So many memories…so many stories…

Laying down office seems so easy when one writes about it without the subjective pressures of emotion and memories. After more than 30 years at the helm, I felt that I had done what needed to be done over the last 30 months to future-proof SVYM. Whether it was Governance or moving SVYM closer to sustainability or streamlining our management functions, bringing in technology, reorienting our programs and making them more relevant to the times – I felt that so much could be done and this was possible only by the emergence of a wonderful and creative team of 16 motivated people from within SVYM. Playing the catalyst and watching the maturation of collective leadership has been so rewarding. I wanted to explain all this to our employees at Saragur and Hosahalli and let them know how I did not have much to offer in terms of real value to SVYM now. I also wanted them to appreciate how I have always lived life with the guidance of my inner voice and also inform them that I would no longer be playing the role of the President from the 1st of October 2017.

Meeting and interacting with our staff showed me how far SVYM has come. So much energy, so much enthusiasm and suddenly I was reminded of how much water has flowed under the bridge over the last 33 years. From our aborted experiment at Chinnadagudihundi to the celebration of our first anniversary at Thumnerale to my meeting Swami Achalanandaji, my spiritual guide and mentor – so many thoughts seemed to rush through my mind. Going to Hosahalli, I was fondly recollecting the challenges that we had faced building the Kenchanahalli hospital and how today it is more relevant to transform this hospital into a rural livelihood center. At Hosahalli, I was reminiscing how Dr Manjukumar (currently a monk at the Ramakrishna Math, Belur) so lovingly planted the raintree saplings which today have grown into such gigantic ones. I was remembering how difficult it was to grow the Ashoka trees around the old school which stood patiently watching the school and the children grow over the last 28 years. And then it stuck me! How change is the only norm that is constant. The Ashoka trees have been cut and all that remain are ugly looking stumps, though some of them are stubbornly refusing to fade away and are slowly rejuvenating. Organizations are also like these trees – the old has to make way for the new or at least the ‘old’ has to grow and re-discover themselves and come back rejuvenated and fresh or they will end up only as ugly looking remnants. Otherwise SVYM will lose its relevance and all that will remain will be memories.

The stumps on one side and the rejuvenation on the other…

Memories that I fondly continue to cherish. Of how we had to drive out the ‘spirits’ from the Hosahalli campus to make it acceptable and safe for our tribal children. How Javaraiah and Jadiya had to have their share of daily battles with us. Or how Thimmaiah would work tirelessly to guard the campus on his own initiative. The teachers who came and went, but some of them still remain in my memory. The extraordinary and silent contributions of so many wonderful people. Just naming all of them will require a book. Of the enormous support that we have been receiving from hundreds of people in the Government, in the private sector, in the communities that we work with and from other well-meaning individuals and Institutions. All this has what made the experiment called SVYM see reasonable success. And all this is what I will take home with me – the stories, the adventures and the memories to reflect on and continue to grow from the energy that SVYM has been giving me.

So many of our donors and friends have appreciated my stand and endorsed it. Many of them feel that the timing could not have been better while some of them feel that I should have waited a few more years for the dust of the enormous change and churning happening by the SDG process to settle down. Whatever it is, the satisfaction and happiness that one feels on seeing that so much has happened and so many have now come together to steer the ship forward makes me believe that there could be no better time than now.

But along with all this, there still remains the question that many have asked me. What next for me? Everyone seems to believe that I will now move and seek other pastures. All that I can honestly say is that I have not applied my mind to anything else at this point of time. The activist in me will never stop doing what it has been doing or retire from any active social engagement. What platform I will now operate from is something that I am confident will reveal itself to me. For the moment, I intend to continue to teach, to train, to write and to focus on building up GRAAM, another great Institution waiting to happen.

I would also like to use this opportunity to thank each one of you for believing in me and for being a part of my adventurous journey of the last three decades and more. Life will go on, memories will fade, some stories may sound stale; but what is priceless is the enormous learning and personal evolution that happened to me, only because I am a part of SVYM. And that is something that will continue forever.