The most recent book written by Dr. R. Balasubramaniam, a trained medical doctor who has lived and worked with the tribal communities of Mysore District since thirty years, a leading policy thinker and advocate and development activist, Founder and Chairman of GRAAM, titled “Voices From The Grassroots” is on the unheeded stories of silent grassroot tribal communities.
Being a development thinker and activist, leadership trainer, educator and a policy advocate, his day-to-day communication with the most ordinary people from the remotest areas of the country has built his unique perspective to understand sustainability, nutrition, culture and poverty. He has comprehensively captured these insights through a myriad of anecdotes and cases in this book which was released by on 1st August 2018 by Shri MN Venkatachalaiah (Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India and advisory committee member, GRAAM), Dr. Kasturirangan (Former Chairman, ISRO) and Shri Bhaskar Bhat (Managing Director, TITAN Ltd.) at the Indian Institute of World Culture, Bengaluru with a personal speech sent by Shri HD Devegowda, Former Prime Minister of India and Former Chief Minister of Karnataka.
The program started with a speech by Dr. Balasubramaniam thanking all contributors to the book, which was presided by the speech of Dr Kasturirangan, who also wrote the foreword for the book. He said that it was a special privilege to release the book that presents many real life experiences and key perspectives through the lens of a sincere activist, who lived in the tribal settlements located in the remote areas of HD Kote taluk of Karnataka and worked for their rights and welfare for several decades. He noted that Dr Balu had discussed the critical significance of including indigenous communities and their customs in the development narrative. He also said that the book had vividly captured stories that radiate extraordinary messages of human development. He concluded with the remark that the book should be read, learnt and understood to build a fair and equitable society.
Shri HD Devegowda, former PM of India sent his speech where he remembered Dr. Balu as a sincere man and development thinker, who lived with the tribal community and deeply understood their lives and traditions. He said that the book has seamlessly woven the stories of the people to highlight the issues they face in a modern economy. The cases help us to understand prevalent poverty, the importance of dignity and simplicity of the tribal people. In the true spirit of inclusive development, Dr. Balu suggests ways of engaging tribal community in development.
Shri Bhaskar Bhat, Managing Director of TITAN Limited was the Guest of Honour for the function and observed that the book was released in the year when the TATA Group was also celebrating 150 years of existence. He appreciated how Dr. Balu has dedicated his entire life in listening to indigenous people and how his efforts had made a difference in the lives of their future generations. He narrated his visit to SVYM where he learnt the importance of including local people in development projects. He stressed that in the changing environment, it is important for companies to understand the other world i.e. the community in which they operate, and opined that a better world could be made if we listen to them, understand them and learn from their lives.
Shri M N Venkatachalaiah observed that the book had comprehensively captured real-life experiences from the grassroots which need to be understood and included for reimagining and rethinking development.
The program ended with a felicitation of the guests and a note of thanks to all participants who attended the program.