The Ray Of Light In Rural India – Bunker Roy

A man who managed to change the definition of villages, a man who was amongst Times’ 100 most influential personalities in 2010 for his work in educating illiterate and semi-literate Indians and a man who brought about a revolutionary impact in rural India with his willpower and intelligence had led on to an inspirational journey a few decades back. He created a place for learners, seekers and for anyone looking to contribute. What followed ever since then is simply history making its way into the future; for today is revolutionary.
Mr Roy founded Barefoot College in the year 1972. An institute that teaches rural women and men; many of whom are illiterate, to become self-sufficient. With this initiative came a night school in the year 1975 from which until today, about 75000 students have passed and 80%  have stayed back in the village.
Like each one of us, Mr Roy has had his bad times too. The darkest moments for him have been the ones when he could not convince his kind that there’s a way forward. There’s an alternative, which is an indigenous Indian way of looking at things.
We constantly deal with our negatives, flaws and fears. Mr Roy has one concern too…He fears that locals may lose the capacity to learn new things. He feels that the transition of someone who has done extraordinary work has actually come to a stage where they don’t want to learn something new.
How can we replicate Barefoot College model?
-Fight with your parents and stay in a village for 6 months.
-Challenge yourself and come to Tilonia
– You won’t be offered any monetary gains but you will have a family.
Quotes by Mr Roy
“We don’t have to show our degree to prove our worth.”
“What I have as a human being is more important than what I have with a piece of paper”
“1000s of people living in Delhi, Mumbai and cities similar look at coming to a village as a failure. That’s not true. Villages are the very roots.”
“We cannot have an urban solution to a rural problem”
“Future lies in how you decentralise.”
“Improve the quality of people in villages so they don’t migrate to cities”
“What I have as a human being is more important than what I have with a piece of paper”
“Never ask any individual about its qualification, that just doesn’t matter. What matters are the skills that are possessed, developed and put to use…”
Author Rights: Pooja Akula, ERC 2017

JY 2017: At The Magical Land Of Deoria

If you have been a part of Jagriti Yatra, you would have heard the name “Deoria” a hundred times. Various sessions, workshops and inspirational talks have always had this name being mentioned as an example of “building the nation through enterprise.” Deoria is one of the most awaited destinations for a yatri and the team. It marks the beginning of the very first JY district project and thus, is special for the entire team. Mr Shashank Mani, the chairman of Jagriti with his noble vision started building Deoriya from the very scratch. A village that lacked basic amenities like toilet,  sanitation and electricity was now a part of one transformational revolution.
Finally, on the 11th day of the JY 2018 rail journey, yatris headed to this beautiful district of Deoria and spent a night at Barpar village. The day started pretty early with freezing temperature being a distraction but yet not hampering the spirit. Tours to nearby villages were organised wherein yatris were divided into several groups to conduct their market research for Biz Gyan Project. Each group was assigned a specific vertical for the on-ground analysis that made them interact with locals, children, authorities etc. The insights later helped the groups prepare for their BGT presentation with a realistic approach that was scheduled to happen at the end of the day.
After a healthy meal, yatris visited Jagriti Enterprise Centre-Purvanchal (JECP) an upcoming Jagriti centre with multiples facilities like co-working space, digital library, innovation centre, etc. Post this activity, preparations for the BGT presentation were observed in full swing. The evening felt energetic having a sense of competitive spirit as yatris stood to compete against each other for the best BGT project title. Ideas on various enterprise verticals like water, sanitation, technology, education, manufacturing, health, etc were presented in innovative ways and a cheerful night followed thereafter.
This visit to Deoria certainly encouraged budding entrepreneurs and enterprise builders to contribute towards the growth and development of middle India; the real India.
Author credits: Pooja Akula, ERC 2017

Jagriti Enterprise Mela: Enterprises showcase their products/services to yatris

Jagriti Enterprise Mela is a healthy compilation of brands belonging to a number of verticals. It is a platform that caters to every area of development and contributes to each. The second edition of JEM held on the 28th of December, 2017 at Bangalore was no different. Brands across India exhibited their very best at the venue and left no stone unturned in terms of creativity and growth plans. Yatris on board had the golden opportunity of engaging with these brands and being a part of their projects.

Following are brands who belong to different verticals and were a part of JE/M 2017.

Arts, Culture and Media:

Mudhouse Experiential Hostels-

Mudhouse is a hostel located in Jibhi, Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh and is completely made of mud contributing to sustainability. It is heaven for people who are in search of some peace and refreshment in the mountains. It majorly entertains a creative audience as its guests and often conducts events like open mic, artist gathering, wall painting etc.

“Mudhouse is home to artists, painters, writers, performers and creative souls who meet and greet, associate in the mountains and go around exploring places together” -Rahul Bhardwaj, owner of Mudhouse.

