InterviewsOdisha News

Odisha- a part of much bigger dream unrealized: Mrutyunjay (Interview)

During June 2006 Mrutyunjay Mishra co-founded JuxtConsult (a leading online research & advisory service) company along with other non-Odiya-friends on board in Delhi.

Since then he is busy managing operations and business development for this 15 people start up organization and it is growing day by day.

Beyond this he is also regularly involved in guest lectures in leading MBA institutes and provides career counseling to fellow Odiya boys, lobbying through industry associations.

He is also involved in incubating new cute-little businesses along with partners and of course, reading a lot, playing football, collecting postal stamps & watching movies (DVDs in laptop, he does not have a TV).

About childhood, career, family

He was born to a family of a university teacher father & housewife mother who left her teaching job to bring him up on 25th Oct-Russian Revolution Day when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seize the Winter Palace in Petrograd and overthrow the provincial Government.

He has two younger brothers, one serving the Gurkha Rifles as a Major and youngest one running a successful computer reselling & services and a Cyber café from Burla town.

“All three of us are married to Odiya girls; my wife is a software engineer (studied from UCE, Burla) with a leading telecom company in US. His two sister-in-laws are housewives, we have a beautiful nice from my younger brother” Mrutynjay says about his family.

“But the immediate family also means my maternal Aunt, Uncle & my two cousins, they stay in the same home in Burla, uncle runs a business in Burla & two brothers are still studying and of course ‘Sirus’ our youngest brother (our German Shepherd dog)”.

“I and my younger brother left Odisha around the same time, he gets posted in all kind of conflict zones since his first posting of Kargil Battle and I am always been in Delhi.

I am glad that my youngest brother after his Computer HW Diploma & Certifications took the bold step of going back to Burla to do something there.

That is definitely giving the rest two of us enough windows to pursue our careers outside Odisha without getting worried for someone to assist parents, at least till our late 30s”.

I am not a very educated guy, studied up till intermediate (ISc.) in Sambalpur University Campus, completed my BCom  from Gangadhar Meher College (Sambalpur University) then for next two years I was in Odisha, initially wasted some time on figuring out ‘what do I need to do?’ then worked for’ASHA’ a NGO in Kamkshyanagar, Dhenkanal.

Prepared simultaneously for MBA entrances from this remote tribal village where a damn newspaper used to reach 2 days late. Then completed a PG (Advertising & Marketing) from The Delhi School of Communications, Delhi from 1998 till 2000, got thru campus and started my career in Delhi with a India’s oldest and largest market research company called ‘IMRB .

After 3 years moved to a international IT & telecom research & consulting company called ‘IDC for little more than year, then worked as a strategy & planning person with ‘Convergys (BPO) for almost 2 years and finally a brief 7 month stint with ‘Annik  Systems’ before the entrepreneur bug beat me.

Since how many years you are out of Orissa? What prompted you to leave Orissa?

July 1998, oh! almost 9+ years.

As mentioned came down to join a PG course, so called higher studies, basically at that point of time I was driven by couple of things.

“Parental pressure for higher studies and learning” & a new craze for ‘MBA’ after Engineering & Medical.

I had miserable verbal communication skills, though cleared IRMA  (Institute of Rural Management, Anad, Gujrat) first round, could not make it in final selection, had no choice left as I didn’t want to prepare and appear in the next session, instead joined DSC  out of the rest all calls I had in hand.

At that point it was a simple regular driver of getting a job, provided that gets home a “good salary”. Priority of that age, I was 22. I never actively wanted to leave Odisha and it just happened. Life was completely without any plan.

 Which problems you think Orissa is facing today and need attention?

Honestly “many of them”, these are existing for ages and even today they need attention, I would not pick up the regular cribs like ‘Govt. needs to do this, do that’, we need ‘administrative reforms’, ‘better political/judiciary/law and order system’, tackle ‘unemployment/poverty’ etc. etc. I think to me these are outcomes of bigger issues, I would talk about them:

1.    “lack enterprising youth” – A small fraction doing fairly well outside Odisha and in Odisha as professional (engineers, doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants, teachers, scientists, military men and of course, entrepreneurs and etc. etc.) is not great achievement.

Heart of the problem is Odisha always lacked enterprising people, particularly youth are too happy with ‘what they have/what they get’. They blame a lot on the circumstance, parents, economy, education system etc. and forget that they need to do a lot on their own.

2.”lack positive aggression & aspirations” – Why are we so satisfied with what we have? Why don’t we aim big? Why do we canalize our aggression in petty fights and quarrels on road and college politics?

Try to make easy money without working hard? Which one was the last biggest youth uprising in Odisha, for what cause? We never did anything great as so called peace loving community discussing global politics in Paan Shops and asking for Chalu-Gopal or wasting time with friends at that Omfed Khati and not doing anything constructive.

