Sridhar Neelam Redefines The Phrase “Follow Your Heart” For All Young People; Here’s How

Posted on July 11, 2014 in Interviews, Society

By Mayank Jain:

This post is part of a series of content focusing on covering inspiring work of Indian youth, brought by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with Potentiaa.

The conventional road to an engineering degree is oft visited by the ‘regular confused youngster’ which ends up taking him towards a career he doesn’t enjoy. Some however, choose to stop and take a look at the path before they walk again and change their metaphorical course before it is too late. Sridhar Neelam is one such youngster who redefines the phrase ‘follow your heart’ with his unwavering conviction on the social good goal that he has set out to achieve.

Sridhar _ profile pic

He holds a degree in Electrical and Electronics engineering from BITS Pilani, which is one of the best engineering colleges in India. He wasn’t too happy about following the herd so he figured out his own interests and worked towards them, right from the beginning which led him to Nirmaan:

“Post school, in the conventional mode, I too followed the herd and got into one of the best engineering colleges (BITS Pilani) in the country without knowing why I actually landed up there? However, after joining Nirmaan and working for a while, I was able to figure out my own interests. So, I continued to work with them throughout the 4 years,” he shares.

Nirmaan is a social good, volunteer based organization where youth and students volunteer to work towards educational upliftment, poverty alleviation and economic progress in backward areas. The organization was started by the students of BITS Pilani in 2005 and has grown ever since.

“I personally felt that all the departments and avenues did not give any meaning to me as a student or as a person. Then I came across the poster of Nirmaan which spoke about energy conservation, quality education and opportunities for the poor. I instantly got connected to this idea, and felt that this would be the right platform for me to express myself with compassion and integrity. Then I attended the orientation and luckily got selected into Nirmaan. Thus, started my journey in Nirmaan and BITS Pilani, both almost at the same time,” he describes his journey.

Annual General Meeting

Nirmaan hopes to raise social consciousness of the youth by engaging them in causes and giving them experiences that heighten their level of understanding. With renewed interest and insights, the young brigade of the organization goes out to impact lives which had been long kept on the backburner.

“We have been able to impact more than 40,000 lives in our journey, by implementing 60 projects every year. We have expanded to 6 major cities (Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Delhi) apart from all the 3 campuses of BITS Pilani. Our operations are going on smoothly and we are improving every day, due to constant involvement of volunteers, corporates and government. In the next few years, we are planning to stabilize our operations in the 6 cities and also focus on developing Social Leadership Hubs in the best institutes of the country so that youth can actively participate with the best platforms available to bring out a positive change in our country,” Sridhar updates us on the rapid expansion of the organization.

Nirmaan has been successful in changing lives of women and their families by giving them gainful employment in multiple domains. 150 such women are organized into self-help groups and consistently earn around 12000 per month by selling their products. The organization is working in 12 schools with 4560 beneficiaries and has recently inaugurated 9 classrooms at Kothagua benefiting 1100 students. Their concerned team and leadership is behind the change.

Sridhar, who leads from the front, has been the torch bearer in the recent initiatives by Nirmaan. He doesn’t want to revert to the MNC job culture where most of his batch mates are, “Through the leadership positions I have served in Nirmaan and the impact I was able to achieve, I could easily see the possibility of widening the scale of service I could render to my fellow countrymen. The only question now was about my future, both financial and personal. I also understood that if one wants to go after their passion or dream, there should be compromises in the short term. And thus, keeping the impact I could bring out on the society in mind, I chose to join the development sector,” he tells us.

In his stint with Nirmaan, he has seen a lot of achievements which dazzle and at the same time, push one to go and contribute to the world at large which needs more souls like these inspired college students. Sridhar elaborated on some of these:

“There have been many small achievements which I will treasure throughout my life. These include my interactions with members of community, whenever our services have reached in the right time to the right person, whenever our volunteers discuss, debate and put their frustration in a positive constructive action; all these have given me immense satisfaction.”

The key achievements that Sridhar has been a part of, include raising an amount of Rs.50,000 for Operations Sahaaya — Kurnool Flood Rehabilitation Program by Nirmaan; building a student donor base of 1200 students, with each one of them pledging to save one rupee a day for the country; leading Nirmaan’s scholarship program in 2011 and successfully supporting 47 financially backward students to pursue graduation; partnering with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of the Government for the provision of 6 classrooms to Kothaguda Government School, which benefitted 1100 students

Interested in football and blogging, Sridhar is a part of the new generation of youth who chose to take the leap and bring the change instead of waiting for it.

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