Archive for November 12th, 2009
TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) was in Mysore. Its debut in India and it was being held in the sprawling Infosys Campus in Mysore. You had the attendees from all over the world descending in Mysore and I happened to lead one of the groups to the NGO tour in Saragur,
Saragur is about 70 kms and from Mysore towards the forests in Kabini. It was a group of around 25, for most of them it was their first time in India, And driving by the Indian country side definitely throws up a lot of interesting sights. Shared a few Mysore stories, Be the Tipu’s connection with NASA or the Spy Princess Noor Inayat Khan’s roots in the city but what ends up being your favorite sight would be the numerous cows on Indian roods. Why the holy cow is so revered in this country and the multifarious uses of its products. One can probably spend all day understanding the Cow and still not be done with it.
The NGO that we were visiting was Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM). Started in 1984 by a group of Doctors from Mysore Medical College, who after being inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s teaching went on to move to the tribal area in this region to serve them. It highly inspiring how they have been successful in transforming the community there. Over the 25 years of SVYM’s existence they have set up specialty hospital there and also schools for tribal children. As they put it “Good health is just the entry point into the Society, Then education was required and later self sustenance ” Something which they have wonderfully demonstrated by also setting up community driven initiatives for self sustenance.
The doctors took the teams around on a guided tour first of the Hospital built mostly with money from donations. They explained how small changes had been made to suit the local conditions. Once done with the hospital we were nexttaken to what I call “The Toilet showroom”. It was place where they had different basic models of the Indian style of lavatory so that they could demostrate to the tribals the inportance of sanitation and hygene. Since most infection are caused by the lack of it. Since most of the local still defecate in the open, the focus was on getting these people to use these lavatories at home . There was also a board having the split up of costs to set up a lavatory, like raw materials, labor etc. If the person could supply any of this on his own then the cost of it was struck down. It was a classic example of how to get an idea working and also how well the doctors learnt from their experiences and kept evolving.
Later visited the school, where kids seemed really happy being there. Use of computers was stressed with the school have a full fledge computer lab with internet connection which was very impressive. We also did a tour for their organic farm, It was to see how small changes farming practice can make so much of difference. There were fresh oranges, sweet strawberries all waiting to be tasted. The smell of freshness that one gets in the middle of a farm can be intoxicating.
It was great to see doctors from a premier medical college in India who could have made millions in any corner of the world but chose to made a difference to people. Great show to their hard work, dedication and service. Recognized by numerous awards. Like TED says, It was definitely a tour of Ideas worth spreading !!