City StarCity Sunday

Life by design

‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’, goes an English proverb. If life is all about determination, devotion and dedication, then one should meet Dr B N Maruthi to know more. A multifaceted personality, who has achieved so much in the last two decade or so, what is striking about soft-spoken Dr Maruthi is his hunger to achieve more and more in life no matter what the oddities are. Having worked in various organisations in different capacities, Dr Maruthi’s answers are crisp laced with professionalism.   

Getting to understand the intricacies of farming when he was young, Maruthi getting attracted to farming activities should come as no surprise. His father, who was working at BEML in Bengaluru, would take his children to the farm and make them work.  Right from making pits, digging, weed removal, watering the plants, harvesting vegetables, fruits and pruning of plants, Dr Maruthi got to know everything. Though he was reluctant initially, he knew what his priorities were.     

After a not so impressive performance in II PUC, Maruthi told his father that he would like pursue science stream. After duly completing MSc, Dr Maruthi decided to take a break and put his hands on learning Indian and world history. He got into teaching for about a year and then thought of getting some industrial experience. He was there for about two years before getting back to teaching.    

With age on his side, Dr Maruthi could experiment with various options. It was at this juncture, he got an opportunity to work as a research assistant. “I had the habit of meeting my college mates, professors once in a while after I completed my studies. In one such visit to chemistry department, Central College, I met Prof Sheshadri and Prof Mayanna, my physical chemistry professors.

Prof Mayanna told me there was a “Department of Atomic Energy” project for which he needed research scholar and he would be happy to have me as the research student.  Since I was teaching electro chemistry, had worked for two years in a metal finishing industry, I felt doing research in the field which I already knew quite a bit would be advantageous. I readily accepted the proposal. I submitted my thesis for the award of doctorate degree by November 1994 (I took 3.5 years),” he recalls with a sense of satisfaction.  

Maruthi proudly recalls his parents’ role in shaping his career. “My parents have taught me many things which I cherish even today. My mother always got up at 4 am and went to bed in the night at 10 pm. I always saw her in action for the remaining period of nearly 18 hours a day. I always wondered how she could work like a super human being. Similarly, I never saw my father wasting time. Thus my parents’ behavior helped my shape my personality.”

Dr Maruthi, who has been living in Mysuru for more than 10 years now, is better known for his multi-tasking abilities. He has been successful too. Now he is into agricultural venture. Mysore Organic Farms is one of the very few labs producing banana  saplings and supplying to farmers for commercial scales. In addition to this,  Dr Maruthi is associated with Arivu school, which is an effort to enable children to “learn with pleasure” amidst nature. Currently, school has about 130 children are studying from Lkg to class 8. Classes are in native language (Kannada).

Dr Maruthi also reveals he is the Mysore nagara chanchalak of Sri Pathanjali Yoga Shikshana Samithi (SPYSS). This is also a “not for profit” organisation initiated in 1985. There are about 850 shakhas throughout India imparting yoga free of cost  Mysore wing of this organization was started in the year 2000 and now there are 70 shakhas in Mysore imparting yoga to more than 2500 people everyday free of cost.

Q & A

After donning various roles, what  made you shift to agriculture?

I joined Indal Electronics in 1995. My Industrial life was very eventful (Indal Electronics became AT&S India Pvt Ltd from year 2000 onwards). Every small improvement my team did result in savings up to millions of rupees. I worked as head of production departments for 8 years and head of quality for 8 years and last 3 years as head of environment, health & safety.  The knowledge gained while working in AT&S was like doing a dozen PhDs!!! But I always felt that what am I doing to the society? With this mindset, I was attracted towards Sri Pathanjali Yoga Shikshana Samithi in the year 2004. This samithi works on the concept of spreading yoga to everyone free of cost. In 2008, one Dr. Manohar (a homeopathy doctor) asked me if I would be interested to be part of starting a school to impart “pleasure learning and learning through nature and in vernacular language” for children thus saving children from the current education system. I readily agreed to be part of this team.  And we started “Arivu Educational and Cultural Trust” by March 2008. In 2008 we had 4 children. Now in 2016 we have about 130 children. We have a team of 50 members as initial members of this school. Ten of us are trustees. I am the treasurer in Arivu Trust. But we have more than 500 well-wishers who have supported us financially, as resource persons, and encouraged our efforts.

Could you tell us some activities about Mysore Organic Farms?

When I was interacting with Arivu team, I got introduced to one Raghavendra, who had a small scale industry and was an organic farmer. He introduced me to many more of his friends who were doing organic farming as hobby. I readily joined hand with this team and we started Mysore Organic Farms Pvt Ltd in 2010. Our initial idea was to buy five acres land each in one area and do “collective forming”. Later on, the concept got changed to starting a company and give a professional touch to this activity. We wanted banana saplings for our project and we realized that there were not many tissue culture laboratories (TC lab) recognized by Department of Bio-Technology (DBT). So we decided to establish our own TC lab to meet our requirement and supply good saplings to farmers at rates much cheaper than that is available in the market. Thus our TC lab got started in the year 2011. Currently, we are producing and offering to farmers, Grand Naine (G9) (pachcha bale), Nanjangud Rasabale and Elakki bale. Nendra bale and maduranga bale will get released to market by 2017. Not many labs in India are producing banana saplings other than G9. We have the privilege of supplying all varieties of banana saplings to farmers and give technical support from planting to harvesting free of cost.

What is your role in Arivu School? How is it progressing?

I am the treasurer. I am happy about the progress. We have realized that every child is unique and teachers have to identify this uniqueness and facilitate the learning process of the child. We have a lot of resource personnel who give us their valuable time and resources. Punishment is not allowed in our school. Hence it is a challenge to every teacher to handle such situation and it is a great learning for them also.  Our children learn looking in to nature. In fact it is a great learning for all of us in “Arivu Balaga”.

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