How often we have seen the premium B-School students marching a countryside village? But this is a familiar activity for the Greatlakers, having enabled more than 20 villages around their campus on various dynamics like education, health care, environment and entrepreneurial progresses
For Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, this is the year-two that they have succeeded the progress with “Karmayoga – Annual Convention” held on 24th Aug 2013. I have spent a memorable and an inspiring day at the Great Lakes campus, one of the best green campuses I have ever been. Ankit, a student who accompanied me to ensure that I was provided with all the needed resources and he was so helpful in explaining everything about Karmayoga.
Karmayoga happened at four different simultaneous sessions addressing the people from the villages on four categories Agriculture, Health care, Education and Self-Help Groups. This was followed by various activities which the students done in their respective villages as a part of their academics over a distributed time period earlier, since they started pursuing programs in the institute. Experts from various fields were invited for each category and they were providing the much needed orientation and training for the villagers. The student representatives of the respective villages were alongside them during the sessions and contributed their views as well.
Though I put it so simple here, I have felt the results of all the efforts by the students and the management to bring people from 20 villages on own interest for a corporate style professional convention is something remarkable thing I ever witnessed. It resembled me some disciplined parliamentary meet, which remains unlikely on the real groundsJ.
I was switching among the meeting halls splitting my time equally so that I could move across all the four sessions and managed to interact with people out there. Here are my excerpts from my interactions on that day.
A man looked so humble in dhoti and white shirt and resembled a farmer whom we can see in every village got my attention on the Agriculture session. “These students helped us to understand the complete picture behind the usage of Natural Manures and its environmental impact” said Elumalai the farmer from Poonthandalam Village.
I spotted two friends seated in Education session and initiated ‘A say about your story how you landed here’. “Though I am a student from another engineering college, I was lacking in my communication skills, Because of Karmayoga, I have got the opportunity to improve my communication skills. Thanks to Great Lakers.” said Baskar, a B.Tech student from the village Kadapadi.
A Nurse, Ranjani from Kuzhappanthundalam came along with her younger sister, said that most of the people had used open toilets in her village and after the students’ interaction with the villagers the awareness about hygiene factor has increased. Even the villagers understood the importance of hand washing as a serious hygiene factor.
“We are concerned about the lack of Medical facilities in the village Manamai and there are minimal numbers of Doctors there” said Avin, a student of Great Lakes.
“We have organized medical camps for general health check up and blood donation, a man was found with depression on a developmental stage and his family was not even aware of that, later he was prescribed some medications”, said the Trio Puneet, Abinav and Hamsa.
“The Spoken English classes have been so effective, now we could speak a few words far better than before”, praised Sundar and Arun, diploma students from Kothimangalam.
Srikanth, a Greatlaker was so excited to say that there were so many issues the villagers want to address yet they were hesitant to ask the concern authorities about them. Karmayoga helped them to connect with the people and they have explained people the importance of standing for their own necessities and formal procedures to put forward their demands. This enabled them to conduct village meetings on Aug 15, Oct 2 and Jan 26 to conclude and put forward their needs to the concern government authorities.
Karmayoga works as a good platform to practice leadership as the learning process is so collective. “We adapt ideas, work interconnected, brainstorm our activities and results. Whatever knowledge we are imparted from the 20 villages, we always collaborate our ideas and keep improvising it” said Aashima Sharma.
Women in Self-help group session were highly participative than the other ones, the hall was full of cheers and claps. Kudos to the trainer for engaging them so enthusiastic and It was so tough for me then to find a break to have my interaction with anyone there. Ramani, running a stationery store in the Great lakes premises initially was working for a self help group in Kunnathur village and motivated a lot to run her stationery store with more confidence, like an entrepreneur.
I managed to interact with an interesting person whom I presumed initially as a student, was so cheerfully involved in Karmayoga convention meeting. She in fact, Pon Mythili is a Lecturer at Great Lakes, given tons of credits and taken pride about the students and said “they are the best students I ever seen in my experience with such a decorum and self discipline”
I got a holistic detailing from Dr.T.N.Swaminathan, amid of his busy day; he spared his lunch break for us to explain Karmayoga. According to him many institutes are involved in doing CSR activities but Karmayoga is more of an Experiential Learning Initiative as well as a CSR activity, which is an important part of the curriculum there at Great Lakes Institute of Management. His words were filled with gratitude for the Villagers who accepted them and he was so concerned about giving them back something the best they can. “Rather giving food every time to a starving man, it is a lot better to enable him with the art of making food for himself. That ensures sustainability for them, beyond helping someone on a monetary basis. When our students will reach greater positions in the future, they will think of the people at lower levels too and sync their ideas with the ground realities of life even to the extreme ends of the society. This is what a student learns here via Karmayoga” he concluded his inspiring thoughts.
On a whole, initiatives like Karmayoga by world class Institutions like Great lakes will impact huge attention and most importantly they have the intentions very clear – A noble reason to think about Villages, conserving and enabling them for a better tomorrow. It gives a lot of hope that we think broadminded about the society as a whole. When students steps-in on such initiatives like Karmayoga, it conveys that younger minds are tuning themselves on a positive direction. Hope we look forward for more such innovative ideas from many.