Here we have a real life Shah Rukh Khan right out of Swades and we didn't even know about it.
Shuvajit Payne, an economics graduate from Presidency College with an MBA from IIM Lucknow, decided that being a white-collar capitalist wasn't really what he wanted to do with his life. So in a self-revelatory moment of "madness" he decided to walk away from his cushy office desk at IBM, London to do something truly fulfilling.
Following the footsteps of Mohan Bhargav from Swades and turned his keen eyes towards rural India.
Naturally, neither his friends nor his parents were too excited about this little epiphany but Shuvajit had made up his mind. Upon the suggestion of a friend he decided to turn to the fellowship program offered by the SBI - Youth For India.
The fellowship took him to Waifad in Wardha district of Maharashtra. At his arrival all he had to his name were his laptop, a chatai and a bag full of whatever belonging he could scrape together. No luxuries, erratic power and internet and some severe infrastructural issues inside a dingy old computer center.
But what are such trifles to a man on a mission. With a positive attitude he overcame the initial reluctance of the villagers in speaking to him. Within a month he had already adjusted to his new life and had begun to teach the younger generation.
It started with English but his efforts weren't limited to just that. What he provided was vocational training and a sixth of his three hundred odd students from the village now lead successful lives. One of them is working as a software developer today and the other as an animator. Both of them were mentored by Shuvajit on a personal level.
After his fellowship ended, he had a stint as the Programme Director, Monitoring & Evaluation, Reliance Foundation which worked towards empowering the rural-masses with livelihood related information. And where should it bring him back to but to Waifad itself.
Moving towards a more holistic approach to development with his new role, Shuvajit had this to say.
“There are schools in villages but no teachers. If there are teachers, then they don’t come to work. Instead of doling out freebies, the government should make people accountable for work.”
He now works as the Programme Manager for the Youth For India fellowship program, where he has continued to oversee it's smooth functioning and future expansion.
A real life back-to-roots story of a man who wished to give back. And then he went ahead and made it happen. Maybe there's a lesson here. That everyone can make a change if they have the will to do it and believe in what they're doing. Or maybe there isn't. Who knows? I ain't no philosopher. I'm just a guy with a keyboard.
But what I do know is that if there's a guy who deserves huge props, then it's this guy. Kudos to you, Mr. Panye.
Mohan Bhargav Approves.