This here is one reserve swing that this couple from Telangana – Madhavi and Venugopal Vippulancha – highly successful professionals at the peak of their careers in the United States – is happy it kicked it up and returned to roots.
Today the couple is reliving its nostalgia and has resettled into the way of life they yearned for but missed during their time in the United States.
“The idea behind returning to Hyderabad, and then settling in Siddipet, was also to ensure my two sons grew up the Indian way, imbibing culture, traditions, and family values and relations that were missing in the western world,” Venugopal told Tricity Scoop.
He just sold his villa in California where he was based working for a chip testing company and gave up the American lifestyle to return to India in 2003 after an 8-year stay.
“Like everyone else, I too was caught by the foreign bug and went to the west via Bangkok, Singapore, and Malaysia, and reached the US in 1997, and had a terrific career and earned hugely. When I wanted to quit, people out there and relatives in India too thought I was joking. But today, after 17 years, they are not only convinced, but many of them have followed my example,” Venugopal said.
Initially, Venugopal headed operations of an American company in India as its country head and then shifted around in corporate jobs till he gave all of that up in 2017 to go on his own.
“My wife Madhavi, also had a very successful career but both of us decided to live the life the way we wanted and thought of relocating to a village in Siddipet district, some 80 km from Hyderabad,” Venugopal said.
He had bought some 25 acres of land at the village with his savings and took up organic farming in a big way.
Association with NGOs through his working his life made Venu think about a product to replace one-time use plastic, that was dangerous to the environment and came up with a biodegradable leaf plates manufacturing unit. In 2017, he formed a company to produce and market Vistaruku – biodegradable leaf plates and bowls, which has generated direct employment in the village and also an indirect livelihood for tribals (who collect and process the leaves needed for the manufacturing of the products).
Venugopal, a mechanical engineer, and social worker is also associated with different government programmes, helping the Telangana government in its waste management schemes. It is in fact from one such scheme that he got the idea for manufacturing biodegradable food packaging materials.
The leaf plates, bowls are in great demand, Venu said and added that today they export to the United States and are also exploring other foreign markets. Exports to Germany could begin, if everything goes well, he said.
Now, he along with his wife Madhavi, a highly qualified pharmacist, have created a new product – a 1000 ML Food takeaway Box out of the leaves. “Now this could be of interest for the various food delivery businesses like Swiggy and Zomato,” Venu said and added he was hopeful that this product would also find its niche in the market.
“Now the idea behind the concept of eco-friendly tableware is to empower tribals and women,” Venu said and added that at present hundreds of tribals from Orissa were involved in gathering the leaves and processing them. As demand for our products increases, we are now looking at taking this concept to other tribal areas in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh and areas in Adilabad in Telangana,” Venu said.
Does he ever miss America and the hectic and high-earning professional life out there?
“Not at all. In fact, I am very happy I made the decision. My wife is happy that our children have grown up with the values that we cherish and are rooted in our way of life, rather than one of confusion that many offspring of people of Indian origin live with,” Venu said.
Yes, there are many good things we should take out of American life, their work culture, discipline, productivity, focus, and scientific approach to professional life, he said about his takeaways from his life in the US.
He is happy that he was able to inspire a few people in his circle of NRI to think about coming back, but it is an individual decision. Some return but with one foot in America, he said.
Venu and Madhavi are reliving nostalgia, the biggest pull factor in the life of all Indians who have had to go abroad for studies, and or work, at their farmhouse, doing farming, manufacturing, and running their company.