It seems like an eon ago, but it has been a little more than a month since we started with EPGP – So much has happened since then – Voting for committees, project submission, assignments, mid terms et al. A unique aspect of this course is the seminar series – Distinguished speakers from different walks of life giving us unique perspectives in fields as varied as arts, science, journalism and sports – All adding to the richness of academic life at IIM Bangalore.
The first speaker at our seminar series was Mr. Prasad Gollanapalli. Mr. Prasad is a student of Gandhian Thought and an activist working in the Sarvodaya Movement. He is the General Secretary of Andhra Pradesh Sarvodaya Mandal, Hyderabad. He works with Gandhian ashrams, institutions and universities, offering courses on Gandhian thought. He left his job almost 25 years ago to pursue developmental activities in villages as a full time occupation. In times like these, when corruption makes the headlines almost every day, his talk came as a whiff of fresh air.
Mr. Prasad spoke to the EPGP students about the relevance of Gandhian philosophy in present day India and why he felt that while Gandhi was looked upon with much adoration, the values he propagated are not practiced in real life. Ironically, it seems that Gandhi is more popular in countries abroad and may have to resort to import Gandhism from the west. The applicability of basic principles such as Sarvodaya(welfare of all living beings), Swaraj(rule over oneself, self control) in today’s world, according to him, is as important as it was in the days of the freedom struggle. While dwelling on the subject of Satyagraha, he spoke of an instance when organizers of a youth camp in Andhra Pradesh(that he participated in) requested the participants to avoid wastage of food, as these were funded by donations. When this request was not adhered to, the organizers claimed responsibility and took it upon themselves to eat the food wasted by the volunteers. This resulted in a dramatic change in attitude during the next meal, when not a single morsel was wasted. The event had a huge impact on Prasad and formulated his next steps.
He touched upon Anna’s movement, but also emphasized the importance of the youth of today in ensuring the right kind of growth in rural India. Excesses such as liquor, alcohol in villages are clearly detrimental to their growth, even if they bring in large amounts of revenue to the government. He expressed confidence in the young generation and encouraged the students to use their intellectual capabilities in promoting a value oriented society, help in making villages self reliant and create awareness for small scale industries in the market.