The Cycling Club Of IIM Kashipur – A Unique Initiative
The idea and how it took form.
1. The Cycling club was founded in 2015 when I was in final year of PGP, a bit relaxed and had a better chance to choose the subjects which I wanted to study deeply and sincerely, a chance to explore my other dimensions of life, a chance to do something profound and meaningful for the institute.
As it is a well known fact that even though the Cycling Club is the youngest club at IIM Kashipur, it is the most talked about one and it engages maximum number of students, faculty and staff. The idea was to have maximum impact on the lives of MBA students in such a way that they become the better human beings rather than just good managers. When I talk about better human beings, I mean, the persons with a balanced personality – physically fit, socially responsible and nature loving. I believe that after a certain time money is not the only thing you want to achieve, rather you start asking questions why you have been doing all this, why you have been putting so much efforts, why you have been chasing the money. These questions and self doubts come usually to create mid-life crisis when you start finding the meaning of life as you probably approach the self-actualisation stage being able to make ends meet and have a decent car, a beautiful house, a and loving caring spouse with some bright kids. The idea behind cycling club is to let you explore who you are so that you can understand yourself deeply. It is essential to know about your true identity in this world, else you keep chasing superficial and transitory goals just to disappoint you at the end. For me, cycling is meditation, it brings closer to who you truly are and let you unfold your other facets of life. When you are in crisis, depression or falling apart, cycling helps you channelize your negative energies and broaden your perspective towards life. That’s why we invited some extraordinary cyclists and had a cycling meet at our campus. I want to thank Arjun Murali, Shubham Dharmsktu and the members of Traveling Trinity who helped us shape a new perspective on cycling.
2. Only a handful of batchmates sneered at the idea of having a cycling club and that too for their personal reasons, otherwise I faced no challenge as starting from my ex-chairperson, student affairs, Prof. Rajat Sharma to director sir, Prof Gautam Sinha everybody was so supportive and encouraging that I cannot repay my gratitude by any means. Our President, General Secretary and student council members all were happy to see something new and exciting was happening. We were so passionate about it that we didn’t want to fail at all, and for that we worked hard till the end of my MBA program.
3. Personally, when I start or I do something, it always has multiple strong reasons. When I was in my first year of MBA, I realised most of my batchmates would face difficult times due to academic rigour and hectic schedule at the campus. Some of us were so frustrated and would do nothing about it, except cribbing about the same. Another important observation was that we had the most beautiful places around our campus – a tiger reserve, a hill station, a breathtaking landscape, plenty of beautiful resorts and wonderful terrain for bicycling. It made me think that if we pick up our bicycles and go out, we can achieve much more and convert our negative energies into something constructive. Gradually, the idea of cycling brought forth three main goals to accomplish – first and foremost was to give the best cycling experience by taking people for 100 km cycling rides where they can appreciate nature, and create memories, the second one was to make them physically fit, and the third but the most important one was to reduce the carbon emission by promoting and encouraging bicycles within and beyond the campus.
Moreover, no other IIM has taken such an initiative regarding cycling, so it is one of the unique things that separates us from rest of the IIMs and other prestigious MBA institutes. If somebody wants to experience cycling along with MBA program, no other place offers this opportunity. Everybody talks about sustainability, green house gases, Green MBA, but one is hardly making any sincere efforts. My idea was to execute the concept of sustainability at our campus by using bicycles within the campus premises to avoid carbon emission and promote the use of bicycles in the society by taking trips to nearby famous and populous places. It’s not difficult to use bicycles to commute up to 25 km distance. It can save a lot of petrol, reduce the emission of hazardous gases, reuse the traffic and accidents due to heavy vehicles and keep one fit and young.
4. Sustainability and global warming are two major global challenges to deal with, specially for managers and entrepreneurs who play a critical role as they are responsible for creation and delivery of the value to the markets and society at large. Being associated with the Cycling Club, people have good perception about me. Being a true green evangelist, a socially responsible and a fitness freak person I’m getting more benefits than I could have expected earlier – Cracking the interviews, getting respect, staying fit, having a good networking with cyclists all across India. Traffic jams and pollutions are major challenges in any metro city wherever you go, but once you become used to cycling, you are least bothered about it. Interestingly, I am heading the retail division of a startup for North India, where I cracked the job interview just due to my leadership role with the Cycling Club.
5. I believe, IIM Kashipur is the best place to explore oneself. When I saw my batchmates cribbing about unprecedented rigour and pain of dealing with it, I saw the opportunity in offering them an escape in the nearby areas through cycling. I chose cycling because it is a sustainable transport, keeps one fit, toned and sturdy, enables more interaction with strangers on the way, provides opportunity and time to appreciate the journey, not just the destination. A small step in this direction opened up my many vistas and offered me the opportunity to take the command of life as a true leader. Once you are at IIM Kashipur, you will have tremendous opportunities to take leadership roles and prove your worth against all odds if you are sincere enough. Here we have a very strong culture of identifying and encouraging leaders. If you think you are a potential leader, IIM Kashipur has it all to bring the best out of you.
6. I believe, had it not been IIM Kashipur, I wouldn’t have this opportunity and such an ease of taking this initiative. Being a new IIM and surrounded by some of the mesmerising hills and lakes, a tiger reserve and a national forest that houses rare and endangered species of wild animals and birds, the location offers immense opportunities to explore the life – be it getaway, meditation, photography, adventure, dating, camping, cycling, bonfire, trekking, birdwatching and snowfall. I’m fortunate to have Prof Rajat Sharma, chairperson, Student Affairs and Director Gautam Sinha sir who are really nice people to work with. You approach them with any new idea and they see if it is worth giving the shots, they not only allow you to pursue it, they themselves become the part of your initiative. It is interesting to mention that Prof Rajat and Prof Islam have got new bicycles for themselves and they regularly use their bicycles to commute between academic blocks to faculty residence and participate in cycling rides which are as long as 100 km or so and that too with their students. Last time when I met our Dean, P&D, Dr Mukherjee he was so excited in congratulating for the initiatives and efforts taken by cycling club and he expressed the desire to get a bicycle for himself. Moreover, Dr Mukherjee asked me to enhance the scope of cycling club to have a 100% sustainable campus and set the benchmark in sustainability. Such is the leadership, ecosystem, and ambience at IIM Kashipur, where nothing is impossible.
7. Starting up the cycling club was like having my own start up with the objective of solving some real life problem with limited resources and probably no prior experience of execution in that field. As I had no budget, limited number of bicycles, hectic and erratic schedule, I had to overcome them, no matter what. We worked hard to offer a thrilling experience of riding bicycles, creating memories, clicking some mind-blowing pix, which have been possible because of the enthusiastic participation of batchmates and faculty members, team work and a great social media and e-mail marketing campaigns. We achieved more than what we had planned in the first year. In its very first year of starting up, the club got so many accolades and positive responses. I feel really good when the alumni, professors and media persons talk about the Cycling Club. Retrospectively, I wish I should have started it a bit early, but it’s alright, as I was able to focus on it being in second year. As far as success of this club is concerned, it makes me believe that I can achieve anything if I’m passionate about it. And starting something at a premier institutes such as ours is a lifetime memory.
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