Sunday, January 3, 2010

TATA Jagriti Yatra

Everybody has a 'wow' moment and if one is lucky, several of them during a lifetime. i'm possibly one of the few really privileged ones who meets amazing people literally most days of the year. which means i have a treasure chest of wow moments. but i can tell you this,- if i were asked to pick this one heirloom which i will want to pass on to the future generations, it will easily and uncontestably be 2nd jan 2010 at TCS campus in Hyderabad at the TATA Jagriti Entrepreneur Yatra. nothing had prepared me for what i was going to experience here. i will post pictures as soon as i get some of them from the organisers.

Jagriti is a foundation involved in a number of developmental activities but this train journey is the brainchild of Shashank Mani and if you want to know more about how and why he designed this yatra, just pick up his book : India : A journey through a healing civilization, published by Harper Collins.

In 1997, Shashank conceived of an idea to discover India beyond her sophistication (his words) and urbanity and experience her home-spun 'genius' (again his words). he called it Azad Bharat Rail Yatra. this was the germination of an idea which is all poised to open the floodgates for an upbeat entrepreneurial india. it has now morphed into a train journey for practising and aspiring young entrepreneurs from what they call the Middle India, middle not in the geographic or class sense but in the economic sense.

Shashank, Raj and Revathy (whom unfortunately i did not get to meet as she had stayed back in Chennai) are responsible for designing an experience for the entrepreneurs which will stay with them for the rest of their lives. This is an 18 day train journey through the length and breadth of india, where people from different climes and cultures travel together, discover reach other and in the process manage to hold a mirror to themselves. 400 young vibrant hungry unmolded minds coming together, meeting entrepreneurs of different shapes and sizes and hues, understanding the challenges of being an entrepreneur, not to be daunted by them but to convert them into a laundry list of do's and dont's. god what a moment!!!

let me start the story from the beginning.

a couple of weeks ago, i received mail from Ananth Krishna who introduced himself as the co-ordinator of the Yatra and invited me to be a panelist either in Kanyakumari on 28th december or in Hyderabad on 2nd january. i chose Hyderabad.

i had heard of this train journey last year and i was completely delighted to be invited to be a small part of it this year.i mentioned it to Hemant of NVI and he said he'd love to come for the event.

Hemant and I were in another meeting till three and at three thirty we walked into the reception of TCS at Hi-tech city. the security guard manning the reception just pointed to an area behind him and asked us to proceed there. we did and nothing had prepared us for what met our eyes.

we walked out of the reception into an open atrium built like an amphi theatre, steep and cascading,  with stone steps going all the way down, interspersed with bushes and trees. on the steps were some 400 odd people, youngsters, bright eyed and bushy tailed notwithstanding the ardror of a train journey, waiting expectantly, as if they were in  Woodstock, waiting for their favorite rock band to perform!!!

i got goose bumps just looking at them and believe you me, for a minute i was tempted to turn on my heels and run for dear life from there. what is it i can i offer them that will make their eyes twinkle more, what do i have in me that can make them hungrier and wilder? what can i say to them that will inspire them,- these were the big questions that came flooding my mind and for a moment i lost it and just wanted scoot out of there.

but the goose bumps took over thankfully!!! and hemant and i walked down the steps in awe, in humility, in anticipation. and our several wow moments began.

since last year Tatas and CNBC have been phenomenal partners on this event and on the panel were Dr Krishna Tanuku, ED, Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship, ISB, Mr Mohan Rao, State Director for Small Scale and Khadi Industries Commission and myself. The discussion was moderated by Suresh Venkat, Exec Producer,  CNBC. The subject for discussion : funding for small entrepreneurs.

i wont go into the discussion here, i will post the dates on which the event will be broadcast on CNBC and you guys can catch it live.

suresh turned out to be an intelligent, witty moderator, not one of those who talks more than those he moderates!!!and we covered a whole gamut of subjects. this was followed by a Q&A from the audience and i was astounded at the questions that were asked. my favorite of course was from an overseas participant who said : everyone talks of what investors look for in the entrepreneur. what should an entrepreneur look for in an investor!!! my answer to this i shall blog separately :)

once the discussion was over i was mobbed completely and can you believe it, they asked me for my autograph!!! on t-shirts, on paper, on their palm!!!  i was dying of embarassment and i kept saying why do you want my autograph, i am no celebrity, i'm just a teacher and god no one listened.

at the end of it all, i was completely exhausted and completely, overwhelmingly enervated!!!

shashank, raj and ananth? how can i ever thank you enough? may your tribe increase.


  1. Nandini,

    Just reading this post gave me goose bumps so can't imagine how it would have been for you live out there! Any how, can't agree more, such events are the backbone for spurring entrepreneurship in India and hope many more of them happen and inspire more people. Do post the CNBC telecast date and time. Would love to watch it. And keep up the blogging :)


  2. Nice descriptions.I was indeed a wonderful journey !(Last year I was part of it )

  3. Thanks Prof. for the interesting narrative on the yatra. I would join the Deoria-Delhi-Tilonia leg of the yatra in the next few days. Your blog has made me look forward to the trip with even more enthusiasm. I write on entrepreneurship for DARE (, a monthly magazine on startups, and moderate panel discussions at entrepreneurship events.


