“On 24th January, 107 promising students from across Karnataka and neighbouring states descended upon the VTU campus in Belagavi to mark the kick-off of the 5th annual LEAD Prayana. These students, along with 32 beginning their journey on the same day in Nizamabad, were selected from a pool of almost 500 applicants.
LEAD Prayana, which began in 2012 with just 63 students, is an annual leadership journey that takes almost 150 passionate students between the ages of 18-26 throughout India on a 14-day tour across Karnataka. Packed with site visits, role model sessions, and hands-on activities, LEAD Prayana inspires students by exposing them to individuals and institutions which have innovated and implemented solutions to major challenges. Through this leadership journey, LEAD aims to instill in the participants a need to bring change through effective leadership.
VTU played host to the Belagavi kick-off ceremony, where after the lighting of the ceremonial flame, students and honoured guests alike were treated to a rousing speech by Mr. H. Maheshappa, Vice Chancellor of VTU. While Mr. Maheshappa shared his six traits of a true leader, he noted that in fact, “leadership is an enigma, but we know it when we see it”. However, it was Mr. Maheshappa’s instructions to the budding student leaders and future entrepreneurs before him that garnered the most applause: “you shouldn’t be job seekers… you should be making the jobs, being jobs providers!”
Mr. Naveen Jha, CEO of Deshpande Foundation and the person who dreamed up and made real the LEAD program in 2008, also took the stage as an honoured guest. Mr. Jha shared the learnings from his years of leadership experience, and told the students that this leadership journey would “take them to the ocean”, but it was their choice if they would seize this monumental opportunity to develop their leadership skills by jumping in, or simply dip a toe. This is one reason why this program seems so unique: students must learn to take initiative and become leaders, rather than simply have opportunities handed to them.
The kick-off also featured speakers from the LEAD program and alumni of LEAD Prayana who shared their tips and stories with these eager new “Prayanees”, as they are affectionately reffered to. After the students were sufficiently motivated to start their journey, a ceremonial flag-off was held. The first bus drove out of the VTU campus to applause, drums, and flags waving, the future student LEADers sticking their heads out of the bus windows, cheering with excitement for the two weeks ahead.
To follow along with the LEAD Prayana journey you can find them on SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS, or find more information on their website, www.leadcampus.org/leadprayana.”