HOW THEY INSPIRED
“FEAR IS THE most crippling emotion we experience. It is also the main reason why Indians are afraid to speak up against corruption.” Over 1,000 students listened, in rapt attention, to journalist, publisher and novelist Tarun J Tejpal, as he responded to questions about his tumultuous journey as the Editor of TEHELKA.
The inspirational lecture series Aircel “The Power of Inspiration” was launched at Gitam University, Visakhapatnam, on 28 August to a packed auditorium, with two inspirational figures, Tarun Tejpal and Sowmya Kidambi, Director, Society for Social Audit, Accountability and Transparency.
The event began with an audio-visual made by the Tehelka Foundation that captured the essence of the need of the hour. It was a call to act, to make a difference in our own small way, to make a beginning in the belief that each one of us can make a difference.
Tarun spoke about his idea of India. An India without caste and religion. An India without hunger and poverty. An India where everyone has their rights. An India free of corruption. An India that is real and not the ‘shining’ India we like to delude ourselves into believing it is.
Tarun also exhorted the students to ask questions constantly, to build an attitude of curiosity, but not be disruptive. He shared the immense inspiration he had received from the vision of the founding fathers of India, Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and urged the students to read, all they could, on the freedom struggle to understand the impulses of these visionary leaders.
Then it was Sowmya who held the students’ riveted with her journey from an influential and privileged background to living in a hut in the back of beyond, without electricity.
Sowmya spoke of herself as a child of
A unique lecture series, launched on 28 August, promises to ignite young minds
the Emergency, born in 1975! An exposure to Human Rights at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences was followed by a transformational eight years with Aruna Roy at the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, “where I moved from being an introvert, to shouting slogans, doing street theatre, taking part in dharnas….I thoroughly enjoyed myself!”
Frequently slipping into Telugu, as she shared her work with battling corruption in the MGNREGS scheme, Sowmya urged the young students to begin at home, by not discriminating between the servant’s child and one’s own, to treat every one as human beings – and that would be the beginning of the change we wish to see.
Moderated by Puneeta Roy, the founder-trustee of the Tehelka Foundation, the first lecture was a huge success. There was a buzz among the students and both speakers were surrounded by students who wanted to 'act' immediately. Sowmya was escorted to her car by the enthusiastic hordes. Tarun was kept back in the hall answering questions posed by the media for more than an hour after the event had come to an end.
Aircel’s The Power of Inspiration books given out to each student was a runaway hit. Many of the students had their copies signed by the speakers. Over a thousand copies were distributed.