Bharatwallah Alumni Association – Policy Paper

Mission - to enhance and promote alumni interaction, establish a spirit of camaraderie amongst the members, and cultivate a lasting relationship between the alumni and the people of India.

Vision- to foster a sense of community and lifelong commitment to respective alma maters.

Motto- Connect, engage and inspire.

Mission Statement
Having started off with lots of enthusiasm, the society has now come of age with the most important events being the official registration and the engagement with the Indian High Commission. The challenge is now how to keep that fire burning and maintain the members’ interest.
Going by our mission, the main objective was to promote alumni interaction. This was initially achieved with the organization of get-togethers, the first being held at Impala Club along Ngong road in Nairobi where an attendance of at least 100+ was recorded. The second get together was at the Meladen Hotel, Upper Hill, Nairobi (interestingly belonging to an alumni) where an attendance of 60 pax was recorded. The third and last one was at Jiweke Restaurant also along Ngong road where the attendance was recorded at slightly over 40 alumni.
The lessons from this drop in attendance could be easily explained as being a clipping in of fatigue for some members whose objectives was to interact and compare notes vis a vis their current situation and standing 30 years after India. Clearly, all of us have gone our different ways and there could be little if any commonality in our lives. So how do we reconnect?

Spirit of Camaraderie
The second objective is to establish a spirit of camaraderie and this is important as we all shared similar challenges while in India which we can now look back and be proud of how we went about facing them. It is undisputed that having been away from home and all its comforts especially that of being entirely in charge of our day to day life and that at a young age, we underwent mostly a positive transformation into maturity and this has contributed to shaping who we are today. That sharing of our challenges despite our different backgrounds brought out our tied oneness. This is what should be cultivated and reignited as it can have a very positive impact in our country today.

Friendship
The establishment of a lasting friendship between us and the people of India is well captured by our name Bharatwallah. It signifies our proud heritage as Indian Alumni having suffered no major discomfort while in India. Indeed, we went about our studies and engaged in extracurricular activities without much hindrance. Some of us even had the privilege of sponsorship of our activities by the ICCR (Indian Centre for Cultural Relations). Through song and dance, games and other such activities, we utilized our time to learn more about the people of India. Suffice is to say a small minority of us became fluent in some Indian languages.

Sense of Community
Kenya today is facing a myriad of challenges including trying to forge a sense of one nation from people of diverse communities. The fact that the members of our alumni are from these different communities but have come together under the Bharatwallah Association is a celebration of sorts and is a great promise for the future.  We did and continue to share a lot of fond memories. This has created a sense of togetherness and unity of purpose which the Society can foster.
The alumni members today occupy various top positions in our society thus making them key decision makers and shapers. They are in politics (Senators, MPs, government ministers, county governors etc), civil service, business and industry leaders, lawyers, educationists, military and other disciplined services etc, etc. Bringing these people together is not a mean feat but they all have one common feature; getting an Indian education.
Today, as they come to congregate together again, it is with that sense of pride of being Kenyan and having learnt from a country made up of an even bigger group of nations such as India, that it is appreciated that there are many lessons to be learnt and emulated.

Connection
In terms of our vision, connecting our alumni will be one of the biggest challenges. The first enmass enrolment in India could well have been in the late 1970s (1978/9) when troops of self sponsored students landed especially in Delhi and Chandigarh. The second wave of students landed in the early 1980s (1980-1982). This self sponsored group was to have an immediate impact as most were from an urban setting back home. They were therefore prone to be more assertive especially due to the large numbers occupying some particular sectors in Chandigarh. Sectors 37, 38 (ata tis) and 40 were especially popular and this is where life was in full swing.
While determining the actual numbers with certainty is not easy, it is certain that in Chandigarh alone, well over 1,000 Kenyan students were in that city by 1982. The students had come to form the Kenya African Students Association (KASA), which held its elections every year on a rotational basis in the most settled cities. Local branches were also present in respective states.
Engagement
Continued engagement among the alumni is now the biggest challenge the Society is faced with. As in all societies, a majority of people prefer to take a back seat and be led by persons who have the passion of leading. Leading is therefore a sacrifice as it has to understand the kind of people it is leading. The leaders of our society have a vision and this vision is to put to full use our experience and lessons in India. To keep our members engaged, we have to address matters which will have a direct impact on their current life’s.
In this regard, the society has proposed to form sub committees which will drive different agendas. Some of these sub committees will include;
  • Education and culture – This will deal with any matters scholarships, cultural exchanges etc
  • Trade and Commerce – To promote trade and commerce a good example being a more intense engagement with ITEC (Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation).
  • Medical & profession – To address and learn from the Indian experience especially to bring medical services closer home.
Way Forward
India like Kenya is still a developing country, but unlike, India, Kenya’s economy is yet to experience an industrial take off. The Indian cottage industry experience is very apt and ideal for our situation as the official government policy is to grow value addition to our primary produce. The Alumni can leverage in terms of ceasing the opportunities to facilitate advancement in various sectors. These can include connecting investors and entrepreneurs. With the recent passing of a new constitution where the country has adopted a county system of governance, the opportunities for development are immense. Each state in India has its unique advantages in various sectors. It is this advantages that our Society can act as the data bank for our members and wider population to gain access to.
As a Society, we can only inspire our members by demonstrating the advantages of being part of the alumni by having a direct or indirect impact on their lives through facilitation. To effectively address this, we need to start by capturing the attention of all alumni and then establishing a data base on both the activities and opportunities there are captured. The society will therefore need to place advertisements in the media as well as have a website.
It is our sincere hope, based on the initial promising interaction with the Indian High Commission that a new chapter of cooperation and promotion of mutual interest has truly begun.