About Ashoka India
Founded by Bill Drayton in 1981, today Ashoka is the world’s largest network of leading social entrepreneurs and ranks among the top 5 NGOs of the world. The first-ever social entrepreneur to be selected as an Ashoka Fellow was Gloria De Souza from India, in 1982, who revolutionised the system of learning in classrooms.
Impacting millions of people and communities through their work, our Fellows include people like Nobel Laureates Kailash Satyarthi (Bachpan Bachao Andolan) and Magsaysay awardee Anshu Gupta (Goonj), among several others. Currently, we have over 400 Ashoka Fellows in wide-ranging fields such as farming, education, human rights, finance, local media, and women and youth empowerment, across India.
Ashoka India functions as a collaborative network that supports and amplifies change by bringing together these changemakers.
In the course of our work, having witnessed the changing patterns in society over close to three decades, and the way our problems are increasing at a pace faster than we can solve them, we have realised that to truly make things better for everyone we need to head towards a world where everyone is a changemaker. And just like social entrepreneurs, the world needs everyone to start practising skills like empathy, teamwork, leadership, and problem solving.
To this end, we believe that changemaking has to start young, and through our programs like Youth Venture, Changemaker Schools, and Health and Nutrition, we find, develop, and support young changemakers, enabling them to be role models in their communities, and give them the skills to thrive in our changing world.
Our office also serves as the regional hub for Ashoka’s activities in South Asia. Find out more about our work in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. And to know more about our activities around the year, do read our latest annual report.
For the past 20 years, Maria Clara has worked extensively to identify, support and engage leading social entrepreneurs in different parts of the world. She co-created The Wellbeing Project in 2012 and launched Ashoka’s global efforts in building a culture of wellbeing for changemakers. After leading Ashoka’s Global Fellowship Program for 3 years, Maria Clara is now building the new strategy and leadership team in South Asia. Maria Clara currently lives in Bangalore with her partner and daughter. She is passionate about yoga and ayurveda and is very committed to her practice and learnings.
Jaya joined Ashoka in April 2015 as a part of the Integrated Technology Initiative team. She is a mother of two, multilinguist, Drupal evangelist who started her career as an Analytical Chemist and then a Russian Technical translator and Interpreter and now enjoys development of websites since 2007.
Yashveer leads the “Ashoka Young Changemakers” program at Ashoka. Ashoka Young Changemakers program was launched in the year 2018 to identify, select and build a global community of Teen Changemakers. Prior to this, he founded a youth non-profit to address talent inequity in the development sector and influence youth culture in India by inspiring and educating university students to pursue social innovation and entrepreneurship. Yashveer has co-authored a book #ChangeStartsYoung featuring inspiring stories of young changemakers from across India.
For his work, Yashveer has been recognized in "Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia" list in the year 2016. He was also awarded Youth Action Net 2012 Fellowship – as 1 of the 20 young social entrepreneurs representing 16 different countries by International Youth Foundation.
Yashveer earned his MBA at University of Oxford, where he was the only MBA student to receive Vice-Chancellor Social Impact Award 2014 for his initiatives as Co-Chair Social Impact, Oxford Business Network (OBN). As the President of Student’s Union BITS Pilani 2006-07, Yashveer co-founded the University VISION 2020 Plan.
Archana Sinha leads the Health and Nutrition Initiative at Ashoka. Through Nourishing Schools, the initiative aims to develop young changemakers who can take charge of their own nutrition and that of their communities. She also manages global partnerships at Ashoka India.
Prior to joining Ashoka, she was a management consultant with i3 Consulting, a firm founded by ex-McKinsey employees. She led engagements advising clients from industries such as financial services and e-commerce on business development, strategy and setting up new ventures. She’s been a journalist with The Asian Age and is a regular contributor for publications such as Huffington Post and Forbes. She has a Masters in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and a Bachelors in Economics from Sophia College, Mumbai University. She was elected as Student Body President at Sophia College and co-founded the student-run Economics journal at JNU.
She was awarded the Spotlight:Health scholarship by the Aspen Ideas Festival, USA in 2014. She was also selected as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence by the SELCO Foundation for the Kowdi Kutumba project in 2015. It aims to make the North Karnataka handicraft of Kowdi a sustainable means of livelihood for women with low incomes.
Nagendra joined Ashoka in October 2010 and is the Finance and Accounts Manager. He has over 24 years of progressive and significant experience in Accounts management and office administration.
His key skills include preparation of final accounts, income and expenditure statements, receipts and payments statement, balance sheet, funding and project proposals. Previously, he has handled statutory and internal auditing and income tax and sales tax assessments. He has also handled matters relating to statutory compliances like income tax, exemptions proposals, FEMA, RBI, VAT, PF, PT, central excise and customs independently. He also has experience in creating working capital proposals and liaising with banks as required
Nikitha Varsha joined Ashoka as Assistant Manager for Finance & Accounts. She comes with 12 years of experience in the field. Prior to joining Ashoka, Nikitha was specialized in the preparation of receipts & payment, income & expenditure accounts, profit & loss account, cash flow statement & balance sheet, payroll, budget & MIS reports, coordinating with the auditors for the finalization of accounts and also interacting with statutory work like ESIC, PF, PT, TDS and Service Tax. She is well-versed in accounting softwares like Tally ERP 9 & Netsuite.
