Jeff Bezos, CEO and Founder of Amazon.com, famously stated, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Dressed in half sleeve shirt and cotton trousers, Ranga sir is simplicity and wisdom personified. His passion instantly rubs off and one can feel the positive vibes in his presence. Associated with Unnati Foundation since its embryonic stage, he has seen it grow from a rented three bed room structure to its present day 22,000 square feet, well equipped infrastructure at NGEF, Sadanandanagar, Bangalore and spreading its wings across Karnataka and other states.
Rome was not built in a day and similarly the present day Unnati foundation is an outcome of years of hard work, dedication, passion, trial and errors of many people working together towards its vision of “With Society, towards Serenity”.
Being a Banker responsible for Agricultural & Rural Development sector, he had seen poverty first hand during his visits and interaction. The images of less privileged remained with him and he always wanted to make their lives better.
His vision was going to be true soon, though he did know it yet! One of his wife’s acquaintances introduced him to the cultural programs organized by Unnati’s Core team. The couple joined as volunteers at Unnati soon after.
Fate played its part and the Admin Officer has to relocate to another city. He recommended Ranga sir’s name as replacement and thus Unnati got its very first trainer. In those days, classes were run entirely by the volunteers. Ranga sir after finishing his job would keenly observe the classes and make mental notes. It so happened that on a rainy day, one of the volunteers could not make it. Seeing this, Ranga Sir went ahead and took the class. In his own words, he was jittery and nervous, yet he loved interacting with youth and thus Unnati was blessed to get its first ever Master Trainer.
The journey from a Banker to the Master Trainer is quite intriguing. It started with his keen observation of ongoing classes from volunteers from varied fields. In 2007 Youth Reach partnered with Unnati for the Life Skills and he got his first formal training as a trainer. English Training program was conducted and sponsored by Tech Mahindra. Once Mr. Ranga was equipped with training, he worked persistently to have a core team of Master Trainers for the foundation. Charity Aid Foundation also played a huge role in alleviating Unnati’s Training standards by providing funds for recruiting trainers and taking care of the training needs.
Ranga Sir also played a pivotal role in designing Train the Trainer program which is part of Unnati Foundation’s Induction. It ensures standardization of the processes and training methodologies across all centres. Today Unnati conducts TOT program round the year and has its very strong and passionate team of In-House Master Trainers.
Apart from this, Unnati has conducted training for final year engineering students at Phaltan college of Engineering, Phalton, Pune. Inspired from the positive impact, the college management sent their three batches of professors to be trained on making classroom engaging and lively in 2017 and 2018.
Mr. Ranga has also designed curriculum for corporate training at Autoliv in Bangalore, Delhi and Mysore. Other than this, training was also imparted at Degree college, Gonikoppal , Coorg and at one of the diploma colleges in Kotagiri (Ooty) The success in these colleges inspired core team to launch UNXT program, which aims to reach to wider audience and making the whole organization more sustainable.
In just three years, UNXT has been a huge success. In just three years, we have been able to train close to 5000 youth through UNXT. Recognizing the impact of our UNXT program, we have received the approval from the Commissioner, Department of Collegiate Education to conduct our program in GFGC colleges across Karnataka. It is on the main page of dce.kar.nic.in.
When asked about his favorite days at Unnati, sir told he could not point on single day or incident. There have been many. When he sees smiling and triumphant youth on completion of the program with jobs in their hands and hearts full with gratitude, he beams with joy.
He recalled few such heart-warming incidents. In 2008, a barely eighteen year old girl (Sayeeda of 14th Batch) came for admission in retail course. Mr. Ranga was in-charge of admitting youth. She has just studied till 5th standard and he was skeptical. One of Unnati’s volunteers, Mr. Vaikuntam insisted to admit her. The girl was a keen learner with a bright smile adorning her face every time. After every class, she would come to trainers to learn something new and practice the lessons sincerely. She had never quenching thirst for learning. On the day of interview, CCD refused to conduct her Interview because of their company’s policy of min. education being 12th std. Mr. Ranga was adamant. CCD had to bend rules and when the result was out, HR thanked him for recommending her as she won them with her confidence and smile that reaches eyes.
He narrates another story where he dropped his son to Kempegowda airport early morning. It was winter and fog blurred the vision. His son requested him to wait in airport for an hour so that sky would be clear. While he was taking a stroll around the airport to kill time,suddenly, a young man came and greeted him. He recalled his face and the boy was overjoyed to see him. He was one of his students at Unnati. The young man told him happily that he is the supervisor of CCD at Airport and requested him to have coffee and packed breakfast for him. These are the moments which bring tears of happiness to him.
When asked, what is something which happens here only and he gave just one word answer. Magic!!! He told one such incident to prove it as well. The classes were over and it was evening. He was just about to lock the doors when a girl came rushing to him. Her left palm was bleeding and there was a deep cut. He took out his handkerchief and bandaged. The blood continued flowing so he put a towel around her palm. He rushed her in the car and frantically searched for a doctor. It was late evening and he managed to get her palm bandaged by one of the doctors. The cut required stitches but it could not be done.
Two days later, the girl called him that her palm is recovered. This is the power of love, it healed the girl’s wounds. There have been several instances of students especially girls falling sick, fainting etc requiring immediate medical care and the staff at Unnati were never found wanting in addressing these issues with love , care and compassion regardless of their own discomfort.
Mr. Ranga strongly believes in empowering women and standing for what is right. One of his students, a young lady(Muniratinam of perhaps 10th or 11th batch) approached him after class hrs with tears in her eyes. On asked what the matter was, she told that her husband had abandoned her and to add salt to the wound has kidnapped their only child. She felt lost and hopeless.
Mr. Ranga listened to her patiently and encouraged her to stand for her right with courage and conviction. He even made her to rehearse the call. Next day, backed by his support, she called her husband and got her child back!
On asking how Unnati has changed him, he replied gratefully that every day at Unnati is satisfying and joyful for him. He has become more empathetic. He firmly believes in practicing what he preaches, thus the values like honesty, selflessness, punctuality, giving back are strongly imbibed within him. It is his second innings of his career which he started with his loving wife and he feels great satisfaction in doing it time and again.
It can be clearly seen in his classes, which are always insightful, entertaining and to the point. He does his homework well about the audience and give related examples, thus audience connect to him very well.
In last fifteen years, he has been wearing different hats based on the situation. He has been an integral part of making Unnati Foundation what it is today!
When asked what would be the road ahead for the foundation, Mr. Ranga is full of ideas such as adding to existing Retail and Business Associate courses, tying up with similar- minded NGOS, doing Community- engaging programs, showing our gratitude to donors and partners through seminars and conferences on relevant topics such as Urban Poverty, Skill Development etc., organizing events to create awareness, celebrating the Foundation day of Unnati and milestones. Effective use of Digital platform is another thing Unnati can look into detail.
Change is the only constant and Ranga Sir believes Unnati Foundation has to adapt accordingly to reach its mission of empowering one million youth.