Your Quote-

A writer’s delight, Your Quote is a relatively new platform for microblogging content, majorly pouring in from writers. Anybody and everybody with original content in various forms like poetries, shayaris, blogs, one-liners etc can contribute and gain the attention of fellow writers and brands who occasionally look out for content on the website. Your Quote is an initiative of two IIT-Delhi graduates-Harsh and Ashish.                            

Water and Sanitation:


Uger has been promoting menstrual health for over 15 years now and is extremely passionate about eliminating waste generated through disposable pads that contain chemicals. The cotton protection pads are sustainable, reasonable and easy to use for women and can be reused multiple times for about a year.

“Uger cotton pads offer the luxury of disposable pads in terms of designs while retaining all benefits of a cloth; like keeping the body cold and letting air pass…” says Smriti Kedia, co-owner


Boondh is an organisation that primarily focuses on women’s menstrual health. Bharti, founder of the entity started this for-profit organisation with an aim of shaping an environmentally friendly product and creating awareness about menstrual hygiene. Women in villages, local communities and corporates are educated about menstrual hygiene and habits through regular programs hosted by the organisation. So far, Boondh has reached over 2500 women and is in the process of expansion.



Save Globe is a firm that has pledged to bring about ‘Anti Plastic Revolution” and thus replaces plastic products with wooden and bamboo. The product list includes a number of useful commodities like containers, spoons, bowls, straws, etc. Save Globe also specialises in producing different kinds of bags that are absolutely eco-friendly. Moreover, the brand has been organising awareness programs since 2011 educating people about the ill effects of plastic usage.


Hyprote promises to serve protein bars and cookies having the best taste and health quality.

Every bar contains 20 grams of top grade protein from whey and milk along with high fiber context and less saturated fat. It is a great deal for health-conscious souls looking for quick, handy munchies.

Energy and Environment:


The sole aim of Selco is to bring about a sustainable solution for every problem. It believes that a lot of major issues can be solved if solutions carrying the factor of sustainability are implemented. The company majorly works for villages having no source of energy in different parts of India like Orissa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu etc. Over the years, Selco has been a prime contributor in providing the underprivileged with commodities like solar-powered sewing and roti rolling machines, egg incubator, blacksmith blower, etc and has made an impact on positive.


With an aim of providing sustainable energy to every human, Schneider Electric strives to attain its goal by combining innovative technologies and business models, investment and training. It believes that it is the very basic right of every human to avail energy sources and that it can be attained over the next few years.


Simplifying the process of filing RTI in India, RTI online is founded by Mr. Pradeep Bhat an IIT alumni and ex-Nokia employee. Online is an initiative to help Indians seek valuable information, skip the long and tiring process of filing RTI and enable hassle-free procedure. Although the brand faces challenges like lack of awareness about RTI amongst people, it is constantly making improvements to make an impact. So far, about 1.5 lakh RTI have been filed through this platform.


TII fellowships-

TII is a fellowship program for social entrepreneurs that lasts for 2 years with 6 years of Incubation. It is founded by Krishna Gopal GV (founder of ALC India). This brand helps individuals find work in social entrepreneurship sectors where efficiency has proved to be 100%. The first batch of social entrepreneurs are going to graduate in 2018 and will be proudly incubated for next 6 years. The ultimate goal is to create 460 entrepreneurs in next 5 years.

Young innovators-

Young innovators is an extended course based on Astrophysics, auro modelling, and robotics.  It is founded by Mr. Bharat AJ and has given 22 sessions extended course for students along with their regular subjects, eventually aiming to increase literacy rate. Currently, Young Innovators are struggling to make this course a compulsory one with branches for schools throughout the country.



A Bangalore based agriculture startup, Farmizen solves the problem of chemically preserved unhealthy food in our food chain. It is founded by Shameek Chakraborty-, an ISB alumni, and Ex-Yahoo employee. Farmizen is building a food ecosystem where mini-farms are controlled by their consumers to make sure the harvest is 100% organic. Despite facing hurdles of uncertainty, Farmizen proudly has 300 active users along with 5 farms.

Green path-

Green path is working to bring about affordability and increase the limited supply of organic food. Their goal is to create organic food outlets around the country and have already catered for Bhoomi college (800 individuals ) along with exhibiting at national and international trade fairs. Other than catering they are running awareness workshops, cooking and farming workshop to help potential consumers understand where the food is coming from.



E-laj is an enterprise working in digitalisation of primary health clinics (PHC). It is founded by Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon and has 20 such PHC operations in Karnataka and Rajasthan with approximately 2 lakh foot fall over the span of 2 years. E-Laj is solving the problem of documentation in medical industry, digitalising prescriptions, case histories of patients and test results. As our medical industry is heavily dependent on handwritten prescriptions and documentation, Elaj is facing some hurdles in acceptance and digitalisation of old patient records. is an enterprise based out of Bangalore who is trying to create healthy habits. Founded by Mr Prithvi Reddy (Yatri’13), a BITS alumni, is working on a moto that says prevention is better than cure. The brand connects Google calendars to your habit schedule and posts videos, audios and texts. There are still some hurdles in the acceptance part as most individuals have this mentality of curing the disease when it shows up; on contrary is struggling hard to change this mentality.

