Anshu Gupta, popularly known as the Clothing Man, is the Founder of Goonj. One of India’s leading social entrepreneurs Anshu brings to the table an instinctive empathy and connect with people, moving the focus from the conventional – giver’s pride to the unconventional – receiver’s dignity. Asia’s Noble, the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award 2015, conferred on him credited him for ‘his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the financially poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity’.
Anshu studied Mass communication and did his masters in Economics. Starting as a freelance journalist, he left a corporate job in 1998 and founded GOONJ. His mission was to make clothing a matter of concern and to bring it among the list of development issues,to address the most basic but ignored need of clothing and the multifaceted role it plays in the lives of people, especially in rural India.
Anshu sees his work as a way to address a core challenge of our times; the growing gap and inequality between the urban prosperity & rural poverty.Taking the menacing growth of urban waste Anshu used it effectively and efficiently as a tool to trigger large scale development work on diverse issues in some of the most backward areas and remote communities of India. In the process he has created a model of a parallel economy which is not cash based but trash based. With Goonj, Anshu has brought attention to a nonmarket, nonmonetary approach — one grounded in empathy and dignity. He has turned the mostly passive urban and rural masses into prime stakeholders and actors addressing their own needs by solving their own problems. He has done this by weaving together a beautiful pipeline system from the cities to the villages for channelizing resources to create empowerment and development in rural India. Anshu considers one of Goonj’s central work to be changing mindsets about the immense humanitarian potential of people facing poverty by reusing urban surplus and demonstrating a model that delivers as promised.
Some experiences from the field
” It all started as small social media posts with some old clicks of my travels, some questions and sometime a lot of anger too.
In my travels across the country.. on one hand I noticed sky high buildings, statues, fancy airports, while on the other side, talking to people I saw some of the worst disasters of our times. Going deeper into the country I could see immense suffering, neglect and still the best of courage and human spirit.
This collection of my thoughts and musings emerged over the last 2 decades of my own life journey and the beautiful journey called Goonj..”
– Anshu Gupta