: : Siddharth V Rao : :
I remember Anna Hazare addressing the students at my school while I was in class 11. He spoke in Hindi, and even though I suspect I missed out on several large chunks of the speech (I passed class 10 Hindi with some difficulty) there was a simple beauty to what he said and I remember walking back to my hostel that evening feeling very quiet.
Those were the days when my (gently) suggested reading included Kum Kum Tandon’s ‘After 10+2 And Beyond – What To Do? How To Guard Against You Ending Up Starving On the Streets’ (or some such). Two days after my somewhat-epiphany (see above) I donated my career guidance books to someone who didn’t want them either and decided to study to become a lawyer, which seemed a good, solid option – faint hearted well-wishers in my extended south Indian middle class family wouldn’t find too many objections with that and it seemed the best educational tool to work at bringing about structural social change.
Law school however, was a different deal altogether. Most of it was uninspiring, and that – in combination with the fact that I’m an uninspired person most of the time – did much to wear the keen edge (as Hamlet may have said) off of my driving force. I did initially shout a lot (without much effect) about local causes that were either too obscure or subtle to bother most people and I soon resigned myself to feeling frustrated and somewhat scared by life in general.
I worked with a law firm once I left law school. I’d told myself at the time that this would be a stopgap option, and that my calling would suddenly strike me one day as I sat in front of my computer tapping away at something. I worked with a team of marvellous people, ate interesting and expensive food and became shockingly fat. The work though was rather stressful rather often and I soon found myself wondering why I was losing so much sleep over matters that I, quite frankly, didn’t quite care about.
So, with some difficulty, I left and relocated to a small town in rural Tamil Nadu for some months. I volunteered my time with (and imposed my fat presence on) a wonderful social organisation that works in the areas of tribal rights, education, public health and community trade. I learnt a lot, contributed a little, and then found my way to Samhita – whose principles and aims resonate hugely with what I have by way of an ideology. My colleagues at Samhita and I are set to work very hard at figuring out and implementing ways to help people to do good, better – so keep watching this space and our portal at samhita.org.