Schneider Electric-Jagriti Yatra’s Support Partner in Conserving Energy

Today, we are all on a journey carving our routes through the thick and thin of social norms. We are approaching the end of 2017 and have been talking about CHANGE. Change that facilitates growth, development, and progress. The undeniable idea of which has led to inventiveness along with contributions, the core of which has risen spirits and the desire for which has changed a number of lives, all for positive.

One such initiative of “Building India through Enterprise” found its roots in the year 1997 in the name of Azad Bharat Rail Yatra, further having the name changed to Jagriti Yatra, a program set up under Jagriti Sewa Sansthan, a non-profit charitable organisation headquartered in Mumbai. The 15 days journey on rail stretched through diverse territories commencing with the sole goal of meeting a country of small towns and villages, India. Getting on this journey needed you to enlighten your spark. It promised to inspire, teach, build and discover India by making a change in the lesser known places. It strived to improve the quality of lifestyle in a stagnant environment, making an impact. The successful program continued to contribute for years and is once again ready to embark its 10th edition inaugurating on the 24th of December, 2017.

In a time like today that’s all about partnership, Jagriti Yatra proudly associates itself with leading companies and brands that are undertaking exceptional deeds for sustainable development. One such enterprise that makes its mark prominently is Schneider Electric who with their ambition of providing sustainable energy in the remotest corners of India are striving to attain the goal by combining innovative technologies and business models, investment and training. Schneider believes that the requirement and availability of energy is the very right of all and thus commit to producing energy efficient products along with access to clean energy.

In the 10th edition, Jagriti Yatra and Schneider Electric shake hands with a purpose of eradicating energy scarcity and implementing solutions that are sustainable in nature. The sharing of responsibilities like creating solutions, providing effective, sustainable technologies, and ensuring suitable economic conditions for the availability of the energy is now the common goal. Jagriti Yatra will contribute to Schneider’s noble initiative called “Access to Energy,” which is a programme that facilitates access to lightning and communications for 50 million inhabitants by 2025.

Acess to Energy Program

Yatris, the future leaders of our nation will be encouraged and motivated to apply for any of the below-defined areas depending on their interest and preferences:

  • Innovation – Ideas for energy generation by using renewable sources or other non-polluting methods
  • Energy program implementation and sustainability – Defining better ways to overcome the challenges and improving sustainability quotient of the program
  • Energy Education – Imparting training, or skill development programs

Jagriti Yatra and Schneider Electric together wish to promote skill development, increase employment and provide universal access to energy in the coming 15 years.

Women empowerment at Jagriti Yatra

Women empowerment and Jagriti yatra


At Jagriti, we want to inspire a new generation of young women to become equal partners in Building India through Enterprise. Women, as we all know, are the building blocks of society and Jagriti is determined to make them stronger. We believe women are very hardworking and brave when it comes to facing difficulties in life and Jagriti is just giving them that extra push/support to bring that change. Over the past 10 years, we have steadily grown to around 48% participation by women in our flagship rail yatra. This year we are determined to reach 50% mark for women participation.

A vision of Jagriti Yatra is to change lives of women in every village, support them, train them, provide much-needed resources and network:; create entrepreneurs in every household. ‘Jagriti Sakhi Udyogini’ a great initiative of Jagriti is to promote women as equal partners in our mission to ‘build India through enterprise’. Designed as a day-long mentorship workshop, it allows aspiring women leaders from Jagriti alumni network to interact with mentors and experts and learn tools for building enterprises. Proud to be a part of the Google for Entrepreneurs’ challenge, we are one of the forty start-up communities taking new approaches to increase the representation of women in our community.

“Inspire. And get inspired. Change. And lead change in others. Learn. And share your life’s lessons. Build and help build India through Enterprise”

Another initiative started by our Yatri called ‘Why not Women’ during 2014 yatra. “The Why Not Women project was inspiring! Our yatris  Mathilde and Berengere resolve to enhance lives of women entrepreneurs around the world. They bring with them a world of passion and bouts of energy to change the way the world works. Their perspectives on the world economy, mass migration and governance from a western point of view stirred refreshing and interesting discussions on the yatra.

After effects of Yatra:, women experience significant empowerment, feeling more confident about their social and managerial abilities after the journey. Also, their abilities for risk propensity, social boldness and creativity are enhanced.The ignited spark of rebellion to refrain from accepting the existing poor state of Tier 2 and tier 3 districts and taking an initiative of change through feasible and sustainable solutions has been one of the many outcomes in the form of a visible difference after the yatra.

