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Recognising the Unrecognised: LEaders care for seniors on World Elders’ Day

World Elders’ Day is celebrated annually to show respect of and gratitude for, the elders of India’s society. Satya Phanindra Saibewar and his colleagues Vikas, Kalyan and Akhil (Vrec, Gscet, SSR) noticed that these celebrations usually happen in the home and, while they are great and important, many disadvantaged people get left out. They noticed that many elders did not have anyone to care for them: they were homeless, begging, and suffering from various diseases. Additionally, the temperature in Nizamabad can drop down to 12 degrees celsius, which proves very problematic for elders living on the street. All these seniors are suffering, to different degrees, and some have faced death. Satya and his team empathized with these people, and wanted to find a way to make their lives even slightly better. They fundraised 2,300 rupees and used this money to purchase 16 high-quality blankets, and fruits, which they distributed to homeless elders. They also sent an official request to the District Revenue Officer, requesting that temporary shelters be put up in the city in order for these people to survive in the cold months. These LEaders have found a great deal of satisfaction in knowing they helped care for 20 people who would have otherwise gone uncared for. 



Design Thinking Workshop for 20 Engineering students by Rajan Patel for 21 days.


Rajan Patel, who is a student of Stanford University (MBA), was a facilitator for the Design Thinking workshop which was organised in the month of June, for the Engineering LEAD students who participated from different parts of India. Rajan has shared his experience as student and as a mentor being with the student’s of India.



I never considered myself the creative type. I was good at maths, science, and technical problem solving and I wanted to use those skills of mine to pursue a stable career path. I grew up thinking I wanted to be a doctor. I surely never thought that I would be an entrepreneur.But after I graduated from college at Stanford, I actually designed an innovative product and helped build a social enterprise, Embrace, which has since won numerous international design awards and impacted and saved the lives of over 100,000 babies in developing countries across the globe.

This transformation and empowerment was no mistake or coincidence. During my engineering experience at Stanford, I was given the opportunity to learn framework to help design products and solution for real problems in the world.

After we moved to India, I got to work with many local engineers as we grew our team. I realized how different their educational experience was from mine; theirs was much more focused on theory and tests, not on creativity, building, or real-world problem solving. They were also much better at designing and solving the problems we dealt with than I was; they were more resourceful and understood local context far better. Some of them have told me that being at Embrace was a transformational experience for them — it has allowed them to see themselves in a new light, as confident and capable problem solvers. I know exactly what they mean when they say that as I had gone through that same transformation myself. I want to empower India’s youth to be the confident problem solvers, change makers, and entrepreneurs they can be.

In order to achieve this, I developed a curriculum for a three-week workshop on the Design Thinking, Making, and Entrepreneurship for college students. I was extremely lucky to be able to partner with the Deshpande Foundation (and the LEAD program, in specific), who hosted me, helped me reach local students, and helped run the workshop. Their mission and ethos is very much in line with my own vision and they have so much valuable experience in the space. I was inspired by the energy of the students and youth who manage and participate in their LEAD programs. The opportunities they offer – camps, trips, financial support, access to networks, training, etc. – have created an energized group of youth who are making real change in the community and for their country.

In my workshop, I started by exposing the twenty five students to the user-centric design thinking framework which helped them identify true problems and insights, rather than starting with solutions. The learning was learning by doing as they applied the process to come up with solutions for a variety of topics ranging from improving the bathroom experience in their colleges, to the local Hubli bus stand, to reducing littering and helping the environment. The five-step design process they followed is illustrated below:

The students were excited to get on the ground, observe and interview users, and dig deeper to identify what people are feeling and what possible problems or needs may exist. Then, they moved on to brainstorm several different ideas to address these needs, and ultimately build prototypes to get feedback from the users. In only a few days the students were not expected to get to functional prototypes or concepts, but rather, to experience the process and their own potential to understand and solve problems.

The next phase of the workshop focused on making, as each student was given the opportunity to use their hands to create. They first worked in teams to learn and build electronics prototypes using Arduino, an easy-to-use electronics software and hardware platform. In just two days, students taught themselves how to use the boards, program code, and build functional prototypes in which certain inputs triggered a corresponding output action.



