Roopesh Rai on being pro-planet, pro-people, and for profit!

Roopesh and I keep meeting, chatting and discussing various projects. He called in to see me recently to discuss his latest project,  a mission to cross 6 states of India by cycle.  He is doing this to reach out to the people of India, as he says, ‘The last remaining custodians of our natural heritage are those marginalized communities living on the edge, both literally, and figuratively. Unless we assist the youth among such communities to spark change through nature based business models, the concept of change is delusional.’

  1. We found out a little about you previously on my People of India Project but now we can elaborate more on your past projects and current mission, we’re all ears! 

I am Founder of Bakri Chhap

(The GOAT brand ). The only for profit successful reverse migration model of Uttarakhand state, a state where migration from the villages is the biggest sociopolitical issue.

I call myself a ‘Farmer by Soul, Chef by Heart, Brand Engineer for Living, and an Accidental Social Entrepreneur’. I got deeply affected by the scenes of death and destruction after the cloudburst at Kedarnath in 2013 & walked away from my ‘working life’ in 2014 —  at leading hospitality and tourism organizations — ‘to do something pro-planet, pro-people, and for profit’. Although my initial experiments of creating a brand of local goat’s cheese ran aground in Uttarakhand, I didn’t stop looking for a ‘social engineering solution that does not feed on grants. Somewhere along the way, I started a company that ran community-friendly farm retreats and homestays in Retreats & Theme Based Village which helped revive the vernacular architecture, and began selling indigenous farm products under the ‘Bakri Chaap’ label. But what caught the imagination of young urban travellers in particular, was our Pay As You Like model, Be My Volunteer Village Manager and  also the curious invitation to a Bakri Swayamvar (or a call for suitors for nanny goats) so that we could hold goat weddings! 

We are now morphing into a consulting, credit rating, asset management & capacity building company in the space of responsible agriculture and tourism. At the moment we are concentrating on building a consortium/platform/consulting network of like minded partners – thus, to augment our climate change advocacy through ‘natural & cultural heritage conservation’ based livelihood model.  We believe that change has to happen from the bottom of the pyramid up, and not filtered down from corporates sitting in a/c offices in mega cities.

To walk the talk – I have embarked on a zero carbon footprint solo cycling of 120 village panchayats (councils) and 12000 kms across 6 states – in the search of youth icons from bottom of the pyramid, who can be inspired and turned into future heroes of the climate change advocacy. These Green Champs a.k.a. Prakriti Prahri will be our preferred partners for our agro and responsible tourism ventures moving forward.

In the last 8 years of our 100℅ self funded journey – we have achieved the following:

  1. Winner of National Tourism Award for unique and most Innovative tourism Initiative, 2020, conferred in 2022.
  2. Winner of World Responsible travel award, 2019 WTM London.
  3. Gold Winner of Indian Responsible Travel Award 2019.
  4. Featured in the list of amazing ambassadors of sustainability by Conde Nast Travellers, India

  1. 6 rural transformer of India by Indian Express 2018
  2. Face of WA as one of the few successful digital business stories in 2019 & cover page face for their coffee table book.

  1. Featured by Whatsapp and Facebook for their first-ever and flagship digital event ‘Facebook Fuel for India’ Campaign in Dec, 2020.

  1. The Face of Vibrant Bharat by Grant Thornton Bharat LLP in 2021

  1. Why are you so passionate about it and how you have arrived at this? 

It pains me to learn that the population count has boomed by 2-8 billion within last 100years. 92% of people live in excessive air pollution. Only 0.5% of Earth’s water is available as fresh water. 500+ species of land animals will be extinct within 20 years. 14 million tons of plastic is dumped into oceans every year. The list goes on and sparks almost existential eco-anxiety.

The message at the core of this journey is that humans have put tomorrow at stake for the sake of today’s benefits. The catastrophic effects of climate change have begun to manifest, and it is necessary to bring about a major change before the situation worsens. In the last 2 decades, global loss on the account of climate change is estimated to the tune of USD 30 trillions globally, and 8 billions at the national level.

  1. So, what is your current mission, where are you cycling to and what you are hoping to achieve?

I have embarked upon a no budget, zero carbon footprint cycling expedition with the mission #Changebeforeclimatechange

In this journey, comprising of 6 states and 12 months, my plan is to traverse 12,000 kms (of grasslands, woodlands, wetlands and concrete jungles), touching 120 village panchayats, in order engage with a diverse audience across India to spread awareness about traditional agriculture and Jal Jungle Jamin (soil, air and water).

