New Delhi, October 29: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister, and Education Minister Shri Manish Sisodia, joined Anshu Gupta, social entrepreneur and founder of 'Goonj' to interact with students of Delhi government schools for a Live Entrepreneurship Interaction. “It is important to dream, and no dream is big, or small,” said Gupta whilst interacting with the students online. The Live Entrepreneurship Interaction is part of the Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum (EMC) in government schools in Delhi.
The students in the session were able to learn Gupta’s colourful journey, his success behind setting up one of the most successful NGOs in India, and also got the opportunity to interact with him. Delhi School Fee Hike Row: Parents of Sanskriti School Students Meet Manish Sisodia, Claim 83% Fees Hike in Recent Months.
Entrepreneur Anshu Gupta, recipient of 2015 Ramon Magsaysay award, founded Goonj in 1999, an NGO that works in humanitarian relief, aid and development sector - to support the vulnerable, and the underprivileged. Born to a government employee, Gupta’s childhood and schooling was shaped by living in different remotest areas due to his father’s government postings. “I want to tell you who I am. I’ve studied in seven different govt. schools in places like Banwasa (Haryana), Chakrata (Uttarakhand), and other remote areas. My parents taught me how to be adaptable by reminding me to adjust according to my surroundings; something that is especially revered by parents nowadays,” he said.
On starting Goonj, he shared with the students that the seed was sown when he realised he wanted to actively bring a change in the society. Gupta shifted to Delhi in 1990 to pursue mass communication; as a migrant in Delhi. He said that was the beginning of Goonj. “You see the suffering of people day in and day out which keeps distracting you. But you still sleep peacefully because you know that you have more to do tomorrow,” Gupta said. “it’s not a sacrifice for me because what I do brings us joy,” he added.
Gupta then went on to express his gratitude to the government schools that set the base of his entrepreneurial journey. “I had a beautiful middle-class life where my parents focused on good education. I want to tell the students that government schools have played a huge role in what I am today. They’re the backbone of this country where the majority of India studies,” he added.
The students actively participated in the session by asking thoughtful questions. On being asked if his disaster relief campaigns were scary, Gupta replied saying that the fear is there, but one shouldn’t give into it. “You won’t be able to work, or go to vulnerable, and disaster-struck areas if the fear paralyses you. Instead, take all the precautions but don’t let the fear overwhelm you,” he said.
Another student asked Gupta about his work on spreading awareness about menstruation in small villages, and wanted to understand how such taboo subjects can be addressed. Gupta said that the misconception on women’s issues isn’t just limited to villages but is prevalent amongst educated people too. “But it is with the right intent, and honesty that one can gain the trust of the people. You gain their trust first to get the message across,” Gupta added.
During the initial years of Goonj, Gupta said that they decided to sell hand-made bamboo watches for Rs 250 at Dilli Haat. “We looked into innovative ways of creating upcycled products. We didn’t compromise on the quality, because we wanted people to think of investing in beautiful products made in India rather than thinking of it as charity. We worked hard to change the perception that comes with charity organisations,” Gupta added.
Encouraging students to take failures in their strides, Gupts said, “Let the work talk for you. We made a conscious effort to strengthen our pillars. We made mistakes but we learnt from them. And slowly, people started trusting us, and our work.”
On naming Goonj, Gupta said he thought it was a poetic word. “Since the beginning, we wanted Goonj to spread like an idea; so people learn from it, replicate it, improve it and finally make it their own. We wanted this idea to become bigger, and better, and we want more young entrepreneurs to get associated with this vision. That’s why we kept it open source - Goonj is everyone’s,” Gupta said.
“Students should take inspiration from Anshu, whose passion to change the world and help lakhs of people in the country is a one-of-its-kind success story. We designed the curriculum keeping this in mind, to connect our students with entrepreneurs who can guide them by sharing their stories, and develop the mindset one needs to become one. I’m grateful to Anshu Gupta who took the time out to speak to our children, and share his journey with them”, said Shri Sisodia during the interaction.
Shri Sisodia praised Gupta’s dedication, and said, “If you’ve seen 3 Idiots, there were two types of characters - Rancho and Chatur - both successful in their own way. Now if I ask you what do you want to become, what will you say? Chatur is a favorite of his teachers and does everything well but he does not have the entrepreneurship mindset that Rancho has. Chatur follows the system but doesn’t enjoy it whereas Rancho enjoys his education.
“The same thought is with Anshu ji, in which he enjoys helping people, and I hope the students learn from him,” Sisodia said.
Shri Sisodia said that Gupta has helped the disaster-struck victims for years now, and that it was inspiring to see Gupta helping the Bihar flood victims, when Sisodia visited Bihar in 2008, with Arvind Kejriwal. Shri Sisodia said that since their meeting in Bihar, he’s been deeply impressed by the public service spirit of Gupta.
The 11th live entrepreneur interaction was organised by SCERT, Delhi. Despite the lockdown, the entrepreneurial curriculum, which has now been made online, continues in Delhi government schools for students from class 9 to 12 who get an opportunity to interact with some of the most enterprising entrepreneurs in India.