Shruti leads Ashoka’s Youth Years program in South Asia. In her role, she leads the efforts to search, select and build a community of teen changemakers & institutional partners to help society re-imagine a world where every young person can grow practicing to be a changemaker. Prior to this, Shruti has helped various social enterprises and impact organisations in measuring and communicating their impact. In her previous role, Shruti has worked with Aavishkaar, one of the largest Impact Investment fund in India and Social Venture Partners, an international venture philanthropy organization.
Shruti has a Ph.D. in Media Studies from Florida State University, and also holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Divyadarshan works with the global Ashoka Young Changemakers team. At 13, Darshan and his friends launched a student club for environmental action in his hometown of Trichy and he has led several changemaking initiatives since. Prior to Ashoka, he worked with the Delhi University Research Council on improving the status of undergraduate education in the country. He did his bachelor’s in liberal arts and during college, he worked on a series of social innovation projects on issues like bullying, transgender rights, migrant labours, oral history, and higher education reform.
Gayatri is the founder of GAIA The Earth Foundation and BuzzOnEarth, a leading hub dedicated to mainstreaming sustainability and positioning Sustainability Edge as the new growth imperative for all stakeholders. BuzzOnEarth commands audiences from 190 countries, 120,000+ monthly subscribers and has made it to the coveted list of Top 10 sustainability Youtube channel globally (# 1 in India in 2020), and Top 25 sustainability blogs globally by Feedspot.
She is the creator of “Prakriti”, a pan-India social forestry program focused on cultivating multilayered food forests for improving farmer livelihoods and environmental ecosystems where more than 2,000 acres of barren land is in the process of being cultivated by more than 1,000 farmers across MP, Karnataka, and Rajasthan into green forests. Beyond sequestering millions of tonnes of carbon and other countless benefits for the environment, this model helps create rural entrepreneurs and provides them the opportunity to leapfrog intergenerational poverty constraints. Gayatri is also the founder of India MUN - a pan-India initiative for youth, which is a first for India and endorsed by the United Nations Environment Program with a mission to engage 1 Million Youth from India to champion the cause of sustainability and climate change.
As an alumnus of IIT Roorkee and ISB Hyderabad, Gayatri brings a lot of experience leading Sustainability, Branding and Market growth for large to mid-size Corporates and Startups. She is empaneled as a faculty at United States Green Building Council and has been recognized among 51 Global Smart Cities Leaders by World CSR Congress and Economic Times. She is also a TEDx speaker and a fellow of the Swedish Institute on Leadership and Sustainability.
Photo Credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg (CC BY 4.0)
Subhashish has been a steward in the Openness movement with intersectional work in digital/human rights, and diversity and inclusion. For over a decade, He has led strategy and has implemented high-impact programs to further the multistakeholder internet governance, open knowledge, open licensing and Open Educational Resources (OER) across Asia-Pacific in many NGOs including Wikimedia Foundation, Centre for Internet & Society, Mozilla and Internet Society. As a documentary filmmaker, he has investigated India's biometrics and digital identification landscape under the Yoti Digital Identity Fellowship 2019. He has produced films for the protection of indigenous and endangered languages as a National Geographic Explorer, especially through the project OpenSpeaks that he founded. A long-time Wikipedia editor and leader in many open initiatives like Creative Commons and Mozilla, Subhashish has fostered the growth of 40,000 volunteers across 40 economies in Asia-Pacific and has designed Wikipedia Education Program and 200+ outreach programs for growth of Indian-language Wikipedias. Subhashish speaks Odia, Kannada, Hindi, Bengali and English with varied degrees of fluency.
Gopal Garg is ASPI-Re´s Ecosystem and Partnerships Director. Last 20yrs he has led many social impact initiatives with a focus on Youth. Innovation, big thinking, and systems change has been his strength. He co-founded Youth4Jobs Foundation, an organization mainstreaming persons with disabilities in the job market. His innovative programs on ecosystem building for inclusion of people with disabilities in corporate has changed mindsets and influenced many policies in corporate which was recognized as a global best practice. He scaled the program across India, Mauritius and Kenya through knowledge sharing and partnerships. During his work with the Government as part of the World Bank programs, he was instrumental in designing and implementing the one million jobs mission for the unemployed youth and changing policies for systems change in this field. He is a Vipassana meditator and a trekker. Gopal holds a Master's Degree in Management and is an Acumen and UnLtd India Fellow.
Consultant, Ecosystem & Operations, ASPIRe.
Akshay Nambiar graduated as a computer engineer and developed interests at the cross-roads of international policy and sustainability. He held various leadership roles at AIESEC - the world's largest youth-run leadership development organization. As the President of AIESEC India and later as Global Vice President, he led key initiatives and headed financial strategies for the network of 119 countries-and-territories. Over the four years at AIESEC, he has worked across twenty-one countries for implementing SDG based projects to amplify awareness and actions towards the UN's 2030 agenda. Akshay Nambiar is enthusiastic about policy and impactful youth leadership. He is an incoming candidate (2022) for a Master's in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.