Why Vrikshamandir ?

How and at what stage of life does a WHY to live for gets chosen? Do the events and happenings in our lives determine WHY to live for ? Does the WHY to live for remains unchanged

How it all began , first phase of my life !

Like my father and his two younger brothers, I too left the village when I was about 21 years old. Prior to that as family stories go my great grand father sent my grand father to study beyond fifth standard to the city some 30 kilometres away. However, after 10-15 days my great grand father started missing his son and undertook a journey to go to the city and get back his son on his pony. Father and son met some halfway in between and came back to the village. That was end of story as far as my grand father’s formal higher education was concerned!

I was considered “good” in studies. My father was the first one in the family to pass matriculation examination and the first post graduate in our village. I also studied as I was expected to get a job and see the world and support the family. 

It was the same case with my father. He too lived away from our village most of his life but kept visiting the village regularly. 

My father took the most unproductive ancestral land in the village and made it productive by hard work and investments over a decade and planted hundreds of trees trees and named this small plot of land as Vrikshamandir. 

I attempt to continue the work started by my father by planting more trees, undertaking agricultural activities and  attempting to develop this place so that it is used by the community especially school going children.

I left the village but the village has never left me

I have often pondered over the question as how to choose a “why” to live for since adolescence.

My first interview for a job was for UP Forest Service ( now Indian Forest Service).

I passed the written examination. I was selected at the interview. My name appeared at the 27th place in a list of 30 finally selected candidates in 1964. I scored at the written examination thanks to the high marks that I got in my paper in Hindi and General Knowledge. I now don’t remember other subjects in which an applicant was examined. After having qualified at the written examination I was called for interview at UP Public Service Commission office in Allahabad.

It was probably my first travel alone to a city I had not been. My mother though tell me that my maternal grand father had taken my maternal grand mother and my mother when I was three or four year old for a holy dip at the Sangam. I too had a “snan” at the Sangam.

I stayed in a Hotel (Ashok ? ) in the Civil Lines area not far from UP Public Service Commission ( UPPSC) Office.

Interview was in Hindi and English and I did well.

When the result was announced and I saw my name in the news paper among the list of selected candidates. A total of thirty were selected that year and my name was at 27th.

I was very happy and so was every one in the family and village. I was looked at with a sense of pride. I became famous. Teachers too took a note of my achievement and even those who were acquainted wanted to be friends.

However, all this euphoria was short lived as after about six months the news came that the number of posts to be filled that year for UP Forest Service were reduced from 30 to 25. My dreams of starting a job and earn early in life was shattered and I had to contend with continuing my studies for the second year Masters Degree in Mathematics.

My second interview for a job was for the position of Income Tax Inspector in the Indian Revenue Service. I passed the written examination. I appeared at the interview.

The interview venue was full of aspiring candidates. I had not had anything to eat since morning as I was waiting for my name to be called out. It was a very chaotic situation. I realised that I wasn’t the lone sufferer.

Most of us were in the same situation surviving on water. The interview panel was calling candidates for interview in alphabetical order of their names.

My name starts with “S”, therefore, I appeared before the panel around 6 pm that day. Having found and then lost a good job I was both very nervous and doubtfully excited at the prospects of getting a job.

The interview panel too was under pressure spending hardly 3-4 minutes with each After the usual one or two questions I was asked what I thought was a very easy question.

“Do you read news papers?”
-Yes Sir
“Did you read today’s news paper?”
-Yes Sir
“Who is Mohammad Ali?”
-Founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah?

There was an awkward silence on the face of the panelist who had asked the question. Another panelist, a kindly soul, put a supplementary question.

“Did you read the sports page in the newspaper today?”

– Silence …

I realised my answer wasn’t right and I became silent. No wonder the interview ended quickly and I knew that I had failed.

Much later that night, while returning to our relatives home where I was staying in the city, suddenly the correct answer flashed in my minds eyes.

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. the great heavy weight boxer had changed his name to Mohammad Ali and that was the news of the day on the sports page of the local news paper!

Second phase of; Village Chatur Banduari to Anand

I have described my third job interview with Dr. Kurien which resulted in my getting a job on the blog Meeting Dr Kurien

My first job was with the National Dairy Development Board of India (NDDB) at Anand.

NDDB has a website and the address is https://nddb.coop

In retrospect I reckon, it was during my early days of working with NDDB and my appointment as Executive Assistant to Dr. Kurien that the seeds of a transformational change in the course of my life were sown.

How time passed when I met Dr Kurien for the first time ! It was 45 minutes or may be more that I spent with him but I still remember most of the key conversations. I left the room filled with joy and a ray of hope. I was desperate to get a job so as not be a burden any more on my father and family in the village. On my return journey back home in the bus I day was day dreaming as to how I will support my family and my father once I start earning.

With my getting a full time job, at National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1968 began the second phase of my life. I got so engrossed and involved with the organisation that I continued to work for NDDB for the next 32 years. I left, NDDB in 2000 two years after Dr. Kurien had left.

I was perhaps the 14th employee and I had the kitchen of a two storied two bedroom building ( Waghasia Building) that existed in 1968 next to AMUL dairy in Anand. 

A major change occurred in my professional life and outlook. In 1975 I was appointed as Executive Assistant to Dr. V Kurien the founder Chairman NDDB, Anand. Although my career graph grew and changed but connection with Dr. Kurien’s office in one way or the other continued till he left NDDB in 1998. NDDB Annual reports have a tradition of publishing name of officers on the rolls of the organisation in different functions. I would find my name appearing in two places a line function like Head of Oilseeds and Oil Wing or Head of Human Resource Development and a staff function like the Office of the Chairman NDDB. I did not last long in NDDB after Dr. Kurien left. That’s a long story and it is better kept for some other time.

One thing I can however, tell even today is that no one asked me to leave. Also I felt that no one “sincerely” asked me to stay. So the inevitable happened and I left.

I left NDDB with a heavy heart and a deep psychic wound which hasn’t healed completely. It is another matter that after a period of great suffering I got on with my third phase of life. More of that later…

I left NDDB and found a new “why” to live for !

Third phase; Anand to Gurugram;

The third phase of my life was spent working for the Grow Talent Company Limited and School of  Inspired Leadership.

Next seventeen years were once again start from the scratch. In the year 2000 my friend Anil Sachdev had just started Grow Talent Company Limited (GTCL) and I became second employee of GTCL. GTCL started the School of Inspired Leadership in 2008. 

I have been associated with this organisation since 2000. I will be posting a separate blog on this novel experiment in leadership development higher education with the vision “To Develop Leaders with Character, Competence ans Enthusiasm”. 

I am no longer actively involved with the company since 2017 though I continue to be associated with as an independent member of the Board.

I will be creating a separate page for documenting the experiences and learnings.

Fourth phase; the story is not complete yet !

In the fourth phase of my life I am a retired person. While in India I live in my village, or Gurgaon or any other place where my friends are. While abroad I live mostly in Toronto and Dubai where my children and their spouses and my grand children live.

I decided to launch this website and post blog for documenting life experiences, incidents, and insights observed and reflected upon from time to time by me as well as of those whom I came in to contact with; who deeply impacted the course of my life journey. I am deeply indebted to each them. There will be pages on this website and blogs dedicated to their life stories written by me or contributed by others. I would like to end this by a link to a mantra from Rig Veda. These Mantras are recited at the convocation of the Institute of Rural Management at Anand (IRMA). 

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