By Rahul Nambiar & Arvind Vairavan
“A hotshot MAD event is going to take place on 27th of January, and 25 selected volunteers will get a chance to meet Dr. Shashi Tharoor” read a post by Ashwin Manghat on Facebook. This post got the maximum number of likes and comments. His inbox was full of so many emails that he had two volunteers help him to just go through them!!
And all this frenzy and hysteria was only to meet Dr. Shashi Tharoor.
It became clear on 27th of Jan, 4.30 p.m., when we finally met him, why everyone was dying or killing for this opportunity. We all stood up, not because we were told to or because he was a hi-fi politician but because he commanded respect from us.
An innovative icebreaker, after which we weren’t star-struck anymore, followed.
The activity was called “feed-forward”. Trust me, I have neither heard of such a word nor have I come across such a beautiful activity before.
Here it goes: “each person picks a problem, walks up to someone else and asks him for a solution, and vice versa, and also thanks the person at the other end, irrespective of whether the feedback is good, bad or ugly”. All my life I never wanted to share my problems. Well, I learnt a lesson that day!
And then began the interactive session.
We were divided into 3 groups and were asked to define the qualities of a leader. The groups came out with courage, inspiration and availability. He agreed with all the three qualities and added ‘being invisible’ to the list; the people being led should not feel that they are being led. The followers should feel that they are in-charge throughout. Hence a good leader brings out the leadership in each and every one person in his team.
I always thought it was the team first and individual later, but here he was saying it’s neither the team nor the individual but the cause that comes first.
Later the discussion moved to a more personal aspect, where we were asked to find out what was the one thing that stopped us from being the leader. Some said confidence, others said a sense of ownership, but the factor that matters the most, according to him and another group, was the lack of opportunities in a country like ours. So no matter how good a leader you are, one lacks the platform to showcase talent and lead a change.
After giving us such brain stirring profound ‘gyaan’, he went into main agenda of the meeting. Sree Chitra Home for the Destitute is the city’s biggest and oldest shelter home for children. He along with his wife are actively involved with the home.
But they felt that the kids needed change in a bigger way. They wanted to make a difference in their lives. That’s when he said that he had heard about us, Make A Difference, and how we were making phenomenal changes in lives of children(this is when our chests swelled with pride), and he would like us to take up that centre.
We spoke of our concerns about the centre and told him of our operations. He listened carefully to us and instead of saying that there woud be no problems in taking up the centre, he said, he will help solving whatever difficulties that arise.
Finally it was time for him to go. After saying goodbye, he left. During tea, everyone was still talking about the Tharoor effect. Basically, we were so taken by him that we wouldn’t have noticed if they had put salt instead of sugar in our tea. But we all felt enriched and were enthused to take on the new challenge that was presented to us and I am sure even Dr. Tharoor won’t forget the day he met M.A.D!