Let’s hear it from some of our Women yatri’s and see how Jagriti Yatra changed their lives:

Aditya Valli 2k16 yatri “Before yatra I was inclined to do something in Health and Sanitation of Women, Jagriti yatra pushed me to make it happen. From the fellow yatris, I learned how to start an organization from scratch and even after 1 year I look up to those friends whenever I need any help. My venture on Menstrual Health is about to launch and I can’t thank JY enough for all the guidance.”

Prasanna Kapoor, 2k13 yatri, is working on building tourism through art and culture through her family run venture “The Buransh – a Himalaya study centre & retreat” in Kausani, Uttarakhand. Her association with Jagriti yatra supported her in developing skills in furthering her entrepreneurial mindset and competencies.

Krati Gahlot ,2k16 yatri . hail from Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

“I would not say it has transformed my life but ever since then every day has been a learning experience as the inspirational stories of Yatris keep showing up even after the yatra ends.  My biggest learning from the Yatra is that determination, hard work, integrity and a passionate team is what you need to succeed as is evident to the success of JY. I would like to continue my association with the yatra to keep on learning from this unique movement.

Like Aditya, Prasanna and Krati, JY has inspired hundreds of Women to come forward and live their dream life.

Jagriti Yatra: The journey of 10 years that yatra went through

Jagriti Yatra’s mission ‘Building India Through Enterprise’ is at the core of all its efforts. It is a 15 days and 8000 km national train journey which gives selected 500 entrepreneurial youth,  out of 15000+ who apply. It is an opportunity to meet the role models and entrepreneurs who are developing unique solutions, to India’s development challenges. Aravind Eye Care (Madurai), Anshu Gupta (Goonj, Delhi), Bunker Roy (Barefoot College, Tiloniya), Joe Madiath (Gram Vikas, Odisha), Narayan Murthy (Infosys, Bangalore), and Harish Hande (SELCO, Hubli) are a few to name. Nation-builders such as Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Sam Pitroda, Meera Sanyal, and R.Mashelkar have participated in the program previously and have highly praised the efforts being put in by the team at Jagriti Yatra.

Jagriti Yatra: Awakening the entrepreneurial spirit

During the last 10 years, Jagriti Yatra has created a network of more than 4000 alumni, spread all across the globe. The power of its alumni network can be understood from the fact that Jagriti Yatra has created over 1000+ enterprises in last 9 years across myriad sectors of healthcare, knowledge, agriculture, housing, water, tourism and others. The overall impact of the enterprises has benefited over a million people.

Recently Jagriti Yatra, with support from Coca-Cola India, organised another program called Sustainable Enterprise Award India 2017, to help district entrepreneurs, working in the areas of Water, Agriculture and Recycling across India, out of which over 300+ enterprises from remote areas of India, participated. The top 3 teams were awarded seed money worth 3.5 lacs, to support their enterprises.

With the extensive network of alumni and supporters on its side, Jagriti ventured into creating a district-level enterprise incubation program, Jagriti Enterprise Centre – Purvanchal (JEC-P), in one of the most underdeveloped regions of the country, eastern Uttar Pradesh in 2015 through which 500 local jobs have been generated and 2 million rural women have been impacted through a digital literacy program across 9000 villages of eastern Uttar Pradesh. But Jagriti’s ambitions don’t stop here: If the last 10 years were about building this huge network of entrepreneurs, the next 10 years focus building the enterprise ecosystem in Tier 2 & Tier 3 districts of India to support these entrepreneurs.

Jagriti’s story is tied to the growth of our country. This year is the 20th anniversary of Azad Bharat Yatra, the 10th anniversary of Jagriti Yatra and the 70th year of Indian Independence.

Azad Bharat Rail Yatra

Bringing the tool of Enterprise Led Development to all the Tier 2 and Tier 3 districts of India over the next 10 years, is the focus point of the team working at Jagriti Yatra. After 10 years of traversing the nation spawning young entrepreneurs, Jagriti Yatra has established a well-penetrated network into the far reaches of our country and around 4200+ Yatris spread across the world that carries the same insights and learnings from this unique experience. For most, Yatra is just the beginning of the journey. This unique experience is a starting point of a lifelong pursuit of the singular aim of bringing hope and wellbeing to the deepest corners of our nation. Our approach to creating a unique mass experience for formative minds in a panoramic concerted transnational setting leaves not only a deep impact but creates a critical mass of enduring partnerships. Jagriti Yatra is the beginning of the journey that sets you off on a lifetime of pursuing your dream of transforming lives through enterprise.

Every organization develops certain core values that guide its members through the long and dark nights of its evolution. Jagriti’s own traits as an organization will manifest in several ways which one gets to observe during the Yatra.

