He could be Swades' Mohan Bhargava in flesh and blood. In 1991, Ravi Kuchimanchi, a 27-year-old physics graduate student at the University of Maryland, founded the Association for India's Development (AID), and unleashed a movement that would see a thousand highly skilled NRIs in the USA, Australia and Canada, partner with the poor and underprivileged in India.
AID's US volunteers have put in a million man hours of work into India-specific issues. The voluntary movement raises about Rs 4 crore each year to support nearly a hundred projects in 18 Indian states.
In 1998, Ravi moved back to India after finishing his postdoctoral work in theoretical particle physics at the University of Virginia. He has since helped electrify 12 hamlets of Bilgaon, and works on developmental issues such as dams-versus-people and environment. Inspired by him, several volunteers from the US and Australia have moved back to tackle grassroots problems in the country.
Says Ravi, "Earlier, I used to do AID work as a hobby while pursuing physics, now I do physics as a hobby while