What’s new for this year’s Jagriti Yatra, the world’s longest train journey dedicated to social entrepreneurship?

Following the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi, who had embarked upon a journey across India almost a century ago, the Jagriti Yatra, an ambitious 8,000 Km train journey spread across 15 days, aims to build a new India through social entrepreneurship.


The ninth edition of the Jagriti Yatra commenced on Christmas Eve in Mumbai this year. The 480 ‘yatris’ travelling across the length and breadth of India were selected from among 12,000 registrations and 2,500 applications.

The participants come from across 27 states in India, and 46 other countries. 33 percent of these yatris come from rural India, and 36 percent from semi-urban India. Approximately 40 percent of the ‘yatris’ are women.

Read full story: https://yourstory.com/2016/12/jagriti-yatra-2016/

The Akshaya Patra Foundation – feeding 1.6 million children every year

The Mid Day Meal initiative was conceived in June 2000 by The Akshaya Patra Foundation with a vision that “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.” With a desire to serve food to those in need, Akshaya Patra envisioned the Mid Day Meal project in schools which also served the underprivileged children. After the success of the

With a desire to serve food to those in need, Akshaya Patra envisioned the Mid Day Meal project in schools which also served the underprivileged children. After the success of the program in Karnataka, it was expanded to other parts of the country as a public-private partnership. The Central and State Governments, as well as individual and institutional funders, have joined hands in implementation of Mid-Day Meal in schools covered by Akshaya Patra. The objectives of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme are to reduce classroom hunger and increase school enrolment and attendance, thereby improving socialization among castes and addressing malnutrition. This is also expected to empower women through employment. The foundation envisions an INDIA free of hunger and poverty. It has an ambitious aim to feed 5 million children by 2020.

This is a sneak peek into their kitchen.

Jagriti Yatra will visit the Foundation in Vizag on the 30th December.

How it Works:

The entire cooking and delivery process in the Akshaya Patra project has been designed such that the nutritive value of the food is maximized, based on a basic set of guidelines prepared by a body of nutrition experts covering food preparation, storage, and supply. The processes are not only standardized but have also been quality tested and certified by ISO. This ensures that hygienic and nutritious food reaches the children. This impact on health was observed to be particularly high on children from very poor families.

This also ensured that cooked food and not food grains were provided to the children. Headmasters of three schools admitted that since food-grains were often supplied in bulk which exceeded the storage capacity of most of the smaller schools, the school authorities were left with no choice but to distribute food grains to the students according to the per head allocation. There was also a noteworthy reduction in the burden of the teaching staff for non-academic activities such as buying grocery, vegetables and fuel wood for cooking. With readymade food being served under the Akshaya Patra Project, the energy and time of the school staff are spared for more productive academic work.


  • https://www.akshayapatra.org/impact-of-mid-day-meal-programme
  • https://www.akshayapatra.org/apadmin/uploads/userfiles/images/pdf/hpcl-akshaya-patra-an-impact-study-2013.pdf

Barefoot College by Bunker Roy

In Rajasthan, India, an extraordinary school teaches rural women and men — many of them illiterate — to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors in their own villages. It’s called the Barefoot College, and its founder, Bunker Roy, explains how it works.

Bunker Roy is a social activist and has given considerable inputs and efforts in the field of education, women empowerment, water scarcity, skill development, drinking water, electrification through harnessing solar power etc. In fact, he was appointed by the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to the Planning Commission of the Indian Government.

He was selected as one of Time 100’s 100 most influential personalities in 2010 for his work in educating illiterate and semi literate rural Indians.

Registered under Friends of Tilona Inc., Barefoot College has been hard at work for the upliftment of rural people, develop their skills, empower women, and encourage discussions over trivial problems faced by them and find out the best possible way out of it. The Social work Research Center founded in 1972 was established after a severe drought had hit many areas. Bunker Roy surveyed around 100 such sites with the aim to find possible solutions and help the residents. He cited water pumps around the villages in both conventional and traditional way and trained the villagers to maintain the pumps and use they efficiently to manage their water woes not only for the present but in times to come. As the center developed they started working on many more domains that ranged from not only water related issues but also empowerment of underprivileged especially women to sustainable development in the resources available with dedication and enthusiasm.

