Raghuram Rajan’s former IIT teacher’s heart-warming story of working with tribals will inspire you


Ex IIT Delhi Professor now lives in a remote village in Madhya Pradesh to work with tribals.

From teaching the ex-RBI governor Raghuram Rajan to working with tribals in a remote village in Madhya Pradesh, professor Alok Sagar continues to give ‘service’ a new meaning, even at 64.

Originally from Delhi, Sagar acquired his under graduation and post graduation degree in electrical engineering from IIT Delhi after which he went to United States to complete his PhD in Houston University, Texas. Following this, Sagar returned as a professor in IIT Delhi where he taught Raghuram Rajan.

Not many would leave their bankable job with a fat salary as Sagar did in 1982 and travel to Madhya Pradesh to work for tribal and women upliftment. For 26 years now, Sagar has been living in Kochamu, a village with no electricity, roads and just one primary school. He has been working relentlessly for tribal welfare and sensitising them to plant trees. Believing that only tribals are truly connected with nature and respect it, Sagar rides 60 kms to distribute seeds to neighbouring villages and has planted more than 50,000 trees in the region.

He feels that degrees doesn’t define a man but his action does. “In India, people are facing so many problems, but people are busy proving their intelligence by showing their degrees rather than serving people,” said Sagar to Hindustan Times. Along with adapting to the tribal lifestyle, Sagar has learnt the local dialect and even associated himself with Shramik Adivasi Sangathan (SAS), a local tribal rights organisation. Anurag Modi, a close associate and co-worker at SAS says, “He is focused about nature and has been educating people on growing trees and taking care of environment. He is a simple man who does what he says and means.” Sagar never bragged about his academic background until recently when Modi had to reveal his true qualifications. This took place when local authorities found him suspicious and asked him to leave the village during Betul’s district elections.

Sagar comes from a strong academic and socially inclined background as his father was an IRS office, while his mother and brother taught at Miranda House and IIT Delhi respectively. He is a living testament to Einstein’s statement, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile” and we salute him for that.

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