The purpose of Being…

Purpose! A word that’s hard to wrap your head around, a powerful word, a word that defines your existence, & a reason to wake up every morning.

Do we value things like material comforts, extravagance, fame, glory etc or is it about fulfilment & the small acts of kindness that can make a lasting difference in the lives of the not so privileged?

Despite being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, social and economic backwardness is a poignant issue in India. At Unnati we firmly believe that there are enough opportunities for change, and through our intervention we can take a generation above the poverty line in just 50 Days, forever and therein lies the quintessence of our being.

I have felt our education system is dominant in focussing only on knowledge derived through books and ignores the kinesthetic aspect of learning thereby achieving the desired result of employment for the youth is questionable. Thus not ensuring that the youth are settled with a job even after 10-15 years of education. This realisation that our education system is not delivering results led to the program Unnati being formalised.

When we started Unnati, we realised the inherent strengths of the program through the various examples of how it changed people’s lives.  These results cannot be illustrated in words. It can only be experienced. We do experience it every day and that is what keeps us going day in and day out. We truly believe that we have an extremely special way to tackle the daunting challenges faced by these youth. The intervention happens at a very low cost which again is so important for our country. It is because of these factors that we feel the strong need to scale and help many youth in this country.

Take a classic case of Srinivas who hails from a village near Mandya in Karnataka. He came to Bangalore and was working in a shop for Rs. 1500. He slept in the shop at night and could not afford much but still managed to send home Rs. 500 every month. He went through the Unnati program and landed with a job of over Rs. 8000 per month in Cap Gemini. This was a turning point of his life. He later identified one of the critical problems as water for his 2 acre land. He saved money to put up a bore well pump by the end of the year. Over the next few years, he continued on his job and grew to become team lead. The thoughtful decision to irrigate his land brought his family out of a dire situation. Few years down the line he ensured that his sister got educated and married the right person. Srinivas got married and the first thing he ensured was to send his wife to Unnati. Both of them worked together and bought a plot, built their dream home in the outskirts of Bangalore and are now leading a fulfilled life with a child. All this has happened in a period of less than 8 years.

 

We at Unnati largely concentrate on the fundamental techniques of understanding and mastering myriad skills. The advantages of mastering skills for an individual are, they help raise confidence, improve productivity and give them a sense of direction.

When we talk of authenticity we mean trustworthiness, being unpretentious and purity of the intent. We ensure that we always walk the talk.

Quality to us is the urge to excel and this forms our driving force and keeps us on our toes. It’s also the professionalism with which we execute and the ease with which we go about accomplishing our tasks and all this matter.

Effectiveness – Today under CSR, everyone is talking about impact. For us the essence of good work is always connected to the impact. Unnati is about transforming the youth, being relevant to the needs of the market, ensuring that the youth trained have a job after the training and are able to progress in their jobs. The growth factor in their life is critical.

Dedication – Whatever we do is out of Love for the country. We love the work we do, and it is done with a fierce sense of commitment.

Over the years we have realised that transformation has to happen through change in value systems of the youth and our entire model is based on this. Our efforts are more to empower the youth through strengthening of their value systems, rather than just skilling. Skilling will definitely get them a job but when accompanied with a strong value system it earns them the much required respect. The underprivileged youth require this to face the many challenges in their lives. We ensure that their experience at Unnati is inspirational and this is what brings about the magical transformation.

We have always felt that we are blessed by the Almighty and supported by our well-wishers, throughout our journey. The gratitude we bear can only be expressed by us through our work. We are fortunate to attract likeminded people and most of the top management do pro bono work. The commitment is always 100 % and never compromised on. For the management, it is about being inspired by the impact, the values for which each one in the organisation stand for. At Unnati it is about doing work with complete focus on delivering and not about owning the work or the organisation.

Unnati was started in the year 2003 and over the past 15 years we have trained and placed over 25,000 youth. During the year 2018-19 we are sure of touching the 5 figure mark of 10,000 youth. Considering the massive population and the huge number of unemployed youth in this country, this intervention may seem a very small drop in the ocean, but for us at Unnati it is all about spreading joy and happiness to many and enjoying the journey on a personal basis every day. The fact that a small intervention like this can make a family go above poverty line in just 50 days is extremely motivating and inspiring. For me the Quintessence of being is about “Bringing in joy and happiness on the faces of those that cannot make it on their own and to essentially enjoy that journey along with them daily”

 

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Unnati personifies Joy & Elation to me: An Incredible Story of Unnati Foundation through the lens of its First Master Trainer

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.