In my NGO days I had youth from neighboring village coming down to our office and asking for all kind of ‘Chanda’ for ‘Saraswati Puja’, ‘Ganesh Puja’, “Durga Puja’, upon polite denial would start threatening. but “when I asked them to comedown for a Shrama Dana to create road to their village” against which I am ready to give them a 10 times donation than they were asking for, no one came forward.

That is what is Odisha youth’s aggression & aspiration. Where do we think it will lead us?  If we have team spirit to do a puja, arrange a rata yatra why don’t we have it for something more constructive?

“never had a youth leader” – I am yet to see that person, the ones who claim themselves as youth leaders, don’t carry character, indulge in corruption, breaths hedonism and rule by dividing. After the college politics career run ‘travel agencies with 2 ambassador cars’ bought out of swindled money.  Then, how as a race/state we would grow?

“youth lack self esteem” – Just an example, in almost all ATMs, in front of many houses, offices I see Odiya security guards standing, be it Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

4 Recognizing their accent when asked, “bhai, kouthi ghara”, I get a answer “West Bengal”. then on next question they admit that they are from Odisha, but our ‘plumber bhais’ are proud to say Odisha straight.

Isn’t that a lack of self esteem? Why are we so afraid to identify ourselves with that state where we grew up? Is it our profession, only if we are an Engineer we can say we are Odiya? Alas! The 1st April 1936 independence doesn’t mean anything to “low self esteemed Odiyas” who obviously think it is ‘April Fools’ Day’.

“Need to nurture talent and create jobs. a lot of them” – I guess, we all in our whatever capability need to just work towards that. Create enough opportunities for ourselves and other, if nothing else our selfish objectives would help us help others.

I am sure once we have our stomach full we will do things that are good for the state, so why delay let’s run to first get as many stomachs full on permanent basis.

‘lack of focus on rural economy’ – In an agrarian yet a ‘feudal state’ (only mean the lack of land reforms, badly skewed & unequal farm land distribution), we would deal with long term issues like low per capita income, affordability of good education and need for sustainable livelihood.

Even the other fact is industrialization may bring in some changes but a bigger chunk of Indian population almost 63% will continue living in rural India even by 2025. How are we dealing with it in Odisha?

How to solve them? How you can contribute to it?

I don’t think I will call for a revolution here. I guess we have to work hard; I have started my bit by creating employment for 12 deserving Odiya people in Delhi working for our various partner companies and just one directly employed in my organization of 15.

Indirectly I advise people as much as I can in deciding career directions and decisions. I know so many in my circle of fellow Odiyas who openly agree of nepotism in providing a more than a fair chance to an Odiya for a job interview.

But it is finally a mutually influential thing, Odiya youth can’t make it even if there are people willing to pull them in the mountain trekking unless they are convinced that they want to reach the summit.

Hence it should be through planning, community effort of talent management, calling for brain gain of Odiyas across world, running a parallel grass root level with/without Govt. support.

I am more than willing to lend my support and ask all my fellow Odiya bhai across world to let lead a “Develop Odisha Initiative” where we can call for participation across world covering certain areas, for obvious reasons I would made them public in right time, I swear to lord Jagannath.

Are you involved in any activities related to Oriya people or development of Orissa in Delhi? If yes what?

Odiya people in Delhi are not organized to develop odisha per say, there are stray cultural associations, informal gatherings at Jagatnaath temple for Prasad bhojis, other parties etc.

And of course there are people doing Boita Mohastva in polluted Yamuna river, and yes there are Odiya Opera parties playing in Delhi time to time. People also collect charity in case of a famine, flood or cyclone.

To me these are not concrete effort for developing Odisha, I don’t relate to these, may be to some extent it promotes Odiya culture. End of the days, “Odiya are lazy I Delhi for efforts beyond own selfish needs of making a decent living to run a kitchen, buy a car and a nice home in Delhi and have savings, put kids in good school/colleges”, is it too sweeping a statement? 🙂

Do you have plan to come back home permanently? Or plan to settle at Delhi?

I definitely have, in fact I have started my ground work. I must be spending 10hrs talk a month with all my friends in Odisha with whom I want to do a lot there. I never wanted to be in Delhi, it is just a wave that brought me here, so I sailed on, even now I guess I need to sail a little more and find some treasure (I certainly don’t mean personal wealth); then it would be time to go back to shore.

I still live in a rented apartment in Delhi; have no intention to buy a house really. Isn’t that most of the time the first sign of not getting settled in Delhi 🙂 I don’t think Delhi is the place where I will be able to live long. Delhi was part of a dream realized; Odisha is a part of much bigger dream unrealized.

If you plan to return Orissa please describe the types of work you would like to be involved in? Any plans that you have at this moment?

I have clear outlines and directions, if not concrete executable plans. These are as follows in order of their priority for me:

1.Human Capital Development – Talent Management, Education, Value Add Training 2.Sustainable Livelihood – Job creation, Income generation projects/opportunities 3.Rural Enterprise/Tourism – Even by 2025, 63% of this country would live out of rural India 4.Ecologically Balanced Farmhouse – My personal priority, an abode for a peaceful sleep