ByÂ Saumya Sahni:
At a time when one seems to have given up on optimism with regard to India’s future, stories of sheer perseverance act as a silver lining to the tainted picture. India today is not only characterized by the number of crimes which take place on a daily basis, but is also known for the useful resources it wastes every day. The inability to recycle that waste entangles the already entangled vicious circle of wastefulness and usefulness. This is where Innovation comes into foreplay. You do not always have to be a pro at resource management for acquiring the skill of resource conservation. All you need is determination. The Aravali Institute of Management, Rajasthan is a testimony to it.
The establishment of this educational institution has a gripping story of inspiration behind it. It is not only an icon of premier education but also an epitome of breathing life into a barren land. There used to be a highly saline wasteland in Jodhpur, Rajasthan which had been rendered useless and infertile and was given the distinction of being the “worst land in Rajasthan”.
But today the scenario has gone for a complete toss a decade later and here on this very wasteland stands a tall, gracious campus. Ironically it now is a greenbelt consisting of 6000 plants and trees which have grown up to 12 feet. With a total of 15 lakes, made through rain water harvesting, it has a capacity to store around 6 crore litres of water with fishes, frogs and even tortoises in these. All this has been possible because of the tireless efforts of Varun Arya, the purchaser of the wasteland who is also an IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmadabad alumnus.
Pessimism didn’t deter this man who recalls himself being labelled as a “bloody fool” when he had purchased this land to construct the campus. According to ISRO, the campus land was an extreme wasteland and the development of the same for academic purpose was going to cost enormous effort and money. As per the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (Jodhpur), Ministry of Agriculture, the plot lay in a wasteland with high inherent salinity. The salinity also made building construction risky because of corrosion. Varun remembers purchasing this land out of no options since no one else was willing to buy it and his is a venture solely constructed on ethics which doesn’t allow any room for compromises irrespective of the amount of hardships.
Here in this case the plant of English Babool (which hindered the growth of other plants on the land), land earmarking, and no proper mechanisms for inlet and outlet of water were the few of the many hurdles which they encountered but as they say, “Where there is a will, there is a way”. They undertook a slew of systematic steps to tackle all these problems one by one where they focussed at developing mechanisms for rainwater harvesting, improving the vegetation and plantations of salt-absorbent trees.
The construction of the campus is an arduous tale of fighting corruption, a juggle with ethics and strenuous land agreements and permissions from authorities for conducting experiments. These elements can break anyone’s back and can mar someone’s self-esteem, but Varun’s team has always stood up to the test of the waters. Success here is a perfect combination of hard work and grit and also of challenging corruptions with the right set of ethics.
A story as fascinating as this does restore my faith in our Motherland. It is imperative for each and every one of us to take initiatives, utilize and re-utilise our resources to the maximum limit to make our world a better place to live in!