Follow On

People find different paths to life and purpose, but bring forth their best when they come together. It therefore is, in the fitness of things, to facilitate a platform for thought exchange in Education, Enlightenment, Empowerment and Entertainment

It has always been a matter of interest to me as a connoisseur of the finer aspects of life and people that there is so much difference in the capacity and interest of people to seek out new aspects of life to enjoy and occasionally embrace. As a child, I used to be intrigued by the very different ways of living embodied by the Stoics and Epicureans and in recent readings and discussions around the Upanishads, Vedanta, Buddhism, Jainism and Quantum Physics, it has been interesting to find how different paths to the human quest of purpose converge when we come together.

It was probably with this goal that I started introducing various speakers to our Rotary Club of Pune Riverside (RCPR) over the last two years, partly because they helped our members to expand their horizons, and in some measure, because it provided a platform for many friends in the city, country and other parts of the world to explore how their own ideas would resonate with a largely Indian audience. And to continue that voyage of discovery, in my current term as RCPR President, we have chosen four themes around which to build our own learnings and contributions to the world – Education, Enlightenment, Empowerment and Entertainment. Why these four Es and what is their connection to our purpose – as evolved Rotarians and an engaged collective group? Let me build that connection here.

The need for education is obvious. Most of us like to listen to and absorb new ideas and our method of education has always been to invite authors and thinkers to share new ideas with the club members. My own incessant quest for learning has led me to four formal programs – at BIT Mesra in Ranchi, the National Institute of Industrial Engineering in Mumbai, IIT Bombay for my PhD in Knowledge Management and finally Harvard Business School to learn advanced management practices. And myriad books and discussions to ensure that the brain never stagnates. Education truly opens the mind and makes us think and leads us to the higher echelons of enlightenment. At our Club we have heard a young spiritual thinker like Shri Shivam and will encounter folks like Dev Bhattacharya, a veteran with the Aditya Birla Group and Stephen Manallack from Melbourne whose learnings on Buddhism add value to our evolution. Enlightenment provides new epiphanies and helps us to evolve as humans – a very desirable outcome.

Empowerment can apply both to the work we do with the communities we serve, and our own evolution as individuals. At our Rotary Club, we have been privileged to count among our members’ folks like Neeru Goyal, Mukesh Malhotra, Umesh Jalan and Rohit Jerajani whose work with the communities – Happy Schools, the Gundalwadi Dam project and our own Lighthouse Communities and the Aspen Global Opportunity Youth Network have been inspirational in the support they have provided to education and social upliftment in the city. My experiences with the Lighthouses – now flourishing in Maharashtra, Odisha and Delhi and soon in Telangana and Punjab to establish a North-East-West-South footprint – and Educate Girls working with rural girls in Rajasthan, MP and UP, and the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network across Asia, tells me that there are ample opportunities for all individuals and corporates to engage in philanthropy. And whether we do it through our own foundations or partners like Rotary and the local and central governments, a life of legacy has to follow the quest for legitimacy that all of us are engaged with in our initial years.

So, you now get the picture and the case for education, enlightenment and empowerment and the thought would cross your mind – why entertainment? My own life journey, from the poor Indian village of Tatisilwai in Jharkhand through Nashik, Mumbai, Delhi, London, San Jose and now Pune has shown me that the fun quotient in life should never be ignored. Colleagues from the public firms I ran – APTECH and Zensar always recall with fondness the rain dance parties we regularly hosted on a rooftop in Mumbai or the amazing offsites we did twice a year in locales ranging from New Orleans, Costa Rica, South Africa, Czech Republic, and Malaysia at Zensar. Man is ultimately a social animal, and it is the ability to bond that makes us truly come alive. Our fellowships at Rotary facilitated by both music and corporate leaders complete the canvas on which RCPR is painting a new picture of service and “reimagining Rotary” as a force for good in the world.

Writing this column forty thousand feet high in the air on a trans-Atlantic flight, it struck me that what we are doing with the four Es at RCPR resonates with what we do at 5F World. One can build easy parallels between the 5Fs of Fast, Focused, Flexible, Friendly, and Fun with the four Es of Education, Enlightenment, Empowerment and Entertainment, and to the new corporate ESG buzzword – Environmental, Social and Governance. In a world where ethical and moral standards are increasingly under the spotlight, what we are doing today might light up some pathways for a better future – at least I hope so!