Mayank Solanki

Published on: June 2013

Mayank Solanki is the Director Operations at Dr Solanki's Eye Hospital and Co-Founder at Yuva Ignited Minds.

About YUVA - "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."- Mahatma Gandhi
Yuva Ignited Minds is a registered social organisation with a purpose to ignite a "consciousness" amongst young minds about their social responsibilities towards the wider community. It is a platform for young minds to come together and practice social service regularly to make a great impact on society. YIM believes in the motto "The good we do today, will come to us tomorrow." It was started by a team of like-minded intellects, who not only believe in serving mankind but also involve in reminding the youth of their responsibilities as future leaders.

Yuva focuses on conducting activities which ignite a passion for active social service in everyday life, encouraging social entrepreneurship as a potential career option and growing the Yuva Ignited Mind's family by enrolling like-minded individuals.
mayank solanki,entrepreneur,success
How did you start YUVA?

My friends and I were on a college trip to Rajasthan in a bus. The trip started at 6am. We were 18 year olds back then. In such trips people generally play antakshari or dumb charades or you get busy pulling each other's leg. It was a ten hour journey and you will go mad if you keep doing that for ten whole hours. So we started debating. We started discussing on India's favourite topic- love marriage or arranged marriage. Then we went to another topic of Live-in relationship or live-out relationship. Eventually, we came to the question as to "What is success?" Everyone shared their stories. Then we realised that success comes to only those who help others become successful. All of us felt bad that we hadn't done much in life.

Once we came back to Bangalore, nobody made a single call to the other. Everyone was pumped with the question - "What have we done so far?" God gives us a lot of opportunities. It depends on us as to how much we encash, how much we bank on. We decided to do our bit to this world. That was the initial philosophy. The first activity was in an eye camp. In the camp, we met a 113 year old lady with a hunch back of 90 degrees. She walked all by herself with the support of her stick. We also saw an abandoned 6 year old girl with a visual defect. We realised that there are many lonely people with health and financial problems. We saw that actual reality of life was way different from what we had learnt in school.

In the next activity, we visited an orphanage. While talking to those kids we asked them what they wanted to be in future. One guy answered that he wanted to become like Sir. M Vishwesharaiah (Famous engineer) and another boy said that he wanted become like Rajnikanth (Famous actor). When asked "Why?", a 6 year old boy said that, "these two were born in the same dirt that we were born in and from there they became icons and are hope for us that we also have chances to become like them." We went to inspire them, but we came out inspired. In spite of growing in the environment they had, their hopes hadn't died.

With every camp more people joined us and the group grew. A group of 11 became 20. 20 became 40 and it started growing. That's when we decided to structure our organisation. We divided our work and funded it from our pocket money. After a year, 5 remained out of 11. We 5 were determined not to stop. As a year went by, we did many activities, created a structure, oriented to get more people know about it. After third year two left and only three of us were remained. That's when God held our hand. We created a good planned structure where in first year you join us, second year you volunteer, third year you mentor your juniors and so on. In the last 5 years that's how we have managed to grow YUVA in a massive way.

What's the status of YUVA at present?

We totally have 650 plus volunteers. We have a new chapter in Ludhiana. I have proposals from 8 different cities now. I want to start affiliated chapters. We need to meet our new volunteers, train them and then one chapter starts.

Being the founder, what's your core work?

I do only 20% of my organisation work. I am very clear about my vision. Leadership is all about knowing what your competency is and what is not. I focus on what is existing and whether we are walking in the same path or not. In terms of operation, I totally leave it to my team. They decide whether they want to do literacy-campaign or littering-campaign or anti-drugs campaign or anti dig campaign or for children or old aged. Do what touches your heart, do what you feel like makes a change is my philosophy. Until you don't give ownership confidently to them, they will not grow. They will not enjoy it. They won't do it. We need to connect with people, not control them. When we are connected to people, it's much more beautiful. With more people coming together, bigger the opportunity is and that's when great things can happen. How do you people work in YUVA?

We have weekly meetings which are never less than three hours. In those three hours, two hours we keep laughing. That keeps it very lively. At the end of it we ask these questions: "Was the meeting productive?", "Did we achieve our objective?", "Are we having fun?", "Are we doing something better?" and we ensure that the answer to all these questions is "YES!" We do Harlem Shake, Flash mob and crazy things to attract crowd. It's an entertainment package. We try innovating new ways to surprise which is an attraction and all these are very critical and key to the youth. Old things bore them.

How are the programs of YUVA?

We have YUVA running in different colleges. We call each college a chapter. The orientation event which happens before starting a chapter that usually sounds boring, starts attracting students towards it. We have activities like light music, singing, skit, Harlem shake etc in our orientation programs which youngsters want to participate in. How people come doesn't matter. What matters is how people go back. We have to leave that person with a conscience inside him to do something for the society, to be a person of responsibility, to be value oriented. When you make a job creative, when you redefine, when you say that there's no boundary is when creativity comes out. That's why people from my organisation could organise a 50,000 people event in one year. They formulated, they executed, they marketed, they PRd. They did everything. It came in every national newspaper such as Times Of India, Deccan Herald, TV, online etc. These were 18 year old students. No one charged, no one was paid for it. The only way that happens is when they take up the responsibility telling that, "It's my event and I want to make it happen." When a group of people come together with this ideology, they need a platform. A platform can't be a person. It has to be a cause. We need to ensure that they are working towards the cause. I tell them that even if you leave YUVA and join another organisation, it doesn't matter to us. Go ahead and do it. Till you are doing it, I am successful. The day you stop saying that you're busy in your business, all of us fail.

Your message:

Dharma protects the one who protects dharma. Do the right thing and you will get your reward. You need to have passion towards anything you do.
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