Five years ago, Narayan, who downed the shutters on his agency Canco Advertising in 2006, embarked on a mission: Bhavishya Yaan, or mission to a brighter future. The term ‘demographic dividend’ terrified him, and a few Rotarian friends, into action. Their mission was to stop increase in dropouts in municipality schools, and equip underprivileged youth with computer education, spoken English and life skills. What started in one municipal school with 40 students, covers 10 schools across Mumbai and 1200 students today. “The mission is truly on,” he reflects. Besides this, he has been able to spend time with NGOs dealing with women’s issues, leprosy and the like.
While the social work agenda has been satisfying, his ‘biggest disappointment’ is an organic farming project. After a year and a half, Narayan quips that ‘progress caught up’. The Bengaluru international airport came up nearby, and he lost his labour. “After a few years of trying, I decided to cash in,” he cedes.
His signature photo calendar, now 21 years old, has only grown in popularity. “Sometimes people call to ask if they are ‘on the list’,” he muses. He views it as a ‘very personalised Happy New Year call’ to friends. Some pictures on the calendar come from his annual holiday, the rest from travel necessitated by his being on the board of AFAA, among others.
Narayan steered clear of industry associations for two years, until a call ‘from a dear friend’ came. Pradeep Guha requested him to play a role in the IAA, and help market Ad Asia 2011 - as he had done in 2003. He had returned. He’s grateful to IAA presidents like Guha, Raj Nayak, Kaushik Roy and Srinivasan Swamy for allowing him to help with projects like Lighting a Billion Lives, Leadership Awards, Olive Crowns, Gender Sensitization seminars and the ongoing anti-voter-apathy campaign.
The IAA Hall of Fame inductee says there’s a lot do. “Whatever is done is not enough in a country like India, on issues like education, healthcare and women’s issues,” he surmises.