  4. Hi Nandini,

    Thanks for introducing me to such a high octane group. Hats off to Shahank, Raj and Revathi - vision of such 'doers' is what keeps my bullishness intact. Your words of wisdom were as infectious as the young Yatris' energy.

    Let us together build an energising ecosystem where every 'opportunity' and 'talent' gets the 'money' and 'mentoriship' it requires to realise the full win-win-win potential.

    Go Yatiris! Go Jagruti!! Go TATA! and Go Nandini!!!

    Hemant Nitturkar

  5. Dear Nandini

    great a way to express a feeling... i am not surprised that u were mobbed for ur autographs...i am sure ur radiating speech would produce many many more to get inspired to be a self employed in India and all over the places wherever u go....



  6. Nandini:

    what a write-up -- I am not at all surprised thaht you were mobbed---
    Kishore Tarachand
    Granada Information Solutions

  7. It must have been Phenomenal! I can only imagine how much exciting it must have been!

    It is always a pleasure listening to you ma'am. No wonder you were mobbed.

  8. Ma'am, Awesome !!

    Now i know, why u singled out the expression "U are yet to read it !"
    I am so eager to watch the episode being wired. This a must read for all aspiring ones like me.

  9. Hi Nandini,
    Amazing! just reading through gives me a wow! i can imagine how you would have felt. fortunate you! having had privilege of interacting with you, i am not surprised at the rush for borrow a line, may your tribe increase!
    potential project managers pl

  10. Hello Nandini,

    just reading through gives a wow!Would love to watch the pictures.Also,would love to be a part of it at some point of time.


  11. Dear Nandini Mam'm ,

    Its been so wonderful going through the description of the yatra...the experience you have had must have been simply the BEST & PHENOMENAL..and the write-up is so interesting..., no wonder that u were mobbed...the charishma ,enthusiasm u show along with your fantastic mentoring qualities, which encourages your students (who ever comes to you )to do better and give 100% in each task undertaken ,can make any one inspired by you instantly...not to forget the love you have for your students...its indeed a privilage having studied under you ma'm and interacting with you....would love to be associated with you Someday ,some way...there is so much to learn from you...Thank you so much for posting this...God Bless n may you have many more "WOW" moments like this in this New Year...2010 n years to come...


  12. The rewards of entrepreneurship can be great, but think carefully if you have the attributes and right sort of personality to cope with going it alone. Successful entrepreneurs share the views- ''The YES Movie'' by Louis Lautman

  13. Dear Nandini,

    It's a pity we could not connect on the Tata Jagriti Yatra. I am so pleased that it was a rewarding experience for you - next time come on the train!

    Emails from the recent Yatris are pouring in and I do hope the impact is long lasting and translates into real action.

    Yaaron Chalo, badalne ki rut hai!

    Warm wishes,
    Rewati Prabhu
    Board member Tata Jagriti Yatra

  14. Hi Nandini,

    M thrilled to see that u actually shared ur MOMENTS here... As a Yatri and a budding Journalist, I was personally quite enriched with the discussion we had, more so, through the little exchange that we had where you were mobbed ( to remind u,i was the one who asked abt how an entrepreneur can handle a Crisis with absolutely no financial backing or brand image).. Looking forward for more such Yatras n meeting u again.. :)


  15. Hello Nandini Ma'am,

    There is still a lot to learn from you, the way you have explained the yatra is truly awesome. One feels like physically present there.


  16. Dear ALL,

    Below is the Tata Jagriti Yatra CNBC TV18 program schedule:

    Panel Discussion 1 - Kanyakumari – CNBC TV18
    30th Jan – Sat – 5:30 pm
    31st Jan – Sun – 5:30 pm

    Panel Discussion 2 - Chennai – CNBC TV18
    6th Feb – Sat – 5:30 pm
    7th Feb – Sun – 5:30 pm

    Panel Discussion 3 – Hyderabad – CNBC TV18
    13th Feb– Sat – 5:30 pm
    14th Feb – Sun – 5:30 pm

    Panel Discussion 4 - Jamshedpur – CNBC TV18
    20th Feb – Sat – 5:30 pm
    21st Feb – Sun – 5:30 pm

    Panel Discussion 5 - Delhi – CNBC TV18
    27th Feb – Sat – 5:30 pm
    28th Feb – Sun – 5:30 pm

    Panel Discussion 6 - Mithapur – CNBC Awaaz.
    6th March – Sat – 5:30 pm
    7th March – Sun – 5:30 pm

    Documentary - – CNBC TV18
    13th March – Sat – 5:30 pm
    14th March – Sun – 5:30 pm

    Documentary Repeat – Awaaz.
    14th March – Sun – 5:30pm

    Niju Mohan

    Tata Jagriti Yatra 2009 yatri

  17. i want to be an entrepreneur can u be my guiding light.....i know the destination bt i think i am unable to find the

  18. Tata jagriti is a great platform for learning and sharping the entrepreneurial skills