Jagriti Yatra Day Nine: …And the Biz Gyan

After a jumping party on the train with loud music and too many ‘this is the last song guys!’, we winded up around two welcoming the new year. I, however, slept at around three as I had to write the daily blog post documenting the journey. And this certainly has been a great journey on both the aspect: internal and external.

The Jagriti Yatra team has planned the journey in such a way that we get to meet people who have made serious impact in the community, see the places which have seen changes and plan our own business models to implement in a village that we would visit.

Today was the day when our existing groups were reshuffled on the basis of the area of interest. For example, mine is education and so I have been given ten young people from four nationalities: Chinese, Australian, Russian and Indian (three of them have taken education from Canada, US and Singapore).

We had to hold discussions on formulating a business model (as a part of Biz Gyan Tree exercise) based on a village that we would visit on 3rd January in Deoria, UP. The ideation had to start with certain assumption about a typical Indian village and the group had to come up with two viable business models which could be non-profit or profit-making.

As explained above, the diverse group could very well be a problem due to the cultural differences in the group. To make them realise what we might see in the village, I gave them a brief about what does a village mean, how does it appear, what are the general issues, what are the issues in education, what kind of schooling exists, what is the drop out percentage at various levels, possible reasons, the patriarchal notion of not sending to school the girl children, what does education mean in Indian context, the need of reforms and existing infrastructure along with general talks.

This talk brought us all on the same page. Now, the ideas could be put in proper context and we will be grounded with the realities of almost a third of households in UP getting no electricity, and those which get don’t get it for more than ten hours. The idea is to go for a model which doesn’t actually start a school and go for alternative education systems.

The problem with various alternative methods is its social acceptance. Agreed that you give different education and kids learn more but you ought to get certification from some offices. The social as well as industrial acceptance have to be there, else the sustainability of the human being educated through that system, however good it is, would seize to exist.

Anyway, giving them a ground to ideate, we initiated a discussion and went ahead with inviting comments from all of us on the ways we can address the various issues with prevailing problems. These problems could be political indifference, social stigma, bureaucratic ignorance and hindrance and other limiting factors like lack of electricity and connectivity.

Earlier, I had suggested the idea of community radio (I can’t disclose the exact idea as someone might pick it up, after all, it’s a competition as well!). We vetted it out and came up with fifteen more ideas which we decided to incorporate into two main ideas.

What I see here is a group of motivated young men and women trying to do something. And they are serious about it. They want to be the agents of change. I feel happy to see our generation as thinkers, some of them might go on to make a big impact as well.

It’s been a big learning exercise for me who always thought business as something too complex to delve in to. I am still not convinced in starting a business but man, I have great ideas, take them and build on it. I now understand what it takes to start an enterprise and the challenges we must be ready to tackle.

In this particular model I think my group is aiming for a non-profit approach and is more interested in social enterprise which should be making just the money to support itself. I never thought I will be talking business and investment, funding, finance services and business services… And here I am, giving all the gyaan.

I hope to work out a good plan and actually take it to that village in coming months either myself or present it in such an easy way that someone can come and try to implement it.

Tomorrow morning we are scheduled to reach Patna for another role model visit along with the site visit. The chill can be felt right now when I have entered Bihar, my home state. Set to wake up in the fog from the normal sunny days till now…


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