Innovation on Wheels

Posted By: Pooja Ganeriwala|Dated: December 28, 2011

In this country, riddled by contradictions but brimming with cultural diversity, if there is one thing that remains constant, it is the myriad different hopes as an answer to every question. In one such culmination of these hopes, a unique movement of social entrepreneurship seems to have stirred the nation’s youth – a movement that rightly calls itself the ‘Jagriti Yatra.’

By the year 2020, India is predicted to have not only the largest labour force in the world, but also the youngest. However, with the burgeoning population of urban youth and college degrees, there co-exists a pathetic state of mass sub-urban/rural unemployment statistic that makes the Indian economy seem like a convoluted paradox.

And yet in this country, riddled by contradictions but brimming with cultural diversity, if there is one thing that remains constant, it is the myriad different hopes as an answer to every question. In one such culmination of these hopes, a unique movement of social entrepreneurship seems to have stirred the nation’s youth – a movement that rightly calls itself the ‘Jagriti Yatra.’

The Jagriti Yatra – itself a metaphorical translation of India’s most innovative minds is an annual odyssey that selects young people for an 15-day, 7500 kilometers voyage by train, through the length and the breadth of the nation.

The Jagriti Yatra – itself a metaphorical translation of India’s most innovative minds is an annual odyssey that selects young people for an 15-day, 7500 kilometers voyage by train, through the length and the breadth of the nation.

Through the course of the journey, participants are introduced to individuals and institutions responsible for developing unique solutions to India’s challenges, in order to inspire them to relate not only to the original ideas that gave shape to successful enterprises, but also to the courage of their founders who kept going against enormous odds.

The major axis of the Yatra is based upon the need for ‘enterprise-led development’ (ELD).

Shashank Mani, curator and key person behind the Yatra says, “India’s demography represents a diamond rather than the proverbial pyramid. While the bottom of this diamond is the below $1-a-day-income 350 million population, the top constitutes a mere 250 million above-$3-a-day income group. It is the middle of this diamond – a staggering 500 million Indians who, while no longer are destitute, still lack the means to earn a living.”

It is to address this demographic that the Yatra has taken on the role of an enabler, supporting the middle of this diamond to lead development by taking to enterprise, helping them to stop being job seekers and to instead become job creators.

The Yatra’s objective is not anything tangible. It does not promote Monday morning start-ups. It only emphasizes the process of learning, discovering India, understanding one’s inner self, ideation and perseverance, teamwork and a transformed attitude.

“With age, people become more cynical and rigid in their ideas. Young people are more idealistic. They want to change the nation and believe that they can. It is this spirit that we want to capture. The Yatra shakes you up and gets you out of your comfort zone, which is not possible in a seminar or a conference”.

“With age, people become more cynical and rigid in their ideas. Young people are more idealistic. They want to change the nation and believe that they can. It is this spirit that we want to capture. The Yatra shakes you up and gets you out of your comfort zone, which is not possible in a seminar or a conference,” says Mani.

And he may be right, for success tales of the post-Yatra impact, abound. From mechanical engineers giving up work to start a toy factory to software consultants devoting themselves to the educational space.

And if there was any doubt, the numbers stand testimony. With a focus on tier-two towns and villages and 40% representation from women, the Yatra has grown from a handful of applications in 1997 to almost over 20,000 in 2011, eventually resulting in a total of 425 Yatris this year from 24 states and 23 nationalities, including Congo, Zambia, Mexico, Israel, Ghana amongst others. By all means, a representation of the optimism and belief in India.

It is this optimism and the power of the Indian economy that the Jagriti Yatra celebrates.

About the Author

Pooja Ganeriwala is a freelance blogger and columnist based in New York.

She writes on education, entrepreneurship, new media and healthcare, amongst other subjects and has published articles for The Times of India, The Economic Times, The United Nations, Femina, etc. She can be reached at ganeriwala.pooja@gmail.com

The views expressed above are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of the views of the Mahindra Group. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rajeesh.rajagopalan.nair Rajeesh.rajagopalan Nair

    Good initiative

  • Eric

    nice article pooja!!!

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