“A shared legacy is a good legacy”: If there’s one person who personifies this quote in human form, it is Anilesh Ahuja. A veteran of professional and personal challenges, Ahuja endeavors to make positive impacts through his professional pursuits.
Consider Solitaire Valley, Ahuja’s current project involving the establishment of a large-scale township in Prayagraj. Located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh with over 240 million inhabitants, Prayagraj is the most populous district in the state and home to the administrative headquarters of the Prayagraj district. It’s a city with historical and spiritual significance, where five prime ministers have originated.
The metropolis is, as Ahuja describes, “nice to the beholder,” with its true beauty stemming from the ongoing transformation. Seeing it as an opportunity, Ahuja has taken it upon himself to build an “aspirational environment” and create a legacy by “making it a story of positive conservation.”
Having overcome many challenges in his earlier life, taking on a project as complex as this one requires as much courage and strength as Anilesh Ahuja has acquired over the years. Born and raised in Mumbai, Ahuja, at the age of 14, experienced immense culture shock when immigrating to the U.S. with his father. Enmeshed in the rather conservative, mostly white culture of a small town in New Hampshire, the young boy was thrown into a chaotic situation, challenged to learn the ways of his peers.
“A significant social hurdle” is just one of the several phrases Ahuja uses to describe his experience as a young pupil. Not only was he one brown kid in a sea of white, but he was also bumped up to the next grade, under the authority of his father, becoming the youngest as well as the shortest student in his class. “It was massively physically and socially challenging,” Ahuja recalls.
Although Ahuja’s school years may seem to be a more formidable time, he mustered the perseverance to push through, landing himself in a place of happier times. Moving on to The University of Pennsylvania, his studies became “the bouncing ground” to his next professional affairs in his life. A degree in hand, Ahuja was set for a successful 20-year span of investment banking, sales, and trading on Wall Street, eventually becoming the global head of mortgages at Deutsche Bank. At just the age of 27, Ahuja had accomplished a remarkable amount of “firsts,” managing to rise above a handful of trials and tribulations.
Fast forward to years later, and Anilesh Ahuja finds himself back in India after 40 years of absence, joining a new business endeavor. Sure enough, it didn’t come easy, and as one familiar with trying circumstances, Ahuja is up for anything. “It’s not like I’m just sitting brooding and not moving ahead,” he mentions. “The concepts and the similarities all through my life, as in, put in situations which were extremely hard, [were] all out of my comfort zone,” he describes. “Working in India is out of my comfort zone. I’ve been out of the country for 40 years.”
Regardless of the difficulties involved, Ahuja acknowledges the growing movement towards positive change in his home country and tackles the still-growing need for more work to be done. “There’s still a lot to add to society. In this case, what we are doing is we are working
in…underprivileged, undereducated places where we’re trying to create an aspirational environment,” he mentions while describing his new business project with Solitaire Valley.
Set up for success, Ahuja takes his impressively seasoned knowledge as well as wisdom to pave the road to greater change in India. Solar panels, water conservation units, green spaces are among the several amenities available in this township. As “these concepts are new to India,” Ahuja endeavors to build safer, affordable, and greener communities while envisioning future expansion which, he sees, will morph into more central areas.
However, it doesn’t stop there. “Building a whole lifestyle concept is what I’m trying to also build,” Ahuja proclaims, and to achieve this, wellness is a top priority. Recognising the importance of one’s own mental and physical wellness, Ahuja strives to promote and circulate access to wellness amenities for all. “Part of the healing is where you are…[and] the environment you’re in,” he explains. According to him, the quiet, peaceful spaces engrossed in greenery are the recipe for a happier and sustainable life.
Taking inspiration from “Ayurveda,” a holistic, ancient approach to medicine, Ahuja is attempting to accomplish this additionally by including yoga and meditation practices, but also incorporating a lifestyle relating back to the old ways of life. As modern-day society creates a multitude of stressors, “the idea is to think about what worked in the past and reconnect,” he explains. He further describes that it’s an opportunity for people to permanently adopt a self-sustaining lifestyle, benefiting from natural food in the village’s green spaces.
Crucially, Ahuja champions the fundamental right for everyone to embrace a sustainable lifestyle, as “at the end of the day the community belongs to the people.” He ensures that these living spaces are accessible across a broad spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds, and declares his commitment to making these residences affordable, allowing individuals from diverse financial backgrounds to partake. Children, especially, from households of varying incomes will not only have access to quality education but also the opportunity to relish a childhood filled with ample space and safety, fostering an environment where they can explore freely and tranquilly.
A world characterised by environmental consciousness, sustainability, and a focus on wellness forms the essential recipe for a brighter future, and Anilesh Ahuja stands as a paradigm, leaving a lasting legacy. In his own words, “From my perspective, it’s a global need. It’s not just India. Everybody in the world needs to conserve power. They need to be green. Conservation should be a mantra” Ahuja embodies a legacy in progress, dedicated to forging a positive impact that others can draw inspiration from, ensuring a continuous journey toward crafting a better world for us all.