Published: 24th February 2017
Spotting a leader in every rural child
Manthan co-founder Dhruv Gupta tells how they activate leadership in villages
How founders Dhruv Gupta (25) and Utkarsh Tripathi (26) describe leadership through their programme Manthan is different from our regular definition of its noun form, especially when it comes to a student leader. “How to maximise your own potential in our own lives,” defines Dhruv, adding “Having articulated what one wants from life, nothing should actually stop them from getting there. What takes me from where I am to where I want to be is how we define leadership.” And to activate this leadership, they started after-school student leadership building centres in Bhanin and Haripura villages in the last one year.
Attention all All children listening
Communities create these centres themselves, Manthan doesn’t fund the centre. Everything is done through volunteers to make it sustainable. By selecting interns from colleges and local volunteers (whom they mentor), they set up the leadership centres where students are enrolled and asked, “What do you want to do?” They conduct action-based activities to stimulate leadership. For example, they ask students to create beginning-to-end projects on issues that their community grapples with, for example, rural sanitation. Suppose children show more interest in art, they conduct an activity called ‘Who am I?’ where students are provided with blank papers and crayons and asked to draw themselves keeping in mind questions like ‘What excites you?’, which helps them articulate and be aware of who they are. Through activities like this, “once the culture in the centre builds, it feels like a space students wish to come back to.”
Who they believe is a student leader?
- Is able to articulate their own aspirations and reality
- Is aware of the world and their own surroundings
- To be able to articulate what they stand for
- Turning this into action by asking, "What can I do for my community?"
- Asks, "what 21st century skills do I need to be a leader?"
Dhruv, who has been in the development sector for four years now, still feels that they are new. “I have realised that it takes a lot of time to create a long lasting impact, especially when it comes to children and learning.”