pointReturn now has another volunteer in P Siddarth
Siddarth is the fourth person to commit to the pointReturn mission. He came on board earlier this month and has moved swiftly to share our work and responsibilities. He comes about eight months after Karpagam and Sriram; that isn’t a surprise because they have been friends for over a decade.
Like Sriram, Siddarth too is an IIT alumnus and an MBA from IIM Calcutta. He is 39. He worked for 9 years with a software firm, rose to be a Vice-President, travelled the world and made money. But he says he had a finite goal even as he began his career. He decided on this, he says because of a great human being, Dr Dilip Veeraraghavan who mentored him in IIT. “Dr Dilip was a professor of humanities; he truly humanised many future technocrats. I learnt how limited material success was without larger concerns, spirituality and a respect for traditions as a teacher. By ‘tradition’ he meant a very broad set – traditional agriculture, for instance.” That influenced Siddarth to resolve he would make enough money to live the simple life and then quit to live it.
He did just that. In 2005, he joined two other IITians [-some of them seem to be right-programmed in that august institution!] to care for a patch of land in Karnataka. In 2007 he moved on to buy two acres of his own to practice agriculture. I met him briefly around that time, when I myself was starting the pointReturn adventure. Once Karpagam and Sriram moved in at pointReturn, his own interest quickened. And so he is here. “I realised the ride is more enjoyable and productive when you are in kindred company,” he says.
I am of course delighted to have three committed young people to work with. All three enjoy the rough and dirty physical work [-not common in ‘educated’ Indians], share a commitment to the environment,have the easy smile and friendly ways.
They arouse a curiosity in me. Why would such young people leave lucrative careers? In 2005, when I was still publishing GoodNewsIndiaI met the great Dharampal in Wardha. He lay dying but suffered to receive me. When I mentioned I went around gathering good news, he growled: “What good news have you found?”. It was clear he was a disillusioned man, quite broken by the path India had taken.
Quite unprepared, I found myself saying, “Well, young people today have the potential for bringing about change”. He was nearly angry and wanted to know why I said that.
“You see they begin in highly paid jobs and lead highly stressed lives. When quite young most of them brown out and look for something less stressful to do. They put away enough money and gain freedom from ‘jobbing’. I believe they will make the corrections for India.” He stared at me for a while and turned away, unimpressed.
He may have rightly distrusted my optimism. Many do make the big money but most go on to create comfort zones to insulate themselves from the India beyond their front doors. But there are a few who commit to living the life of their deep convictions.
I know at least three; they are at pointReturn.