Welcome our newest Fellows

Ashoka India would like to welcome our two newest Fellows - Tarique Mohammad Quereshi from Koshish and Anup Nair from LEDS.

Tarique Mohammad Qureshi had been involved in various projects that dealt with the homeless before he went to pursue his Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). While doing his fieldwork as part of his course at TISS, he found out about the criminalization of beggary and learned about the existence of State-run Beggar Homes. After that, he began to read and learn about the law and issues surrounding the Homes. He observed that there were no efforts in India to tackle the problems within the State run Homes and was convinced that he had to take the initiative. To help in that objective, Tarique founded ‘Koshish’ in Mumbai as a project in 2006 with a formal partnership with TISS.

 In most states in India, begging in public places is punishable with up to ten years of detention. Due to this law, the homeless, and Destitutes are most often banished from the streets to State-run 'Homes' where conditions are worse than prisons. This criminalization coupled with the lack of any rehabilitation further marginalizes Beggars and Destitutes, as the homeless and indigents are often mistaken as beggars. Tarique challenges and transforms such perceptions on the part of the public, and the State and its institutions by focusing on the circumstances that led to destitution and designing appropriate action. Collaborating with various institutions along the way, Tarique is laying the foundation to advocate for the repeal of the law and integrate Destitutes within society.

Rather than taking a confrontational approach to highlight lapses, Tarique acknowledges the contexts and contribution of each stakeholder to encourage them to use their skills and experiences to facilitate change. It is this approach that has helped Tarique build strong and long-term relationships with various State and non-State stakeholders. Through his organization, ‘Koshish’, he has created ties with Government hospitals and ambulance service providers to provide free healthcare services for those living in the Homes. A full-time nurse is dedicated to facilitate their consultations at the hospital and a psychiatrist visits the home every month to counsel and prescribe medication. 


Tarique has also partnered with the Ministry of Human Resource Development to extend its existing program to provide vocational training in the slums to the Homes. Through this program, Destitutes within the Homes undergo a three-month course on building their skills and receive a certificate from the Government at the end of the course. To date, Koshish has provided direct and indirect support to over 5,000 beggars and homeless Destitutes. Upon the request of the Delhi Government, Tarique has begun replicating his work within Homes in Delhi and is piloting the initiative in Bangalore.

 We are happy to welcome Tarique Mohammad Qureshi to the Ashoka Fellowship. When contacted, he had the following to say:

We see the Ashoka Fellowship as a faith shown on our vision, aim, strategies, what we stand for, what we believe in, what we do and therefore this Fellowship comes as a responsibility for us to make this work even more relevant and far reaching'.  

Armed with a Masters degree in Rural Management at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), Anup Nair worked with Amul and Procter and Gamble before moving to ‘Kudumbashree,’ a poverty eradication program run by the government of Kerala to support women through thrift and credit organizations and women-led entrepreneurship. He joined as a Marketing Director, and for more than a year, he tried to transform the way the programs were run by incorporating business strategies to help women enterprises gain sustainability. In 2009, Anup decided to launch LEDS as an independent entity to leverage the resources and infrastructure provided by the government and establish local entrepreneurial production and distribution networks.  

In order to increase sustainability of microenterprises in India, Anup has created local production and supply systems driven by micro-entrepreneurs that foster a “local-to-local” economy. By creating networks of specialized entrepreneurs focused on management, marketing, and distribution, this system leverages the collective strength of local micro-enterprises to compete with large corporations that are actively targeting local rural markets. 

Anup does not believe it is realistic to expect rural women-entrepreneurs to perform all business roles single handedly. Unfortunately the scale of each of these enterprises is too small to afford professional / specialized services. He sees the solution in developing an ecosystem that will leverage the collective strength of these micro-enterprises, to create specialized roles and functions for each stakeholder, to enable micro-enterprises to compete effectively in the market. He has created two new layers in the micro-enterprise eco-system: a ‘management team’ at the district level and ‘distributors’ at the village level, to create efficient production and supply mechanisms.   Besides building a stronger foothold in the local-to-local economy, this also makes a lot of economic sense by reducing cost of operations. 

Anup has created a distribution network of village level women entrepreneurs or ‘HomeShops’ to deliver the products at the doorstep of the consumers. Each HomeShop covers a minimum of 120 households within the village during the week, 20 households a day.

LEDS has built a network of 75 microenterprises, 1,350 HomeShops and 14 management teams until to date. This network has spread quickly over the last two years because it is built on the financial investment of every participant and the performance based incentive provided to each stakeholder. The stakeholders are interdependent on each other’s performance and have a personal interest in performing better. Anup plans to expand this model over the next five years to other states in India where a model like this would be economically viable. 

We are happy to welcome Anup Nair to the Ashoka Fellowship. He had the following to say about the Fellowship:

Ashoka Fellowship to me means joining hands with hundreds of like minded people towards co-creating better human values and making world a better place to live.