People who dare to be different always capture my attention and Roopesh Rai, founder of Green People, The Goat Village & Bakri Chaap is certainly no exception. As he says, in his own words,
‘There’s always an ‘idea’ in ‘idealism’ and I wear my idealism on my sleeve without fear or apology. Deeply affected by the scenes of death and destruction after the cloudburst at Kedarnath, I walked away from my ‘working life’ — at Taj Hotels and Thomas Cook (India) — “to do something pro-climate, pro-people, and for profit”. But although my initial experiments of creating a brand of local goat’s cheese ran aground in Uttarakhand — now infamous for outmigration, with over 1,800 ‘ghost villages’ — I didn’t stop looking for a “social engineering solution that also made good business sense”. Somewhere along the way, I started a company that now runs community-friendly farm retreats and homestays in eight Goat Villages, helped revive the traditional, climate-proof koti banal architecture, and began selling 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, and the curious invitation to a Bakri Swayamvar (or a call for suitors for nanny goats). But that’s a story for another day!’
In the meantime, here is his interview for The People of India Project.
1. Who you are (naturally!)
A farmer by soul, chef by heart and brand engineer for living.
2. What inspired you to create/join your business?
An accidental visit to the holy shrine of Kedarnath; which is considered one of the biggest natural calamities in Indian history after Tsunami, changed the wiring of my mind. The scale and magnitude of devastation; and the stench of rotting human flesh had a deep impact on me and I started realising that how my own consumption pattern is impacting our planet and people. I pledged to create a green, sustainable, yet a profitable business model with the help of local communities affected by calamity directly or directly.
3. An anecdote which epitomizes your India?
Everything is recycled in India. Even beliefs and dreams!
4. One thing that you can’t live without?
My mobile phone.
5. One thing that you hate?
Setting wrong expectations.
6. If you could change one thing about India what would it be?
Bringing down the population.
7. Who is your greatest inspiration?
Spider in other creatures; and Swami Vivekananda among humans.
8. What is your favourite quote?
When life gives you shit, make organic fertilizer out of it.
9. I have noticed huge changes in India over the last few years but what is the biggest change you have noticed in India over the last 10 years?
Digitally born generation taking over the digitally grown generation and reducing the former to almost of no relevance.
10. What do you think are the biggest challenges India faces over the next ten years?
Further depletion of natural resources like clean air, clean water and forest cover.
11. Which is the destination at the top of your bucket list?
Sweden (and the other Nordic countries)
12. What is the one place you visited that you have NO desire to return to?
13. Book or Movie?
City of Djinns by William Darlymple & Joh Jeeta Wahi Sikandar (a Bollywood movie).
14. Just for fun! I am doing a survey to find India’s most popular breakfast, what is yours?
Poori/Paratha, Sabji & Chai
15. In retrospect, what is the one thing you wish you could have told your 20 year-old self?
Don´t be with anybody, who is not seeing your worth. Love yourself more and forgive yourself for mistakes in the past.
Throughout lockdown, Roopesh hasn’t been sitting idle and I am, as always, wonderfully inspired by his latest project, do check it out, you won’t regret it! https://www.mad2mud.com/