In a little less than 3 months I have traversed 2500 kms of rural India’s obscure paths on bicycle, mostly alone and have crossed (mostly) hinterlands, halting at Jewar, Aligarh, Sasni, Mathura, Agra, Dhoulpur, Mitawali, Gwalior, Dabra, Datia, Orcha, Neawri, Nowgong, Chatarpur, Nagod, Madla (Panna tiger reserve), Satna, Rewa, Sidhi, Maata, Bhanni (Sanjay Dubri tiger reserve), Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve, Katni, Jabalpur, Lakhanadon, Seoni, Pench National Park, Chindwara, Narsinghpur & Bhopal.

I will now move towards Chanderi, followed by tribal belts of Indore and Dhar, before entering into Gujarat prior to Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka.I took three short work/family breaks in between, leaving my bicycle at the nearest rail head, returning by train and then continuing with the journey.

My slow immersive travel to discover my own backyard; and my country has enabled me to visit various rural and urban schools, institutions and most importantly 25 village panchayats; where I managed to plant a peepal or bargad tree, appoint a ‘Prakriti Prahri’ a.k.a. ‘Green Champs’ and spoken to lakhs of rural folks on climate change issues – especially the youths from bottom of the pyramid villages.

This is also branching out at block and regional level as many youths enroute want to propagate and proliferate this mission at their own level by carrying out similar awareness program by bicycles.

This is one heck of a journey, why do it all by cycle? 

I believe that the wheels of a bicycle are symbolic of a circular economy. Thus, this mission – which I am undertaking this year – will be continued by our team members in subsequent years to serve as the Olympic Torch of climate-consciousness.

The last remaining custodians of our natural heritage are those marginalized communities living on the edge, both literally, and figuratively. Unless we assist the youth among such communities to spark change through nature based business models, the concept of change is delusional. Our rural youth is the problem and solution as well.

How will all this be implemented? 

In my ultra grassroot journey, I am identifying eco-preneurs in each village and connecting those to the platform of Bakri Chhap & other supporting organizations, who show commitment towards protecting and nurturing Peepal and Bargad tree planted by me (ficus varieties), besides driving anti plastic campaigns, traditional agriculture, increasing forest cover, bio diversity protection and similar activities. Making this solo tree as a symbol/personification for campaign. All the good bad ugly will be reported through FB/insta handle fortnightly by the appointed green champs.

What do you hope will be the result? 

Each such village has potential of ‘bottom-of-the-pyramid’, ‘no-frills-but-high-on-experiences’ home stays, who can be provided market linkage through our platform. In addition those offering forgotten millets, pulses and other such produce can also benefit from this type of tourism and through our platform.

These villages are capable of offering the real reality show of hospitality and tourism. By playing on  their soft skills, culture and natural hospitality and offering assistance with capacity building, rather than conventionally-required infrastructure, I am making them realise that ‘hyper-local is the new luxury’ and the existing concept and service model of hospitality is almost outdated. The best format real, authentic, now, is nothing but the ‘love made visible’.

  1. Where people can follow your journey? 





LinkedIn – Roopesh Rai

WhatsApp – 9818889005

  1. How people can get involved? 

During this journey, I am educating diverse set of rural people about pro-environmental practices, traditional agriculture, and water conservation. Moreover, I aim to identify and support the capable people in the village who can be the future resource for climate change action. By contributing to our organization, you can help us combat climate change and create a better future for our planet. Join us today!

  1. A) Those who fall enroute and resonate with this cause are encouraged to host me during my expedition to 6 states this year. An excellent cook of both food and stories, I shall be your chef and entertainer for the day in the lieu of stay 😉. Vision aligned sponsors are welcome to facilitate this mission at its various stops and destinations
  2. B) Donate generously. The money will be used for planting more trees, deploying more tree gaurds, financial support for green champs, other similar activities in terms of climate change actions and critical logistics. The private donations will be tax exempted and we will be publishing monthly audit report on our website. Our Account Details  :

Tathaagat Foundation

A/c No.: 10089870546

IFSC Code: IDFB0021256

Branch: Beta Plaza, Greater Noida

(QR code available)

  1. C) Conduct your own city, block or state level daily/weekly/monthly awareness journey under the same mission.

Thank you for reading.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.