The most endearing one, we believe, is the way we work as a team. We are a big family. “Once a Yatri – Always a Yatri” – This inclusion binds us together. We respect every opinion, yet don’t hesitate to challenge and debate them thoroughly. Once agreed though, we ferociously collaborate. We depend on each other blindly and trust our team members completely. You will see this play out in how our Engine Room Club team goes about doing their job. They are disciplined, thoroughly committed and highly trained in their skill of delivering to you a fantastic experience. They truly live our principles of running a professional enterprise. Every successful enterprise needs to have a strategy of creating an ‘ERC’ that becomes the lifeblood of their operations. As the Yatra has evolved we have made a major part of the journey into an exercise of enterprise building. Complementing the experiential learning of Role Model visits and Yatri Interaction is a business planning exercise called Biz Gyan Tree.

Executed within the hyper constrained, time-limited, resource squeezed, sleep deprived rocky and rambunctious environment of Yatra makes it quite close to the reality of a business environment. Again, what pays off is discipline, focus, ability to collaborate, create and sometimes simply executing well something that is already quite well proven. Biz Gyan Tree is a taster for Yatris to decide if the enterprise is indeed their cup of tea and if so how they would make it their passion of a lifetime. One of our outreach programs has successfully grown into a national platform.

The Jagriti Ambassador for District Entrepreneurs (JADE) was founded to seek out deserving candidate from third-tier districts to go on the Yatra. The JADE team has successfully introduced over 500 Yatris in 2016 which for us represents a significant contribution in identifying deserving talent that would have otherwise not had this opportunity. The JADE program promises to become a connector for every Yatri to take the message out not only to encourage future yatris but potentially identify talent and network for their own programs in the future. Every Yatri should become a JADE member and benefit from this unique opportunity to both contribute as well as learn. Finally, the Jagriti Enterprise Network and the Jagriti Enterprise Centre are recent projects that promise to transform the targeted districts of Purvanchal. Jagriti starts with the Yatra and promises to last a lifetime – for many a lifetime, it will take to transform our nation. How I look forward to partnering with you on this wonderful journey of a lifetime! Yaaron Chalo!

Inside the train was a different story altogether. A mini India (or a mini world, as we had international participants from various countries) was a dynamic hub of exchange of ideas, cultures, knowledge, habits and skills. It is a molten pot of gold of vibrant activities going on 24*7 between people from rural and urban backgrounds.

Jagriti Yatra 2016 and the journey continues…


काश मुझे सीमायोने बताया होता की, मै कही नहीं हु सिवाये तेरे मन मै
जो कहते है की वो आसमान छू सकते है
वो कही ना कही सीमओं में मानतें है
क्यूंकि आसमान की कोई सीमा नहीं होती!

कुदरत मुझे तोहफा देती रही है
आज उसने मुझे एक अलग सोच का तोहफा दियां
पहेली बार मैंने अपनी आत्मा से पूछा
की कैसे होती तू अगर तेरी कोई सीमा नहीं होती
कैसे होता अगर तू आसमान होती!

चलती मै कही भी, लहर की तरह बहती
बिना किसी काले झोंके के आने के डर से
पहनती मै अपनी बूनी हुयी सोच, बिना उसके दबा ले जाने के डर से
सोचती थी मै की पंछी हु मै, की पंछी हु मै
बंधे है पंख जिसके!

आज पता चला ताला भी मैंने लगाया था, और चाबी भी मैंने ही छुपाई थी
सीमओं का बाज़ार है, जिसमे से मैंने कुछ खरीदी
कीमत में मैंने अपनी सोच चुकाई
खुल गयी आंखे, करली बड़ी बड़ी बातें
अपनी ताकत मैंने लगाई है
कुछ जंजीरे टूटी है ,कुछ अभी बाकि है!

अब कोई सीमायें नहीं
आसमान हु मै!

यूविका गुप्ता

Action Cannot Be Far From Here – Jagriti Yatra Diaries

By Pallavi Tak

Jagriti Yatra 2016 handbook shouted – the MUST requirements for the yatra are as follows – Waterproof jacket- Sweater/ Warm jacket, Thermals, scarfs (Meant for heavy winters), Woolen socks (At least 4) and good quality shoes, Thick/ warm good quality shawl, Thick Blankets X 2 (the winter nights on the train will get frosty). Further the handbook scared us – Temperature reaches 2 degree celsius or colder; you live in general sleeper compartments (non AC), no alcohol or smoking or non-veg diet on the yatra, limited internet connection or mobile charging points, minimum 15 day travel strain, immune system may give up, and towards the end it gently added – d
o not over prepare – It is an adventure after all!

Give me a break! Are you preparing me for the yatra or scaring the hell out of me! Well, Shashank, Ashutosh, and Vaishali would as a team say – “Both”. And add further – “Yatra is all about taking you out of your comfort zone. It is about discipline. Indeed no nation building may happen without self-control”. Oh Lord, this is one holy scam! A Source of relief would be Shashank’s utterings with all his might – “A good meal and shower can keep soldiers marching ahead with all their zeal”. Rest assured there will be regular supply of treats and no famine will strike the train, this was a good news for a traveler coming from the desert of Rajasthan. And it hardly took any time to discover that the caterers hailed from Rajasthan, hence taste of the soil would not be missed on the yatra.

