“My father ran a screen printing company in Jabalpur, but because of various reasons we lost all our money and our financial situation went from bad to worse. Over the years, I wound sit at my grandfather’s shop for which he would pay me 5 Rupees a day–and I saved that money to pay for my education. I had a dream of becoming an IT expert, but because we couldn’t afford milk let alone a computer I couldn’t pursue it. I decided one night that because my family was close to starvation, I would try and go to Bombay to do something. In 2005, when I was 19 years old I ran away with 1200 Rupees in my pocket.
For 18 days after reaching Bombay, I would sleep at a bus stop outside JW Marriot, eat nothing but biscuits dipped in water and shower inside these local bathrooms before my interviews. I called every big call centre from a pay phone, but because I couldn’t speak English fluently — none of them even considered me. Finally, I got a job at a small local call centre in Andheri which paid me 1600 Rupees a month which was more than any money I had seen! I shifted into a small sharing room with 5 other people and worked overtime. I didn’t know how to use a computer so I would take hours to type a simple message – everyone there would laugh at me, but I used to keep practicing. I enrolled myself in a 21 day English Grammar Course and stayed up all night trying to read every word of newspapers that I took from the office.
In a short period of 3 months, I had learnt how to type on a computer (which I had never even seen before) and spoke good enough English– and that’s how I got my 2nd job with another call centre which paid me 8000 Rupees a month. I was so interested in computers that I would take night lessons to understand the hardware and software of these machines and over the course of a few months I had more knowledge than anyone else in the IT department.
In 2007, I got a job at Microsoft in the service department. That was the year I returned home with money for my family – to renovate dad’s office, buy a television and washing machine for mom as well as a computer for my brothers. In 4 days I came back, motivated to make it on my own. I quit my job after a few months and started my own company with one employee. Our first client paid us 15,000 Rupees for a website and after that there was no looking back. I’ve made countless websites, IOS apps and serviced thousands of computers to get to this point. What’s funny is that one of my employee’s the same guy who made fun of me not knowing English at my first job! What made me stronger is those nights on the footpath, close to starvation with nothing but my family in mind. The struggle, no matter how bad it seemed at a point has been more than worth it.”
Even at 76, Pradip Burman, the zestful chairman of Mobius Foundation radiates a contagious enthusiasm when he is talking about sustainability. The environmental crusader, better known to many as the great-grandson of Dabur founder Dr S.K.Burman, has devoted substantial attention towards promoting the concept of sustainability in all aspects of life. He refuses to conform to the convenience and comfort in today’s world which ultimately adds on to the adverse effects of climate change.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Burman emphasised why sustainability as a concept is indispensable for us. “We ought to be aware of what lies ahead of us. Soon we will finish the oil, iron, tin, and coal, and our next generations will be left with nothing. Recycling, banning plastics, stop felling trees for paper… This should become a part of everyone’s lifestyle,” he urges.
Traditional wisdom and modern research
A mechanical engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, Burman had always nurtured a keen interest in helping the society, as evident from his graduation project of designing a sonic aid for the visually challenged, which detected obstacles in the way using ultrasonic wave signals.
As an executive for the nature-centric company Dabur, Burman has always opted for natural alternatives to solve his everyday problems like taking Ayurvedic medicine to cure his Arthritis. He later launched the veterinary wing for Dabur – Ayurvet – which provides nature-friendly solutions for animal health care.
A patron of the ancient scientific wisdom of India, Burman always hailed the confluence of “traditional knowledge and modern research”, which he advocated as the Ayurvet motto.
As part of the CSR initiative of Dabur, Pradip Burman founded SUNDESH (Sustainable Development Society) which has been tirelessly working for last 25 years in remote villages for uplifting the rural communities in an environmentally sustainable way.
An advocate of sustainability
Burman believes that sustainability is the indispensable mantra for the world at present. Due to uncontrolled utilisation of the planet’s resources by human beings, the world today stands at a juncture of destabilisation. Today the human race has reached the pinnacle of progress but the advancement is happening in a very unsustainable manner.
Through energy-efficient use of everyday essentials like transport, communication, altered habits of diet, clothing and daily living, some crusaders of sustainability try to reduce their carbon footprint. Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is one of the forerunners toward sustainability goals.
Mobius Foundation aims to change the sustainability dynamics
In 2015, Burman paved the way for the start of Mobius Foundation, focused on sustainability. Named after 18th-century German mathematician August Ferdinand Mobius, the famous Mobius strip has an important philosophical significance. The extraordinary shape symbolises balance and union.
Similar is the essence of Mobius Foundation which wishes to enhance the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” principle to a widespread basis in India, helping generations to come.
Founder Pradip Burman wishes to achieve notable development in education, population stabilisation and renewable energy projects.
A dream school in the making
At Coorg, Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is constructing the World Environment School, Coorg (WESc) where the curriculum will surpass the boundaries of books and classrooms, with a special focus on hands-on learning in close collaboration with the environment. Amidst the pristine natural beauty of Coorg, the school will nurture young minds to grow up into future green leaders. As of now, the school will be open to teenagers, welcoming students from standards 6 to 12.
Needless to say, World Environment School will be the first-of-its-kind not only in India but also in entire South Asia. The school is expected to start from March 2020.
The school promises to nurture the responsible behaviour of citizens of our future.
The Sustainability Conference of 2019
In 2019, the Mobius Foundation has planned an international conference, on the lines of the celebrated earth summits over the past decade. The 2019 International Conference on Sustainability Education (ICSE 2019) aims to bring together environmental activists, practitioners of sustainable development as well as climate change experts to help develop a sustainability-focused curriculum.
It is surmised that the conference will give a platform to innovative concepts of Sustainability Education including an essential change in the existing education system ensuring a wholesome personal development for a student.
The Sustainability crusader
The Mobius founder strongly believes that it is high time to sprout sustainability awareness among a society drowning in consumerism and unknowingly doing irreparable harm to the planet, every second. The best way to achieve this goal is through education which is available to all. At present, the education system is predominantly career-oriented, making the learners a victim of materialism, and thus, their dreams are also outlined in those colours.
Living beyond the limits
When asked about his wish to attain the age of hundred, he strongly asserts that more than becoming a centurion, he wishes his life and work continue to better the society even in his absence. “I have lived my life. I wish that whatever I start before I go, will continue – for the betterment of my country,” says Mr Pradip Burman.
He is also a trustee of the Climate Reality Project – India (affiliated to Mr. Al Gore of the Climate Reality Project Foundation, USA). Climate Reality Project, India, has been actively engaged igniting the spark and spreading the message of climate change amongst educators, policy makers and civil society. The India branch looks after more than 500 trained Climate Leaders, and more than 900 volunteers spread all over the country.
In his journey, Pradip Burman has been a beacon of hope for millions, motivating many to join the movement for sustainability. We wish he continues his tireless efforts for promoting sustainability awareness and inspire generations to come.