you is why I did this, why I did this stupidity. Essentially, it’s a search for a mission and meaning and it’s a search for myself that I am still continuing.

I’ll start my story: I grew up as a child in rural Marathwada and Vidarbha. My Dad was working in State Bank of India, so he would keep on travelling from one place to another like a modern nomad. All my schooling until I came to 9th or 10th grade was in different places. When I look back at my life, I realize that as students we are all facing confusion: Whether I should take this branch or that branch. We are constantly pestered with this thought. When I started as a child, I was fortunate that I started with a period of no confusion. So when I was growing up as a child in rural Marathwada it came to my mind that I want to be a doctor. It was pretty simple – I met a village physician who was practicing there and I was so motivated by him that I said I want to be a doctor. The journey started and it was a fairly straight forward journey.

But in the medical college, a thought came to my mind that I want to do something different. I don’t know where this thought came from. But that thought came – that I want to do something different. And one of the images that would come to my mind often is that I don’t want to be a sheep in the sheep herd. I don’t want to live like everyone else. And that’s just a thought, I still don’t know where it came from but that was a very bothering thought in my mind. So then, while I was studying I was trying to grapple what subject I should study. At that time it was very hip to be a cardiologist. In our profession you have God then you have cardiothoracic surgeon and then you have cardiologist. So everyone wanted to be a cardiologist. And my mentor who was a Professor of cardiology made sure that I visit all the places, important places in India to learn about cardiology. And after the visits he said “Yogesh, do one thing – be anyone else but a cardiologist.” I was very puzzled, why is this guy, a professor of cardiology, trained in the US, very eminent cardiologist in India, he’d sent me to all the big cardiology hospitals and then he’s saying that be anything but a cardiologist!? So he said, ‘Go into a branch where you can make a difference’. So the two branches that came into my mind were IMMUNOLOGY or PUBLIC HEALTH. At that time immunology was a very new science in India and I got fascinated by immunology because I liked the books. I found a book on immunology which was very pictorial. You guys might find this strange but in those days books never had pictures. So this was a really pictorial book that through cartoons explained immunology. I thought, this looks like something exciting – I should look into it. And the other was PUBLIC HEALTH.

Public health is where you work with communities to improve their health. As a doctor we are sitting in the clinic and we see one patient at a time and try and make a difference. While in community health you go and you use strategies to improvise community health. So I had these two options. I had a fork, decision fork and I had to make my mind whether it is IMMUNOLOGY or PUBLIC HEALTH. I like both subjects very much. In fact public health, I liked it so much that in my exam I had this habit of drawing a diagram. If you don’t know, like all students know how to answer questions we get in exams. So I had a trick to solve the questions, I would draw a big diagram. And in that diagram I would just cover whatever I had to say and then just write a few lines to cover it up and in public health we had a short note on something called as iceberg phenomenon. What it means is that as a doctor you only see the tip of the iceberg, the rest of the problem is in the community and it is a huge problem. So I was so fascinated by that, that I thought I would draw a very good diagram. So I sat there and drew an iceberg, drew a ship and drew a doctor with binoculars you know looking at the iceberg and then I drew I diver – completely drew a diver then labelled it as an epidemiologist, meaning someone who understands the community. And what was the end result? I really liked the diagram; I spent almost 30- 45 minutes of the exam time drawing that diagram. So you can expect what the result would be! I was very fascinated by it. And the reason was in my public health or community medicine I ended up scoring 45 marks out of 100 in theory. And that was the first time I ever got 45 marks. In those days it used to be called condo. So you pass by condo meaning that’s you know grace. I was very shocked because I lost the university’s gold medal because of these 45 marks and I was very down. My Grandfather said a very important thing. He said, “If you really want to make a mark in public health go do public health. Don’t crib about that gold medal.” I took up that message. So, these were the two things that I had to face. All of us are always confused while choosing an area, whether I should do this or I should do that. If I want to understand what immunology is, how do I do it? The answer is very simple, go work in immunology. During the time I started looking where I can do immunology, there was only one institute in the country, known as SGPGI Lucknow. It’s a postgraduate institute and it was the only place in the country which had an immunology department. I went there and I told the professor that I want to work in the lab. And the professor said “Are you crazy? You’re a doctor, you’re supposed to treat patients.” I said no, I want to work in the lab. He replied “Okay, but your salary will go down from 20 thousand a month to 5 thousand a month, are you okay?” I said I’m fine with it because I love immunology and I really want to understand it. I made a switch from clinical care, from seeing patients, to completely working in the lab and took a salary of 5 thousand and I was really fascinated by it. To the extent that my professor who questioned me, said that “I think you are really fascinated by it. Go work at a higher place”. So I went to the National Institute of Immunology in Delhi and from there, the journey took me to a place called University of Texas, Health Science Center in San Antonio. And I was working on the role of certain molecules in the brain and it was absolutely fascinating. Imagine! You are the first one in the world who is working on that molecule, who is trying to figure out how that molecule works in the brain and it was an uncharted sea.

