American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
One such person is IRS officer Aditya Prakash Bhardwaj. During the lockdown, the 32-year-old served meals to over five lakh people as part of the We Care initiative.
“This community initiative, in which over 1,000 people contributed in the form of ration and cooked food, was started to not let anyone sleep hungry. First, I made a WhatsApp group, adding some of my friends and colleagues. Gradually, people started joining the initiative and I got over 50 volunteers. As Faridabad falls right in the middle of the Delhi-Mathura Highway, there used to be at least 25,000 migrants walking on the highway daily. We decided to prepare food for them. We asked a local temple if we could use their kitchen. They agreed, and on the very first day, we provided food to almost 1,000,” adds Bhardwaj.
He along with his team then started to arrange milk for slum kids in Faridabad, besides food and 200 water buckets for animals in the entire stretch of Aravalli. Over 50 jobless people were able to earn their bread through this initiative.
“Those who were helping in preparing and distribution of food, were given dry ration daily,” he says.
Apart from this, Bhardwaj is motivating underprivileged students for the last three years. He has visited over 50 government schools in the city for motivational lectures and counseling sessions.
"These students are talented but have certain limitations. During these sessions, I figured out that there are three kinds of students: Those who want to be bread-earners of the family are counselled for competitive exams for the Army; those who are confused about which stream they should choose are counselled on that; the third group has those who want to pursue civil services, we tell them about the selection process. "
Hailing from Narnaul village of Haryana, Bhardwaj’s childhood has been the same as the kids he teaches now. When he joined a public school in the sixth standard, other kids used to communicate in English, and “I didn’t even know the alphabets,” he says.
He first pursued an MBBS from PGI Rohtak and then decided to take the civil services exam. “A junior of mine was preparing for the UPSC, and would go to Delhi to take this test. I used to accompany him sometimes. One day we were debating on how can India become better and he said to me: “Doctor Sahab, baatein banana toh assan hota hai but karna utna hi mushkil”. This somewhere got me and I left the job I had got at the PGI,” he adds.
After he took this decision, his mother didn’t talk to him for three months as it was a shock for them. But he had made up his mind. He stayed in Shadipur in New Delhi and started to prepare on his own.
“For this one year, I survived on my savings. I cleared the exam in my first attempt and opted for IRS so that I could help people at the ground level,” he signs off.