Indien: Komal Srivastava

Komal has inverted the top-down approach to the development of the dispossessed, moving beyond rhetoric and devising innovations that have broken ground in equity and participation.

— Komal Srivastava

Komal Srivastava (born 1960) set up the Rajasthan chapter of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (India Knowledge and Science Center, BGVS) in 1992. Since then, she has convinced the state government of the need for a people-centered, democratic approach to literacy, and set up Samata, a women's forum for equality, education, and peace, which was very important for developing women's leadership within BGVS. Komal's single-minded commitment to social equality and her persuasive and principled leadership have changed Rajasthan.

Komal Srivastava is a knowledge maven: the Rajasthan chapter of BGVS has become one of its most active chapters. When Komal was cementing the unit, Ajmer district had been declared entirely literate, and the Rajasthan bureaucracy was set to implement a top-down approach in the rest of the state. Komal campaigned for a people-centered, democratic approach, turning the BGVS into the literacy campaign's main training agency. Today, Rajasthan's literacy rate has increased by 22.45 per cent (the national average is 13.17 per cent). Equally crucial is Komal's inculcation of a gender-sensitive approach in the hitherto male-dominated organization. She set up Samata, which grew into a women's network that set up 15,000 self-help groups, and covers 10,000 villages and more than 500,000 women. Promoting literacy and education among those who have little access to it because they are socially excluded and impoverished is Komal's passion. She has been able to spotlight BGVS activities on Dalits, women, and other disadvantaged groups in Rajasthan, moving beyond rhetoric, and mentoring many innovations that have broken new ground in ensuring equality and participation. An unusual feature of BGVS work under Komal's leadership is the voluntary nature of its membership and activism. Unlike most NGOs, it does not depend on funding or a corpus of paid employees, but has been able to establish a volunteer base of nearly 3000 people in Rajasthan alone. Komal's single-minded commitment to social equality, her ability to mobilize voluntary actions, and her persuasive and principled leadership have, in many ways, altered Rajasthan.

Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS)