Round 1: Lessons learned, winners, and new beginningsNews & Updates | October 3, 2011
It’s time to announce the Round One winners, but first,...
I began the process of understanding India as a sophomore in college, when I spent a summer in Mumbai researching the corporatization of Bollywood. Like all newcomers to India, I attempted to reconcile the dual identity of modern India – its booming bourgeoisie and industries that exist alongside India’s pervasive, heartbreaking poverty. During a semester abroad at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, I was exposed to the archaic, glacial workings of India’s government and the disillusionment it can induce. A summer internship at Infosys in Bangalore introduced me to the country’s vast IT capabilities and outsourcing potential – a massive industry that employs millions but threatens to sideline the more pressing issues of infrastructure, education, and income inequality.
But I have long viewed all these (often) contradictory facets of India as a passive observer. As shocking as the endemic poverty was to me, and as inspiring as the country’s growth seemed, as a foreigner Mother India remained elusive.
This began to change when I joined the Corporate Brand Council at Mahindra and, more specifically, when I joined the team working on Spark the Rise.
Behind the discouraging facts and gloomy figures that newspapers bombard us with on a daily basis are countless inspirational stories of individuals and organizations driving positive social change and creating a better future for their communities. If Spark the Rise has taught me anything, it is that individuals can make a difference. If the powers that be in Delhi cannot meet the needs of their constituents, then it’s up to the local panchayat in Bihar or the entrepreneur in Bangalore to step up and to drive change.
The recent visit of Round 1 winners of Spark the Rise to the Mahindra Towers affirmed this belief. The winning project champions presented their projects with an infectious enthusiasm: it was clear to us that their ideas – diverse in scope and size – were born out of personal experience and an impressive drive.
Take Vijay Kedia, whose project aims to provide farmers with year-round, dependable sources of water – his own personal experiences with drought helped him formulate his vision. Sharad Ansani, distressed by the frequent stories he read in the papers of young college students committing suicide by hanging themselves on ceiling fans, decided to develop a simple but effective mechanism to prevent unnecessary deaths. Vishisht Bhatia, originally from Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, told us how he was fortunate enough to be able to pursue his studies in New Delhi – an option many of his high school classmates did not have. Convinced that rural-educated workers are just as capable as their urban counterparts, Vishisht hopes to give back to his community by providing employment opportunities to rural workers in BPO centers.
In supporting these projects through Spark the Rise, I feel like I’m tapping into a growing, exciting grassroots movement in India. As part of the team helping put these ideas into action, I feel like I am no longer a passive observer: by helping amplify the voices around the country that are demanding change and proposing solutions, I am becoming part of the chorus.
About the author:
Colin Murphy was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and grew up in Mexico City. He graduated from Yale University in 2011 with a B.A. in English. He currently works with the Corporate Brand Council at Mahindra & Mahindra.
The views expressed above are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of the views of the Mahindra Group.
If you enjoyed this article, keep up on new stories and conversations about Rise×