WisdomCircle Logo

Wisdom Stories Ep.15: Mr. Mathew Cherian

Cultural expectations surrounding the elderly are being challenged today, and with good reason!

While it was the norm to slow down and retreat into a quieter life post-retirement, more men and women are finding purpose and joy in doing the opposite.

WisdomCircle honours such men and women by shining light on their journey through an inspiring series called “Wisdom Stories”. These people have successfully smashed stereotypes, and their stories remind us that life should be lived to the fullest, no matter what age or stage.

I pursued Civil Engineering from BITS Pilani and went on to study Rural Management from Institute of Rural Management as part of their first batch.  My turning point was when I moved from engineering into rural development. This made me realise how privileged I am and therefore how important it is to give back.

“I am motivated by the challenges faced by the elderly and trying to advocate for them gives me purpose”

I was deeply impacted by Baba Amte in Nagpur with whom I have some personal experience. I was moved by the plight of Dalits in Maharashtra, who helped me understand their aspirations and challenges, and shaped my outlook towards the world.

What helped me succeed in my career were my listening skills and empathy. I could communicate with and comprehend the challenges of people from different walks of life, which helped me serve them without fear or favour. My greatest lesson has been gratitude, and I thank my parents, seniors and my wife, as they have helped me understand the spirit of life.

Mr. Cherian with Professor Kumaran, University of Florida, brainstorming on a new book being co-authored by them

I retired as CEO of HelpAge in 2020, and was subsequently appointed as Global Ambassador for HelpAge International. I am a Member of the “Global Future Council” of World Economic Forum and have authored “The Million Missions’ and ‘Ageing and Poverty”. I am currently working on my third book.

Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to the NGO Sector, Chennai (Photo Credit: Professor Kumaran)

I am motivated by the challenges faced by the elderly and trying to advocate for them gives me purpose. I also serve as an Amicus Curiae to the Supreme Court in the elder rights matter, for pensions, homes and the Maintenance Law, which has helped bring elder issues to the forefront. I am a Member on the Policy Committee of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

Autographing his book ‘A Million Missions: the Non-profit Sector of India’ (which was a part of curriculum) for students of the study abroad program ‘University of Florida in India & Nepal: NGOs and Development’ at his former office of HelpAge India, New Delhi. Photo Credit: Professor Kumaran

It is important to be engaged and socially connected. My message to the wisdom generation is to eat in moderation, exercise reasonably and stay connected with people.  Staying connected will make a lasting difference.

Mathew Cherian, Chairperson CARE India

Photo and Interview Credits: Saonli Sen Choudhury of WisdomCircle

Read more stories of inspirational seniors embarking on new journeys in their golden years on WisdomCircle

Share this article on: