“All over the world, we have been having our priorities wrong. Instead of taking care of the basic essentials, huge amount money has been spent on weapons and “fake” items that are not needed. This has become a big issue right now, where citizens’ lives are at risk because of the inadequate healthcare infrastructures to fight this crisis.” 

Anshu Gupta

Watch Full interview here

Interview with 

Anshu Gupta

2015 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee

Founder Goonj

(Paraphrased)

1/ On India’s Situation on the Ground

The situation in India is not unique to India alone, there are a number of countries that are going through hungers and starvations too. We are experiencing a great level of displacements with a large reverse migration from the city back to the rural area.

For a lot of people now, the question is survival. The situation is complicated because a large number of people who rely on a daily wages are suddenly out of a job. What they are asking for are the basics for survival such as two meals a day. Although food are reaching out to the poor, the size of the problem remains big especially in the outskirt, as our larger populations actually live in the rural part of India, amplified by the reverse migration. Normally, family the size of 4 to 5 people have been able to get by, but with reverse migration, the size suddenly doubles, which makes the situation extremely difficult.

If we want to solve this problem and prevent death from starvation, we will need to ensure that the villages and the outskirts receive sufficient support, resources and attention.

Goonj, through our regional network has been providing relief effort across the outskirt of India since the start of the lock down. 

Watch full conversation here.

2A/ On COVID-19’s impact on Goonj

Goonj has created an infrastructure of support and goodwill working in 25 states and union territories across India in the last two decades. In the past, when disasters strike, the most we have had to do, was to provide support for one or two territories. 

We never anticipated in our lifetime that the day would come when we have to serve the entire grid in one go. Many of our team members have been working around the clock. Even in the midst of a lock down, we are still able to reach out to 17 states across India to provide support. 

We have had to change our model and change the way we are working. We literally need to reimagine and innovate new things in the process. However, we were also able to tap into our past experiences and best practices to deal with this disaster. This is the time where all the knowledge we have acquired in the last two decades are becoming like an asset to us, we have been able to transfer the skills and systems into good use.

2B/ On Strategy to combat problems from the lockdown 

On strategies to combat COVID-19

What many people do not realise is that, this is a disaster that requires everything to be localized. The solution has to be so localized that there is no role for any centralized management. This is the perfect opportunity for the decentralization of power, money and reaching out to people.

The moment you decentralize, you also reduce logistics. And logistics is one of the toughest challenges right now. The reason we (Goonj) are able to provide support in 17 states is because we operate on a complete decentralized model. 

“You need a complete decentralization to tackle this disaster.”

We have acquired practical systems, experiences and know-how over the years, and are prepared to share our experiences and expertise to the larger community around the world with our model in tackling the logistical and data management challenges which will greatly make a difference during this crisis.

Watch full conversation here.

Watch Anshu’s thoughts on:

  • Heroes of COVID-19 here
  • Re-imagining a better future here
  • Finding joy in time of desperation here
  • How to make a difference during this pandemic here

Anshu Gupta, popularly known as the Clothing Man is the Founder of an Indian based nonprofit – Goonj. One of India’s best known social entrepreneurs, Anshu was conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2015 for ‘his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity’. Anshu founded Goonj to address the most basic although often ignored need of clothing and the multifaceted role it plays in villages across India. Today Goonj is a pan-India movement working in cities and villages throughout the country dealing with more than 3000 tons of material annually. Goonj’s award winning initiatives; Cloth for Work (CFW), Not Just a Piece of Cloth (NJPC) and RAHAT focus on humanitarian aid, community development and disaster relief work across 25 states of India.
Learn more at goonj.org.

Watch Anshu’s panel discussion on The Future Re-Imagined at AFES 2018 here