Posts filed under ‘Karma Yoga’
On Saturday, 9th February 2013, Great Lakes Institute of Management witnessed the first ever Karma-Yoga Convention – an annual all-inclusive platform that aimed to bring together farmers, businessmen, self-help groups, non-governmental organizations, students, local Panchayat leaders and every other stake-holder relevant in the rural development schema together under one roof.
Interlaced with motivating speeches, cultural celebrations and discussions on raging socio-economic issues, this event enabled the institute to take the relationship and trust it established with the villagers through the Karma-Yoga project to a whole new level.
The Convention was divided into four segments: first was the inauguration session, which included motivating addresses by the chief guests, next was a panel discussion on the topic “Changing trends in Rural Communities: A look at livelihoods, education and social interface of communities”, which was followed by the cultural program by children from all 20 villages and the valediction ceremony.
Dr. Swarnamalaya Ganesh - a professional Bharatnatyam dancer and Director of Ranga Mandira Trust and School of performing arts and Dr. S. Natarajan – Opthalmologist, Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital Pvt. Ltd were the chief guests for the day. The conference also saw the participation of members from NGOs and non-profit organizations, who participated in the discussion as panelists. Some of the NGOs and non-profits organizations that were represented are: Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Vaanagam, Centre for Culture and Development, Tamil Nadu Science Forum, RUWSEC, Reward Trust, Rotary Club of Madras West, Childline, Centre for Social Initiative & Management, Hope Foundation Elementary & Primary School & Nalamdana Trust.
After the invocation song and lighting of the lamp of knowledge by the dignitaries, Prof. Venkat R. Krishnan – Director, Yale-Great Lakes Center for Management Research welcomed the dignitaries, members from NGOs and non-profit organizations and the people from the villages and set the context for the convention. The objective of Karma-Yoga, the village empowerment project undertaken by the institute with the help of its students, he said, was to help the people lift themselves into their better selves and to enable them to achieve growth and development without any dependence.
After the welcome speech, Uncle Bala took to the dias to address the gathering. He welcomed the guests and said that it was heartening to see the involvement of more than 2/3rd of the students who weren’t from south, in this Leadership Experiential Project called Karma-Yoga which necessitates them to visit the villages and interact with the village people who speak only Tamil. This, he said, was an example of the inclusive growth that the institute promotes. He also provided some nuggets of wisdom in his mesmerizing manner and asked the students and villagers to aim high in life so that they got somewhere even when they failed to achieve what they had initially aimed for. Uncle ended his address with a quote from Saint Thiruvalluvar in Tamil, which meant, “There is nothing called impossible, everything is possible. Yes we can, and we will!”
After Uncle Bala’s welcome, it was time for a thought-provoking and insightful inaugural address by Dr. Swarnamalya Ganesh that dwelt on how ‘aesthetic action’ can make the action itself, less burdensome. Dr. Ganesh also spoke about the three levels of problems existing in our country today – that of Governance, Society and Individual morals and said, that we would need to work our way up to solve these issues for which we needed to empower our brothers and sisters through education. She was delighted that the Karma-Yoga project was aiming at doing exactly that by reaching out and connecting with the village people and trying to curate their morals through various initiatives. The dialogues between the communities that this project was creating, she said, was the best way to carry out and sustain aesthetic actions like ahimsa, activism, social responsibility and public services which would make the whole process of solving the problems existing in the society a lot easier!
Our other Chief Guest Dr. S. Natarajan’s address was disarming in its simplicity and adherence to his to-the-core family-values. He spoke about the origins of Karma-yoga by quoting from the Bhagwad Gita and said the best way to live is by dedicating ones’ life for the service of humanity. He asked the students to have a large heart, as that was what was expected of tomorrow’s nation builders. He also spoke of the opportunity the students got by virtue of being born in well-to-do families which most of the people in this country don’t have, but they have skills and it was our duty to accommodate and hone their skills and to provide them equal opportunity to shine in the society.