The very first day facilitators’ training scattered the nuts out of us. The theatre resource-person said – “Look into the eyes of your partner, for next ten minutes”. I had learned from a TEDx talk that if one looked into the eyes of a person even for a few minutes, one would in all probability fall in love with him or her. This was getting complicated! Next to me stood this man who worked with tribal farmers and looked very much like them, with a long beard and ponytail, dark skinned and reluctant to exercise his duty to perform the instructions of the act. So now, I landed up in a situation where I had to boost his confidence in me and in himself too, to assure him that by no chance we are going to fall in love with each other. He became a mirror and then it was my turn, he acted and I copied and then the roles reversed, all looking into one another’s eyes. By the end, we hugged and congratulated each other for not falling in love! What an achievement!! We probably had not yet recovered after this exercise that we were asked to talk in gibberish, loud and clear. As a responsible elder sister to him (by now), I helped this tribal man who was shy all over again to give his best shot to this new assignment, to talk in gibberish. By now we had started understanding each other’s gibberish too.

The first few days were like getting geared up for the yatra. We were carefully allocated groups so that we could have enough diversity and learning opportunities from people coming from varied walks of life and different backgrounds. So?? The English speaking were mixed with the Hindi bhashi, Chinese with Bhojpuri, Marathi with Kannad, Telugu with Maarwaadi. Now the ball had set rolling for an ideal experiential learning environment. You pulled us out of our comfort zones guys!! Chill now! You win!! And we deal with the challenges at hand. We were all talking gibberish!

By the third day itself my feet were well swollen up like that of a pregnant woman! Courtesy the long training sessions that my legs kept hanging down and the blood circulation interrupted. I thought to myself that my legs would also get used to this torture, but stubborn them, they kept bulging up till day six and then they realized, ‘no one was really bothered about them’ , so they started shrinking to their normalcy. I believe this was some intelligent ignorance that had just happened.

The morning wake-up calls after tiring days and nights that we were still getting adjusted to, came with mixed messages. One would get warm masala chai, as many cups one could gulp in; along with a promise of jittery cold water bath after a long wait in the queue. Krati would give valuable advice – “Guys, you could chant Hanuman Chaalisa at every mug of cold water you pour on yourselves. This woks for me.” And I would wonder, why I ignored all attempts of my younger sister to teach me that holy chant! Now this soldier will have to sacrifice her bathing part, while compensating it by eating extra may be. No chance, one cannot not live without no shower! And we would go to the war front everyday, fight our fear of cold water, make some scary sounds while bathing and come out having had some musical bath. And this would be the first accomplishment of the day, we would proudly bask in its glory all day, till the next day we were sent back to the border as soldiers.

So how did one earn his meal on the yatra? There was no child labour nor any blue or white collared jobs to have fetched you food on the table (there is no table indeed, one has to stand and eat). But long queues. Three food counters, 480 yatris, three long queues. I believe this was the only time I regretted boasting about having ‘so many yatris’ on the train travelling together.   After sometime, one started feeling that now without standing in the queue one would never ever feel one has really won his meal. So I decided that I would return home and tell my mother, to make me wait for a good 20 minutes before she served me food, or else I would take it as a dole. The wait had started helping me build my appetite. No wonder I put on couple of kilograms.

If this was not enough, my cohort would keep the show running. Miss A had expectation of finding at least one guy worthy enough to be loved, alas she had a long wait. Miss B never forgot to fall and fumble in love, again and again and again. Her bisexuality would only give her wider choice. Miss C was daring enough, not even by remotest hints one should challenge her or she would accept it. She had climbed a BSNL tower only a few days back at somebody’s dare. Miss D would talk in Hindi like she was talking gibberish, and she spoke fluently in Kannad that sounded gibberish to rest of us. Miss E would take her own leisure time to articulate her thoughts, and her pauses would leave a lot of room for one’s own imagination and ‘fill in the blanks’. Miss F was a quiet one, and in the chaos that all the rest would create she looked like one unaffected Buddha. On the top it was me, strictly instructed to not turn into a mentor or teacher or senior advisor to the cohort. After all it was meant for experiential learning. Imagine a teacher being asked, not to teach. Then why did you ask me to be their Facilitator? Well the answer was – to facilitate an environment for experiential learning. Oh God, it is complicated. I just wished, I should not forget my boring teaching ways acquired after a decade of practice, else I will get bad ratings from my students. How would they get their good-night sleep in the class then? My only source of relief was ‘unlearning’ technique that I would have mastered on the yatra.

