THE 10TH lecture in the Aircel Power of Inspiration series, held at the Birla Institute of Technology, Patna, began with an introduction to Aircel’s Brand Ambassador Programme, followed by Puneeta Roy, founder-trustee of the Tehelka Foundation, taking the audience through a Tehelka Foundation audiovisual featuring ‘ground warriors’ — people who have dedicated their lives to the service of others.
The first speaker was Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, director of Rang De Basanti, who narrated the journey of the film’s script from one based on the armed struggle for Independence, titled ‘Young Guns of India’, evolving into the story of a group of youngsters in modern day India. The earlier script had failed to capture the imagination of the young, and made him realise that instead of awing the audience with the facts of the freedom fighters’ lives, he could inspire the young with the spirit of revolution that moved them.
Talking about his upcoming movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mehra said he was making it for his kids, so that when they ask him for new shoes in order to play better, he could show them that what one can do depends less on what one has, than what one wants to do. Milkha Singh proved this in real life by winning 76 races without quality athletic gear.
The revolutionary tones of the lecture changed towards the gentler emotions of love and tolerance as Magsaysay Award winner Dr Prakash Amte spoke about his life in the tribal village of Hemalkasa, in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. In 1970, his father, the legendary Baba Amte, took the family for a picnic to unheard-of Bhamragarh — a place without accessible roads, where a journey of mere 250 km would take 48 hours.
Hearing of his father’s desire to work among the tribals, and seeing him do so much for others, Dr Amte, fresh out of medical school, decided to join the Lok Biradri Prakalp, founded by his father, and use his formal education in medicine to help improve the living standards of the people in the remote region.
It was an area where sacrificial rituals were prevalent, and Dr Amte and his fellow volunteers were seen as ‘outsiders’. Getting people to accept medical help was a challenge. However, that changed slowly after their first patient was cured of cerebral malaria despite the language barrier. With the passage of time, the tribals lost their cynicism, and today, the Prakalp treats about 45,000 patients every year. In 1976, a primary school was started with the vision of educating the tribals, and it has enabled a few tribal students to become professionally trained doctors.
In the context of recent conversations on bridging the gap between ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’, Dr Amte encouraged the students to spend a year in rural India to experience life from another perspective, saying that a positive change is bound to happen when young minds are exposed to the differences in the world.
The lecture was brought to an end with the book release of the Power of Inspiration booklets, which were then distributed among the students to help keep the inspiration alive.