September 2011

Youths Help Transform Rural India

While their peers elsewhere are chasing dreams to establish themselves in the corporate world,a group of youngsters have chosen to dedicate at least one year of their lives to the transformation of rural India.

One of these youngsters holds an M.Tech degree from IIT Delhi, another holds an engineering degree in computer science, a third was a faculty member in a commerce college, and yet another has a degree in law. But, all of them have taken a one-year break in their career to serve the cause of rural transformation under a fellowship programme initiated by the State Bank of India (SBI).

The SBI has partnered with Pune-based non governmental organisation BAIF, Chennai-based Dr M S Swaminathan Research Foundation and Udaipur-based Seva Mandir and these SBI Youth for India Fellows are working on the ongoing programmes of these NGOs.

The youngsters, who are in the middle of the one-year fellowship programme, recently related their experiences of working in rural India at a function held at BAIF, on the occasion of the International Youth Day.

Haresh Bhere is an M.Tech from IIT Delhi and was working with Tata Motors when he decided to take a break and help tribals in Jawahar taluka in Thane district to improve the supply chain of their agricultural produce. Saurabh Potdar, after a two-and-half year stint as senior engineer in the research and development wing of IT major MindTree is now engaged in promoting endogenous tourism for sustainable livelihood also in Jawahar taluka.

Both Saurabh and Haresh say they will have to rethink about their careers once the fellowship programme ends because they find it highly satisfying to work for the rural and tribal populace. "I have told my seniors that I would like to work in the Corporate Social Responsibility department of the company when I rejoin after the fellowship programme," says Saurabh. He recalls how his friends and family had raised their eyebrows when he voiced his decision of joining the programme. "When others with your qualifications would prefer to go to the US and earn lots of money, why do you want to go to the villages?" they had wanted to know. "Because, this is my passion," Saurabh had told them in answer.

Everything was going well with Haresh too at Tata Motors. "I was comfortable in my 30 sq ft cubicle designing hybrid vehicles," he recalls. But he has found a new joy working among the tribals.

Haresh and Saurabh are quite happy to be working among the tribals despite the fact that Jawahar taluka continues to remain backward where 24x7 electricity supply and good roads are still a distant dream.

Taher Sartharwala was a faculty member in a Pune-based commerce college. He too decided to take a one-year break and is now promoting improved cultivation practices among tribals in Gujarat. "Youths are the powers of change," says Taher. But he also cautions that there is a darker side to the youth. "An identity crisis is affecting today's youth," he says.

Parveen Shaikh is a lawyer. She joined the fellowship programme and is now working on problems of malnutriition among tribals in Gujarat.

There were others who narrated their experiences. Coming from diverse backgrounds and holding enviable degrees that can land them plum positions in the corporate sector, they are, however, contributiong their mite for the betterment of "another world that has not been so fortunate".

The details of the fellowship programme can be had by visiting

Some useful links for
your career:

  • Union Public Service Commission -
  • IIT-Kharagpur -
  • Indian Statistical Institute -
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras -
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad -
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission -
  • IIT Bombay -
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad -
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi -
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training -
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) -
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi -
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai -

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