Arup Da is a simple and sincere individual from one of the rural districts of West Bengal. He has devoted his life to social service and for the welfare of the ones in need. He is a living example of how a pure intention to serve can lead to the manifestation of a great success story that has transformed the lives of poor people.
Arup has set up a soft toy manufacturing and distribution network for the physically handicapped women. These women reside in villages of Haldia, Babur Hat and other nearby places. Having begun with less than 5, now he has a team of 50 individuals working with him.
To become a great leader, you need to follow the footsteps of another great leader
It all started with Arup Da doing the Art of Living’s Youth Leadership Training Program (YLTP) at Midnapore in 2009. YLTP is a holistic week long workshop that aims to train the youth in dealing with stress and anxiety, through a combination of breathing techniques, yoga and ancient knowledge. Along with that it develops the skills of the participants to become leaders.
After completing the workshop he was overwhelmed with the peace and love that he experienced. He felt a strong connection with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s vision of a violence free and stress free society. Immediately, Arup decided to dedicate his life to fulfill the goals of the master and inspiration, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
He took up a Sankalpa (intention) to serve the society by involving more number of people with him in his noble deeds. Arup was of the view that this journey was not supposed to be walked alone and he decided that he will connect with more people and bring a positive change in the society.
From a soft heart to a soft toy manufacturing set up
Arup had seen many handicapped women unable to move out of their houses. This motivated him to help them in whichever way possible. Soon he had a plan that would transform the lives of these women forever! The idea of a soft toy manufacturing facility from home came to his mind. Taking together around 5 women in the beginning, he did everything on his own and started the manufacturing set up.
Arup raised loans from banks to finance the cost of machines. Each machine costed around 15-20 thousand and it was difficult for him to arrange that money by his own. On top of that, the bank officials demanded bribes which Arup was not determined to pay, in line with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s drive against corruption. With little help from his friends and close associates, Arup was finally able to raise funds for the machines.
How the set up works
He has given machines to handicapped women at their homes. There is also a facility in Arup’s hometown where around 8 sewing machines are kept. Arup has taught the workers how to stitch soft toys. Since he himself is very good at the art of sewing, he did not take much help from professionals.
Arup gets the orders and the raw materials needed from the soft toy companies. He then transports them to the houses of the women who are associated with the project and explains them the work. After the soft toys are ready, he himself collects them and delivers the finished product to the companies. One of the companies that Arup works with is Nick Nack Classic Toys. It is really a wonder to see how he manages all this by himself.
“Swami Vivekananda had said that he just needed 100 youth to transform the society. With Gurudev’s blessings, I feel we can have thousands of Yuvacharyas (Youth leaders), who can help shape the new age world.” It is this vision of Arup, that keeps him going.
Blowing away the obstacles with a powerful breath of positive change.
Managing procurement of orders, collection and distribution of payments is not a simple task. There are a lot of complexities and constraints involved in it. “Sometimes the companies even after getting the finished product, create unnecessary delays in releasing the payments. This makes it difficult to pay the workers.” Since they are all poor, Arup needs to shell out the payments from his own savings so that they are not affected by the delays.
Arup runs a side business of distribution of farm chicken. He procures the chicken from the farms at Shalimar and distributes them to the retailers in Lake Town, Bangur and New Town area. This work takes up almost whole of Arup’s night time. He needs to get the chicken and distribute it fast by early morning, so that the chicken does not die.
Finally after a hectic schedule in the night, he gets time to rest at around 10 am in the morning. He does little Yoga and practices breathing techniques like Sudarshan Kriya and then rests for a while. By afternoon, he soaks himself in the soft toy business. It is a marvellous thing to see how he manages to do everything with minimum amount of rest!
Awakening the Royal Bengal Tiger – the way forward.
Arup Da says – “My vision is that Bengal will lead the shaping of a new India. People who could not move are now working and earning money. They are self-employed and are doing good work.This gives me happiness and I want to spread this happiness to all.”
Born in the soil of Bengal, he regards himself as a Royal Bengal Tiger. With his commitment to serving the society he wants to make many more such tigers who can make things work on the ground. There was one particular women who had lost her relatives in a tragedy. It was difficult for her to make her ends meet. By getting associated with the soft toy business, she is now able to earn a little and make things running. This is what change really is!
– Milind Choudhary