My initial perceptions on business and society
Most ‘common’ people perceive corporates as ruthless money mongers; people to whom ‘social causes’ or ‘giving back to the society’ is only a legal mandate and not something that stems out of their hearts. Under a similar impression, when I walked into the hallowed portals of XLRI, I expected that the student life here would not have any component of social work, nothing close to what most undergrad colleges (particularly arts and commerce ones) try to achieve via NSS, NSO or WSDC. And its only justified since B-schools are the breeding grounds for the ruthless corporates of tomorrow.
How I was surprised
But the reality was something astoundingly different. XLRI has formal committees for the express purpose of ‘giving back to the society’; and guess what? They are very worthy PORs and CV points too! Maybe I should have realized that the college's motto, for the greater good', is indicative of this...but alas!
To say that the existence of Confederation of Indian Industries-Young Indian (CII-YI), Social Initiative Group for Managerial Assistance (SIGMA), etc. was surprising would be an understatement. But the one that truly broke my misconceptions was SAMARTHYA- a group of students focusing on the psychological and emotional development of school students in and around Jamshedpur.
CII-YI has a good reach and groups like SIGMA were prevalent in Delhi University (while I was a student there) as well but SAMARTHYA was a whole new concept. To the uninitiated, SAMARTHYA members go to schools and address class 11 and 12 students on how to deal with stress, bullying, parental expectations and other such issues which are generally not addressed in our traditional educational system. That is to say, they teach children how to deal with life and live their lives in all its fullness.
How Samarthya was formed
When you are the students of one of the best colleges in the country and you hear that your city has the highest suicide rate among the school going children in the entire state, you just cannot not do anything. This is precisely what an XL-er realized and started SAMARTHYA in January, 2012. It functions as the youth wing of Centre for Education Management, Leadership and Research (CEMLR) at XLRI under the guidance of Prof ISF Irudayaraj. Everything right from the content to the scheduling to the interaction and PR is handled by students. With only good motives at heart and without any expectation of returns, these students go out to sensitize students about issues that are often swept under the rug.
They have also realised early on that it is not just the students but the larger community that needs to be sensitized. Keeping this in mind, in the past two years, the team has organised two conferences with participation from parents, the teaching community and eminent personalities in the field of child psychology, all coming together under one roof and discussing how the menace of teenagers’ restlessness, anxiety, relationship pressures and parental concerns could be alleviated and arrested. Clearly Samarthya has gained more maturity with respect to its mission than long standing groups or committees would otherwise are expected to have.
As a child, I had studied in one of the best schools but I do not remember any of my very remarkable teachers telling me how to deal with these issues. I was privileged and fortunate enough to not face these issues directly; the fact that others did was always a source of grief for me, but what could I have done? On hearing about suicides, well, like most of my fellow citizens, I would wonder where this society is going, make some sympathetic noises and then go about my life as usual. But Samarthya today has given students like me, an avenue to go out and give back to the society; it is actually making a difference.
After seeing the team work over the past year and then being chosen as a part of the core team myself this year, I still wonder how relevant social service is for B-school students? Should they not be spending their time studying marketing, finance and HR? And leave the softer stuff to students of soft courses like B.A. or B.Com.
I get my answer every time I see one of the Samarthya members waking up at 7 in the morning, be it winters or rains, and going to schools to spread the message; every time I see two members fighting over the content for the interactions, not for their own interest but for that of the students; everytime I reminisce Reflections (the annual conference of Samarthya) I come to the realization that a B-school, especially one like XLRI is not just about learning subjects, it is about learning how to live; it is about utilizing oneself for the Greater Good.
Akriti Gupta, BM class of 2015 student at XLRI Jamshedpur. She is a writer by hobby, a speaker by vocation, a painter on whim and a student by compulsion. She hails from Delhi-NCR and has been to Delhi Public School, R K Puram and Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University to study about..well..things that she doesn't remember any longer :P