Shashank Mani Tripathi did not know that watching the film Jagriti as a child would lead him to start a journey of enterprise-led development by the same name many years later. The film’s song Aao Bachho Tumhe Dikhaye was an inspiration and Tripathi’s life is an echo of that sentiment.
He established the Jagriti Yatra in 1997 on the occasion of India’s 50th Independence Day. It was then known as the Azad Bharat Rail Yatra. The journey is an endeavour to introduce young minds to role models in rural and urban areas, people who are achievers in business and social development. Every year since 2007, 450 young people from villages, towns, cities and foreign countries set out on a 15 day journey to meet inspiring people across India. The yatris participate in discussions, presentations and meetings in the train.
“We want to recreate India through enterprise led development. People think about the corruption, unemployment and despair in the country but we teach them to hope. We believe the way to fight the negativity is to introduce people to role models who are doing brilliant work,” says Tripathi.
“We need to rely on people from small towns and villages to bring about change as they have lived with the problems and know them better than others. The yatra transforms them as they meet great people and receive unbelievable exposure,” comments Tripathi.
The integration of rural and urban and the network that develops is a key to building our nation, believes Tripathi. He relates the tale of Amit Kataria, a differently-abled man, who embarked on this arduous journey. After returning to Punjab, where he hailed from, he opened a computer training centre named Rose Academy with the help of Sanded Kirplani a yatri from the city.
Tripathi believes that one may protest but building the nation is of utmost important. An IIT Delhi alumnus, Tripathi, born in Gorakhpur, has traversed the country as a child as his father was in the army. “I think that we have one chance in a lifetime to help build our nation. In a survey we conducted recently, we spoke to 1,300 former yatris and found that 23 percent have already started their own social enterprises and 20 percent are doing work of social importance. I do believe we are making an impact,” he said.