Dr Rajagopal, Chairman of Pallium India, who was one of the speakers at TEDx CUSAT on September 28, 2019, writes:
Meet Nitin Vasanth, a young pioneer and innovator, the winner of an award from the President of India, and one of the speakers at a TEDx event at Cochin University of Science & Technology (CUSAT), Ernakulam on 28th of September, 2019. Nitin’s talk was enthusing – a story a bit like Steve Jobs’, one of academic mediocrity as a student and a later one of excellence in performance, of aiming for the stars that one focuses on, of innovations and of success.
But this story is not about any of his professional or academic achievements. (For those, you can look up this news in the Times of India: CUSAT graduate’s innovative attempt gets lauded at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.) This story is about one of his major achievements as a human being.
This is also the story of Paru Amma.
When a student of CUSAT, Nitin would see an elderly woman sweeping the streets – practically the whole campus, single-handed. True, there were others also at the job; but it seemed to Nitin that Paru Amma did more than all of the others combined. She appeared really old to him – in the 70s – and how could she be working so hard?
Nitin being Nitin, went and talked to her. Got her story, found that she had children in the neighborhood but because of one alcoholic son no one was looking after her. That son in a fit of intoxicated anger, had destroyed her house and she hardly had a roof over the head now.
Again Nitin being Nitin, he gave her the promise then and there that he would rebuild that house. He did not know how, or where the money and other resources would come from; but nevertheless he promised. And he found that people were willing to help; in fact, some of them were eager to do so. The usual story: there are always people looking for something meaningful to do. All it takes is someone with the imagination and courage to make a beginning. The house was renovated.
Can I meet her, I asked Nitin. He was clearly happy. The engineering students, our hosts, took us there during our lunch break. We met Paru Amma and saw the house which many students and staff of CUSAT invested their time and efforts in. I take pride in calling her Paru Chechi (older sister).
And in the picture you see Paru Chechi with Nitin Vasanth. Two achievers, one unknown to the world who demonstrated hard work, commitment, resilience and positivity. The other one putting into practice what Mahatma Gandhi said, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
The event in CUSAT was just ahead of the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, and remembering that man who has allowed us to live with some pride in ourselves, I salute these two achievers.