Leaving the comfort zone behind

Leaving the comfort zone behind

People like us

Leaving the comfort zone behind

Making it work: C Shivkumar DH photo/ Kishor K Bolar

The trouble with most ‘people like us’ is that we believe there is always someone else who will do what we intended to. Someone else who will get the daily piling rubbish cleared; someone else who will rush an accident victim to the hospital; someone else who will vote, and someone else who will blow the whistle.

Because we are so many of us, there are times when someone else steps out and does what we should have done. And so, life moves on. We remain smug in the knowledge that all’s well. Till of course, trouble knocks on our door.

C Shivkumar did not wait that long. Considering he is only 24 — an engineering graduate and fresh in his new job that gave him a taste of first class air travel; 5 star hospitality in places like Singapore and Hong Kong — a bright future was awaiting him on the horizon.
He chose to give all this up for an uncertain tomorrow that seems, at the moment, an exercise akin to digging a well with just a screwdriver.

Shivkumar contested the recently conducted Bangalore civic (BBMP) elections as an independent candidate. Tomorrow will be a busy day for him. As the results are declared, he and his friends who supported and campaigned for him, will anyway be rejoicing.

Silver lining
“I know I will not win, but even if I get 1500 votes, it will be like a silver lining,” he confides with a smile. There are 26,000 voters from his BBMP ward in Nagarbhavi area of Bangalore. About 36.03 per cent voting was recorded in his ward. “Which means about 7000 people voted,” he says, having done his maths at the end of the voting day.
He has already compiled a long to-do list once the results are out. “I have a long-term vision. A lot of ground work has to be done in the following three years.”

With his poll symbol of a blackboard, Shivakumar hopes to put his ‘Reach to Teach’ programme into action, “irrespective of the poll outcome. I have managed to put my point across to several people during the campaigning rounds. If five people come forward and teach 10 illiterate people, by the next election we will have that additional number of people who can then think for themselves and vote with wisdom,” he says.
His greatest moment during the elections came, he says, when a 10-year-old girl — fed up with the noisy slogan shouting over loudspeakers by other contestants, and realising that Shivkumar had come only with his manifesto booklet — told her parents that they should vote for him. He gives more examples of people who were fed up with corrupt candidates, and called him on his mobile and encouraged him. Armed with an unassuming persona and a charming smile, Shivkumar has already acquired quite a “fan following,” among the young girls of his ward as well.   

Yet, it was not enough. When he had filed his nomination papers, “a couple of big parties” approached him, and “requested” him to withdraw his nomination papers. “They said anyway I will not win, so it would make more sense to accept their offer of some post in the party,” says Shivkumar.Claiming this has been a “major learning process” for him, Shivkumar seems more determined than ever to continue with his task of building leadership qualities among the youth.

Leader by choice
Since his college days, Shivkumar has harboured ambitions of  “becoming a community leader”; “to give back to the society.” After tomorrow comes, he will have to get another job (he already has a couple of offers). He has a mother to support. “But, this process of working for the community will not end,” he promises.

Earlier, he says, his job would eat up most of the hours, then weekends would be “wasted” in this and that. But now, he has his task cut out. He will use all the non-working hours to lay the ground work so that he has a considerable lead in the next elections.

Shivkumar’s story had to be told not as a text book example of ‘how to quit your job and contest  elections,’ but to illustrate that all that we need to do to change the system is to leave our comfort zones and make an attempt towards the change we seek.
Last year, Shivkumar attempted the bungee jump. He says he enjoyed it, but will probably not do it again, “because I do not know how safe it is.” This year, he has taken another plunge. He knows it will not be an easy task, but is ready to stick his neck out. To each his own.