In this competitive era, people are excessively involved with their personal interest and least concerned about others in the society who have been left to toil and suffer. Even the intellectuals and thinkers who propose so much and write about social issues are hardly seen doing something concrete to bring about some change in the wretched condition of the poor communities. However, there are still individuals who have not subscribed to the careerist notions of the time and are striving to forge a balance in the society by dedicating their lives to improve others.
Alok Sagar, an ex-IIT professor, left his established career and comfy life to serve the tribals in the southern state of Madhya Pradesh. For more than three decades, Sagar has been working in the Betul and Hoshangabad districts of Madhya Pradesh for the upliftment of the rural folks.
Early Life and Career
Hailing from Delhi, Sagar was an aspiring pupil during his college days. He graduated in Electrical Engineering from the esteemed IIT Delhi. Then he did his post-graduation course from the same institute and got master’s degree in the early years of the 1970s. After completing his studies in Delhi IIT, Sagar went abroad for his doctoral research. There, he received his Ph.D. from Houston University, Texas. After doing studies in foreign, Sagar returned to India and joined the very institution from where he once studied, Delhi IIT, as a professor. As a teacher, Sagar groomed many students, one of which was our former RBI Governor, Raghuram Rajan. He was a teacher whom students always looked up to and saw a role model in him.
Becoming a Social Worker
Sagar’s journey as a social activist started back in the starting of 1980s. After serving a couple of years in Delhi IIT, he resigned from his post of the professor to embark on a mission of social development. Sagar had always wanted to contribute to the growth of the country and found it much better to work at the grassroots level.
At first, Sagar started living with the tribals. There he worked to save the environment – by planting one tree at a time. After his notable work for the upliftment of tribals of Betul and Hoshangabhad districts of Madhya Pradesh, Alok Sagar moved to Kochamu, a remote rural region with a population of some seven hundred and fifty natives. He started serving the rustics of Kochamu, an area that lacked basic facilities like electricity, roads, schools, etc. Sagar indeed embraced this challenging life of an activist and non-profit worker knowing that he would lose his promising career of an academician and without thinking about his qualifications that were more than enough to secure him an easeful living.
In a time when the greenhouse gases are plundering the atmosphere and pushing the global warming up, Sagar’s work in the villages of Madhya Pradesh is commendable. Working to protect the environment, Sagar has planted about 50,000 trees in one district alone. He is also engaged with the common welfare through Shramik Adivasi Sangathan. Riding on his bicycle, Alok Sagar can be seen around Betul collecting and distributing seeds among the rustics of the region.
A humble being
We often see that people with higher education are self-conceited and absorbed in themselves. Whatever they do, they find it reasonable enough to boast about. However, Sagar is a man of distinguished character. He is endowed with the ultimate sophistication of simplicity. He does not have many clothes or affable collection of comforts. To his other possessions belongs a cycle that Sagar uses for work. Alok is also well acquainted with many local dialects used by tribals in the region and that help him to get familiar with natives. Closely associated with the rural welfare, he spends most of his time working and devising plans for improvement of the folks.
Despite his achievements, Sagar has maintained a somewhat low profile all through his life. Even after doing so many remarkable works, people of the state and country were unaware of Sagar’s highly qualified background. It was only during an assembly election that confusion regarding his official records came up as the authorities, being unable to track Sagar’s roots, grew skeptical of his origins. Then, finding it as a matter of concern, Alok Sagar disclosed his real identity and his qualifications. Sagar’s credentials have garnered him more applause and made him more revered among his people that forsaking a bright life he has taken up a mission to serve the impoverished people.
An Exemplary figure
Though an accomplished academician, Alok holds that one doesn’t need degrees to help the poor section of the society. Qualifications are indeed required, but it is only will power that can change the lives of those who have been deprived of essentials of life. In India, people are facing so many problems, while many are busy proving their intelligence and intellectuality. This is the time not to brag our self-accomplishments but to contribute to the society that badly needs to reform and rebuild. Working tirelessly for the betterment of poor tribals and by his works to get poor tribals access to electricity, road, clean drinking water, education, and healthcare, Alok Sagar has shown us a way. He has set a shining example of being an ideal social worker by serving the needy lots. Now, it is up to us to follow him and do our share of work.