Dr. Prakash Tyagi
Dr. Prakash Tyagi, the Director of GRAVIS, is a medical doctor and public health professional. Following the footsteps of his parents, Sashi and L.C. Tyagi, the founders of GRAVIS, Prakash has dedicated his life to helping the marginalized communities of the Thar Desert. Obtaining a medical degree abroad, he has worked at the GRAVIS hospital, the only health facility in the region.
Taking over as Director when his father passed away a few years ago, Prakash now performs the role of running the organization, coordinating various programs, developing new projects and fostering new partnerships. He has written a number of articles, documents and books on community healthcare.
Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS), or Center of People’s Science for Rural Development, works with marginalized Thar Desert communities in the state of Rajasthan in India. Using a holistic approach, GRAVIS’ programs span gender rights, water security, agriculture, animal husbandry and food security as well as education, health and elder care. Since its inception in 1983, GRAVIS has worked with over 50,000 desert families across 850 villages in Rajasthan reaching a population of over 1 million, and has established over 1,100 Community Based Organizations (CBOs).
Through a unique model, GRAVIS brings together people of different castes to create a common vision for a better future. The organization’s founders were profoundly influenced by Gandhian philosophy and the principles of Sarvodaya: All rising, but the last person first. A second notion underlying GRAVIS’ work with village communities is Gram Swarajya or village self-rule. Village self-rule aims at mitigating vulnerability and securing sustainable livelihoods by reducing dependence and creating self-reliant communities that have control and ownership over their own resources and lives. To this day, GRAVIS does not approach communities to provide support. Rather, communities learn about GRAVIS’ effective work and request training and other forms of support.
GRAVIS has forged alliances with many Indian and international groups as well as governmental agencies in the service of these communities. GRAVIS has received several awards, most recently the Spirit of Humanity Award from Americares-India for outstanding work in the field of women’s health, and the Dalmiya Environment Award for excellence in the field of environmental programming.