“Volunteerism is a spirit. Live by it,” says B.Tech student Ankit Tulsyan, who got a new dimension to his life after he met his mentor and founder of Goonj, Anshu Gupta, at a social conference in 2009.
Ankit last year was the City Campaign Coordinator, Goonj ‘Vastra Samman’, the nationwide movement highlighting the importance of cloth as a basic need of poor, spearheaded by Goonj, the NGO founded by former journalist, Anshu K. Gupta.
“I met Mr. Gupta at the conference. He is now a mentor and father-like figure to me,” he says.
But Ankit was bitten by the bug of volunteerism and philanthropy right from his first year of Chemical Engineering course at VNIT Nagpur.
His first stint was as a volunteer for a social group in his campus called ‘Prayaas’.
“This group is engages in village development. I went on to become the social secretary for the club and retired this year. The seeds of volunteerism germinated during these times,” he says.
Since then Ankit engaged himself in various projects. He is the founding member of Renaissance, a platform for collaborative development.
There have been various repetitive and fragmented efforts in the rural and social space. Renaissance intends to provide a common platform for collaboration among various development stakeholders- be it volunteers, social organisations, corporate or the government agencies.
“There shall also be a library of information which speaks about the best of the work done in various sectors so as to prevent repetition and build over the existing efforts,” he says.
As a part of this step, Renaissance 2010 was hosted at VNIT Nagpur. It was the first of its kind social conference, calling various development stakeholders together, in a technical university where such events are rarity.
Ankit is also part of the Mayurbhanj Public School (MPS) team. It is probably the first community school coming up for the tribal children of Orissa.
The community and a group of youth, researchers, and professionals have decided to initiate a collective effort for establishing a school on their own by collaborating with supportive groups or organisations. This school is CBSE affiliated. It is not for profit and follows a sustainable model with the best of the school standards.
“My contribution for this project is to streamline the efforts with my set of experiences besides finding suitable partners with whom we can collaborate,” says Ankit.
Being a campus ambassador for Teach for India programme is another feather in his cap.
“Teach for India is an initiation on the lines of Teach for America. This initiative is by Akansha Foundation and its basic premise is to identify future leaders and decision makers and make them realise the dearth of work in the education sector and the challenges it faces,” he explains.
However, of all his works, Ankit still finds his involvement with Goonj ‘Vastra Samman’ in 2009 the most exciting.
“It was a collection drive in 25 cities during the first Joy of Giving Week (JGW-09) in Sept-Oct last year. I worked with Mr. Anshu Gupta for about a month in Delhi and realised the spark and the vision the man possesses. Thereafter, I took charge to handle the Nagpur operation of Goonj for the first time,” he informs.
“We initiated several drives, tapping the morning joggers to the campus and other activities. I am presently also working at Goonj for my summer vacations and building over JGW-10 and other such initiatives,” he says.
Ankit’s social activities also enriched his perspective of the world.
“I don’t remember a change in perspective because earlier I didn’t have any perspective. I was just one of the rats in the race and was unaware of the developments and needs of the society. The only perspective I developed was after getting involved in a larger way and realising the individual social responsibility,” he says.
Ankit now believes that the society is progressing.
“There is a growth but these inputs can be used to accelerate the growth rate,” he says, emphasizing the need for clear direction and leadership.
He feels volunteerism is a spirit and it is irrespective of formal recognitions.
“Till date I don’t have any certificate of work from Goonj,” he says.
Ankit also feels that it is important to find a mentor in life.
“A mentor is not one who necessarily is famous but one whom you really look up to and desire to be like,” he says.
Ankit also believes that attitude is a key ingredient for attaining success. “It’s the attitude not the aptitude which defines your altitude,” he says.
: : by Sujoy Dhar : :