Mentor Speaks: The Spirit of Service

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An IIT Roorkee Mentor speaks his heart about the spirit of service and spirituality. His thoughts follow…

The beauty of being spiritual is that it answers all your doubts. However, after clearing all your concepts, it gives you your own questions. You will have to find the answers to those on your own and there is no key to them. Although, you can seek some spiritual masters.

Unselfishness is the answer to all my questions and as Swami Vivekananda rightly put forth

“Are you unselfish? If you are, you will be perfect without reading a single religious book, without going into a single church or temple.”

But then what defines selflessness. Working for a social cause made me happy. It enhances one’s self-esteem. So if you want to ameliorate yourself by using “unselfishness” as a tool; is it selfish?

Let me explain a bit further. There are two philosophies: As some people believe in doing well for all i.e. they open hospitals, provide drinking water, donate clothes to poor etc. They believe in social welfare. Some people believe in improving themselves and believe others should do the same – i.e. improve themselves. But sometimes we should do good things for others and it should be with the sole motive of service (not help) because we cannot help others. Only the individual has the power to help itself. So rather than looking for social welfare through simply giving, we should look for empowerment. By donating money to poor/beggars we are only ensuring that their number will increase in the future.

Such is the sole motive of Avanti i.e. to empower the youth of India by ensuring them access to a quality education.

Seeking around for my role, some way in which I could contribute to society, took me to Avanti, and I have enjoyed every bit of it.

Why do we want to bridge the gap? A clear insight reveals that the adolescents have a vast pool of energy. According to Ericson this is the age of ego development and the person grapples with identity vs. role confusion. Up to this stage development mostly depends upon what is done for us but from here on, development primarily depends upon what we do. My experience with underprivileged families further refined my thinking.

These are people who are working hard to make both ends meet and there is a special emphasis on education. Half of the earnings are spent on education of their wards; they are leaving villages and living in nearby cities or town on rent so that their child gets proper education. The whole family adjusts in one room and they still manage to make space for studies. Students say that they get the time and environment for the study only when everyone sleeps late in the night or early in the morning when no one wakes up.

There are some challenges which need to be understood. I met with a family where both brother and sister are toppers of their classes but the problem was that their father used to drink in the evening and that made the environment unsuitable for studies. So the story does not end with improving just the students, rather we have to ensure that their surroundings are not impeding their studies.

These are the people who number about 800 million in our country i.e. people living in villages. Ensuring empowerment of this group will lead to achieve inclusive growth within the set time frame. Students in this age group will take their position of responsibility around 2020 and will deliver their maximum if they catch the train now. So we need to create local role models. Success of a single student from a village motivates whole area and opens the doors to stairs of progress.

We salute your spirit! May you continue to mentor, inspire and transform.

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