Throughout the workshop, students learned about entrepreneurship. We were lucky to have met with so many inspiring entrepreneurs such as Sasi Sekar and AnupVijapur of NanoPix, Arjun Bhat from Travspire, Adithya Pasupuleti of Innovation 101, among others, who all shared their personal stories, the ups and downs of their entrepreneurial journeys, personal advice on starting up a company, and served as role models for the budding entrepreneurs to aspire to.


For the final part of the workshop, the students used all they had learned to get into the field, identify problems in their community, and begin to develop ways to potentially address them. Students interacted with farmers, doctors, patients, and handloom workers to identify needs and then ideate potential solutions.  The most meaningful moments for me were hearing students talk about how the experience has allowed them to understand their own ability to identify and address problems, something they did not realize before.

Based on the feedback and what I observed with the students’ work and attitudes, though, it is clear that they have truly developed the skills and confidence to go on and create change in their communities. Especially with the continuing support and amazing opportunities at the Deshpande Foundation, I am excited to follow and help these students as they become leaders and problem solvers. My work also does not end here and I will continue doing my small part in empowering India’s youth to be the change makers they can be!

International Non-Violence Day 2014

October 2nd marked Mahatma Ghandi’s birthday and, subsequently, International Non-Violence Day. For this occasion, LEader K. Akhil (Sri Sai Raghavendra) facilitated a communal Non-Violence Oath in his classroom in Nizamabad for over 11 students. This oath is particularly aimed at stopping violence against women, in public and in the home.

Similarly, Ch. Nagavadhini and his team members Ravali and Sneha (VREC) went to an orphanage in Subhash Nagara & Pulong to share with the children the kind of violence that people, particularly women, are still facing today. They lead the 25 people in taking an oath against this violence, stating that they will not participate in such, and will stand up for the victims.






Meanwhile, LEader Harish Gadagin (Khkabbur Institute of Engineering and Technology, Dharwad) decided to make the pledge with 680 staff and students of JK Education Society’s DK Public School Santosh Nagar, Hubli. The oath took place at the school assembly on October 2nd, 2014.




LEader Shivaraj M.U. Organizes Blood Donation Camp

On account of National Blood Donation Day, Shivaraj M.U. (Khkabbur Institute of Enginnering and Technology, Dharwad) decided he wanted to set up a blood donation camp, along with fellow LEaders Harish Gadagin, Raju Naik, Soumya Rogi and KHK LEaders. These students recognized the importance of having a well-stocked blood bank, as many people lose their lives when they are in need of blood and don’t get it fast enough. They decided to partner with the Karnataka Institute of Medical Science (KIMS), Hubli, to hold a blood donation event on October 10th 2014, being National Blood Donation Day. More than 250 peoples registered for the camp, and 130+ people donated blood. It is estimated that more than 450 people will benefit from this project.






LEader Kalyan Chakravarthy Goud Encourages Proper Dustbin Use

Kalyan and his team members Sai Kiran, Meenakshi and Ch.Nagavardhini (GSCET) were compelled to change the way people were disposing of their waste in Vinayak Nagar Nizamabad. They noticed a great deal of trash littered around, and a lack of people using the dustbin provided. They wanted to see the dustbin area clean and in-use, so they made it happen. They gathered supplies to clean the dustbin, and gathered all the surrounding garbage and put it all in the bin. They noticed that as soon as it was cleaned up and people saw what they were doing, they immediately started using it as well. They also encouraged the colony (of about 80 people) to continue using the bin properly, to keep the environment clean and safe.



LEader Prabhu Agadi Creates an Inspirational Notice Board

Prabhu Agadi, along with Kalmesh, Shreeshail and Ravi. Chikkanagodar (KLE'S Society Shri Mrityunjaya College of Commerce and Arts & BBA Dharwad) noticed that many students were doing great things on and off campus, but these achievements were not being properly showcased to honour their actions. This is why the four students decided to create a notice board on Basal Institute’s campus, to highlight young leaders and the things they are doing to better society. This will not only support and encourage students, but also the college as a whole.



