Neev Times Blog

Ideas@Neev With Mr. Rathish Balakrishnan

Covered by the Neev Times Editorial Team


On the 31st of August, Mr. Rathish Balakrishnan visited the Neev students virtually to discuss impact. As the co-founder and managing partner at Sattva, a consulting and implementation firm focused on social impact, Mr. Balakrishan spoke of formative experiences and individuals. Mr. Balakrishnan, as with all humans, was influenced by his context, but he built on those opening balances substantially. From his father, he learned the value of hard work, from his mother the importance of lifelong learning, and from his grandfather the value of service and equality. Beyond his familiar context, he said he has lived the way he has “thanks to the kindness of strangers”. From scholarships to advice to national economic shifts, pieces fell into place. Sometimes the way out of poverty is “kindness, sometimes it's entrepreneurship, sometimes it’s opportunity”. In his case, all three came together to show him his Ikigai: his purpose was to help alleviate poverty in his country.


He chose to put these thoughts into action and inspired us to do the same. When we think of poor people we often think of “people we don’t meet”, but in most cases, this narrative is “much closer to home, and sometimes within”. The important question to ask ourselves is, why are the poor disadvantaged? India is one of the few countries in the world with both poverty and democracy, as economic and social deprivation is often accompanied by political inaccessibility. People are defined as poor because they are denied the right to essential services, the right to participation, they are both vulnerable and resilient, and their fundamental rights are not respected. The question this leads directly to is, what can we do? There are a few major approaches to this. First is economic growth: 105 million people came out of poverty in India 2005-2015, which is a phenomenal feat. By working consistently to create jobs, generate revenues, and provide products and services for all, equity is promoted. Next is through reform. Through this path, the interests of the poor can be safeguarded, and governance and the philanthropic ecosystem can be better organized. Lastly, while compassion may seem mere in the face of a problem of such scale, internal commitment is the first step to external action.


To start your journey with giving back, question your surroundings, hold on to an anchor that you believe in, and measure your distance from there. Remember, it is okay to fail because you’re doing yourself a service. Neev is on its way to becoming one of the best schools in India, so let us do our bit for this cause.