Inspired by Gandhi’s idea of self-sustainability, the center recruits women with minimal or no education and rigorously trains them in solar engineering, electrical engineering, handicrafts etc. which are further sold or used by the villagers themselves. A Village Environment and Energy Committee formed by a few elected villagers carry out discussions on various topics that decide the cost of manufacturing solar panels and methods for effectively implementing the same. The decision is not superficially taken but takes into consideration the poorest household in the village also so that the development is enjoyed by everyone. The discussion is then implemented with the available resources. They also promote the idea ‘learner is a teacher and teacher is a learner’ and encourage them to share their knowledge and train even more people across the barriers of language and nationalities to enhance their skills and knowledge. The center has also expanded its resources to reach out to the needy in other countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America with a special focus on training women as it rightly believes that educating a woman educated the whole generation.

Their work and methodology have attracted sponsors from various parts of the world which grant the center to make their day to day activities possible. In addition to this, the products such as handicraft items also add to their income after they are sold in the market.

The center is strict about its rules and regulation and firmly believes in values such as austerity, equality, collective decision making, decentralization, self-evaluation, transparency, and accountability. The initiative has touched the lives of many and continues to do so endlessly. Barefoot college has helped Yatris understand that there is a

Andhere se Ujaale ki Or

#WhatJYMeantToYou #JYPoetryProject #JagritiYatra2016

चौबीस की नशीली रात और पाँच सौ के काफ़िले के साथ,
ज़हन में जुनून और मन मे उमंग लिए निकले हम थामे हाथों में हाथ
मंज़िलें थी अनेक पर देश बाहें खोल लगाए बैठा था आस,
इसलिये देश से जोड़ दिये हमने अपने जज़्बात,
जागृति रेल में होकर सवार शुरू की भारत बदलने की बात ||
कोई था दिल्ली से, कोई पुणे से, यात्री थे हर कोने से,
ना भेष ना भाषा बाँधे इनको; बँधे थे बस अपने सपनों से
सबने हाथ मिलाया और किया जागृति गीत का गुणगान,
जीत का ज़ज्बा लिए दिलो में; आरम्भ हुआ हमारा अभियान ॥
हुबली में किया नन्हें सितारों की वाद्य संगीत प्रतिभा ने दंग,
और सीखे हमने सूर्य ऊर्जा व्यवसाय के भेद सेलको के संग,
बेंगलुरु की ‘हॉट कॉफी’ और इन्फोसिस परिसर की हुई टोली दीवानी,
पर उससे भी प्रेरणादायक निकली माइंड ट्री की उद्यम कहानी ॥
मदुरई में अरविन्द नेत्र चिकित्सालय देख भर आये आंसू आँखों में,
सामाजिक और व्यवसायिक सफलता के ऐसे उदाहरण मिले लाखों में,
चेन्नई में मुसाफ़िर पहुंचे रॉयल एन्फील्ड निर्माणशाला,
हज़ारो को रोज़गार देती उदयमिता की थी वो उत्तम पाठशाला ॥
विशाखापट्टनम था अगला पड़ाव जहाँ ‘अक्षयपात्र’ संस्था से हपरिवार,चय,
लाखों बच्चों की क्षुधा शांत कर, पायी जिसने क्रूरता रुपी असुर पर विजय,
काफ़िले ने की कूच गंजम में स्थापित ग्राम विकास की ओर,
जहाँ हमने सीखा थामना और थमाना ग्रामीणों को स्वच्छता और उन्नति की डोर ॥
पल भर में मुसाफ़िर पहुंचे नालंदा विश्वविद्यालय, जहाँ हुए हम अंतरध्यान,
और प्राचीन भारत की विद्वता और गौरव को किया हमने शत् – शत् प्रणाम,
देवरिया था अगला गाँव, जहाँ फैले थे गन्ने और सरसों के खलिहान,
यहीं ठहर कर हम सबने सोचा मध्य भारत की समस्याओं का समाधान ॥
दिल वालों की दिल्ली में अगली रात गूँज उठी अंशु की चीतकार,
उन चंद लम्हों ने ज़हन झकझोरा और मन में खड़ किये सवाल हज़ार ।
अगले ही दिन तिलोनिया में बंकर रॉय की बारी थी
जहाँ दादी और नानी की सौर इंजीनियरिंग देख कर जनता हतप्रभ सारी थी ॥
साबरमती आश्रम था अब अंतिम और यात्रा का पड़ाव सर्वश्रेष्ठ,
गांधी जी के आदर्शों से हमने सीखी प्यार की परिभाषा और त्यागना द्वेष,
आख़िरी चरण में जब प्रण लेके गाया हमने जागृति- गीत,
हाथों में हाथ थामे दिल में महसूस हुई इस यात्रा की जीत ॥
आये थे कुछ अनजान मुसाफ़िर ; अब जायेंगे बनके एक विशाल परिवार,
दिल की चिंगारी को शोला बनाकर उठायेंगे कंधों पर देश का भार,
ख़ुशी, हताशा क्रोध हो चाहे; चाहे हो भ्रष्टाचार की काली रात,
निडर होकर आओ शुरू करें कुछ यूँ ही देश बदलने की बात ॥
जय हिन्द !!

