My Debut Book. Wings To Fly
My Debut Book. Wings To Fly
Wings to Fly
The life cycle of a child born in a middle-class Indian family is pretty much programmed at birth – education, higher education, a well-paying job, wedding, marriage, parenthood, children’s aspirations, retirement, and old age. Interspersed with long breaks, social family gatherings (weddings, anniversaries, festivals, and some family vacations).
There are certain benchmarks children from middle-class families have to supposedly climb – first get a suitable educational qualification, then a job, and then you can choose to pursue your calling – be it filmmaking, adventure sports, writing or painting. But once you get established in a job, there is an increasing demand to get ‘settled’ in life –and the added financial and social responsibilities of family life make it rather impossible for one to listen to his heart and follow its calling. And when they do, sometimes, youth is not on their side anymore! Still, as they say, where there's a will there's a way, some exceptions do meticulously work towards a plan to realise their calling, while they still have it in them, and in the process end up bringing about a positive change in their lives and lives of many others.
For Deepak Sharma, born to a physics professor father and a homemaker mother, childhood came with a similar set of fixed boundaries and expectations – education and a morally-upright upbringing, as is usually the case with other educated middle-class families. He, as anticipated excelled in academics and ended up starting his career as a power engineer with one of the most prestigious government enterprises in India. Life followed its steady path and he rose up the ranks. He also had a knack for cricket
But little did he know that what looked like a casual conversation with one of his colleagues would change his life forever! His colleague was volunteering with an NGO and was financing the education of a girl child. Sharma could relate to the cause and himself started funding the education of two girls through the NGO. Later his visits to the Missionaries of Charities in Calcutta (present-day Kolkata) opened a whole new world to him. He realised that simply paying the money won’t be enough. He needed to be associated with some movement to uplift girl education!
As luck would have it, he came across an advertisement in the Times of India, which was inviting volunteers from civil society for the Teach for India programme. Both Sharma and his wife (who is still a serving doctor in a leading Central Government Hospital in Delhi), got associated with an NGO, Udayan Care, through the programme in 2009.
Over time, Sharma felt the need to engage full-time with Udayan Care. There was so much to be done, after all! It seemed he had found his calling. But there was a problem. He still had some family obligations. His son was still studying. Finally in 2013 when his son graduated from IIT-Delhi, Sharma decided to leave his corporate career with the Tata Group and started volunteering full-time with Udayan Care.
At present, Deepak Sharma is a Trustee at Udayan Care and along with his wife are mentor parents to 40 girls at Udayan Ghar (Home) for girls in Greater Noida. Sharma is engaged as a full-time volunteer, while his wife balances her time while still executing her duties as the Head of the Department of Pathology at Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi.
Deepak Sharma’s life journey from a first rank holder throughout his school and engineering education at Aligarh Muslim University to a flourishing corporate career is the familiar success story of every aspiring middle-class Indian boy. What makes it different is what follows after! It is a story of calling, awakening, social service and giving back to society in the noblest of ways – by empowering children, especially girls through education.
Indian families, and specifically those in the lower strata of society, even today, lament the birth of a girl child, often treating her as a family burden that they can safely offload when she comes to a marriageable age. Education and empowerment are not even a consideration for her. Consequentlymarital abuse, divorce, and the death of the husband (the earning member) often force them into a life of economic dependence and no freedom of choice. In the absence of proper education, they fail to become economically independent and stand on their own feet.
Empowering girls, some orphans, by way of education so that they become self-reliant financially, is the noblest of vocations, and where one leaves a high-flying corporate job to undertake such a noble mission, that is a story that needs to be told to the world and inspire other members of the community!
Anybody among us could be the next Deepak Sharma! In short, his life story could be a case study and he himself is a role model for those in the arena of social development, as well as corporate executives who might be keen to take the plunge towards giving back to society!