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Having a Societal Purpose as your goal will change the way you think as a leader - E. Sarathbabu

Having a Societal Purpose as your goal will change the way you think as a leader - E. Sarathbabu

The 10th edition of COMFEST – an event that celebrates commerce as an academia was held at VIT, recently. Renowned youth icon Mr. E. Sarathbabu was the chief guest and he delivered a thought provoking speech to the students from different schools, belonging to the commerce stream.
During the side-lines of the event, he had a brief chat with S. Sudarshan on diverse topics including his story from rags to riches, importance of commerce as an academia etc;

Brief Excerpts from the interview:

1. Take us through your journey from rags to riches. From the slums of Madipakkam Chennai with no electricity till grade 8 to IIM (Ahmedabad) and becoming a youth icon for all good things?
When I was studying in school, I have never heard about BITS (Pilani) or IIM (Ahmedabad). At that point in time, my priority was to study and get respect from my classmates for my studies. We all want that pride, honour and self-respect and I was no exception and I was focusing on that despite several challenges.
As you said, we never had electricity at home, starving for food on almost all the days during my school days; yet I never gave up because I was seeing my mother (lone breadwinner in our family) struggling to meet ends with her 5 children. Therefore my only aim at that point was to study well and take care of my mother.

2. Can you brief us about your start up NGO HungerFree India foundation?
So, when I was a child, there used to be a family near my neighbourhood who used to feed 100 poor children on the full moon day, every month. I was one among the beneficiary of having a proper full course meal. It used to be a simple meal, yet it was big to us. In short, the happiest day for me used to be the full moon day as for sure, we will get a full course meal.
One day while eating, I found that family was feeling very happy seeing us eat and that is when I realised that the satisfaction that you derive out of feeding someone who is in the state of hunger is irreplaceable.
This thought gave birth to HungerFree India. It is not only a NGO but a movement where we have chosen 10/10 ie 10th day of 10th month (October). Every year on 10th October, we feed poor people be it elders or the children or anyone.

3. Anything special about 10/10?
Two reasons - One, it is easy to remember. However we chose that date keeping in mind the famous Tamizh saying “Pasi vandhal Paththum Parandhu Pogum” ie If you are hungry, ten things will fly away. I wanted to reverse that saying - "Paththu vandhal pasi pogum" ie when 10th of October (10/10) comes every year, hunger should go and that is why we chose 10/10 as the date.

4. We know you are a techno-business graduate. But then how important is Commerce as an academia?
Just like the fuel for a vehicle, Commerce is important for anything & everything. You might have great products and services but you need people to manage the finances and who better to do that than the commerce professionals. In short, Commerce is the lifeline of any business. There are huge opportunities to make big, if you study Commerce and I would urge all the students to explore this career path.

Alright, time for a MCQ. You can choose only one – Entrepreneur or Social Worker or Politician?
Social Worker. The entrepreneur in me and the politician in me are driven towards the social work that I do.

6. You have been to VIT manier times over the past decade or so. Your thoughts about VIT?
I have been to 1000+ Colleges delivering 2000+ lectures but VIT is different. The commitment of providing education is unparalleled and it is due to the visionary leadership of the Chancellor Dr. G. Viswanathan. VIT has transformed the lives of 1000’s and 1000’s of students and is a socially responsible institution.
I could foresee VIT becoming top institution in the World. With the kind of MoU’s and academic collaboration that you have got with leading Universities in the World for student and faculty exchange, I could see this becoming a reality, very soon.

7. Your message to the current crop of students?
Have purpose in life and make sure that purpose is not restricted towards you but towards the society. You should not study for yourself but for the nation. You are going to be change agent and therefore have societal purpose as your goal and I wish you all the best.