The best part of my whole week was seeing Kapur and Yunus speak at IIT. Powai is a respite from the insanity of Mumbai. The sound begins winding down from the constant cars screaming, “Horn Ok Please” as you leave Andheri.
I got to the campus by rickshaw which resembles the entrance to Area 51. A handful of guards await you as they check and recheck to make sure you are on the list. The campus itself is a maze of trees and flowers, as bikes pass you by and students hungry to learn filter out of buildings. I ran into some new friends I made at the HUB, and as Kapur + Yunus were running late, we headed toward the canteen. The woman at the front desk told us it would take 4 minutes to walk there. It took us 20. It helps to factor in this multiples of five when you are calculating time in India.
We returned back to find Shekhar Kapur and Yunus amazing a crowd full of students with their stories of paradigms shiftings and changing, and how the power is rested on our generation. “You can’t live without the help of these corporations, as we created them as apart of our system, and we no can’t exist without them,” said Yunus. Kapur’s perspective resonated strongly with me as he spoke of a new project about water, and how he was inspired by a friend in Malabar Hill who continued to take a shower for over an hour. Soon after he was visiting a slum and found out the price of the water these people buy (a few liters) is as expensive as if his friend left the water on all day long.
It’s easy to speak about social business, and have an Academy-Award nominated director, as well as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, sit in front of you and tell you how easy it is to do something with impact. That you just have to do it. The moderator of the discussion, Hans Reitz from Grameen Creative, spoke about how his son was starting a social business because “girls want to date someone that cares about the world”.
But is it really that sexy? Or easy?
This week it wasn’t easy for me to watch Aangan Trust training videos of men raping small boys within the childrens homes, and know this is fairly commonplace within the institutions I’ll be working in.
That doesn’t sound very sexy to me.
It is easy to glamorize work in the social space. But we should resist. When you begin separate yourself from people who are choosing to make their lives an extension of service, you start making comparisons of yourself that shouldn’t be made. Every act of kindness is important. Every human being is just as important. No one person has a solution, and no one person created a problem.
It’s easy to look at our leaders and forget there are teams of behind sitting behind them supporting them, and helping to create the change they envisioned. No man is an island. And none of us really are. We always look larger as shadows, when in reality we are much smaller without the light of others making us shine brighter.
Kapur, Yunus, and Reitz made for a thought-provoking conversation about what it takes to make change, and to continue through the naysayers who say it’s not possible.