So, everything looked very fascinating, I was very happy, living in the US. Although I was not making too much money, I was very happy with a very comfortable lifestyle until I had an experiment which failed. Failing of experiments is the routine, right? Whenever we say we are experimenting there’s a very large risk of failing. So we were used to failing of experiments in the lab. You work on a project for a year and you might get one positive finding. So you know you are geared towards constantly working, constantly thriving for that one important result. But this experiment was slightly different. And how was it different? I ended up spending two thousand dollars. I was trying to purify a protein and the whole kit cost two thousand dollars. I finished the experiment; two thousand dollars were washed away in four-five hours and I had a question from inside: do I have a right to do this? As an Indian, within a span of four hours I blew away two thousand dollars. Two thousand dollars in those days were one lakh rupees. So in those one lakh rupees I could have saved 500, 600 lives. So instead of doing that, I was just doing something just for my own intellectual kick.

And suddenly, I found life again unsettled. So, I wondered what do I do? How do I solve this problem? And it raised a bigger question: how do I spend my life? So the choice I had was something I was doing for my own intellectual kick versus something more useful. And so, to seek answer to this question I made a visit to SEARCH: an NGO run by Dr. Abhay Bang in Gadchiroli in 2007. At that time, I was working in a place called Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, which is the biggest medical center in the world. You might have heard of a place called MD Anderson Cancer Center: it’s a huge institute with 40 other institutes which are in this area. My journey has been a transition from the world’s biggest, largest medical center to Gadchiroli, a large area of forest and farming communities. I had an opportunity to meet someone called Anjana Bai who actually initiated me into public health and that remains the important image that changed my life. She was supposed to take care of new born babies, as infant mortality rate is a huge problem that we have. A large number of children do not make it to their first year. In Gadchiroli there are no Doctors, Dr Abhay Bang trained the army of community health workers. Like Anjana Bai educated till 7th std because her father couldn’t support education further. I saw Anjana Bai washed her hands with soap and she was standing with her arms in air, and I was puzzled thinking why is she standing like this. So I went and asked her, to which she replied: if I use a towel it will get dirty again. And I was shocked. It hit me that, in US people do follow protocols and here is a lady in a place like Gadchiroli, following protocols.

For the first time in my like, I thought there is hope in India.

When I ran away to US, I was disappointed thinking nothing can happen in India, and here was Anjana Bai, who was 7th grade pass, showing me the way.

With the help of such community workers SEARCH could reduce infant mortality rate by 50% at the cost of 7 dollars per life saved.

I call Anjana Bai my guru because she showed me the way – by doing the right things you could do magnificent things in life.

And then after meeting her in 2007, while we were still working in US, my wife Mrunal and I saw this and thought, we would quit and come back. And I was fortunate enough to have Mrunal by my side, who agreed to my decision. So, we had to complete our training and decided to come back.

What helped us make this transition: There is chapter in Mahabharata called Yaksha Prashna, which are difficult questions of life, which Yudhishtir had to answer before the Yaksha could make the other Pandawas alive, because they died as they could not answer all the questions.

So, I am very thankful to people who asked me questions, because this transition was possible only because I was able to answer these 4 questions and we could adopt the right attitude. Let me share them with you –

The first question was “But you are a neurologist and there are no CT scans and MRIs in Gadchiroli how would you even work there?” A very valid question which was restricting me from choosing my mission. Your education should empower you, what was happening here was the degree was disempowering. So we said I am also a neurologist not only a neurologist. Neurology is my tool, I am a master of. Before neurology I am MBBS, Bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery, and being MBBS I could help many more people. And zooming out I am a human being. And to save lives you don’t have to be a doctor. And we decided let our specialization not be the restriction, but we should just look at it as a tool in our armory.

The second question was – What about Naxals and snakes and malaria? It’s definitely a valid question but it is based on fear and we Indians are the most fearful people in the world. We have most evolved philosophy regarding death in the world yet we are extremely fearful of death. The choice here was dying in Houston vs dying in Gadchiroli. There was a wrong assumption that death was less likely to come in Houston, than Gadchiroli, so we decided that if our mission is important, we would choose dying in Gadchiroli. 

The third question was a trick question – “But you are helping poor patients in the US too. Why are you going to India for that?” This was a difficult one that we had to think through, so I fast-forwarded life – imagine that I have lived my life and I am about to die and I have to look back at life in 5 mins, summarize my life, how would I do that, and what would be the narration? So, one narration could be I went to the US, did research, did great things, had kids who were healthy and happy and died; or the second narration was went to US, got trained in the world’s best institute, came back to Gadchiroli, worked for the tribal people who don’t have access to care and I died. The second narration made more sense. We decided to rather serve the rural and tribal in Gadchiroli.

The fourth question was the most difficult one: “What about your son’s education?” It’s a very strange thing- education is supposed to empower us, it is supposed to liberate us from fear. But what was happening here was, education was creating fear in our minds, because education has been converted into an industry. Unfortunately, it’s an industry which started thriving on fear just like insurance industry. So, we looked back and thought that it is a very valid question but with an assumption of having a poor education in Gadchiroli because it was a poor area. So, the corollary of this is if you go to the most expensive, best school you will get best education. Second assumption is if you go to school you will get education. So, we sent our son to a government school.

We picked up some attitude which helped us travel this path.

The first was – 1. We are working in rural area for our own sake, no one has invited us here.

2. 1/1.3 billionth of India’s problems are mine.

3. We will be solution-centric, not problem-centric.

4. We will be goal-centric not path-centric.

5. Do not get frustrated. Frustration is like putting a scooter on stand and raising the accelerator – it doesn’t take you forward.

And last if you want to see a better India by bringing about change…be the change!