“Find your passion, work towards it and achieve your dreams.” This was the message the students and parents took home from the Great Indian Debate, which was held in Chennai last week.
N. Ram, chairman of Kasturi and Sons, publishers of The Hindu speaking on the occasion recalled how R. K. Narayanan was the son of a school teacher, but was a mediocre student. “He dreamt of becoming a novelist at a time when there were no publishing houses in India,” he said. For several years, these publishing houses turned him down, until author Graeme Greene saw his work and got him published.
“The more fearless you are, the better off you will be, provided you work hard and get support,” Mr. Ram said.
This event was organised by The Climber along with The Hindu in School. Journalist Sam Daniel, and Nagaraja Prakasam, Mentor at IIM Bangalore, also spoke at the event.
Narrating her experience in breaking free of the norm, Madhavi Latha, paralympic swimming champion, explained how she won her first sporting medal at the age of 40 years. Born with a severe disability, in a middle class family in Andhra Pradesh, Ms. Latha studied upto Class X in a school, and as there were no disabled-friendly colleges, she was forced to study as a private candidate.
“Finally, I got a job at a bank. My life changed when I developed severe back pain in 2007,” she said.
After consulting a doctor who asked her to undergo a risky surgery, or risk death within a year, she went to a physiotherapist who suggested hydrotherapy. “The first time I entered water, I experienced freedom. When I was in water, I was able to walk, and it motivated me to go further,” she said. She participated in the Paralympics, and was the national champion in 2011. “That was when I realised I had to motivate more people with disabilities to swim and started an association for para-swimmers,” she said. Now, there are around 250 swimmers and Tamil Nadu is in the fourth position in the country.
“We need passion, but it is not enough. Our dreams should not allow us to sleep, and [they should] force us to work towards them. Only then we will be successful,” she said.
Veeru Murugappan, Sports Television Producer, spoke of how he came to choose his career. When he was in school, he discovered he was dyslexic.
That was when he realised he needed to study something other than the conventional engineering and medicine; he chose psychology. “Today, it is easier for us to access people than [it used to be] 10-15 years ago,” he said, explaining that to be able to enter a field, it was important to shadow people in the field who were your heroes.
When he quit NDTV, he did not have a job for several months, during which time he wrote to Tony Greig and other commentators, and that was what landed him his current job.