Maintaining a personal and philanthropic life balance

By Devrathi Singh*

As students and future leaders of the world, some of us always wonder how to give something back to society and impact lives and fulfill our personal responsibilities. The life story of Gurumoorthy Mathrubootham, sets a clear example for us. Born in a middle-class family in Tamil Nadu, Gurumoorthy Mathrubootham, also referred to as Guru by his acquaintances, has always led a clean, truthful, and corruption-free life. His father, who worked in PWD, inspired him to live a straightforward life and never support corruption. Father’s transferable job caused Guru and his family to move to different locations. This also provided Guru an opportunity to come across various cultures, people, and problems in society. Guru pursued his B. Tech in Electronics from College of Engineering, Guindy, Chennai, where he was also associated with various student movements. Association with these movements attracted Guru towards the People’s politics. Having experience of more than 20 years in the corporate sector and working in companies like and HCL, Wipro, and foreign locations like the US and UK, he used to always volunteer for different organizations and wanted to give back to society.

It was in 1998 that he came across AID India (Association for India’s Development). He was genuinely influenced by AID India’s philosophy that all the problems are interconnected, which meant the solutions must also be interconnected. In 2001, he returned to Bangalore. Bangalore acted as his workplace for social activities. Disturbed by the increasing dominance of coaching centers in tier 1 and tier 2 cities and the unavailability of any learning centers in rural areas, he decided to start after-school learning centers where people from underserved communities could come and learn. The 2004, Tsunami in India caused great losses to the farmers and cultivable lands. He deeply empathized with the farmers and still does so. He believes that farmers lead a tough life and had to face many vagaries of nature like irregularities in monsoon, price fluctuations in the market, etc.

Guru has also been associated with social entrepreneurship. He started an organization called MobiSir Technologies that focused on the Exam preparation market for tier-2 and lower cities. He also later co-founded a skill development company called ArthaVidya which operated on gamified learning for commerce students. Although facing various competitions and challenges like lack of VCs, Guru never left the path of honesty or tried to bribe someone. During the conversation, he recalled that he had never taken any client for dinner. These companies are still operating, however, he moved onto the later phase.

The journey to full time social work

Though Guru has been volunteering to different causes, it was during 2017-18 that he decided to take up to full time social work. Currently, he works as a CSR program manager for Juniper networks. The Juniper Networks, covers the holistic development of about 11 villages in the Hoskote taluk of Bengaluru. The other initiatives he has been part of over the last two years include running a fellowship program for public health professionals under SOCHARA – a community health organization, running Covid helpline centres along with his daughter, donating ventilators to Government, working towards sanitation issues across the country, visiting slums of Bangalore and educating children, training of Asha workers, providing covid support and preparing for the third wave, etc.

He believes that eighty percent of the society does not involve in anything, and it is only ten percent of people who want to do something in society but do not know what to do. It is this ten percent who takes the lead and runs the society, and we must decide where we want to lie. He also thinks that to lead a balanced life between personal and social responsibilities, one does not need to quit his job and be a full-time social worker, but one must do something meaningful in life. Lastly, he requests everyone to not think of doing some social work as a charity; instead, think of it as other’s rights and empowering the people who are denied their rights. He requests everyone not to do any external intervention rather be a part of the community and help them.

*2nd year student, IIM Bangalore

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