The chaos was only at its high and growing by leaps and bounds, there was no Chennai-dip. My cohort now had expanded to group of 21 members. So now it had gotten a bit, no….a lot more complicated, complex, strange, weird, chaotic. One would try to find order in the chaos on a daily basis and by the end of the day one would get some success too, just to discover the next morning that life never fails to surprise you. So after fifteen days of fast moving train and life as yatris, role models and their attempts to shake us up, deep friendships and human-relations that had got formed, the comfort in the discomfort that one named ‘comfortable discomfort’ that one had fallen for, the experiential learning that had started showing up, the love for entrepreneurship one had cultivated, the early wake-up calls and chais along with cold water baths one had gotten used to, the tears and laughter that echoed in the bogies, Antara’s regular announcements on the Business Gyan Tree competition, the day’s schedule that would pop up on watsapp through all group channels several times, the food that despite losing its charm in monotony appearing fair time to sit in group and eat, the long queues that one started to think as one’s right….all was fading away and about to be getting lost in memories, leaving behind nostalgia and lifelong friendships. Good byes were difficult!

And now, less than a week after yatra completion, the Watsapp inbox is filled with nostalgia and tears, Facebook is flooded with pictures of the yatra and hundreds of friend requests outgoing and incoming. As we sit in the comforts of our homes and daily jobs, it has become so uncomfortable to stay comfortable anymore. One is all the more restless than ever before! The real discomfort has begun now, when the body is being forced to indulge in the monotony of regular jobs, but the mind refuses to get comfortable and complacent all over again. Mind denies sleep after having been awakened. Heart discards all thoughts of remaining self-centered and living a meager life. The horizons are reluctant to shrink again. The rising Sun rejects the darkness to set in again. The overwhelmed consciousness cannot fall asleep anymore. The boundaries are stretched much beyond their ability to return back to where they started from. The comfort zone is so uncomfortable now. The spirit finds itself caged and is desperate to find a flight to freedom. Soul demands liberty. Life seems to be about to happen, like never before. And one cannot wait to welcome the change! The stage is set! And the hero within discovered.

Action…cannot be far from here!


Jagriti Yatra – Experience of a lifetime

By Nidhi Nasiar

Gazing out of the window, I see a world of trees and mountains, rivers and valleys, flowers and fruits whiz past me. I barely manage to squeeze my hand out from the horizontal iron bars to feel a gush of wind blow past it as I clench my fist to dearly hold on to the flying moments slipping by. The sceneries are changing at a rapid pace almost merging into one another forming a kaleidoscope of memories knitted together by a tender thread of time, both spent and lost in this breathing, writhing, squirming and rejoicing soul of the Jagriti Yatra Rail.

I sit there spellbound by the expanse of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual roller coaster experiences on this yatra which have ended in a blink of an eye. 12 destinations, 15 days, 15 role models, 450 yatris and 8000kms: spanning the potpourri of cultures, knowledge, demography and topography across India.

This minuscule dot in the time frame is spreading swiftly and deeply creating a major impact blotting my life canvas with a motley of colours, much more than years of conventional education and experiential practices. My glorious escapades from the daily habitual routines to this journey gave way to an excavated cavity of untapped potential and newly discovered curiosity in various unchartered domains.
The random ideas substantiated into a tangible business model, multiple sporadic dots could now be connected while some new dots sprang up. The vast exposure offered by the yatra has opened new pathways whose existence I was unaware of, out of the box solutions to the extremely common problems which required a critical point of view to be noticed, sensitivity towards our own roots and much more.

As Shashank Mani beautifully put it, ”Nare nahin lagane, kaam karna hai. ”(We do not believe in shouting slogans but in working towa rds bringing a change). Each yatri resonated his belief as they started on a journey to play their part in building India through social enterprise.

The ignited spark of rebellion to refrain from accepting the existing poor state of Tier 2 and tier 3 districts and taking an initiative of change through feasible and sustainable solutions has been one of the many outcomes in the form of a visible difference after the yatra. The insights from the multiple role models and their journey towards a better India has added fuel to the fire of taking a step towards being the change we want to see in the world. The yatra focused on a plethora of verticals like education, manufacturing, healthcare, sanitation, arts, sports etc. which highlighted the burning issues in the middle of the pyramid, a strata comprising of around 750 million Indians today. An approach to address the problems by following a well-devised step by step business plan from seed funding to the target customers to a revenue model, its sustainability and the impact was learnt and executed in the Biz Gyan Tree Event held at Deoria. The panel discussions leading to open Q/A sessions were particularly successful in resolving the personal queries which were helpful to the masses rather than acquiring only the factual and superficial information about that enterprise.

Inside the train was a different story altogether. A mini India (or a mini world, as we had international participants from various countries) was a dynamic hub of exchange of ideas, cultures, knowledge, habits and skills. It was a molten pot of gold of vibrant activities going on 24*7 between people from rural and urban backgrounds.

Despite having a language barrier they never ceased to dwell on the constructive aura in the train which they could both share and understand.  Presentations on role models enhanced the confidence of many and gave them a platform to thoroughly research the assigned enterprise and brainstorm critically to find flaws in their flourishing existential system. AC chair car sessions held on the train regulated the process of constant unlearning and learning to optimize our limited time together.

