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Batting for women-led development, technocrat Deepak Sharma roots for a level playing field 

Following the call of his heart, engineer Deepak Kumar, gave up his successful corporate career to work for empowerment of girls and women

While being autobiographical, Deepak Sharma’s book “Wings To Fly” (Notion Press) is bound to inspire many, who are passionate and want to contribute to the well-being of the society, especially women. Egged by friends, Sharma penned his life’s story in this book which is readable because of its easy language and style, with the narrative coming straight from the author’s heart.

Sharma, did electrical engineering from Zakir Hussain College of Engineering and Technology, Aligarh Muslim University and joined National Thermal Power Corporation as a trainee. He worked for years in varied capacities in well known corporates, including ABB, Alstom Power, and Tata Power among others. In 2013, when he was steadily climbing the corporate success ladder, on turning 53, he quit and became a full-time volunteer of Udayan Care – a non-governmental organization dedicated to empowerment of girls and women.

Sharing with India Narrative as to what made him do this, Sharma said: “I had a long dream to contribute to girls’ education during my corporate times. From 2009 to 2013, before I gave up my corporate job, My wife, who is a doctor and I, were part time volunteering with Udayan Care children’s home in Noida. During these four years, I could gauge the intent and vision of the organization and decided that this is a place to be for the rest of my life as a volunteer.”

This decision as the writer mentions was “neither an impulsive choice nor something I had chanced upon in 2013”. He had decided to pursue it in 1996 after his visit to Missionaries of Charity in what was then called Calcutta. “It (the visit) touched my inner self and made me think about the real purpose of life. Questions arose: Is life limited to self and my own biological family or is there anything beyond self? Once back from the visit, I committed to myself that at a certain stage of my life I will give up active corporate life and devote full time towards girls’ education which I personally strongly feel is the most important pillar for the country to be called a developed nation.”

Having worked in different capacities in Udayan Care, today Sharma is a Trustee in the NGO. He took many initiatives for the girls and women; encouraging and mentoring them while also participating in marathon events to raise money for the organization. Apart from this, he along with his wife and mother have made sizable donations running in lakhs to this organization. While Sharma is focused on Udayan and achieving its objectives, his wife Sunita, has been a pillar of strength by supporting him in his mission and keeping the household going. She also volunteers in Udayan.

What makes Sharma’s narrative noteworthy is that he doesn’t portray his moving to the development sector from the corporate world as an easy transition. He is candid about the challenges he faced, which is bound to be helpful to all those readers who intend to work for such organizations in future.

Deepak Sharma2
Using his wide experience, Deepak Sharma has been over the year able to guide and mentor girls of Udayan Care

Spelling out his journey to India Narrative, he said: “There were few challenges initially when I stepped into the development sector. Here I was mainly interacting with children and young adults with lots of traumatic backgrounds. Obviously, it was a totally green field for me. Initially, there was a lot of push back from children seeing a new face in their lives. With time, things started improving. I learnt the skill of listening which is very important in the development sector. I educated myself with the laws and regulations of the development sector. I still attend a lot of workshops and training to enhance my skill. I have to keep abreast of the changing laws and regulations from time to time. So, it is always learning and learning all the way.”

Working for women’s empowerment and gender parity, Sharma feels greatly satisfied. “I view them as major change agents. The more the girls get educated, the better for the community and society as a whole.”

When asked by India Narrative as to how working in this field has changed him, he replied: “I always look for opportunities within or outside Udayan Care as well where I could support girls with education especially those struggling with financial means. Moreover, my thought process about life has changed. I have joined a movement Living My Promise where we have pledged 50% or our net worth to charity either during our lifetime or after our death.”

Passionate about these issues, he feels much needs to be done. “As per Global Gender Gap Report of 2023 on gender parity, India has made significant progress rising from 135 rank in 2022 to 127th in 2023. However, lot has to be done to reach a gender parity close to 1. We need to work on education, health, improving the work environment, and have more and more women in the workforce. Increasing participation of women in decision making, creating equal opportunities for employment (equal pay for equal work) is so very important for gender parity. The recent development in India where the women reservation bill in parliament has been passed will definitely in the long run result in more women voice for women related legislations and policies.”