Anshu Gupta, popularly known as the Clothing Man is the Founder of an Indian based nonprofit – 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 to 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 poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity’.
Anshu has done his Mass communications twice and his masters in Economics. Starting as a freelance journalist, he left a corporate job in 1998 and founded GOONJ with a mission to make clothing a matter of concern and to bring it among the list of subjects for the development sector. His mission was to address the most basic but ignored need of clothing and the multifaceted role it plays in villages across India.
Anshu’s work goes to a core challenge of our times; the growing gap between the urban prosperity & rural poverty. He has taken the menacing growth of urban waste and used it effectively and efficiently as a tool to trigger large scale development work on diverse issues in some of the most backward and remote pockets of India. In the process he has created a model for 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 made the mostly passive urban and rural masses, prime stakeholders and actors in addressing their own needs, solving their own problems. This has been done by weaving together a beautiful pipeline system from the cities to the villages for channelizing resources to create empowerment and development in rural India. He considers one of Goonj’s central work to changing mindsets about the immense humanitarian potential in reuse 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