Jagriti Yatra hopes to shape 475 youngsters into entrepreneurs of tomorrow through a 8,000-km journey

28th Dec 2015
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A group of 475 people are taken across 12 cities, towns and villages of India to expose them to opportunities to learn the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship, so that they can build a new India through enterprise.

Sounds a bit over-ambitious, doesn’t it? But one must admit that ambition, and copious amounts of it, drives change.

Jagriti or ‘awakening’ for a new India is what Shashank Mani and Raj Krishnamurthy, Founders of Jagriti Yatra, wanted to bring about through discovery and transformation. According to them, with the help of the youth, it will take 20 years to change the nation and make it a more empowered one.

The-launch-event-at-IIT-Powai,-Mumbai
The launch event at IIT Powai, Mumbai

This year, Jagriti Yatra seems to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous train trip across India before embarking on his freedom movement. The Yatra is introducing a special coach for its participants to reflect on the significance of the journey through memorabilia of the Father of the Nation.

Apart from the iconic reference, as the yatra enters into its eighth edition, we have lined up a few facts on it:

  • This is the first time the yatra will have equal number of men and women leaders or facilitators on board. The women contribute to nearly half of the group of participants (42 per cent).
  • The participants and facilitators not just represent 27 States and six Union Territories of India but 23 countries across the world. The only territory left out is Lakshadweep Islands, which the founders are confident of getting covered the next year.
  • Speaking about demographics, 33 per cent of the yatris (participants) are from rural background, while 36 per cent are from semi-urban background and 31 per cent from an urban background.
  • This is the largest contingent of participants on board, boasting a selection of 475 participants selected from more than 17,000 registrations

The trip is made through ‘Middle India’, with an “even geographical spread” within the country. According to Shashank, there are multiple philanthropic efforts to uplift the poor rural Tier-IV villages. But, only a small ratio of the efforts help to uplift Tier-III townships, where the ‘real India’ lives. This ‘Middle’ India consists 42.3 per cent of the country’s population constituting 550 million individuals, he adds.

The yatris of Jagriti Yatra
The yatris of Jagriti Yatra

Rhythms of the journey

The journey will be across 12 cities and townships (namely Mumbai, Hubli, Bengaluru, Madurai, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Bhubaneshwar, Patna, Deoria, Delhi, Tilonia and Ahmedabad), where different stages of learning will be ticked off for the participants.

The organisers segment the journey in three legs – Leg 1 (Mumbai to Chennai) or the ‘Exploration’ stage, where participants learn and imbibe lessons from role models, panelists and through interaction with other participants; Leg 2 (Chennai to Delhi) which, according to Raj, is the magical part of the journey is named ‘Creation’.

Sumit, one of the yatris
Sumit, one of the yatris

He explains that this stage helps introverts among the participants shed their reticence and speak up, while extroverts learn to listen more, leading to a complete paradigm shift. Finally, Leg 3 (Delhi to Mumbai) which is called the ‘Integration’ stage, sees participants starting to absorb all the learning, and trying to make sense of it.

During the journey, Raj adds, the yatris will reflect, introspect and rediscover a new purpose leading to an inner journey which will challenge their own beliefs.

During the 15 days of the journey, participants are split into cohorts of six, with one facilitator assigned for each cohort. They are divided based on their interests in seven verticals: agriculture, healthcare, energy, education, water sanitation, arts and culture, as well as manufacturing. Later, these cohorts merge into groups to perform an array of activities such as coming up with business ideas during a competition called Biz Gyan Tree.

All the activities are built to approach the ‘red threads’ of innovation, collaboration and transformation – traits which are ideal to the success of any enterprise or entrepreneur.

 The alumni

Savita Mundhe from Wadala, who was a part of the yatri in 2012, started up Rajjlaxmi Soya Foods after the journey, to empower her village. Today, she has managed to raise more than a crore for her venture and has launched paddy poha as its newest offering. She also became a Gram Pradhan at the age of 21, an achievement she gives credit to the learning from the journey.

While Savita was successful in building her business, Kavish and Neha embarked on a different journey. Having met at the Jagriti, the duo brainstormed on avenues to consume and express culture. The result was Zubaan, a movement to connect independent artistes to the mainlands of the country, while creating public performing spaces, as well as introducing independent music to the masses.

The Jagriti Express
The Jagriti Express

Similarly, the alumni of the express have created more than 350 enterprises tracked by the initiative. Forty-nine per cent of the alumni is working on nation building activities as of 2015.

But, as board members note, the journey is not for the anxious. With an example, Shashank explains:

“We will go to Naxalite affected areas and all other difficult areas of India because it is our country and if we don’t, who will?”

What this initiative hopes to achieve is the moulding of young people of today into strong entrepreneurs of tomorrow, by experiences, learning and, most of all, by instilling in them a deep sense of appreciation for the country that they wish to serve.

Photo Credits: Pradnyesh (Saaku)
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