The train also provides a few snuggle spots to curl in and zone out in a whirlpool of self-introspection. Recall your day in flashes of important quotes, ideas, new implementation techniques or a way of life. Absorb the impressing novelties all around and let them seep into your blood to become a part of you. Rejoice at the discovery of a new passion in your heart; celebrate the sown seed of curiosity.

The yatra is a parallel universe co-existing in real time, far away from the monotony and comfort of our daily routine of jobs/college etc., uniting each one of us on a common platform to view real India with the tinted glasses of comprehending the difficulties of the masses and coming up with viable solutions in form of a social enterprise for nation building. It stretches us physically, mentally and emotionally to grow our sphere of personal development. Our survival instincts are honed while we manage to live in cramped spaces in motion. We get in touch with ourselves profoundly and wander across unexplored territories of our own heart. The yatra also ensures a lifetime supply of strong alumni network as a backbone. The relations build in the train are gems for life. The laughter and cries, hues and blues in the journey are the jewels embellishing my life for now and ever.

What I take away from the yatra remains ineffable and words cannot do justice to it. It is something I cannot even come close to explaining. You have to experience it to feel it!

With this I bid farewell as the anthem reflecting the spirit of Jagriti Yatra “Yaaron Chalo” reverberates through the huge auditorium when the entire Jagriti family swings in rhythm and coordination, fully charged with overflowing positive energy, with a promise in their heart and determination in their soul to be the change.

We are India, We are change!

Yaaron Chalo!

#What I Learned

By Nikhil Goel
As I reflect back on the learning’s that I take back from the 15 day sojourn called “Jagriti Express”, I am amazed to note how many of them can be applied to our conduct in corporate life. Below is a modest attempt to enlist a few.

Learn to pace your innings:

I vividly remember Dr. Aarvind of Aravind eye care hospital, Madurai, the world’s largest and most efficient eye care facility reiterating their founder Dr. V message “Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must also be the joy of doing something beautiful.” However, he emphasized that rushing into things isn’t the way to go. Wait till the time your heart talks very clearly as to what you want to do and once you have the green light, just go all out to see it through. Dr. V started the hospital at the age of 58 with 11 beds, not a young age to venture into the world of entrepreneurship by any yardstick. But once he had the clarity of purpose and burning desire to fulfill his vision of ending needless blindness, the feat that he has achieved today in a small span of time is for everybody to see.
Never let your school interfere with your education:

Bunker Roy, the founder of Barefoot college, wisely quipped the above line by Mark Twain while dwelling on the repository of wisdom and knowledge that villages of India hold. Certificates, degrees shouldn’t be the basis to judge one’s capabilities and worth. Years of experience and traditional know how can achieve solutions to problems that formal education system has failed to solve for so long. In corporate setting too, we at times try to look for answers outside when the solution lies inside. We try to overlook the resources at our hand in our effort to scramble to the solution using the template models. If you want to learn, start unlearning.
Any organization worth its salt has to face its crises:

In Bunker Roy’s opinion, if everyone around you is happy with what you are doing, you are probably doing something wrong. Criticism just like crisis is an inevitable part of any organization’s journey. Be it barefoot college in Telonia or Goonj in Delhi, these organizations drew strength from such episodes and were drawn closer to their purpose and vision. Individuals need to look at challenges in the same vein and embrace them as part of their life journey.
Recognize that there are currencies other than money in our world:

2015 Magsaysay award winner and founder of Goonj, Mr. Anshu Gupta, had a very modest beginning 18 years ago. He had nothing but wisdom and courage to ask questions which no one ever bothered to ask. Why doesn’t one get drinking water in taps when we are charged for it? What arrogance causes urban people to claim to be helping the poor kid while exploiting them to do their household chores? What they claim to be charity is actually favor extended by the underprivileged who use their discard. In his ‘Cloth for work’ initiative, Mr. Gupta has identified material and labor as two other currencies which can be utilized to build India. The local communities work on building things most important to them in exchange for a kit prepared using materials contributed by the donors. Here labor gets traded for material. Even in corporate settings, we need to think outside the contours of conventional wisdom and look at challenges with an open mind and an approach not afraid to challenge the status quo.
Heart knows today what the mind will know tomorrow:

One should never lose sight of the cause that is close to one’s heart. A man’s life should be driven by purpose and not by profits. A doer is not necessarily driven by logic but certainly by passion. Explaining the relevance of listening to one’s gut and instincts, Mr. Jaynesh of the Sabarmati ashram dwelled on how Gandhi always listened to his heart while finding answers to his most daunting ordeals. No matter if the solution is contrarian because any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already. Listen to your inner voice and take the plunge. In one’s professional journey too, one encounters situations where heart and mind are in conflict. Great leaders have always listened to their heart and that has made all the difference.