A MESSAGE FOR YOUTH
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.