It isn’t everyday that you meet a qualified chartered accountant, who held down a fabulous job with a multinational firm, walk out from this well-paying position to take up organic farming. Nor do you meet many educated urbanites who care enough to run an animal shelter. Varun Ravindra has dared to do both and we delve a little deeper into the psyche of this compassionate, environmentally conscious youngster to understand his reasons for doing so
At the age of ten Varun Ravindra, whose hailed from a normal Indian meat-eating family, decided to turn vegetarian. Simply because he felt sorry for the family of the chicken who was killed and found its way to his plate!
Ever since then this compassionate young man has made it his life’s mission to work towards creating environmental consciousness and awareness towards cruelty to animals in his best possible way. Varun, who graduated from Vidya Niketan School in Bangalore and then went on to study at MES and Christ College, took up a job at Deloitte in Bangalore, before he suddenly took the decision to throw it all away in favour of organic farming.
“My father owned a 100 acre piece of land on the outskirts of Bangalore and was already farming on it. But I was appalled by the methods of farming practiced as a norm, and the way it polluted the environment and the end product as well. Hence I thought of converting the farm into an organic space and began working towards that,” explains Varun as we sit down for a chat with a glass of lemon soda at hand.
He says that he always know that he wanted to work towards environmental conservation, but didn’t know exactly how he would go about achieving this. “The organic farm, on which I had an organic dairy as well, was my first step in that direction,” he says, adding that he recently sold the farm to a like-minded buyer who plans to continue Varun’s good work and has moved on to a more ambitious project.
“We are loosing green spaces everywhere,” speaks Varun passionately, pointing out the burgeoning skyline of Bangalore from 31 storeys above ground level, where we sit and chat at one of the city’s highest lounge bars, the High Ultra Lounge. “My next project, which I have recently ventured into, is much more ambitious than the organic farm. I have started a residential development spanning 100 acres, on the outskirts of Bangalore, that will sell one acre plots to buyers. With this project I want to create a kind of green space near the city by getting more and more people involved in its development,” he tells.
Varun explains how he plans to mandate that a fixed number of trees have to be planted per acre on the property, and how the project will conform to all ecologically safe norms like being carbon neutral, providing facilities for grey water recycling and solar energy. “I hope through this venture we will be able to create a sort of self sustaining green environment, urging people to think and act in accordance with the laws of nature. I feel that this is one small contribution from my side to this gargantuan battle that many like-minded people are trying to fight across the world.”
Apart from being vegetarian, Varun, despite being the son-in-law of one of Bangalore’s most influential real estate barons, chooses to refrain from leading a lavish lifestyle. “We try to buy organic when we shop for fruits, vegetable and milk and try and do our bit to reduce the carbon footprint by buying local. I also try to dissuade everyone I know from cutting down consumption by buying only how much you need and not falling into the consumerism trap,” he tells.
Down-to-earth, non-pretentious and unassuming, this 31-year-old also has big plans of expanding his present animal shelter where he houses around 40 abandoned cows and donkeys. “I want to try and take in more animals and give them a quality life. I don’t intend to fill the shelter with animals and have them live in dire conditions,” he says.
His wife Nirupa Shankar, Director of Brigade Hospitality, and his parents, both of who are doctors, are his biggest support system. “I can’t mention enough the support and encouragement I get from my parents, especially in the early days, and now from my wife. When you’re doing something that’s out of the ordinary you definitely need the support of your family and loved ones to pull through the tough times,” he says, indicating that his chosen path has not always been an easy one to follow. But he has no regrets; he wouldn’t trade what he was doing today for the best paying corporate job in the world, he assures us.