There is an adventure inside every person, waiting to be had . . . the discovery of a self, long buried within. This personal belief reverberates through Ashok Alexander’s How the Light Gets In.
In his memoir of an improbable start-up in public health, he writes about an organization with the audacious goal of ending needless deaths and sickness at scale, amongst India’s poorest mothers and children. It is a great leap emboldened by an unshakable faith in the ‘idea that cannot be denied’. It is a tale of adventure filled with twists and turns, told with a disarming honesty.
Ashok writes with his signature ability to transport the reader from the ground-level view of a Mumbai shoeshine boy, through hushed hallways of power, and on to the green forests and enchanting hills of tribal Madhya Pradesh-where much of the book is set. This book is a curated tour of the other India, with all its pathos and ineffable beauty.
This is also a story of personal transformation-Ashok left a high-profile job in corporate India to be inspired by the everyday heroism and grit of utterly marginalized women, soon after realizing a simple truth: you must ask the way from those you serve. The journey described here will leave you awash with feelings-joy, anguish, anger, compassion and much laughter. It is about the adventures waiting within, that give great hope and never fail to inspire.
About the Author
Ashok Alexander studied at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, the Delhi School of Economics and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. He went on to have a long career with McKinsey & Company in New York and India. In 2003, he left that firm as a senior partner to create an ambitious HIV/AIDS prevention programme in India named Avahan, for the Gates Foundation. This initiative is credited with having averted over 6,00,000 HIV infections. In 2013, Ashok was a senior fellow at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, teaching a course on leadership lessons from Avahan.
Ashok now nurtures his own NGO, The Antara Foundation, which works in the field of maternal and child health. It is a grassroots operating entity working in remote rural areas of three Indian states-Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. When time allows, he chases his passion for painting and chess, both of which he has pursued at the national level. His first book, A Stranger Truth, describes his work with Avahan and won the Tata Literature Live! First Book Award for Non-Fiction in 2019.