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Why This IIT Kharagpur Alumnus Quit His Lucrative Job to Help Farmers

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An IIT, Kharagpur post graduate and former dean of Centurion University, Odisha, Vishal Singh left his job in 2016 to work fulltime for society through his NGO – Kaivalya Vichar Seva Samiti.

Vishal, whose grandfather was a farmer, often wondered about how he could reduce labor required for farming. This curiosity led him to do a degree in agriculture engineering from OUAT (Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology). After finishing B.Tech in 2011, Vishal was determined to do something for the farmers, so he laid the foundation of his NGO with the help of his friends, Hemant, Ajay, Deepak and Santosh.

Soon after college, the five friends visited various villages in Orissa to assess the ground reality of farmers. However, during their survey, the group realized that working only on farming issues was not enough in these villages. The children of these farming families had no food, no clothing and absolutely no education at all.

Vishal’s thirst for a solution spurred him to join a post-graduation course at the Agricultural and Food Engineering Department in IIT, Kharagpur. Meanwhile, he also registered his NGO Kaivalya Vichar Seva Samiti (KVSS) in 2012 and started working for the deprived children of the two villages, Soladahar and Gopali of Paschim Medinipur district of West Bengal through free evening classes.

Sikshadaanam (free education)

Vishal and his friends kept working for KVSS dedicatedly and now Vishal also had a new group of friends from IIT, Kharagpur that pitched in support. Apart from these students, there were professors and alumni from IIT, Kharagpur, who joined them. This helped KVSS expand its services in Mayurbhanj, Gajapati and Bargarh district of Odisha and Chandauli, Aligarh, Etah and Lucknow district of Uttar-Pradesh.

In 2013, Vishal finished his M.Tech and was placed in an MNC. By this time, KVSS had almost 400 volunteers from different universities like IIT, Bhubaneswar, NIT Jamshedpur, Banaras Hindu University, Allahabad University, Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology, Jharkhand Central University and many other organizations across India.

In 2014, KVSS provided direct services to 2,500 children through its different services like Annadaanam (free food distribution), Vastradanam (free clothes distribution), Sikshadaanam (free education) and Swathyadaanam (free health checkup).

Annadaanam (free food distribution)

With the aim of more services for socioeconomically deprived children, KVSS started to organize different skill-oriented competitions at primary and middle schools of different states to make them practically oriented.

Vishal left his previous job in 2014 and joined Centurion University, Odisha, as dean. Now, it was also time to focus on the main aim that Vishal had right from the beginning – farming.

Vishal Singh

During his visits to remote villages, Vishal met many tribal communities that owned land, but were not exposed to the world. Among these were the Lodha tribe that hunted food and would roam the lands with their children. The children were mostly suffering from malnutrition, they did not wear any clothes and had no idea what education was.

“I was shocked to see the gap between us and these tribals. I can’t even term it as a gap; it was a huge ditch that had to be filled. On one hand we have a part of society that travels only in airplanes and on the other hand here there were these tribals, staying in the same society, who did not know what transport or education was,” explains Vishal.

KVSS counseled these tribals to do farming and earn a livelihood for themselves. They also helped their children get education, food and clothing through their programs.

Vishal helped the tribals to do farming and lead a civilized life.

By 2016, KVSS started focusing on farmer issues and decided to promote an economic organic model of farming for the marginal and semi-marginal farming communities to resolve the issue of their livelihood.

“Initially, we had started to provide basic training and demonstration to farmers about preparation of organic compost, organic pesticides, organic insecticides and organic nutrients for better and chemical-free food production. After that, we introduced our new concept of “One lakh rupees from One acre land,” which is adopted by many farmers and because of this model we have got the spirit to promote Organic farming in Mayurbhanj, Gajapati, Sundargarh and Bargarh district of Odisha,” says Vishal.

Vishal, who wanted to dedicate his life towards the betterment of society, was in a dilemma when his parents did not support his decision to leave his job.  He understood that being the eldest son of a middle-class family, it would be difficult to switch from earning a lakh a month to nothing.

“I was not sure whether I should leave my job. But one of my friends asked me why I was afraid. I told him that I don’t know how the future would be. He then asked me,‘When you travel from Kolkata to Bhubaneshwar in the night how much distance do the headlights of your car show you? It shows a distance of hardly 20 meters and only when you cover that much distance, can you see the next 20 meters.’ I understood what he meant and I quit my job,” says Vishal.

Today, nearly 5,000 children and 8,000 farmers from all over India have been benefited through different programs by KVSS.

KVSS is also working progressively for the betterment of tribal and rural farming communities.

At present, Vishal and his team are planning a socio- entrepreneurship model for  integrated and sustainable development of tribal and rural communities of Odisha, by setting up small and home-scale units of organic fertilizer and pesticide preparation, mushroom cultivation, dairy and poultry. The team is also preparing plans for organic soil and a bio-intensive orchard.

Vishal promotes and provides training to farmers for sustainable organic farming. And more educated youth are joining Vishal to make a better India.

To join KVSS or to contribute, please visit their website http://kaivalyavichar.org/.

You can also contact Vishal Singh at –

Contact No- 7682929812 / 7007275685
Email- vishalsinghiitkgp87@gmail.com

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Written by Manabi Katoch

A Mechanical Engineer-turned-writer, Manabi finds solace in writing stories about unsung heroes. Nothing makes her happier than the impact emails from her readers. Other than writing, she loves listening to the stories told by her six year old daughter. Manabi can be reached at manabi@thebetterindia.com. You can also find her tweets @manabi5