The man who transformed Indian social service

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A young, dynamic, thin-framed 24-year-old suburb young man from Ahmednagar comes to Pune in search of livelihood. He just graduated from a distinguished MSW college and was keen to live his mark in the society through his social work. He did not carry much as a belonging other than his dreams and an undying dedication to the cause he was meant for. With no legacy of his forefathers to aid in the process of his becoming, his only resources were his passion and his self-belief. The city has been kind to accommodate him.

He made his entry into the coveted Karve Institute of social service as a MSW faculty. This was 20 years ago. The young enthusiast embraced the opportunity and started to merge himself with the identity and the cause of the institution, laid in commemoration of the legendary social worker and reformer Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve. Back then Karve Institute of social service did not have a campus wall.

It lay bare with the magnificent hillside forest that was home to wild boars and reptiles that would often venture into the campus area and give birth to their young ones. The adjacent local residents would indulge in open defecation around the un-walled karve campus.

The entrants would have to bypass the unpleasant scenes while entering the college premise. During the heavy monsoon months there would be insect infested cabins with a pool of rainwater accumulated on the ground, sweeping beneath the file cabinets. The faculties had to befriend snakes and coexisted with nature.

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For the young bright-eyed 24-year-old Mahesh Thakur, it was love at first sight. The sedentary campus and the melancholia of the serene nature did not diminish the zeal of this new participant. He gradually made it his abode, deciding to uplift and contribute towards the development of this institute to new heights.

Being the youngest addition to the karve family, he savored every opportunity of growth that came along his way. At times he did odd jobs as per the instructions of his seniors. Slowly he started with fieldwork supervision and became the campus- development in-charge. Being a die hard nature lover, Mahesh Thakur fell in love with the greenery and the started working towards beautifying the campus. The swirling mass of tall grasses were to be mowed, tress with magnificent blossoms were to be planted, the campus wall were to be erected to ward off the venturing forest animals, the task was endless.

Mahesh with his great enthusiastic spirit contributed towards maneuvering the unmanaged campus into a landscape garden. National Environment awareness campaign was his first project. This landmark project handheld him into deeper and wider understanding about social projects, which paved the way for his significant contributions in social work domain in future years.

Mahesh reminisce about his first study tour at the age of 25 years where his students were senior to him. On the way he cleared NET, SET and started to solidify his position in the academia. With a meager salary at hand, that was insufficient to sustain a family, he decided to make his domain bigger and encroached into the territory of social work projects. He started NGO management course in the year 2007.

Meanwhile he finished his Ph.D in social work. He started offering research consultancies to various multinational organizations. His endeavor took momentum when he started his own CSR department. The journey from a suburb boy to the scholar Dr. Thakur, Mahesh’s journey is awe-inspiring.

He is dexterous in developing; implementing, monitoring and evaluating CSR based research projects and has to his credit an accomplishment of 60 projects for the corporate houses pan Maharashtra and also in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. In the span of two years he has adopted an astounding number of 45 villages of Thane, Beed, Roha and Pune district under the “Holistic Village Development” project supported by the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd, Sudarshan Chemical Ltd, SLK global Solution Ltd and PNG Jewelers etc.

An acclaimed educationist, Dr. Thakur was the pioneer in initiating the PGDCSR Autonomous course in India for the first time. He teaches Social work, HRM and CSR subjects. His mission is “To promote CSR Excellence for social development and edify Corporate on CSR dimensions”.

In the year 2014, he has been honored with the Excellence Award for the CSR education from Indo Global, Chamber Commerce, Industries and Agriculture. Dr. Thakur is also a certified trainer of Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs and for the past two years has been associated with IICA (under Ministry of Corporate affairs, Govt.of India) as Centre In-Charge and faculty for CSR program.

He has edify the knowledge of CSR by conducting capacity building programs for professional HR bodies that are Vibrant HR, OHR and association CII, MCCIA and NGO. He is also actively involved in training consultancies for HR and NGO professionals. He is also associated with Yeshada, A Govt. Training Institute as a faculty and periodically imparts trainings to the Deputy Secretary, Undersecretary, Desk Officer and other Govt. officials.

Today he has completed 20 glorious years of his service in karve Institute of social work. He is an example of honesty, integrity and dedication to serve the mankind. Standing at the pinnacle of success, he looks back to his career, which was never a smooth sailing one and he advises the present generation students to hold on to self belief and never shun down any work as disgraceful, because at the end of the day, they all add immense value to life.