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Friday, August 21, 2009

My Guru Gets Magsaysay

Last month one of my mentors got rewarded by the society. The great soul, I idolize for inspiring and bringing me into the world of social engineering, worked for long before being noticed by the society for consideration.
However, it’s another fact that he never wanted any attention for being good.

Deep Joshi, the founder of Professional Assistance for Development Action or PRADAN was considered for Ramon Magsaysay award for his pioneering work in rural development on August 3.

Joshi two decades ago founded PRADAN with the hope that technically qualified people will turn livelihood interventionist. Six years ago, when I first interacted with Joshi in the Kesla, a central Indian settlement surrounded by dense jungles of Satpura, a had a complete metamorphosis.

In a Gond tribal village nearby we discovered how people educated in Indian Institutes of Technologies and Managements have created livelihood opportunities from mushroom cultivation. The interesting thing the mushroom is flaked and sold as the popular Knorr-soup brand by fast-moving consumer goods major, Hindustan Unilever Ltd.

Joshi said, “This product and livelihood integration fits in and around this part of the country a professional you can work different livelihood concept as per the location.”

Joshi was always shy of admitting that he did anything, instead he promoted the local team as the owners of the success. It worked well promoting innovation at more that 30 locations in India, where PRADAN worked.

In my early 20s and raring to do something for the country, I remembered each of his word, until I created a livelihood concept in South-Jharkhand. It was about introducing hybrid corn in about 30 villages.

This concept prevented a imminent large scale migration from the region to brick kilns in Uttar Pradesh, and added on an average an income of about 5,000 rupees or nearly $100. I still find this the most satisfying work in my life.
And I thank Deep and the villagers who believed in me for all of it.

Joshi, an alumnus of MIT and Harvard, saw the first to realize the potential in professionals working a village. However it’s true that every large organization has problem, PRADAN too has.
At the height of decentralization few people started becoming egotist, they chose to exploit the very people whom they were to help. But such minor instances will not take the idea of success as ‘PRADAN’ that Deep Joshi conceptualized.

Cheers Deep. Do inspire more people.

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