To Build Young Leaders, a Karma Yogi Opens Their Minds


Photos: Sarvesh Bhavaraju

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: The graduation ceremony of the teenagers who take part in the year-long Youth Leadership Development Program is always an eye opener as, for the past few years, it has involved team presentations on current topics given to them and this year it was no different. The ceremony at India House this past Sunday, May 15 had five teams which handled relevant topics and taxed the minds of the young adults who will move on to the next stages of their lives in college.

But before they left, Nat Krishnamurthy, the Chairman of the YLDP had a bit of sound sagely advice on how to tread forward. “As you are going into more freedom, don’t forget your parents, always be kind, fiscally smart and remember,” he counseled, “it’s not what’s outside but what is inside that takes you to greater heights.” YLDP President Pinakin Jaradi echoed these sentiments as he opened up the ceremony, outlining the milestones of the organization and recognized the Board members.


The five teams were well prepared with the topics they were given – prescription pain killers; life vs. data privacy; oil; terrorism and the environment – and it showed that they had done their homework well to be able to recite the statistics and background on the cases. Each member of the team presented a certain aspect of the topic and a team leader summarized it for them.

After the third team had gone through their presentation, there was a slight pause to allow the new Indian Consul General Anupam Ray to address the gathering. It has always been a feature of YLDP graduations to have a prominent personality give a speech to challenge the young minds before them and the previous CG Parvatheneni Harish did so on one occasion. Ray has just recently joined his post as head of the Houston Consulate and he brings with him impeccable credentials, both professionally and educational wise, as he is also a trained physician (“A fallback proposition,” he later joked, “in case Civil Service didn’t work!”).


Keen of intellect, Ray opened up with “Hello young Indians and American” and then proceeded to give the young minds three examples of leadership that have changed the world. His first was how India has risen from the poor country it was in 1971 with a per capita income of $200 per annum to $2,000 per annum today. The second was the example of Nelson Mandela, who despite his imprisonment of 27 years, upon his release did not preach hatred but insisted on inclusiveness with the white minority in South Africa. His third example was of Julius Caesar, the Roman Emperor in the 1st century BC who, despite his feeble constitution and appearance, managed to expand the Roman Empire to its zenith.

This perked the interest of the young students before him and though they were timid at first in asking questions from the CG, they were prodded by their teachers and began to slowly open up. Ray answered each question deftly and without withholding the key point they were searching for. By far his best answer was that he was “a karma yogi” – a servant of the people – who came from a long family tradition of doing so. He certainly left the students suitably impressed, and even enthused to take up better challenges for their lives ahead.