Mrs. Shashi Tyagi

  • 2017
  • Jamnalal Bajaj Award for Constructive Work

Born: July 12, 1947

Ms. Shashi Tyagi is a straight forward, simple, devoted social worker and an educationist. She, along with her husband late Mr. L. Tyagi from Banwasi Sewa Ashram in Uttar Pradesh, shifted to Jodhpur, Thar Desert region where their journey of constructive work started in 1980. Padyatras, conducting surveys and working on issues that adversely affected the people and community of the region viz. substance abuse, caste and gender discrimination, pardah system, women seclusion, poor health, illiteracy, water scarcity, etc. were initiated by sensitizing and mobilizing the community. To carry the work in a systematic way the couple founded Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (well known as GRAVIS) in 1983 in Gagadi village, Jodhpur. Water security and watershed development constituted the most important part of GRAVIS work, with the guidance of Ms. Tyagi, Secretary of GRAVIS.

The objectives are to * Work for vulnerable and most needy groups * Develop self-reliant rural communities * Community involvement and sustainability * Blend traditional wisdom with modern sciences * Facilitate networking and linkages. Some of the areas of work include:
- Watershed development and management
- Agriculture and afforestation
- Animal Husbandry
- Women Empowerment
- Primary Education
- Healthcare
- Rights of the mine workers

GRAVIS works in the northwest region of Rajasthan across six districts viz. Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Nagaur, Jaipur and Barmer covering around 1200 villages and serving about 1.2 million people.

It helped formation of community based organizations called Village Development Committees (VDCs). It used both traditional as well as modern scientific methods for conserving and storing rain water. Constructing khadin (bunds) resulted in soil moisture retention and two-fold increase in crop yield. Emphasis was also laid on farming development. GRAVIS initiated construction of taankas (rainwater harvested for drinking) to help families meet the water requirements for 6-9 months. This helped in reducing the drudgery of the women and girls could go to school.

Ms. Tyagi gives importance to community involvement for creating a sustainable and self-reliant society. Once water was available to the communities, GRAVIS could expand its activities in other areas like education, women's literacy, health, forming women's self-help groups, strengthening vulnerable groups like old age people and mine workers, etc.