Anil Prakash Joshi
This profile was prepared when Anil Prakash Joshi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
The Indian villagers' use and misuse of available land and local vegetation has long determined rural India's economic health. This is especially true for villages in the lower Himalayan ranges with 67 percent of the land capable of even being cultivated, under forest cover. Yet, unfortunately, "invasive bio-mass," or weeds, have colonized vast areas, damaging land and inhibiting the growth of other vegetation. Anil contends, "If the uses of a plant can be ascertained, it ceases to be a weed. Therefore, in an environment where eradication of weeds cannot solve the problem, what is needed is a new control concept . . . [that] emphasizes the possible uses of the plant, not its non-use or eradication."Beginning with this premise, Anil has established methods of plant use that have spawned a wide range of new developmental initiatives in more than 46 villages. By finding consumption and other patterns of usage for weeds, remarkable changes have been brought about. Previous destructive land use patterns have changed, natural catastrophes have been averted, rural electrification has increased, sustainable cottage industries are developing and, most importantly, villagers have a greater sense of ownership and control over new, rural technologies.