Posted by: miilee | December 26, 2009

Passing the Baton…

On the 24th December this year, The Tata Jagriti Yatra took off again. I was asked to speak a few words during the induction ceremony. Having taken the stage several times in my life, I’ve learnt not to trust my voice to stay stable or my feet steady or my eyes dry when I am talking of something close to my heart. So as a rule, I DON’T talk without having a written speech before my eyes.

Last year, 24th Dec, 2008, I’d been sitting in the Convocation hall of IIT Powai, eagerly listening to everything happening on stage, learning the Jagriti Geet and performing it from my place in the audience, my heart brimming with emotion as I thumped my chest to the “Yaaro Chalo” ……. One year ago…… Yet why does it feel like yesterday? It is hard to believe that it was all one whole year ago…..

However, right before I was to take stage with Aparna, another ex-yatri, Gauri Ma’am did the Jagriti Geet routine with the new batch. And I sat there, in the audience, performing the action song which I had been dying to perform with my fellow yatris, for a year now! Yet, as I automatically danced to the familiar tune, I was transported to the year before and my eyes blurred with the un shed tears and fond memories. The people around me dissolved and were replaced by all those faces who had become a second family to me and half laughing, half crying, I relived those eighteen days in a flash.

After it was done, Rewati Ma’am asked us to come and ‘share our experiences’ from last year with the new yatris. I walked to the stage with my speech in hand and as I waited for Ma’am to finish, I looked at the crowd of eager, anxious faces before me. All of a sudden, that paper speech in my hand seemed too pathetic and inadequate. There were things I wanted to tell these people here that weren’t written on my paper.

I wanted to tell them of the number of materialized dreams we’d seen; of the joy of traveling across the most diverse of landscapes and the pride of knowing that all of it was OUR country; of meeting and living with people as different from you as chalk and cheese, yet sharing almost everything with them; of the relief of knowing that dreams do come true; of the gigantic network that you develop across the country; of the flame that sparkles in your very soul forever after those eighteen days; of the confidence you develop in yourself and in the fact that there are no problems, only challenges which ate to be tackled; of the gates of possibilities opening up and letting you in to the land of never-say-never; of the hope, faith and courage that instills itself in your heart for ever more….

So, for the first time in my life, I decided to do the very thing that I’d promised myself never to do. I took the mic, completely disregarded the speech in my hands and spoke the words that were queuing up in my head, clamoring to have their say. My hands did shake and my feet did feel like jelly and my eyes did fog up with tears and my voice too inclined towards wobbling. But there were things to be said; and there was no place for wobbling voices and jelly feet and shaky hands. I had to tel them…. I was not speaking to the new batch of yatris; I was speaking to the future leaders of India.

God alone knows how many times I’ve heard people using a Race as a parody to life; About not the fastest, but the most calculating runner winning, about the runner of the long run and about the finishing line etc… But not once in all this time did anyone tell me that life is not just a race, it is a relay race. I am not alone, running against the world. I am one of a team and someday, I will have to run my stretch and eventually pass on the baton.

And I passed on the baton. I gave it to the next batch of Yatris of the Tata Jagriti Yatra of 2009.  And I know it, as I stand on the track and watch the baton go round, even if it is not my palm being grazed on the finish line, I will still be a part of the winning team.



  1. I so wanted to be on the launch. Damn this makes me miss it all the more.

    • I missed you folks soooo much!!

  2. beautifully written!!

    • thanks vivek…..

  3. Well written,

    However, I think the race is more like seperating from a single point (TJY) to our own Yatras to reach an endpoint…which is bringing about some change through enterprise in India or the world.

    • True Arvind…. i guess it is…

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