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Bindi Bottoms
Meenakshi Gupta Co-founder Goonj, New Delhi

"Diwali is the time when we think about prosperity for ourselves. Some of us go beyond ourselves and think of prosperity for everyone. There are a few who work hard throughout the year to ensure that there is a constant flow of light and love in the lives of others. Meenakshi Gupta is one of those for whom it is Diwali every time a person gets a fair chance to live with respect. When she co-founded Goonj, little did she know that the light within her would guide generations to come. Goonj deploys cloth as a medium of change. Meenakshi is persistently aware of how much more there is to know and how much more there is to love. Whether it was about being the sole earning member when her organization was in the initial stage or representing the Indian social sector at various international forums, she never fails to display this knowledge with immense humility. And if you have ever met her, chances are that you won’t ever forget the ‘stay humble’ bit!

Many of Meenaskhi’s acquaintances were surprised when she decided to end her eight-year engagement with an acclaimed international news agency to build Goonj and raise her daughter. Entrepreneurship was not a buzzword then and it wasn’t considered cool to quit the ‘security-net’. The shocks and surprises didn’t send any ripples in Meenakshi’s stream of concern. She worked hard in silence to let her team’s initiatives speak for themselves. Right from traveling widely to nooks and corners of India to understand and implement innovative programs to turn discard into currency, to mentoring many emerging social entrepreneurs, Meenakshi is a ‘fine-tuner’ for many within and outside her organization. She often says, “I do what I think should be done and sticking to simplicity in action and thoughts is my mantra.”

Meenakshi derives this ‘strength with simplicity’ philosophy from her mother. She believes that her Kashmiri migrant mother never let any complicated norms of society stop her daughter from treading her own path. She would simply edit out the struggles she faced while she was growing up and make life easy for Meenaskhi and her siblings. This applied to everything, right from her choice of career to marriage.

A role model to many, Meenakshi believes that had she not chosen this path, she would have missed meeting and knowing the amazing people who she comes across every day. She believes there is light in every heart and one needs to kindle it frequently, especially in these difficult times when the world is at war with itself. She insists that we must work hard to keep the inner light of humanity glowing and shining everyday and not just on Diwali"


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