While all his friends took their newly wed brides to US, Europe & Australia he took her to a village where there is no electricity! Even after being married for over six months now, they stay separately, as NGO (he works with) does not allow men & women staying together. He left his air conditioned cubicle with an IT giant and now works on a stipend which is just 15-20% of what he used to get as his salary.
Young India and especially those in Urban areas who are chasing their reverie to establish themselves in the corporate world and group of youngsters have chosen otherwise and now have dedicated at least one year of their lives to the transformation of rural India.
The State Bank of India Youth for India (SBIYFI) fellowship programme captures the spirit and enthusiasm of talented young urban Indians who want to make a difference in the lives of their rural counterparts.
The year-long project is in partnership with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai, BAIF Research Foundation, Pune and Seva Mandir, Udaipur — has attracted professionals from sectors as diverse as IT, biotech, education, infrastructure, healthcare and non-profit.
Opting to swap, for an entire year, a cushy life in an air-conditioned cubicle for the thorny and unsure path of rural life, participants such as Sourabh chose this fellowship a few months ago when he was going to tie the holy knot of of marriage with Amruta, his college sweetheart.
Out of about 4,000 applications, 200 candidates were shortlisted for interviews and 28, including five women, were selected to work with the partner NGOs.
Sourabh recalls how his friends and family had raised their eyebrows when he voiced his decision of joining the programme. “When others like you would prefer to go to US, why do you want to go to villages?” they had wanted to know. “Because, this is my passion,” he answered. He got great support from his fiancee, his family and his in-laws.
Sourabh Potdar is an engineering graduate from Gogte Institute of Technology, Belgaum. For the last two and a half years he has worked as a Senior Engineer (R&D Services) in MindTree Ltd., Bangalore.
Sourabh “strongly believes in Vision 2020” which dreams of creating a better India by the year 2020. He had been seeking a channel through which he could contribute for quite some time before he heard of the SBI Youth for India programme. Without much thought, he joined the program. “I believe that India can develop only if we have a sustainable development of our villages. With all these pros of the program outweighing the non-existent cons, I decided to join the cause. ”He now says that the “program has exceeded all his expectations”
When asked about his dreams for rural India, Sourabh says “I want rural India to have a clean, healthy, green, and prosperous society. This will be possible only when the people in our villages are educated. I dream of India with a 100% literacy rate. I am expecting to understand the problems affecting the people in the villages and make a contribution, however small, to India’s progress. I am sure that I will learn to expand my limits: physically, mentally, and intellectually. This will help me to become a better person.”
The thought of working in rural India does seem challenging to Sourabh. He says “It is often said that you will see a new India every 10 kilometers with such a splendid diversity of people and cultures. This is both a wonderful experience and a challenge. Having lived my entire life in a city, it may be difficult to adjust to a new environment (different culture, weather, people & food.) However, I’m sure I can overcome all these challenges by reminding myself of the reason I joined this program.”
Sourabh hasn’t thought about his career path after completing the Fellowship. However, he is sure that the Fellowship will widen his perspective in making decisions.
Sourabh is working on a rural tourism project in Kelichapada, a small hamlet in Jawhar (Dist. Thane, Maharashtra), which will provide tourists with an experience of trekking, visits to scenic spots and stay in a tribal village to experience the culture of these tribal while ensuring a supplementary source of income for the poor tribal folks.
His wife Amruta told this blog, “I was in two minds and worried about the life after my marriage but then I knew that it was something that he always wanted and besides his happiness will be my happiness. Now that I have joined him. I know what he does and how he’s happy actually double happy cos even I m with him now!
I would not have a problem as he enjoys his work and wishes to continue. But then that surely gave me a lump in my throat because it’s a really difficult thing but still I’ll support him.”
His brother Sandeep says “Sourabh was always an ‘enterprising’ person. He always wants to do something that will make a difference to society as a whole. In 2008 Sourabh was also selected and reached the finals of Tycoon – the All-India Leadership Hunt by Jagoo India and Career Launcher in New Delhi. He couldn’t be among the top 3 winners there but he never gave up. And with this fellowship he still achieved what he always wanted – a chance to serve India.”