Abhyudaya – Making A Difference – SPJIMR

There is often a paradox involved with learning. The more you learn, the lesser you feel that you know. As your learning keeps increasing, so does your humility. You know, what you know not of. And that is the greatest gift to the learner; the ability to know what you don’t know. And this result is something which comes to you in your absolutely open state of mind.

Imagine an experience where the mind is uncluttered, unchained by the travesties of everyday. I had such an experience during the past weekend, even though it was just for a fleeting second. And it happened in an environment not surrounded by black boards and dusters, or projectors and digital displays. It happened, out in the open one fine evening.

The non-class room learning experience at SPJIMR is a major part of the curriculum. Spread across clusters with an aim at holistic development of the Management professional, it has surely served for the betterment of the student, college and the society at large. One such program called Abhyudaya aims to provide young management professionals with an opportunity to interact, understand and relate with the Urban Underprivileged.

The participants of the PGDM course spend time with their “Sitaras”, the students chosen after rigorous trials and examination from the nearby regions. The students essentially come in to the Abhyudaya program while in their 6th class. What follows after this is, year after year of Mentor – Mentee relationship. The Sitaras are paired up with mentors, essentially PGDM participants who are currently in their 1st year of the program. The Abhyudaya coursework is such that the participants make home visits, take the kids out on picnics, indulge in fun team building activities, etc., There are essentially two perspectives to look at here; one from the course participant’s perspective and the other from the kids’ perspective.

It turns out to be a great learning curve for the PGDM participant in more ways than one. What starts of as a forced burden with the promise of credits soon turns in to the invaluable on-the-ground experience. While the participant feels as socially responsible and morally good about adding value to the kid, one doesn’t realize that he or she subconsciously picks up a lot of market details about various products, prices and reach. This works out as more than just a social project. This essentially changes you as a person. It helps you understand the person that you are. Over the course of the entire program, there will be multiple cases where you will stand up for stuff you didn’t think you cared about. And suddenly you shall have the Eureka moment strike and then dawn on you, gently, that even you are a functioning microcosm in the eco-system.

On the other hand, the learning curve and journey for the kid is priceless. The kid, while however bright, may not really have the avenues to put forth his views, may not have a patient listener at home willing to lend an ear, may not have a strong arm to hold on to, he or she expects to find the relation that they share with the mentor to work on those lines. The relationships stretch across caste, creed, region and religion. In what could truly be the first and the only real urban poverty experience for the participant, is accentuated by the reception and reciprocation from the Mentee. It’s hard for them. To meet new people every year, to hope that the new mentor will fulfill on the promises made by the previous one, but yet they do. They choose to believe in you. They understand and fully well accept that you would have enough experience and insights to help them grow into a better person, a better human being.

While the motive of the Abhyudaya program is to ensure that the kids become economically independent at the end of the course, what the institute ends up doing is create socially responsible citizens, who understand the ethos and values which have percolated around them over the time that they have been associated with Abhyudaya.

This entire environment of giving and taking has made the program a huge success. It fits extremely well with the emphasis that the institute lays on the Non Class Room Teaching initiative. It is something that is truly here to stay.


About the Author:

Lakshmi Narayanan, a PGP1 student of SPJIMR