Sunday, February 26, 2012

Making a difference

This is a story from an associate of mine from across cyberspace. His name is Unnikrishnan Meladi and he is a consultant in People Management and Learning in India.

Born in 1964 in West Hill, Kerala, Unnikrishnan is a passionate student of human behaviour and people management. He has seen the turbulence of high seas with the Indian Navy as a Chief Petty Officer till 1998. Thereafter, he closely worked with few Governors of Indian States as an Officer till 2005. He voluntarily left government services and joined various market leaders in automotive industry in Karnataka as their HR Head. He recently authored “LEAD” –‘Successful Lessons for People Managers’. The book is the result of his people management thoughts and essentially on human relations and integrates CSR themes. You can contact Unni by email.

Here is his story:
"Somewhere in 2004, my friend Raju Gowda who was running a computer institute asked if I could conduct few English training classes for the teachers in a nearby Kannada medium village school. I was busy working with an automotive industry as their HR manager located near a village bordering Karnataka.

Initially I was hesitant because of my busy work schedule with the industry. But when Mr. Raju told me that these teachers are from a Kannada medium school and their proficiency in English is average, it stirred my social instinct of doing something for the society around our industry. It was rather a brutal execution of my commitment towards the society from where I earn my bread and butter. So, why not spend some time for these teachers from the rural areas of the state? I have always held teachers and doctors in high esteem because to two factors. It is my strong belief that the teachers are the people who shape up the future of our children and the doctors are the life savers after the juggernaut. Even though, these days, we hear a lot about degradation of these values in their noble professions my high regard has not altered.

Somehow, I agreed to conduct a 30 days program with a 45 hours syllabus absolutely free of cost. The sessions were held mostly on Saturday evenings and Sundays. Before I go on with the training sessions, I shall delve in to the benefits I derived from these teachers. I realised, with great pleasure, their social psyche and attitudinal behaviour towards their profession and the English language in particular. One thing common with all of these female teachers was that most of them were from the remote and agricultural belts located near Chickamaglur and Shimoga of Karnataka state.

In my first session, I realised that they never got an opportunity to sharpen their language skills after their formal education. I could see a wide gap between the education and training as in HR parlance. Another reason was most of them were housewives and the bread winners of the family trying to their meet domestic and professional challenges together. They needed a thorough repainting (not brushing) of their grammar and vocabulary as it was quite ‘average’."

Unnikrishnan's contribution has made a great different to the lives of many people. This just goes to show how simple acts of selflessness and volunteering in a work context can be immensely rewarding and also help build communities.

Thank you to Unnikrishnan for sending me his story!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices.  Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

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