Please spend some time to read this inspirational story.
SOUL CURRY- OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
(Times of India 07 August 2008)
(Times of India 07 August 2008)
Rahul Awasthi comes away impressed after meeting his classmate and IIT topper, who earns no salary, but has the highest job satisfaction.
I read in a corporate bestseller sometime back that the highest job satisfaction is enjoyed by those in least-paying jobs, like in NGOs and social organisations. This sounded ironical, but still exciting enough to mull over, for those of us in the corporate world, chasing a mirage called job satisfaction and often confusing it with high salaries.
Five years ago, I was posted in Kolkata to look after the eastern region. This is where I had the soul-stirring experience of meeting Shreesh at Belur Math, the Ramkrishna Mission's headquarters. Away from the city's boisterous roads, Belur is tranquility personified as its sylvan surroundings are placed close to the mighty Hooghly. It had been 18 years since Shreesh and I had passed out from IIT, Kanpur, where we spent our days in neighbouring hostel rooms, and 14 years since we had last met. In the course of lunch that day at Belur, he unfolded his post-IIT story, which marked a turning point for my own view towards life.
Shreesh Jadhav was ranked second across India in the JEE and completed his B.Tech in computer science with a perfect 10 CPI. A recipient of the President's gold medal at IIT, he spurned all offers of plum scholarships from top foreign universities. Instead, he went on to do his Ph.D from IIT, Kanpur. As his neighbour, I was familiar with Shreesh's leanings towards Swami Vivekananda and Ramkrishna Paramhans. Often, when I barged into his room for a chat session, I would find him deep into reading their teachings. These had an impact on his day-to-day actions as well.
An example of his austerity was the fact that he managed to pass those four years with just a pair of white kurta-pyjamas. Top brain that he was, the toughest assignments were cracked by him in a jiffy and his answers matched up to the second decimal of the model answers put up later outside the exam hall. He also found time to take up the cause of mess workers, which temporarily invited the ire of IIT authorities, but eventually bore results. Through his Vivekananda Samiti, he taught several of the mess workers' children, besides other poor employees of IIT.
With three sisters, he was the only son of his parents, and the entire family along with many of us, egged him on to study abroad. I occasionally mocked his convictions and told his parents that he would eventually succumb to the lure of dollars, just like several of his batch mates. But, he couldn't be deterred from his single-minded pursuit of serving humanity. He would explain, "Just like Silicon Valley, social sectors too desperately need intelligent people."
He continues to positively impact the lowest rung of the social ladder. Recently, he helped save the life of 12-year-old Sarita, who developed a hole in her heart. Her operation in Bangalore cost Rs 3 lakh and on reading Shreesh's email, I had contributed my bit, but was doubtful if he would meet the target. But, as I recently found out, Sarita was back home in Kanpur after a successful surgery, making me put my faith in Shreesh's words that "there are a lot of good people in the world, we just need to reach out to them".
Unmarried, he has dedicated his entire life towards a social cause. He joined the Ramkrishna Mission after his doctorate and, by now, has taught computer science to several thousand students at their university, besides managing various projects spread across the country. He also humbly believes that Belur Math has given him the opportunity to achieve his mission. Yet, his journey continues.
Shreesh's story is beyond inspiration. When I look around at my batch-mates, many of whom head companies, I consider Shreesh the biggest success story of IIT. His story should be a catalyst for all those who want to bridge the social abyss created by market forces and government inaction. As I write a cheque for Rs 15,000 for my three-year-old son's quarterly fees, I'm reminded of an education system gone horrendously wrong. Unlike many of us who keep trodding known paths, Shreesh Maharaj - as he is popularly known in Belur - has clearly found his own path and left a trail.