New Delhi: In a world where most people focus on equating their worth and value with their qualifications and degrees or designations earned by them, a few youngsters choose the unconventional path of self-discovery, finding their purpose, contributing value, and spending time on gaining exposure and honing their skills.
Budding visionaries further develop the competence and capacity to leverage their strengths to not only create impact but also power the organization they work for, participating significantly in the development of their region and the nation.
Naveen Krishna Rai, a young professional and social activist is one such individual who, with his impressive line of work and accomplishments, is inspiring youngsters to fuel their ambition with courage and passion, propelling them towards the skies of self-actualization, impactfulness, and life of purpose. An engineer by qualification, a manager by profession, and a warrior by nature, he has been behind various unique social initiatives.
Currently working as the Manager, Government Affairs and Business Development at the Indian Institute of Management, Indore, he has been enriched with diverse and enlightening learning experiences across the fields of Bureaucracy, Politics, Academia, Media, and Judiciary. Working in such diverse areas, he has developed an inclusive and broad perspective, that too at a young age, even below his 30s!
He firmly believes that the extent of learning provided by taking real field-level, first-hand experience is unmatched. It not only lays a solid foundation for one’s character and personality by putting the theoretical skills to the test, but it also makes a person aware, humble, street-smart, and even incisive. Thus, apart from learning the basics and developing skills, one must put effort into gaining ground-level experience and exposure. He asserts that courage is greater than strength and has exemplified it throughout his life. While strength is an attribute, courage is an attitude.
His story embellished with struggles, learnings, and triumphs, can surely provide some insights into how one can rise over constraints and emerge as an impactful achiever.
Modest Beginnings and a Strong Foundation
He hails from the Birpur village of Ghazipur district, Uttar Pradesh, where his childhood was spent. His father expired three months before his birth. Despite the various struggles he had to endure at a very young age, he completed his schooling at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya. As a Navodyan, he developed a strong foundation of values like a sense of service and social responsibility.
Zeal for creating a difference
After completing his schooling, he secured admission to the Madan Mohan Malviya University of Technology, Gorakhpur, a reputed institute under the Uttar Pradesh state government, to pursue studies in engineering.
There he realized the need for the development and grooming of communication and presentation skills among the students, as even if they ace technical skills, their employability would require a significant level of soft skills too. He formed the "Social Engineers Board," where he would train young budding engineering students in communication and interpersonal skills to help them secure better placements. The board is still functional at the institute and continues assisting students and arming them with the right skills and confidence to propel them toward their dreams.
His quest for learning and gaining technical competency was accompanied by his relentless efforts to leverage his knowledge, skills, and problem-solving approach to contribute solutions to problems faced by the local communities.
During his graduation, he started working with the Gorakhpur Administration on the Rural Youth Leadership Program, along with his studies, under the mentorship of the then District Magistrate, Ranjan Kumar, and the Chief Development Officer, Kumar Prashant. The program included conducting intensive 45-day leadership training for 100 aspiring youth of the district of Gorakhpur.
At the age of 21 years, he adopted the village Motiram Adda. Working for the welfare of the people, he realized that the villagers were unaware of most of the ongoing welfare schemes run by the government. He worked for the cause of raising awareness among the villagers about the various schemes and benefits and how these can be availed. This experience was instrumental in realizing his forte in people management, and it polished his people skills.
Reminiscing the learnings from his experiences during college life, he emphasizes the need to work on ground levels to tackle the challenges at the grassroots for everyone who wants to carve a robust career.
Creating Ripples of Innovation in Administration and Social Work
After his graduation, when most people seek a comfortable job through campus placements and dream of heading towards a metropolitan area, he made a rather challenging and unconventional choice. Picking the road less traveled, he worked in Naugarh, a Naxal-affected area under the district of Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh at the age of 23.
The school education scenario in Naugarh was concerning to the authorities, as the government schools in the region were experiencing a high rate of absenteeism among the teachers. This did not only affect the functioning of the schools but also contributed to an environment of ignorance regarding education among the people.
In order to address the problem, Naveen came upon a simple yet innovative solution in the form of the “Attendance with Selfie” initiative. It leveraged the power of technology to improve the attendance of school teachers. According to the initiative, Teachers were instructed to click selfies with the students in the classroom every day, at a specific time, to record their attendance. In order to ensure that a teacher is not reusing an old selfie to record proxy attendance, they were told to hold the newspaper of the current date while clicking the selfie.
The initiative proved to be an instant success, with improved attendance in primary and junior-level schools. It was replicated in 1500 schools in the Chandauli district. With an understanding of the issues and fundamentals of governance, Naveen could come up with an optimal solution that consumed fewer resources.
