Straight Talk with Sudha Narayanan

Sudha S Narayanan, Founder Trustee of Charlie’s Animal Rescue Centre (CARE) is known for her hands on approach to running an animal centre singlehandedly without compromising on ethics, compassion and commitment. She shares with Sameera Fernandes on what motivates her to do so.

Throughout your career, who were your biggest inspiration?

There were many people and animals who inspired me throughout my journey. Ms. Crystal Rogers, the Founder of CUPA was the first. Her single – minded determination to do the best for animals blew my mind away and I knew I wanted to emulate her. My parents & sisters Geetha & Chitra have always given me that extra push to do better.

In 2012, when I didn’t know where animal welfare was taking me, the one person who guided me onto the right path and who was inspirational in starting CARE along with me- Dr. Lohith. And of course my dearest Charlie who showed me that if you have the will power to do something, you can do it.

How important to you is having a sound reputation? What steps have you taken to build and manage?

Having a sound and clean reputation is the biggest factor for me. It reflects on who you are as a person. I worked as a Senior Officer in the Income Tax Department before giving it up to concentrate completely on my animal work. There I learnt how tough it is to maintain a clean reputation and the joy it brings you. At CARE, transparency and accountability are the key words. Everything we do, be it treatment regimen, distress calls, animals admitted, accounts, applicable laws etc, everything is accessible to the Public, Government, Donors and well wishers at any given time. This is our biggest strength and this is what sets us apart from all others in the field. It took a lot of effort to bring everyone in my team under the same umbrella but it happened with dedicated training and determination.

What is the greatest risk you have undertaken?

To me, the greatest risk I have taken to be where I am today is that of giving up my comfortable and well-paying Central Govt. job to plunge head on into animal welfare work without knowing what the future brings. The financial instability was compounded by the fact that I had sold my biggest asset, my apartment, to help stabilise CARE. It brought a lot of fear, hesitation and panic to my mind but I brushed it aside and put my mind to the animals that needed me and soon everything settled down. Earlier in my career with the Income Tax Department I had foregone a lucrative promotion just to maintain continuity in my work with needy animals.

What are your future plans and where do you see the world headed with the current pandemic and beyond?

My future plans are mainly to stabilise CARE and make it self sufficient in terms of finances. Also, my dream is to set up a beautiful Sanctuary for animals that have no one to care for them. Paraplegic, blind, geriatric abused, orphaned, these are the ones that need help the most. The other thing I would like to do is to make a dent in the number of animal cruelty cases by putting together a strong team of Animal Welfare Inspectors who will ensure that the number of such cases reduces drastically and finally stop.

Today, with the pandemic still looming over us, everyone is in a state of insecurity. The world is right now in a regime of mistrust, fear and sadness. But like all bad things, this will also come to an end and we will definitely be back to almost where we were before the pandemic hit us. The masks may not come off for a long time but the goodness and compassion in people cannot remain unmasked for long. We have seen many instances of ‘COVID Warriors’ where people have gone out of the way to help others. These are ordinary people who have shown what true heroism is – I feel the world is us heading for a time when people will be more caring, compassionate, kind & mindful of others.

If you could share just one leadership lesson that you have learnt over the years, what would it be?

The one thing that I have learnt over the years of working with street animals is that of humility. Humility for me, is the biggest asset any leader can have be they in any field – Politics, Sports, entertainment etc. Humility is a strength that gives you peace of mind, teaches you to be kind and allows people to see you for what you actually are. Humility comes with kindness, compassion, strength and respect. Animals teach you to be honest. I have found from experience that, the moment you think that you know everything there is about animals and that you are far superior to them, one animal, it could be just a pup, will bring you down on your knees and teach you to respect them. Such is their power. I have learnt that they are far superior to us ‘thinking beings.’ And that they deserve much more respect than what is happening with them today. It is this trait of humility that has helped me reach my goals & be what I am today in the field of animal welfare.

The views and opinions published here belong to the interviewer and the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sameera Fernandes
Sameera Fernandes is the Director of Ecosol Global and Chairperson of External Affairs - Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC). She is also the former Director – Strategy, St. Francis College, Bengaluru.

She was conferred with the Nirbhaya Award and also the ‘Woman of Influence’ Award by Archbishop Dr. Peter Machado.

Her past stints include Sun Microsystems, Nokia (UAE), Jet Airways, Al Ghurair Investments (UAE) and has been a regular contributor to the Friday Magazine of Gulf News.

1 Comment on "Straight Talk with Sudha Narayanan"

  1. I count myself as one of Sudha’s biggest fans. I am in awe and have utmost respect for her as a person and as a leader in animal welfare. She walks the talk. Reading this interview has made me respect her even more than ever.

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