Sunday, July 25, 2010

Adventure Trip by XLRI: a transformational experience…


You might or might not be aware that XLRI sends all its students(BM/PMIR/GMP) to a 3 day outdoor trip organized by Tata Steel Adventure Foundation. To sample more such activities, you may click here.

Though this trip had “adventure” as the underlying theme, it actually transcends adventure in several counts. It is a fantastic team building and leadership exercise. It helps you understand your batchmates and create bonds with them. What more, it even leads you to discover unknown areas of your personalities. To say it all in one shot, I would say it helps you work on your Johari’s window:



So in the above picture, you would find that this trip will help you work on the areas mentioned above in the above picture. That is, you might be able to reduce the “Facade”, “Blind spot” and “Unknown” sections, while increasing your “Open Arena” sections.

Every year each of our batches in XLRI go to this “adventure” trip and come back from it with new insights, new strengths and many lifelong memories.

You can read some such experiences here:

Rohit VM's (GMP 10-11 batch) experience

Andrew Panton’s (XLRI visitor) experience

Ankit Chordia's (GMP 09-10 batch) experience

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A trip through the rural India: Hats off to human ability to survive!

You might be aware that XLRI prides itself as one of the most socially focused bschools in India. Many of the faculty we have here are socially inclined and are actively working in the area of social and rural development.  See this recent news item second social entrepreneurship conference

Anyway, coming back to the topic. Half of our batch is just back from the two day village tour, cris-crossing the tough terrain of Jharkhand’s rural region. The experience we had was almost “soul changing”.  We went through a range of feelings. Here is my attempt to describe them in words:

How lucky we were, but still we complained endlessly: Think of yourself in this setting- Poles and wires but no electricity. No roads. Nearest market 30 kms away. Water drying up in wells and handpumps. No rains in sight. And if these development related mess was not enough, you have naxalite issues. So no venturing out after the sun sets - you may be caught between the armed forces and the naxalite faceoff.


And compare this to the constant gripe we had in our urban life style. A pothole, an hour power cut, noise pollution and what not.

This world is not short of heroes: Most of us mortals try to contribute in bits and pieces, once in a while. A donation to Greenpeace/CRY and donating old clothes, etc is where our efforts stop. And at the other end, there are the heroes. We observed the efforts of NGO activists whose efforts were not subdued by mountains of problems. No roads, inaccessible hilly areas, doubting villagers and tribal. They face it all and more. Routinely they have a brush with naxalites but they hit the roads the next day in the same undying spirit. As another example of a hero, we met a teacher who completed higher studies from a top college but went back to his village to teach people. And he did teach well- inspiring the kids to learn and become “big” people like us. But are we really “big” is the question pestering my mind right now.


So after all this description you must be beginning to grow emotional and even pitiful., Don’t be as now its the turn to become envious.

Circumstances lead to great solutions: You would think that words like Microfinance, balance sheet, PLR, risk appetite, 24/7 credit, penalty for absence, etc. would be Greek to people living in the remotest corners of rural landscape. I am sorry but I have a picture to change your egoistic thought:


This is a simple account of a group of 19 villagers. They pool their savings to form a fund and they can borrow from this pool when they need money. They meet every week and every person needs to contribute a savings of Rs 5 at minimum. This makes them save for the bad times. They issue passbooks and do basic security of money by keeping the key and the money box with their different people. This responsibility changes each week. They maintain detailed MoMs for each meeting(Satyam board needs to learn a thing or two) and every week discuss a problem and generally form a consensus about the solution(we MBA students need to learn lessons as in our meeting ”minutes are created but hours are lost”).

We will fight and trump the odds:  Its their in the spirits- Life is tough but we are tougher. Little kids marched on with perfect discipline, punctuality and great sincerity, flip flopping to their hostel rooms, classes and the play grounds. The behavior was exemplary- they played sports with competitiveness but still respected the rules and cared for their school chums. In our 2 day stay at the school(it was a boarding school) we never heard a loud noise, saw even a minor brawl or witnessed someone crying. And this when they were far away from their parents and mostly just got a plate of rice and a bowl of waterish dal. These pictures kind of sum the hopes and contentment these kids displayed:




I could have written a lot more but I think words are never going to be enough. Thank you XLRI, as the trip was an eye opener for all of us.  It has brought us closer to our other country brethrens and also at peace with our inner selves. We now much appreciate the human spirit to fight and survive, against all human created and natural odds. We are humbled and as surely our future decisions as the managers and corporate leaders will be much more inclusive and sensitive in light of this trip.

With this, I would leave you with some other pictures from our trip, which give you the flavor of how it was. All pictures are courtesy our ace photographer Naren and a junior photographer Junaid. Thanks you guys!