Story of Kalyan Akkipeddi who left his high paying job to eliminate poverty
When high earning young professionals of India, meet to unleash their intellect on the future of the country, their discussions land into a never-ending vicious circle of education, employment / livelihood, poverty, health, corruption and politics. With no concrete results or solutions in sight, they go back to their robotic routines till the next meet. During one of such endless Sunday meets, on the occasion of his 30th Birthday, when a friend asked Kalyan, how many more productive days he had left, the group resonated with silence. The silence broke, when Kalyan put in his papers the next day, and said goodbye to the Corporate world.
Born and brought up in Hindupur, Anantpur Dist. Andhra Pradesh, Kalyan Akkipeddi never liked school. So after being homeschooled till 12th, and pursuing B-Tech and MBA, he followed his peers, by joining the corporate sector and worked with giants like Hyundai. While working, his professionalism clashed with his conscience, resulting in an inner turmoil. He was perplexed by the grave lack of self-realization and understanding of poverty, amongst the educated class of our society.
But now, out of the corporate cubicle, and free from chains of professional expectations, he set out on a journey to understand poverty himself. His two and a half year penniless travel in rural India, took him to live the life of farmers, snake charmers, nomads, tribals and many others, who gave him food and shelter in exchange of work.
He realised that poverty differed geographically, socially and ethnically. While current perceptions measure poverty around a defined poverty line, Kalyan was shocked to see that many people (especially tribals) who were labelled ‘Poor’, were self-reliant and lived in complete autonomy. Although they did not have money, but had everything they required to sustain themselves. “How is money relevant to poverty or happiness at all?“, questioned Kalyan. “I thought, why should I spend my life on eradication of poverty, when I cannot even define it beyond money? Instead of eliminating poverty, what if I create ABUNDANCE? When a place will have abundance, poverty will not even peep in”, states Kalyan with uncanny clarity. His experiences helped him deduce 3 principles:
Sense of self reliance : The power of fulfilling one’s basic needs lies within the community.
Interdependence: Self reliance can come by practicing the traditions of interdependence.
Interdependence and self reliance should be extended beyond human beings and towards nature.
“Instead of eliminating poverty, what if we create ABUNDANCE? When a place will have abundance, poverty will not even peep in”
With these principles, Kalyan returned back to Teklodu village in Anantpur District in 2010 to start a demonstrative community. After a financial survey of the village, he picked the family with the lowest income of Rs. 6500/- per annum and started working with them. After a year of toil , transforming their uncultivated land, growing food and fodder, buying cows and selling milk, he brought the family to earning Rs. 14000/- per month. “But it was not just about money, it was to bring abundance for them”, proudly proclaims Kalyan. The family also generated electricity through a wind turbine and created an eco-friendly shelter for themselves, This was the first prototype abundant family.
With the pilot becoming a success, Kalyan and some friends bought 12.5 acres of barren land on the outskirt of a forest, and offered the villagers co-ownership of the land, on condition of acceptance of his 3 principles of abundance. 8 village families joined him, and after continuous hard work they have made the community energy secured. They harvest 21 million litres of rain water every year, have a completely cultivable land and live in eco friendly shelters, with interdependence at all levels. “But the exponential changes in the lives of the people are monumental, and it has changed their perspective towards poverty too”, says Kalyan.
His concept of Abundance through interdependence, self-reliance and autonomy, has valiantly defied all prevalent stereotypic notions of poverty. He has proved that just like Darkness is the absence of Light, Poverty is the absence of Abundance. So together by creating ABUNDANCE, we can say goodbye to poverty forever. Kalyan’s Proto-Village opens for demonstration to public from August 2016.
Story by : Tuhin Sen | TOC
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