“Now that I look at it, the yatra reminds me of The Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter. Just as how the magic mirror shows the "deepest and most desperate desire (read ‘erised’ backward) of our hearts", the yatra also shows us only what our hearts and minds desire to see. It can be the vast, seamless sky or not even a pinch of wasted sand. It entirely depends on the yatris what they make of it. At the same time, the selection procedure, to a large extent, roots out the possibilities of ‘wasted experiences’. Every person takes home something from this beautiful journey, even those who may not make the most conscious effort. As for those who do take the initiative, there are no bounds to how much they can observe, feel and think during these 18 days.
“You will find yourself analysing situations. Why did this particular person choose to pursue this goal in this particular fashion?
“You will find yourself asking questions about the most basic of things. Why is poverty bad? Why do we need to educate children?
“You will feel the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. From the worst statistics about your country housing the world’s largest number of malnourished children, to the most commendable change-making initiatives you have ever heard of, these lows and highs will stir your soul like never before.
“You will feel connected and disconnected at the same time. This person is so much like me. I love what he has achieved. I must figure out what more I can do with my life.”
— Unnati Narang
“All of us in our lives have at some point dreamed of doing something great, of making it big. However, as we move forward to make our dreams come true many hurdles come up. These hurdles are like huge mountains blocking out all rays of hope, plunging us into dark hopelessness. There inevitably lies worse ahead. As we put in efforts to make things better, everything goes wrong; the world seems to crumble before us. This is when most of us give up.
“There are some who don’t. The Tata Jagriti Yatra is all about those few who never say die. As we, the 400 young people, travelled on this special train for 18 days, we learned this from each other, from the role models and from the journey itself. This journey is not an ordinary one. It tests one’s physical and intellectual endurance. As we travelled over 9,000km, living, bathing, sleeping and eating in the train, drastically different terrains and climatic conditions awaited us.
“The common room discussions, the role model visits, the group presentations and compartment discussions were hugely enriching but also at times exhausting. Yet the spirit of the yatris remained undaunted. One yatri was enthusiastically planning an enterprise in the IT sector for the blind. Her own blindness was not a challenge for her. A young engineer from an un-electrified village has planned a model for his village where every household will have electricity from renewable sources and the village a sustainable economy. A yatri who is the first girl from her village to study beyond the fifth standard is now doing MBA and plans to get international exposure and come back and do something worthwhile for her village. An award-winning village sarpanch was a yatri to learn how better he can govern his village. These are people for whom challenges are opportunities, not excuses for inaction.”
— Arkaja Ravishankar Das
“We were at the last stop of this epic journey, Mithapur in Rajasthan. After a very warm welcome by Tata Chemicals officials, we quickly visited the archives and rock garden, and were briefed about a number of eminent people who were the reason behind the majestic industry that stood there. After that we went to the exhibition centre of Okhai, the cutting and stitching units and also to the different villages where the Okhai team worked with the village womenfolk. It was interesting to note the amount of difference this work had brought in the life of the villagers. I would consider my encounter with these women as the pinnacle of the entire yatra. There was this illiterate woman from a remote village, who looked at us and asked us what we are going to do to build the nation once we go back after the yatra. This woman was not talking about earning a few extra bucks or about improving her village, not even about building an enterprise, she was talking to us about building the nation.
“To her, and to the thousands of people in different parts of the country who gave us a warm reception and hosted us and looked at us as the future of this country, I vow to do my best to take this great nation to greater heights, to bring dignity into the lives of my countrymen, equal opportunities for all, and compassion into every relationship. I shall strive to be the best that I can be in whatever I do.”
— Priya Krishnamoorthy
|*The Tata group was associated with the Jagriti Yatra from 2008 to 2010.|