Reflections on Joining the Ashoka Changemakers Community

Posted on: February 25th, 2016 by Arogya World

By Nalini Saligram, Founder and CEO

Earlier this month, I was inducted as an Ashoka Fellow in the salubrious surroundings of Delhi—definitely a highlight of the year for me so far. It was so exciting to be in the midst of 16 other Fellows, all of whom are compassionate, driven, and deeply committed to improving the lives of Indians—from education to healthcare to waste management. It was also wonderful to meet the bright and committed Ashoka staff and learn about the Ashoka journey.

Ashoka elects Fellows for life, and invests in their growth as leaders, equipping them with skills and knowledge to make an impact and to scale their organizations. This week gave me first hand glimpse of how they do that. A few highlights:

  1. I greatly valued the time and opportunity to reflect on a few key personal questions, such as: What are you most grateful for? Who has nurtured you the most during your journey? I came away determined to more frequently reach out and thank those who have carried me on my quest to improve global health through prevention—there are so many!
  1. We can be more effective together. I am excited about an opportunity to form a “Caregivers Coalition” with other Fellows to leverage Arogya World’s work, such as our our 10,000 women’s study on the impact of chronic yet preventable diseases. This study highlighted the unique impact of chronic disease on women since they often must act as caregivers, denying them the opportunity to work (and therefore earn an income) and care for themselves and other family members. Two other Fellows—from Careers Worldwide and Noora Health—are also working on this issue, and we would likely never have met if it were not for Ashoka bringing us together.
  1. The world today needs “doers” like the Fellows, not just thinkers. The visit to Delhi’s monumental Rashtrapathi Bhavan, and the formal presentation of all Fellows to the President of India was a terrific finale. We had a VIP tour of the majestic rooms of the Presidential home and Lutyens’ grand plans for India’s capital. In the midst of such beautiful and inspiring surroundings, Ashoka’s principals discussed the role of Ashoka Fellows in helping the world meet the Sustainable Development Goals. It is by taking action, not just talking about it, that we can make a real difference in tackling health, poverty, injustice, environmental challenges—and so much more.

Thank you Ashoka, for starting me out on what promises to be an incredible journey. I believe we at Arogya World are in the impact-making business and Ashoka, with its reach and insights, has the potential to catapult our work forward.