 

Happiest Birthday Bhai!

Those twinkling eyes, toothless smile and tiny fingers flash in front of me as you celebrate your yet another Birthday! Grateful is what I feel to wish you this Birthday.

You have been my biggest blessing of life since I remember!  I know You grew up when instead of pampering you, I started taking your advice( I still love indulging you though). We grew up from collecting our Cricketing Idols photos to collecting credentials, we grew up from sharing sweets to flying us to meet each other! We grew up to be independent from being totally dependent on our parents!

Memories are like a box of your favorite sweets, you cannot be content with just one! My fondest memories are smallest of moments, like gifting me my first ever watch by your savings in piggy-bank when you were just eight! Playing  and watching Cricket, conversations, celebrating Rakshabandhan, eating midnight maggie are my happiest moments! You make me believe in the simple pleasures of life…

That over the years, you have been amiable and adorable, protective and my biggest cheerleader is an added advantage! That you are a wonderful human being , a guy with  a heart of gold, super talented makes me a proud sister every day! And am thankful to almighty for making you what you are!

But this Birthday, I would thank God and his angel for giving you a second life so that we can continue doing what we love to do together since last twenty six years!

I love you to the Moon and back!

 

What I addressed to Unnati graduates

In the leafy street of Sadanandanagar, NGEF colony, a towering White building stands above others magnificently. Aptly sobriqueted as IIM of the poor, magic happens at Unnati every day! To feel this amazing transformation, Valediction ceremony is the best day.

As seventy second batch from Unnati Bangalore graduated today, I felt honoured to address them. Here is what I spoke:

A heart-felt congratulations to all present here, Thank you for the wonderful performance! I am overwhelmed with the heart- warming speech, your incredible journey from being shy, less in confidence, to confident, engaged and positive youth!

Congratulations to whole Unnati Team for 100% placement yet again!

“Every End is A New Beginning! As you embark on a new chapter of life, I want to share a beautiful and true story of a person, who has achieved great success by treating his first job as career, not as a just odd job. Just like you all, a 22 year young man joined as a Sale associate in Camac Street, Pantaloons. He worked hard, learnt and became a department manager. He took initiatives and was promoted as a Store Manager. Few years down the line, he became the Zonal Operation head for Pantaloons- East Zone. Today he is Head of Operation for Brand Factory, pan India.

Can you guess his name? He is Me. Suresh Sadhwani, one of the nicest human beings I have been lucky enough to be mentored.

Is not it amazing?

As you all will start your first job, think it as a foundation for your 30 or 40 years long career. Stick to your job for some time, don’t switch the jobs for few more bucks. Every day is a new learning, take things positively and enjoy the journey. Your first job is your reference for all the jobs you will take in future!

Keep flying high but stay connected to your roots!

I will close my speech with wishing you all the best of luck and a quote:

“Don’t waste your time on jealousy.  Sometimes, you will be ahead, sometimes you will be behind. It’s a long race and in the end it is only with yourself.”

Thank you!

Thirteen Reasons Why…

That Alia Bhatt is a Superstar at the age of twenty-five, the heartthrob of millions is something we all agree. She has up notched her performance with every movie and has entertained us, made us laugh, made us cry and made us reflect as well. Though Alia Bhatt has done many Powerhouse performances, say in Highway, Udta Punjab, 2 States and most recently in Raazi.

My personal favorite is Dear Zindagi…

Every time I watch it, I fall in love with my imperfect life, unfulfilled dreams and chaotic cosmos. Of course, I ask my genie to grant me a wish for Jug (Am totally in love with SRK as Jahangir Khan, the DD aka Dimaag ka Doctor).

