Sometime back in mid-1900s, a boy is born to simple parents in Delhi. The boy turns out to be brilliant and works very hard to get into one of the premier Engineering colleges in India, IIT Delhi. He does well there too, and at the end of four years, is not lured by the money offered by the big giants and instead, decides to complete his post graduation in the same institute. Later, the genius goes on to do his doctoral research from Houston University and is awarded a Ph.D.
At this point in life, he has already spent a great deal of time and money coveting knowledge. What does he do next? Stay back in the States and join a reputed firm? Try to get back the returns on his investments so far? Wrong. He lands back in India, a man on a mission. He starts by joining his Alma Mater as a professor, with the aim of imparting more than just knowledge to young minds. He wants to pass on the flame of wisdom to the next generation.
And pass it on, he does. Not just a flame, but a raging fire, that would be visible in the next few years in the likes of Raghuram Rajan, ex-RBI governor. Needless to say, other students are capably groomed by him as well.
But, in the words of Stephen King, some birds aren’t meant to be caged, after all. Just teaching and empowering young minds wasn’t very satisfying for our missionary, who subsequently quit his post of Professor in a few years of his joining.
What does he do after quitting the one job that paid his bills and put food into his stomach? He leaves behind the city he has spent his life in and relocates to the remotest rural corners, inhabited by the tribals. For, what else do you do when you have a Herculean vision of being involved in the growth of your country and want to ‘start from the grassroots level’, in his own words?
Worried about the destructive effect of the increasing concentrations of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, this pioneer plants 50,000 trees in one district alone, one tree at a time. He goes around the arid district of Betul in the state of Madhya Pradesh, distributing seeds among the locals, clad in a simple white dhoti, even in the scorching summer heat and pedaling away on his bicycle.
He continues to live a life of austere simplicity in Kochamu district of the same state, a small town inhabited by 750 tribals, lacking electricity and proper roads. All through this trying challenge, he doesn’t reveal his true identity to a single soul. But one day, during the local district elections, doubts as to his true background crop up and he is forced to spill the beans. One thing leads to another and finally after more than three decades, the country discovers this hidden gem living in isolation.
He is the man who selflessly gave his all to the betterment of the poor. He is the man who ensured that the most mundane villages on the map receive electricity and education. He is the same man who tossed his stellar academic credentials away and used the knowledge within to uplift the downtrodden. He is Mr. Alok Sagar, ex-Professor, IIT Delhi, social revolutionary and person extraordinaire.
Image Credits- Abdul Kalam Fan Club