LEader Akhil Surveys Problems in Nizamabad Government Hospital

In Nizamabad, there is only one hospital to care for everyone. LEader Akhil had caught wind of issues at the one and only hospital, such as a lack of daily cleaning and water facilities, and instances of patients getting mixed up. He decided he wanted to learn more about what was actually going on in this hospital. Akhil, along with Harshitha, Saketh, Navanitha, Sravan, Prashanth (SSR, NDC, VREC, KCEA) decided to survey the admitted patients in the hospital, to find the inside scoop on what the problems are, and how they could solve them. They first obtained permission from the Charge, who allowed them to survey in 3 of the 4 wards (the 4th was in bad condition). They discussed the hospital’s problems with over 50 people, in the process learning how to interview strangers and gaining ideas of how to make the hospital a better place.




LEader Aparna Bhalchandra Creates the "Mr. Allrounder" Kitchen Appliance

Miss. Aparna Bhalchandra Kulkarni and her partners Aparna Bhalchandra Kulkarni, Mrunal Anand Marathe, Bhagyashri Prasad Kulkarni, Monika Anil Satpute, Pratibha Tukaram Patil and Tejaswini Suryakant Sandage of DKTE Society’s Textile & Engineering Institute (Ichalkaranji) had the idea of creating an all-in-one kitchen aid appliance planted in their minds. However, it wasn't until they participated in the LEAD Leadership Challenge that they had the platform to turn their idea into reality. They had all experienced the time and labor consuming nature of kitchen work, and wanted to build a low-cost appliance that would ease the mealtime preparation process.
Firstly, they designed the machine using CATIA software. Then, with the guidance from Mr. Nikhil Pattanshetti and Mr.Swapnil Koli, they began to turn the design into the tangible “Mr. Allrounder.” They hunted for suitable, low-cost materials, and settled on plywood, N8 bolts and stainless steel upon trial and error. As it is made up of wood, it is shock and corrosion resistant, making it safe and hygienic. They executed the manufacturing process in a carpentry and machine shop. During which time, they also installed a motor that would surely cut all the necessary fruits and vegetables - onion, potato, carrot, brinjal, leafy greens, apples, guava, and the like. This project is low-cost and highly efficient, decreasing labour time and effort. As number of operations can be done at once, it can function as a domestic appliance but also in large-scale productions such as in hotel kitchens, orphanages, seniors’ homes, etc.







LEader B.Sai Kiran to Eliminate Plastics

LEader B.Sai Kiran and his colleagues Kalyan , Nagavardhini and Meenakshi (KCEA) noticed that people are using plastics more than ever these days, and this habit is having a very negative impact on the environment. As a means to combat this ecological problem, these leaders went door-to-door and encouraged people, in 30+ homes and shops, to reduce their plastic usage or avoid it altogether, as there are many replacement materials that can be better recycled and have less of a negative effect on our planet and our health. 



LEaders Clean Gulbarga and Raise Health Awareness


Shivani D. Patil couldn’t help but notice that many people of Gulbarga were not making full use of the government dustbin, resulting in many environmental and health issues. The trash was scattered around the area, and children would play in this unsanitary environment. Shivani, along with Vaishnavi Kulkarni, Bhagyashree Saraf, Rakesh Sitnoor and Divyarani S.K, noticed the unfriendly odour and the increase in mosquitos during monsoon season as well, and decided to take action to make it a cleaner, healthier space. The first obtained permission from the Commissioner, and later convened with a local environmental engineer and a health inspector, and they cleaned the area. Additionally, they visited the Mayor, who personally visited the site as well. They requested that a door-to-door garbage collection be formally put in place to address the systemic waste and health issues in the community, which is to be implemented soon. The Leaders then went door-to-door, visiting with people and asking them to re-consider their waste removal practices. They encouraged the residents to lessen their use of plastic, to separate their dry and wet waste, and to use their dustbin and empty it into the garbage truck when it comes. Overall, this project benefitted 1000 people.