Dr. Vibha Gupta is the Chairperson of Magan Sangrahalaya Samiti (MSS). She assisted her father, Dr. Devendra Kumar, in founding the Centre of Science for Villages in 1978 and has been working since then in developing appropriate technologies for rural population in areas such as renewable energy, rural artisans, housing, sanitation, forest and agro-based rural industries, health and women-oriented technologies. Qualified as an economist, Dr. Gupta earned her PHD from IIT, Delhi, with a focus on ‘Transfer of Technology Amongst Rural Women’. She also took her postgraduate degrees in Social Science in Canada and the Netherlands and is a recipient of a number of national and international awards, apart from being a member of various national committees.
Refusing lucrative jobs nationally and internationally, Dr. Vibha opted to work for the emancipation of rural folk living in our villages, especially for the women of Rural India. With her unique combination of high academic training, grounding in Gandhian philosophy and close linkage with the villages and grassroots movements, Vibha brings in the inspiration, administration and successful implementation of programmes foe enhancing entrepreneurships in rural India. We interviewed Dr.Gupta regarding her work pertaining to rural women and her philosophy of life. Presented her are a few excerpts from her interview….
Q: Why did you choose to work in this field of rural development and that too in a place which is considered as one of the poorest area in India?
I hail from a Gandhian background as my father spent his entire life to convert technologies into trades and processes into professions to create sustainable livelihoods for the millions of rural folk subsisting below the poverty line. My father bring my inspiration, I choose this filed to make his dream come true – the dream of bringing a smile on the countenance of the people living in the mud hut, especially the rural women, who are the most deprived lot.
Q: What is the vision and mission of MSS?
Our vision is to empower the people of rural India trough the micro-enterprise route to create sustainable livelihoods. And, our dream is that every villager has work in hand, has a roof over his or her head and does not sleep hungry. As you know, India’s 73% population lives in villages, of which 80% are farmers and 20% are artisans, of these 50% are women. These subgroups are in dire need of alternate means of sustenance, given the market forces and today’s economic policies. Magan Sangrahalaya Samithi’s mission is to address these critical needs by creating sustainable, low-cost, environmentally sound and socially just interventions.
Q: How is CAPART helping MSS archives its mission?
CAPART has been and is extending tremendous support in fulfilling our mission trough its projects that we are implementing in 120 villages of Wardha District of Maharashtra, especially in terms of watershed harvesting and rural enterprises. CAPART – funded Watershed Management and Development project has helped us bring water to ten arid villages by recharging their groundwater aquifer and rejuvenating the natural resources base through implementation of appropriate rainwater harvesting technologies. Now, there is water in every home and every field, whereas previously there was none. This intervention has also helped mobilize 2000 farmers to do natural farming, saving a total of Two Crore rupees annually on chemical fertilizers, resulting in an increase of 25 to 50% in the crop yield. Regarding the Rural Enterprise project of CAPART, it has helped us from around 600 Self Help Groups (SHGs) with more than 10,000 women members. In fact, we have set up 34 rural micro-enterprises that provide subsidiary employment to 1000 rural women.
Q: What should be CAPART’s role in strengthening the grassroots movement?
CAPRT, with its vast network of 4000 voluntary agencies including Technology Resource Centres, Support Voluntary Agencies, specialized technical teams, should work towards evolving alternative innovative models of sustainable development and helping multiply and replicate them across the nation.