With continued rigor, brilliance, and zest for service, at 24, he became the representative to the MLA of the Belthra-Road legislative assembly of Uttar Pradesh, where he was entrusted with the responsibility of drafting questions to be raised in the assembly pertaining to the development and issues concerning the district.
With his experience and understanding of the area of governance, he took a step further to get exposure in the field of academics and research, to hone his analytical and research skills with an intention to use those further for his services in governance and welfare projects, he worked at the prestigious Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, as a Research Associate. He was involved in the research study and analysis of the project of Cadre Restructuring of the Commercial Tax Department.
Empowering initiatives and expanding the reach
After his successful stint as a Research Associate, he ascended to the role of a Business Development Manager at the Indian Institute of Management, Indore, at the age of 25. With his natural acumen for problem-solving, a flair for management, and impeccable people and relationship-building skills, developed through experience, even without a fancy MBA degree; he advanced the footprints of the institute in terms of collaborations and partnerships of the institute on various social research and training endeavors.
Collaborations with various state/local authorities, like the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Development Corporation, Indore Municipal Corporation, Department of Urban Development and Housing, M.P., Indore Police, and Madhya Pradesh Police, on the contextual issues of public interest and welfare, along with research and training programs, which ideally should have been materialized earlier, were initiated and expedited with his proactive approach.
Other noteworthy and vital projects in the state of Madhya Pradesh, on which he has been instrumental in making partnerships happen, include the strengthening of the Beat Policing System for the Indore Police Department, the conduction of Training on Financial Literacy of the female kins of Police Personnel by the expert faculty of IIM Indore, and the conduction of training program for the School Principals of the Government Schools of Madhya Pradesh, under CM Rise Scheme, the flagship program by the Honorable Chief Minister of the state Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan.
For the state of Uttar Pradesh, he has been working on ensuring impactful partnerships between IIM Indore and various departments/state authorities on various research and welfare initiatives, like the strengthening of the beat Policing System, Training of Dial 112 Police Personnel, the ambitious project for developing the city of Ayodhya as a center of spiritual tourism in India, and the study and consultation provided by seasoned academicians and experts at IIM Indore to the Kanpur Municipal Corporation on Traffic Decongestion and improvement in the cleanliness of the city.
In terms of capacity development of the institutions of the state, IIM Indore has collaborated with Lucknow University to provide entrepreneurship skill development and guidance to the youth of U.P. and has signed an agreement for handholding of the Madan Mohan Malviya University of Technology, situated in Gorakhpur, the City of the honorable Chief Minister of the state, Yogi Adityanath.
With his impressive track record of relationship building, he has progressed to the designation of Manager, Government Affairs and Business Development at IIM Indore, where he is currently working to contribute toward enabling more and more partnerships of IIM Indore on issues of public welfare, better governance, education, research, and training, to leverage the expertise and capabilities of the institute for endeavors of nation-building, in accordance with its mission, to develop socially-conscious leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs.
Recognition and Accolades
The impact and accomplishments of Naveen have been acknowledged, recognized, and awarded by various institutions, which have lauded his inspiring endeavors for social and community welfare, and his leadership and vision, which present an example for the ambitious youth of India, who crave to make a difference.
Recognizing his outstanding performance, IIM Indore facilitated him with a certificate of appreciation presented by the institute's director, Prof. Himanshu Rai, to the top-performing employees of the organization. MMM University of Technology, Gorakhpur, awarded him with a certificate of appreciation as a notable alumnus of the institution for his efforts and achievements that have brought glory to the university. In 2021, he featured in the coveted list of influential personalities, the Patrika 40 under 40 Power List.
With his vigor and a go-getter attitude, he is on a constant quest to make the best of every opportunity that comes his way to accentuate and diversify his learning and exposure. He recently completed a system study at the popular media house ABP News Network on the subject "Fake News and Indian Newsroom” to gain insights into the process of identifying and preventing the viral spread of misinformation, with the purpose of employing this knowledge to improve communication and governance among various organizations serving the people.
Currently, he is undergoing an internship on Mediation under the guidance of a senior advocate of Supreme Court of India, New Delhi to understand the nuances of conflict resolution and the workings and caveats of the Indian Judiciary.
With the added experience of working with the Judiciary and the Media Industry, he is in the process of creating a wide base of knowledge and skills and an amplified observation contributing to a more inclusive perspective drawing from the areas of Academia, Politics, Legislature, Administration, Media, and Judiciary.
Stimulating Youngsters to Sparkle
Exhibiting virtues like Courage, Efficacy, Ambition, Confidence, and Zest for Learning, interknitted together with a sense of service and contribution towards social welfare and nation-building, Naveen is an inspiration for the youth.
He believes "It is one’s moral obligation to make an impact proportionate to one’s own potential." With this principle, he moves on to reach the milestones ahead and continuously march toward the route of creating positive change around.