Super Heroes Don’t Always Come in Capes

Like many of his fellow batch mates, Uttam eagerly looked forward to the weekends, although not for hanging out with friends, binge watching web series, or partying with friends, but to spend some time on making a difference to the lives of the under-privileged.
As a child, Uttam was always a prominent face in the crowd as his choices and ideologies were different from his peers and made him stand out. Reflecting on his life, dreams and plans, Uttam says, “Ever since I started thinking about my life goal, social service has been a priority. Like other children whose goals changed with every new class, mine remained unchanged.
I could only see the grief of people and wanted to change the world in my way.” Uttam completed his engineering from Anand in Gujarat but it was in college that he realised that machines did not interest him at all and that he had to do something in the area of uplifting people. He knew that his feelings for the underprivileged were more than just sympathy. He told himself that he would spend his life doing something that interested him rather than dabbling in an area purely out of societal pressure.
His family was supportive but since he hails from a business family, they did expect him to join family business. When Uttam expressed his desire to become a social entrepreneur, they acceded to his request after initial doubts and apprehensions. Uttam says, “My mother’s confidence in me was a major driving force. I knew that even if I stumbled, she was there to back me and push me further.” Uttam had grown up listening to stories about the early days’ struggles encountered by his parents in establishing their business. These stories were a great learning for him and he matured beyond his age. He also developed a certain preparedness for facing crises.”
His first work towards social development which gave him lessons as well, was when he decided to help a 9-year-old orphan girl who was deprived of education because of lack of resources. Her uncle and aunt forced her to work in the fields as a wage labourer. Uttam felt an urge to do something for such children. Every weekend Uttam travelled eight kilometres to her village with a bag full of books, some chalks and a strong sense of purpose. There he would set up a small tent with blackboard and chairs and begin his class for village children. Gradually he garnered support in this initiative and many of his friends joined him.This task taught him that just having good intentions was not enough; one had to first convince the beneficiaries and bring them on the same page. In this case, he had to invest a lot of energy in convincing the villagers about who he was, what he meant to do and how important studies were for children. He slowly built rapport and from 2 students in his class, the strength rose to 30.
Uttam formalised his organization in the year 2015 and named it Kalrav Foundation. Uttam says, “Kalrav means the joyful chirping of birds in the sky.” Today, his NGO has over 5000 members and a huge group of volunteers working on different agendas. And, the USP of this organization is that it has never sought donations. Its highly committed volunteers have depended on crowd funding and have always been successful in meeting their objectives. Uttam’s mother proudly says, “Uttam has made our family proud. His contribution to society is unparalleled. He has discovered extraordinary love and affection for other people.”
Uttam believes that certain decisions that one makes become game changer in life and are destined. He recalls joining PGDM-BE as one such decision. A need for professional training to manage NGOs was always perceived. It was at this time that he got introduced to EDII and its PG Programme in Business Management. EDII’s Post Graduate Diploma in Management- Business Entrepreneurship gave him formal training in social entrepreneurship; He learnt about all aspects of setting up and managing a social development organization. Throughout Uttam had felt a certain lack of training which was proving to be a deterrent in moving ahead, and Uttam was on a look out for an avenue that could prepare him to run a social development organization. EDII, he says, gave him that opportunity.
He credits EDII with complete support and guidance. Field training, he particularly terms as enriching. Uttam recalls how every session was full of learning and opened him to a world of knowledge. Uttam shares that EDII has a great learning environment. It played a key role in motivating him and boosting his confidence. The learning that he derived at the institute helped him grow his newly registered NGO at every stage of the journey. Uttam admits that his own concept of social entrepreneurship got redefined and nurtured at EDII. During his days at EDII, he remembers discussing all his small social feats with mentors who guided him on giving it a bigger form under the umbrella of his NGO.
For the youngsters, he shares his words of wisdom, “Bhagwaan Ke Bharose Mat Baitho, Kya Pata Bhagwan Aapke Bharoshe Baithe Ho” (loosely translated as, ‘Don’t sit there, depending on God, who knows may be God depends on you.) If your passion helps you give back to society by doing something meaningful, just go ahead with your ideas. Just keep going and follow what your inner voice tells you to do. Don’t give up. The universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart.”

Uttam is on the path of writing stories that will inspire many to give back to society. EDII is proud of you… Keep rising, keep shining !!!