तापस मनी श्याम, JY’14

The Aravind Eye Care Model

Aravinda Eye Hospitals need no introduction.

Founded by Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy (fondly called Dr.V) in 1976, it has grown from just 11 beds in a small building in Madurai to a network of eye hospitals containing 4,000+ spread across many cities.

According to executive director R.D. Thulasiraj, 65 per cent of the total surgeries in Aravind Eye Hospital were performed either free of cost or heavily subsidized rates. The hospital contributed to 45% of the total cataract surgeries done in Tamil Nadu, making a significant dent in eradicating cataract-related blindness in India.

As of 2012, Aravind has treated nearly 32 million patients and performed 4 million surgeries, the majority of them being cheap or free making it the world’s largest and most productive eye-care service group.

The model of Aravind Eye Care hospitals has been applauded and has become a subject for numerous case studies across the world, including premium schools like Harvard Business School, and Indian Institutes of Management.

What intrigues business enthusiasts about it is their sustainable model whereby the free patient care is provided through the revenue generated from the paying patients without raising any donations from any sources. The model was driven by Dr. V, who wanted to replicate the service efficiency of McDonalds fast food into the eye care system to cope with increasing the numbers of patients requiring treatment.

As a result, Aravind started performing 5 times the number of cataract surgeries that were performed in the entire country and 16 times more than that of the entire U.S.

Substantial innovation has been done on majorly three fronts in order to achieve a successful enterprise. These are as follows:

  • Innovation on the product front – They started manufacturing ophthalmic lenses under the aegis of AuroLabs, instead of importing them. This stabilized supply, and reduced the cost of lens from $100 to a mere $5.
  • Innovation in the process – They use assembly line processes which helps the doctors to perform 6-8 surgeries per hour with the help of sufficient number of paramedics as compared to the normal rate of 1-2 surgeries per hour.
  • Innovation in approach – They have employed mobile vans which increases their reach by relaying information to the doctors through telemedicine.

Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must also be the joy of doing something beautiful. Being of service to God and humanity means going well beyond the sophistication of the best technology, to the humble demonstration of courtesy and compassion to each patient.– Dr.G.Venkataswamy

The Jagriti Train will visit the Aravind Eye Care Hospital on the 28th of December.

This architect from IIT-KGP helps make fun play areas for kids out of used tyres!

But wait. Listen, watch, enjoy. Let them play. And just be ready to help them take their next step. Don’t interrupt. Don’t insert yourself into their game without invitation. Please don’t say ‘oh what are you playing here?’ and totally disrupt a lovely moment. #bringbackplay

Pooja Rai, an architect from IIT-KGP quit her job as a product manager with Stayzilla to follow her passion of creating innovative, sustainable solutions using her technical background in architecture.

She, along with four other batchmates, started Anthill Creations, with the vision to mobilize communities by creating low-cost, sustainable play spaces from recycled tires & scrap. They transform spaces into creative areas for children. These play spaces are created for children of all age-groups, with a specific focus on early childhood learning.

