I sat through a high energy leadership session at a leading IT company, hearing future leaders talk about their dream; the one thing that wakes them up every morning; the one thing that doesn’t let them sleep at night. I was juggling between other office notes and chat messages on the side, expecting this to be just another vision mapping exercise. I thought I knew what most of them wanted – settle in USA, buy a Ferrari, and a home in Hollywood. Isn’t this what this generation is really working for? Isn’t this why they slog at their desks 24 * 7, have zero family life and have children who would rather play with a dumb electronic gadget than a real loving friend?
As these leaders starting narrating their dreams, I was forced to give up on my phone and turn my full attention to the conversation. Someone was talking about increasing crop yield and building water canals. I was confused. How did this align with buying a Ferrari? Another leader spoke about his 20 acre, ancestral, barren land that he wanted to transform into a fertile farmland. He wanted to set up an IT back office and do consulting right from his farm. They talked about their love for the land, love for farming and giving back to the community. The entire room was charged up with ideas, plans and passion towards agriculture as the source of livelihood. Yes, there were few others who wanted to take up spirituality, writing and health as their vision, but I didn’t hear a single leader talk about Ferrari, USA or Hollywood. Hmmm, I was outdated about my approach about this generation. These intelligent, passionate people were really not here for the money. They all had a bigger dream, which went bigger than money, power, cars and luxury holidays. Money, in their eyes, was just an enabler to their final dream. It was not the end goal in itself.
Fair enough! I was out of touch with the dreams of this generation. I could handle that. But how could this generation which had spent the maximum time, energy and finances in educating themselves, go back to farming? What happened to all the Technology Revolution, the IT infrastructure? Farming as a vision?? How could that be?
After a few hours of brooding about this dream, I realized the passion was real. They really wanted to give back to the mother earth. They wanted to go back to their roots and make a difference to the world which feeds each one of us. At this point, my wonder turned to anger. If, at least, 30% of the educated, intelligent, upper middle-class generation of this country is passionate about farming, then how come so many farmers of our country are committing suicide, each day? How is this passion in the heart not converting into action at the ground level? It sounds beautiful to talk about big vision statements which will materialize 15 years from now, but unless they start working on their vision in a small way, each waking day, how will this vision turn into a reality at the end of 15 years?
Yes, they have a truck load full of excuses that they do not have time right now. Their job is the utmost priority and they cannot be distracted from it. But in my angry mind, I just think they do not have what it takes to put action behind their vision. What if they fail? What if they lose money? These questions stop them from starting on their vision even before they can fail. If uneducated, poor farmers can sustain themselves and their families livelihood just on farming, imagine what WE could achieve given technology, connectivity and finances. In spite of all this, if this generation is still unsure of giving up your comfortable jobs and take up “Farming” as a full time career, they can at least think of how they can help the Farming Community in the world, today, through their education, technology and connectivity. They can build mobile apps for seed collection, weather forecasting, farming best practices, knowledge sharing, etc. They can volunteer for Government Projects in research and development. They can join NGOs trying to promote organic farming. If this is also not possible, they can at least buy food only from Farmers Markets in place of fancy supermarkets. They can take Farming vacations in place of comfortable, luxury vacations.
Essentially, they can do so much right now, while still continuing in their high pressure jobs to work towards their dream of “Farming”. In order to make this small contribution, they need to change thinking about their vision as a dream of one individual. They need to think of it as a need of the larger community. We can do so much more, right now, by leveraging our passion and our experience. We do not need to wait 15 years. We can organize funds, get the stakeholder buy-in, make a difference even today, provided we can answer this one question positively, “Is Farming really a part of our long-term vision?”
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