HE’S A for­mer Supreme Court judge and a for­mer So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral of In­dia but it was in his ca­pac­ity as the Lokayukta of Kar­nataka that Jus­tice San­tosh Hedge left the most last­ing im­pres­sion. And when he spoke to students at the Gi­tam Univer­sity cam­pus in Ru­draram near Hy­der­abad, about his jour­ney till date, they all lis­tened. And im­bibed. And ques­tioned.

He was speak­ing at TE­HELKA’s lat­est ini­tia­tive — Air­cel’s The Power of In­spi­ra­tion lec­ture se­ries. Dec­can De­vel­op­ment So­ci­ety ( DDS) Di­rec­tor PV Satheesh was the other speaker at the event, which was mod­er­ated by The Te­helka Foun­da­tion Founder-Trustee Puneeta Roy. Air­cel’s Re­gional Busi­ness Head Hamir Bak­shi, Busi­ness Head (AP Circle) Deepin­der Ti­wana as well as Gi­tam Univer­sity Di­rec­tors Dr San­jay and Dr Prasada Rao were also present.

Asked why he had dis­tanced him­self from Team Anna, Jus­tice Hegde said he was “in­ter­ested in fight­ing against cor­rup­tion” and not in join­ing pol­i­tics. “I joined the move­ment when the ob­jec­tive was to put an end to cor­rup­tion and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion. Anna’s move­ment has brought tremen­dous aware­ness,” he said, adding that he felt Team Anna didn’t have the nec­es­sary in­fra­struc­ture to go po­lit­i­cal, as one needs deep pock­ets to con­test elec­tions.

Just to be sure that he wasn’t send­ing out a wrong mes­sage, he em­pha­sised that there was noth­ing wrong with pol­i­tics per se; what was wrong was the politi­cians. He ap­pealed to all the students to take the plunge into pol­i­tics be­cause a “democ­racy can­not sur­vive with­out good politi­cians”.

“Peo­ple should be in a po­si­tion to boy­cott per­sons in­dulging in cor­rup­tion,” he said, adding that he prac­tised all that he ad­vo­cated and owned only a two-room apart­ment and was very con­tent with that.

It was then the turn of Satheesh to take the mic and the pas­sion for his work was

Jus­tice San­tosh Hegde and so­cial ac­tivist PV Satheesh in­spire students with their life sto­ries

ev­i­dent in the way he spoke. Along­side him was 10-year-old Mayuri, a Dalit film­maker, who has won in­ter­na­tional ac­claim for her films based on farm­ers’ is­sues.

Satheesh re­counted how, de­spite be­ing one of the top pro­duc­ers with Do­or­dar­shan, he had felt an empti­ness within him, and how he quit his high-pay­ing job in his quest for hap­pi­ness. “I have been an un­paid vol­un­teer for the past 18 years, but I have never been more con­tent or hap­pier than I’m now,” he ex­claimed.

Now, work­ing with 5,000 ru­ral, poor Dalit women to cre­ate self-sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties gives him all the joy he wants. These were marginalised women at the very bot­tom of the so­cial lad­der with no grain to eat. To­day, these same women are not only self-suf­fi­cient, they also run seed banks for other vil­lages in the vicin­ity.

As Satheesh re­lated an in­ci­dent about the holis­tic ap­proach of the farm­ers in Pastapur vis-à-vis agri­cul­tural sci­en­tists, who were lim­ited by their purely aca­demic knowl­edge, the students ap­plauded in ap­pre­ci­a­tion. “These farm­ers may not be lit­er­ate, but that does not mean they are not knowl­edge­able,” said Satheesh.

The floor was then opened to the students to ask ques­tions and there was some lively in­ter­ac­tion. The Air­cel Power of In­spi­ra­tion book was also launched and students col­lected a copy on the way out.

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