Ahmedabad: Following in Swami's footsteps

Sunday, 12 January 2014 - 12:43pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on it. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success
–Swami Vivekananda

Impatience is probably the key to quick success in life for youngsters today. dna, however, comes across a few youths, who believe in Swami Vivekananda. On his 150th birth anniversary — National Youth Day — we take a look at some, who have dedicated their lives into pursuing his ideals with single-minded devotion.

Ritam Bhatnagar (25)
According to him, most of his ventures are inter-related. “The idea of India Film Project (IFP) — providing platform to youngsters to make, produce, ideate and execute films — was born when I had formed a small film club to bring international films to Ahmedabad. I thought why not build a platform for city film buffs and later take it to the national level. Following IFP, I met youngsters keen on making films on a par with their Bollywood counterparts to attract youth to Gujarati language and that’s how I became producer and executive producer of quite a few films,” said Bhatnagar.

Of course, he is also into distribution to bridge the gap between theatre and film-makers by helping the latter distribute films in cinemas. Besides depending on revenue from theatre for funds, Bhatnagar also hunts for financiers for on-shoot expenses. At present, he, along with a team of eight members, is working on his new venture — ‘Locator’ — a mobile application to help people find the correct address. It is currently being incubated at CIIE, IIMA.

Kanan Dhru (30)
She founded Research Foundation of Governance in India (RFGI) with an aim to give a platform to youth to know about their constitution, legal and political systems and most importantly, their fundamental rights. “When I started, I realised that people wanted to bring about a change but did not know how. So, when India was shouting hoarse for a corruption free society, I formed RFGI and slowly people joined in through word of mouth and later I was able to take up major collaborations,” said Dhru.

Talking about her latest venture — Pugloo – a comic book on laws —Dhru said this idea was born out of two mediums. “We were reaching out to educational institutes when students approached us to share the pointers of constitution, legal and political systems and fundamental rights with seniors and teachers, too. We realised that it would not be possible to reach them personally and so during an Ahmedabad Global Shapers meeting, Jatin Chaudhary suggested that I devise a comic book to explain all this simply. ‘Lawtoons’ as we call it has 12-year-old Pugloo as the central character. He is naughty and curious. We will begin raising funds in February to turn the same into publications through crowd funding,” she said.

Amitabh Shah (31)
He was only 15-years old while pursuing his higher secondary in the US. At 22, he was working and spent 50% of his life on vodka, tequila and margarita. “They were my three best friends. My father then said that I was wasting my life. So, I decided to pursue MBA. But I took a break before joining. It was during my flight from Atlanta to Ahmedabad that my life changed. I was watching Swades and  realised that I too had a baa, Kamlaben, who brought me up. It was 5 years since I had last met her. So, on landing, I went straight to her,” recalled Shah, founder of YUVA Unstoppable. On seeing her condition, he took her home, took care and then dropped her at Suvarna Mandir old-age home. A chance meeting with senior citizens there brought joy to their wrinkled faces.“I started visiting them with some friends. But Within a week, we were 40 youngsters. I realised that while every youngster wanted to change India, they did not have the right platform. So, I created YUVA, a platform for the world to know that the youth are not useless.”

Shah also runs another campaign with youngsters who teach students of municipal schools in 32 cities.

Sandip Joshi (29) & Hetal Mehta-Joshi (33)
Although they met after the death of late Pandit Nandan Mehta, this husband-wife duo has left no stone unturned to take Saptak to the international level, ably backed by Manju Mehta and Prafull Anubhai.

“Hetal and I met at a Bhagvad Gita chanting programme organised after Panditji’s death. During that one week, we became friends and got closer over the next one year. We got married on May 6, 2011, and after that I have been part of Saptak, too,” Sandip told dna. Both were teachers by profession. While Sandip taught Sanskrit at Eklavya School, Hetal was principal of Vidyanagar High School. But with the increasing responsibilities of Saptak, they decided to quit their jobs. “I was slowly introduced into the system by all three members and started handling Panditji’s textile business with Kamlesh Patel while Hetal would teach senior tabla students. But, it was a bit too much for us. So, we decided to dedicate ourselves fully to Saptak and classical music,” he said.

From reviving Saptak’s website to handling archives to creating a page on facebook and managing school administration, Sandip’s hands are full. Hetal heads the tabla department at Upasna School of Performing Arts and also teaches students at Saptak. And together, they handle various festivals of Saptak.

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