Love, Non-violence, and Truth
Heartfulness eMagazine|December 2021
DR. PRAKASH TYAGI is the Executive Director of Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS), an NGO dedicated to working in impoverished rural regions of India, including the Thar Desert, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Bundelkhand. In part 1 of this interview with KASHISH KALWANI, he speaks about applying the Gandhian principles of love, non-violence, and truth to support communities in need.
KASHISH KALWANI
Q: Thank you sir, for having this conversation with us. You have been on a long and inspiring journey with GRAVIS. Could you tell us more about it?

GRAVIS is a pioneering organization that was founded in 1983 in the Thar Desert. The vision was for constructive rural development on the Gandhian lines of philosophy, and at the time there were no organizations working on integrated rural development in a holistic way in that area. Since then, GRAVIS has grown extensively. It’s currently one of the leading organizations in the region and nationally, with some global recognition.

The Thar Desert is the driest part of India, with severe water scarcity, food shortages, and poverty. Since the beginning, GRAVIS has been involved in drought mitigation, finding common feasible solutions in consultation with the local people. We took up various projects and formed multiple partnerships to mitigate the effects of drought. Later, GRAVIS expanded into other areas of human development, including healthcare, education, and rural livelihood.

The core of GRAVIS’ work has been active community involvement, and that includes consulting with the community to find solutions, taking their advice, and developing future projects and programs. We ensure that they are fully involved in many ways. GRAVIS has led to the formation of more than 3000 community based organizations (CBOs), and many of them are sustainable, self-reliant, confident, working on their own, leveraging government resources, and developing their own agenda and priorities. That helps in sustaining the initiatives we have taken up.

We have been extending our work regularly every year, and currently, we reach about 1.5 million people.

GRAVIS has three defining aspects. The first is our technical expertise in two core areas:

1. Drought mitigation, at the ground level as well as in documenting and research. We share this information to facilitate learning and exchange across the whole of South Asia. The Thar Desert is the largest desert in the world in terms of population and housing, so that makes GRAVIS a leading drought mitigation organization.

2. Healthcare: We provide medical services, as well as an integrated public health approach, including education, training, and capacity building of health workers and communities on general health, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, sexually transmitted diseases, and non-communicable diseases. Tuberculosis has been a challenge in many communities and GRAVIS was one of the first organizations to highlight the threat of occupational lung diseases and mining diseases like silicosis.

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