Anthill created the first low-cost playground made of old tyres at the IIT Kharagpur campus. This was at the Disha Seema care centre in IIT Kharagpur, West Bengal. They built this playground for underprivileged kids & received assistance from Michelin tyres & college alumni. Contributions from batch mates and juniors made this DIY project a huge success.

“While in college, I worked closely with Disha Seema Center, which was a residential care centre for underprivileged children from surrounding villages.

There was always a dearth of resources, and while the Center was committed to delivering education to these children, my friends Nupur and Paul and I often discussed the lack of play space.

Luckily for us, during his internship, Paul had discovered the wonders of using upcycled tyres for construction during his internship. Our thoughts converged into a single solution — why not make a recycled tyre playground? It was totally D-I-Y, low-cost and a fun way to bring smiles into the lives of these children.”


Jagriti Yata presents…The Biz Gyan Tree!

What’s an entrepreneur if not competitive? Always striving for that extra mile, driven by something nobody else can see.

And what’s an entrepreneurial journey without a good competition to get these 500+ entrepreneurs buzzing?

The Biz Gyan Tree is an annual business modelling exercise first started in 2009, where the yatris are divided into different verticals (or Key Focus Areas) as per their interests, and are made to create sustainable solutions to the challenges of rural India.

The focus is on the seven verticals, as mentioned below:

1. Agriculture

2. Healthcare

3. Education

4. Manufacturing

5. Energy

The Process

The process of BGT is divided into two phases: On the train, during the yatra, and second, residency program that begins post-yatra.

On the train, each group presents a business plan – which is feasible from a technical and financial point of view. This happens in a village called Barpar, near Deoria, where they make use of all resources available (which are admittedly scarce, hence teaching them resourcefulness) to present a sound business strategy that has been analyzed from every angle.

Their ideas are rigorously tested, and winners are handpicked for the residency program. The winners are invited back to Deoria and build a detailed business plan, as well as validate their assumptions.

This 2017…let the games begin!

Padhaaro: Experience a new city like a native

If you are visiting a new place in India, you typically hire a guide who takes you around the major tourist attractions, takes some pictures, and lets you go. By the end of it, you’ve visited the place as a tourist, and yearn to get the pulse of the place. This yearning to experience a new place as a native has given birth to a lot of new-age travel start-ups in India. Because in a guided tour of major attractions, one would have never known how a native experiences that place. One wouldn’t have got the chance to know the culture and unique practices or one might have missed that yummy street food in that locality or a cycle tour in a city. Wouldn’t it be better if one had a friend who could have taken him all around the city and help one get the feel of the place he is visiting? Tapping this niche segment by offering the local flavor of the place with the help of a local greeter, an interesting new-age travel enterprise ‘Padhaaro’ was launched by a group of young, passionate travel enthusiasts in 2012.

Wouldn’t it be better if one had a friend who could have taken him all around the city and help one get the feel of the place he is visiting?

Padhaaro_2Tapping this niche segment by offering the local flavor of the place with the help of a local greeter, an interesting new-age travel enterprise ‘Padhaaro’ was launched by a group of young, passionate travel enthusiasts in 2012.

Padhaaro offers local tour services through the eyes of a native expert which otherwise one wouldn’t have explored. It is a curator of travel experiences beyond standardized tourist itineraries.

“The idea was born when I was traveling in Moscow after attending a youth forum in 2011 and couldn’t figure out what to do and how to explore the city really well. And what’s better than having a knowledgeable local who knows the city and has expertise to deliver the right experience?” asks Ish Jindal, co-founder of Padhaaro. By then, having travelled in Jagriti Yatra 2010, he was already part of the amazing yatri network and he speaks high of it in his entrepreneurial journey. The thought evolved after they came back and started it as a volunteer-based model. They bootstrapped their venture for a while and are now funded by Morpheus, a start-up accelerator which is mentoring them as well.


The model is designed in such a way that both the tourists and greeters are connected and benefit from it. The revenue model is through a certain cut on every experience booked. Apart from creating a network of locals whom tourists can trust, it could also help locals to incentivize their skill sets and talents in their interactions with tourists. This would enable greeters to be micro-entrepreneurs as well. In the longer run, when locals sell their hometown well, tourists go back home with a happy experience, which augurs well for tourism in the country.