Dear Zindagi is one of my all-time favorite movies and has taught me so many life lessons. So here goes the list…

  1. Top Five of my life: As I lived three decades of my life, I have had many phases of loving my roomies, college friends (I am blessed to have them), but this top 5 is something which will be more or less constant. So here it goes, Mom and Dad, My Kid Bro, My sister and my hubby. These are the people who make me feel that I am special, that I can go for my dreams from the zero, and most importantly, they love me with my faults.
  2. Parenting: For so long, Motherhood has been glorified, that a woman becomes complete only after becoming mother and on and on… What I feel and the movie resonates with my thoughts is that being parents is choice, which is never forced by your children. So don’t force them to live your life, or rather your unfulfilled life. As Khalil Gibran says, “Your children are not your children; they are life longing to live.”
  3. Think outside the frame: I know, as a kid, we idolize our parents, our teachers and it is so tough to see them as wrongdoers. As we grow up, we need to relook them as human beings with flaws and love them as they love us with our flaws. Forgiving is the biggest favor we do to ourselves, else we keep carrying the baggage of grudges, hatred, hurts. We all arrive alone and depart alone in the journey of life, so travel light!
  4. Sibling Rivalry: Honestly, I am luckiest to be blessed with siblings who love me unconditionally. Sibling rivalry is something which happens every day. Treat each of your children as a Unique Individual and not compare them. One might be an intellect while other can be creative. Just because, their parents are same, does not mean they will be same too.
  5. Too many expectations from Love Life: Love is a journey, not the destination… Once we find our soul mate, we forget everything and expect that person to be our best friend, caretaker, and what not? Being Soul mate does not mean you have to be together 24 by 7. You can still go to a coffee date with your friends for conversation, you can still listen to words of wisdom from your grandparents, you can still be part of your favorite book club, you can still volunteer for pets… Getting Ideas? Don’t stop being you just because you are in love… Things will become so much simpler…
  6. Breakups: Heartbreaks kill us, make us aloof and insecure, yet, how do we know what we want till we don’t know what we don’t want in our life partner. It is Okay to fall in love twice or thrice as long as you are not doing it all at once. First love has been overrated and chastised, so let’s not be afraid of finding Love till love means happiness… Think it like buying a dress that fits perfectly. Life is a fitting room and you have all the rights to try and decide till it makes you happy. So, next time if a relative rolls her eyes on your so-called marriageable age just ignore and move on…
  7. Life is Unfair, yet we have to love Dear Zindagi: Well, it has happened to all of us. We have been passed by, overlooked when we dogged so much, when we were the best choice. It will repeat! Fights with BFFs will happen, person whom you love the most will hurt you the most and yet life moves on… Life comes with an expiry date, so better love it and live it before saying Bye. Genius knows when to stop! Remember AB Devilliers’ retirement statement? “I wanted to retire while I was playing decent Cricket.”
  8. Friends: Friends are the family we choose for us, so choose them carefully and stick to them like fevicol. It’s so easier to share and vent with friends at times. It is easy for us to be non-judgmental as friends.
  9. To Achieve something, we don’t always have to choose the difficult path: Mind you, I am not the person to vouch for shortcuts, but if you have two options and your inner voice tells that you are more comfortable, more tuned to yourself with option 2, just listen and go for it. We spend so much time working, it is really important that we are in tune with us and our work. It should not be conflicting. Success is not only how much you make, it is also how you feel about yourself.
  10. Life is a School, but not the School we have studied as kids: Life is the biggest school or the stage and we learn with our own examples. There is nothing called fail or pass in life. You learn with every setback and be a better person if you chose to be. You are your own teacher! Remember, playing jigsaw puzzles as kids? Life is like that, only we can complete it. Others can help us in finding the pieces in the form of parents, teachers, siblings, friends, and spouse. What we want to do with our lives is ultimately up to us.
  11. Just Say it! Words are our biggest magic or instrument to do whatever we want. When you feel something for someone, just say it without twisting. Don’t complicate the otherwise simple things by beating around the bush. State facts as facts rather than gossips and rumors. ( I know those are entertaining, but misleading most of the times)
  12. Past is Past: Past can be magical, it can be a nightmare or something in between. That has already happened! Move on! There is a reason Now is called Present, the Gift… What we do now will affect rest of our lives… I can be my youngest self for rest of the life today! So my friends, Carpe Diem…
  13. Be What you want to be! There will be hurdles, there will be naysayers, and you will be judged no matter what! Even Padman was ridiculed by his own wife for doing such a noble work. Once you understand and accept yourself completely, you are on the right track! No longer, you will be bogged down by the judgment of others. Keep doing good and fall in love with your life every day!

