Her cheeks drained out of red now looked dull and stigmatic. Her complexion that of dark brown, patches of sunburns on the back of her neck appeared as if she rouged the nape. With the heap of clothes by her side, sitting on a mound of sand, she began speaking. The remains of tobacco stained her teeth to the extent that her teeth were indistinguishable from gums. The mouth was incapable of maintaining symmetry; her lips slipped off to a side, cheeks lax. With the contents of her mouth dripping from the slipping lips, she spoke.
So emaciated the boy was, yet so curious of our work; he walked us all towards his abode. Flakes of dry cow dung lay here and there near the entrance; the walls were painted in patches of cow dung, blotted in pale brown circles. A woman was chasing a buffalo for its dung, she scooped it with bare hands after the benign creature obliged and mixed it with water in a pot. Then she proceeded to spray it all over the floor, it perhaps disturbed the sleeping little dog, for he stood up on his feet, leant on his fore legs and stretched his body. Shook off the water, he pawed his nose, nibbled at his feet, and proceeded to lick his wounds.
The man’s arms and feet were checkered with rashes, he was diseased, and the family was recovering from the last harvest season. The head of the family was incapable of working, and they were merely living off the mother’s daily wages. The man was loosing hair, his scalp ragged with lonely stalks of hair that drooped low with incapacitation, one here and one there. Those lonely warriors were the only remains; the man was dying a slow, painful and agonizing death.
Smitten with anger and fury of kids pelting stones at him, the mad dog bit an old lady who happened to sit by her clay stove cooking meals for her husband. The villagers apprehended the mad dog, but by then the casualties increased and a baby girl in her attempt to escape the rabid dog fell off into a ditch. Badly bruised, the baby died and presently we were conversing with the hapless mother. The bereaved family devastated as they were, could not afford to cremate the baby’s dead body beside her grandmother’s grave. And, the villagers complained.
The roof was swollen; it was drooping down under its own weight. The light bulb suspended from the roof oscillated with the slightest of breeze, spider webs ominously besieged the roof from four corners extending as if they were tentacles of an octopus. The place smelled of wet mud; air thick with stench and floor uneven with stagnated water of the recent showers. An old lady sitting in the corner by a rock was grinding nuts; she would fill the neatly carved gaping hole in the rock with nuts and grind them up with a wooden shaft. Upon enquiry, she proceeded to explain her menu for the night. She would dissolve the pulverized remains of the grinded powder in a tumbler full of cold water, mix it with rice and relish the delicacy. The family was quite surprised that I did not take notice of the celebrations; the younger son returned from the city after six months, he works as a repairman in a garage.
These are some of the stories that we confront every week on our visit to villages. Great Lakes’ Karma Yoga project adopts few villages and works on projects with utmost sincerity. Students, as a part of the project are exposed to the depth of derelict rural lives.
A student driven Karma Yoga Committee guided by Dr. Venkat R. Krishnan (Director, Yale-Great Lakes Centre for Management Research) is co-ordinating the efforts of 260 PGPM students in 12 nearby villages with the help of IGCAR (Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research) Kalpakkam. Students carry out comprehensive activities like Educational Assistance, Career Counselling, Business Consultation (to Self-Help Groups), Waste and Water Resource Management, Rain Water Harvesting and Health Awareness.
The purpose of Karma Yoga project is to make students aware of their social responsibilities and to channel their energies in helping the underprivileged. However in this process, numerous management lessons on constraint optimization, people and resource management, innovation and leadership are learnt, which create strongly beneficial and worthwhile impressions on students and subtly transform their character towards higher ideals on a long-term basis .