Padhaaro’s primary customers are foreign tourists who contribute about 75% to their customer base. The Bengaluru-based start-up has now expanded to 18 cities and has to deal with competition as a number of startups are cropping up in this space. According to Ish, “Customer acquisition has been a challenge all through and in

According to Ish, “Customer acquisition has been a challenge all through and with Airbnb expanding in this, the competition is tough.”

Padhaaro’s larger vision is to make the discovery of travel experiences easier, safer, local and social and a very memorable one.


Srujna: For a dignified life

Someone wisely said, “Travel far enough, and you’ll eventually find yourself.”

This is what happened with Vaishali, a textile designer, when she decided to quit her unsatisfying job and travel.

12249592_10154337271154554_76184448215590372_nIn 2007, she backpacked across India (before it was a trend), and met with “the real, genuine people of the country.” She volunteered with a rural NGO in Himachal Pradesh for almost a year, where she got to understand the challenges faced by them first-hand.

It was here a seed was born. She wanted to help underprivileged women break the vicious cycle of poverty, domestic violence, and illiteracy. She finished her MBA in Social Entrepreneurship, where she heard of Jagriti Yatra.

“I was very inspired because impacting lives was what I’d always wanted to know more about. I had no direction, but I had hope. At Jagriti, I interacted with a lot of peers, and met with role-models. It was an eye-opener, knowing that you could make this much impact, especially without being a societal outcast, which was very unheard of, back in 2009, in the kind of community I hail from. It gave me friendships and memories that have transcended time and distance. They’re always around…they were the first guests on my wedding list.”

2010: After coming back from Jagriti, Srujna was born.

It is a not-for-profit that aims at assisting underprivileged women through skill-training, business training, and linking them to markets and opportunities. Since 2010, it has generated jobs worth INR 1.6 Million for more than 5000 underprivileged women.

“I know it seems like we are helping them but the truth is, they are the ones changing our lives.” 

– Vaishali

13700184_10155013941849554_9220242840951257641_nWhile starting Srujna in Maharashtra, she met women who knew how to sew, knit, and embroider, but did not possess the business skills to make it a viable, sustainable source of income. Her professional knowledge helped them in production, and reach a wider audience. Her vision through Srujna is to create a world where every woman has the resources and the ability to live a meaningful life.

“They get confidence from this. They derive their identity from this. Surprisingly, money is a secondary concern for them. I knew right there and then that this is what I want to do the rest of my life. Even now when I think about what we do, the impact we are making, the point of it…it all boils down to their stories in the end.”

– Vaishali

AAO Hostels

Love travelling but on a low budget, then choose a Backpacker’s Hostel. One such Hostel was set up by our yatris, and had named it AAO HOSTELS.

Mahendra Pyati
Founder, AAO Hostels

Mahendra Pyati, Yatri 2009 along with his friend Saurabh Jain, Yatri 2011 piloted this idea in Nashik for a month and formally launched in Bangalore in 2015 as a private limited company. Pyati, who is a traveler by passion, has felt the dearth of such shared accommodation in India. He observes that such hostels are very few in number in India unlike 50-60 such hostels in a European city. “The idea to start up was there since some time, but it got kick started when I was travelling in the Yatra”, says Pyati, who is an IT professional as well. He adds, numerous discussions in the Yatra have also helped him.

It offers decent accommodation (20-bed) with a host of services and helps travelers have cultural exchange too. On an average, about 400 people visit this centrally located hostel in Koramangala, Bangalore every month. Set up with a limited budget, AAO Hostel’s journey has been smooth and registered profit in its first year. It has won funding from the Karnataka Government’s Idea2POC fund in a hackathon titled ‘Pitch to the Government’ in September 2016. This would enable them to scale up. They are currently building up an e-commerce platform for such hostels in India. Pyati says that they are willing to help others to set up their own hostel ventures and are also working with the Karnataka Government in bringing up a policy for Hostels.

The next time you visit Bangalore, don’t miss to check in AAO HOSTELS as it’s an ideal place for Budget, solo travelers, and Backpackers! Travel More, Stay in Hostels More.