Hope my list motivates you to love your life and loved ones a little more! Which movie has moved you? Do share and binge…

XOXO

India Maange More!!! IPL

Hello Folks,

Friday brings with it the weekend vibes, it has not even been a week of #VIVOIPL2018 and  I am missing it already. In eleven years since its inception, IPL has become the synonym of summer vacations, the perfect excuse for Hanging out in Home. Watching Cricket runs in my family and am so glad to find a hubby who loves the game just like me. Summers are full of fond memories of spending time with all my cousins, masi, mamas and grandparents… As I grew up and everybody got involved with corporates, IPL is a breather to look forward to every year…

Haters gonna hate, and keep criticizing, but IPL is giving fast-paced generation a perfect gift of game and glamour! Think about it, in the National team, only fifteen players get chance whereas in IPL, there are eight teams plus a bench strength, so it gives an opportunity to so many. Generations have gone above poverty line through this, think about the likes of Ravindra Jadeja or the Pandya Brothers! India has emerged as a Cricketing Power and so much of its credit goes to IPL. The young players get a chance to interact, share dressing rooms and actually play and perform with their idols all across the globe. What more they could ask for? They learn to handle pressure much before their International Debut. Where else you could see the greatest of Australia, Newzealand, South Africa, India and other countries sharing a common dressing room? Players like Rashid are helping to gain the popularity of their nations through IPL…

In this age of Virtuality and Social Media Posts, IPL gives us something real to cheer for, to be with family and friends and fight for our favorite franchise. There are numerous IPL stars, other than players, the curators, the support staffs and so many new job opportunities have been generated through it! Inspired by IPL, other sports also followed the league and we have now Premier leagues for Kabaddi, Hockey, Football and tennis as well… IPL in a way is the torch bearer of making the sports culture more popular…

The eleventh edition of IPL marked the return of the Kings, CSK being my favorite for Dhoni and for being the most consistent franchise. The fact that Yellow has been my favourite colour since I remember also contributes to being indulged in “Yellow Fever”. But there is one man, who will be remembered from this IPL, and that is one and only one ABD, for being a player with superpowers, with his bat and fielding skills and also for being a true ambassador of the game, who gave everything he has to give and said his goodbye silently!! I am gonna miss him like rest of the mortals who love and breathe Cricket… Reminded me of my all-time favorite, Rahul Dravid. Their Cricketing styles are as contrasting as it can be, and yet both will be remembered for raising the level of the game, for playing it fair and for being gentlemen in every sense!!

So What is your favorite IPL memories and which Team you cheer for?

Happy weekend

Love

Geetanjali

That’s the way, MAHI’s Way

Shahrukh Khan and Preity Zinta ( The respective co-owners of KKR and KXIP) must be reminiscing about their hit number from KHNH, and wishing for MSD to be in their own teams! Dhoni belongs to CSK, as the Thala of Chennai people and have reigned the hearts of the fans across the globe.

The eleventh edition of IPL marked the return of the Chennai Super Kings and Dhoni with a bang, making them champions for the third time. The usually understated, no fuss, Captain Cool was seen giving more directions, animated and passionate. The fact that Pune Warriors had replaced him as the leader last season must be pinching him very badly. And Dhoni did exactly what he does best, replying with the results…

The Cricket Fraternity applauded the return of vintage Dhoni this IPL as he was among the highest hitters of sixes, I was like, Dhoni has been always in the game! Knowing Dhoni, he would retire before he gets getting slow. He is far ahead in agility and fitness to his so-called younger contemporaries. His running between the wickets and stumpings behind the wickets speak volumes about him. Dhoni has shouldered Indians’ expectations for so long and so high that even the slightest slip brings criticism from all the corners!!

The fact that he has made all the coveted ICC trophies his, does not require him to prove anything, yet the IPL Trophy was for his most loyal fans, who are across the latitudes and longitudes… The fact that he is going to celebrate this victory after a two-year suspension and getting thrown out from their Home Venue at Chennai tells why he is the king of his fans and how much he is grateful to them… Humility is the trademark of legends and Dhoni is no exception! The fact that players’ daughters were twirling with happiness and celebrating their dads’ victory says why CSK is the most consistent IPL franchise, reaching in all the playoffs and played seven finals out of nine…

The best reply from Captain cool was age is just a number, and in every match, there was a different match- winner!  There were so many speculations going on the players’ selection during the auction as most of CSK players have crossed big three zero.

This win Mahi and his millions of fans would really hold close to their hearts for a very very long time… Which one is your favorite amongst Mahi’s wins? Do share…