Next was the keynote address by Dr. Prabhat Kumar – CMD, BHAVINI, in which he spoke about how time-tested tenets guide one as one strives for excellence. “It’s a terrible thing to see but have no vision”, he quoted before going on to talk about the importance of nurturing dreams and aspirations and how they tend to become important in shaping one’s future by citing examples from life of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. After an enthralling speech, he left the audience with his formula for achieving success, which he called the 3Cs: Clarity of vision, Conviction to succeed and Confidence to be.
It was time for the panel discussion post the inauguration session. The topic “Changing trends in Rural Development: An overview of education, livelihoods and the attitudes of people towards change”. Moderated by Prof. Venkat R. Krishnan, this was an open-ended and frank discussion of burning issues between the panel members from the NGO and non-profit organization and representatives of the rural communities which included but wasn’t limited to farmers, labourers, panchayat-presidents, councilors, women-self-help group leaders and young college-goers. This energy packed discussion session drew the participation from almost everyone in the hall!
Next was a cultural extravaganza by 20 teams – one from each of our Karma-Yoga village. The performances made sure the audience were glued to their seats till the very end and clearly reflected the amount of hard work put in by the students over a period of 3-4 weeks which resulted in extremely inventive and entertaining dance, music, fusion and drama performances by children ranging 5-17 years of age.
The first-of-its-kind convention ended with the valedictory session where the winners of the Cultural extravaganza were announced and certificates were distributed to all the participants whose hard work and dedication resulted in the event’s roaring success. The convention not only played a major role in bringing all the stakeholders together but also provided them with a platform to interact and to witness the development brought in by the Karma-Yoga project. This will definitely result in further community-development and engagement in mutually elevating collaborations for the partners.
Pre-reads, more pre-reads and some more pre-reads. Sleep cycle went for a toss, class preparedness took a whole new meaning and grades were out even before we could have dinner on the same day. Faster than the grades could be out, students were out of classrooms and of the course. The dreaded “I have reasonable evidence to believe that you haven’t done your pre-reads” became the most dreaded catch phrase of our lives over a period of one and half months.
People doing pre-reads while watching cricket matches, in buses on the way to watch movies (even Enthiran) and while having breakfast were a common sight. Even our jokes for a month and half became centred on LIP!! A bunch of fifty odd survivors were eating, drinking and sleeping “LIP” and doing what they must do – Survive.
A course which generated so much of hype with stories doing rounds of how a senior had to catch a flight to be just in time for a class as he didn’t want to be out of the course. With almost all the batch toppers opting for the course, it was bloodbath when it came to grades. Yes, that would be me bleeding. Egos were bruised and philosophies moulded but no one gave up.
You must be wondering. Was it worth the hype, the pain and the sleepless nights and empty stomachs? You bet, it was; worth living for, worth dying for and worth going to hell for. Touted as one of the most enigmatic courses at Great Lakes and being taught by the equally enigmatic Dr. Venkat. R. Krishnan, it was also reckoned to be one of the most useful and practical. Leadership, Influence and Power (or LIP as we call it) surpassed all our expectations and left us wanting more.
Everything about it was different – loads of pre-reads consisting of two text book and numerous empirical articles, a class with 100% attendance from each student who had enrolled, a class involving everything from movies, to speeches to drama to case studies to numerous surveys, to live leadership project, to heated discussions – it was different in every conceivable way.
There were 16 classes and each was unique in its own way, right from the livid discussions to the OHP presentations (yes, you read it right – Over head projector).Each class was loaded with anticipation, partly due to the compulsory pre-reads which was tested in every class in different ways. The discussions were inflammable at times but never became ugly as the ice cool temperament of Dr. Venkat came to the fore. He will corner you with his questions so much so that only thing you can do is retort. He will most often sidestep from the centre stage and let others counter your opinion and will merely be a witness to the clash of ideologies and philosophies.
Usually every course has a definite goal. According to Dr. Venkat, the sole aim of his course was to leave us with numerous unanswered questions. I must say that he did indeed succeed.
Want to know more about the course? I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you!
- A joint venture by Shiva Krishnan and Priyambad.