Our Board of Trustees
Dr Arjun Trivedi
Founder & Managing Trustee
Dr. Arjun Trivedi (PhD, Physics) is the Founder & Executive Director of Karunar Kheti Trust. Over 15 years, he has worked in some of the world’s leading scientific and engineering institutions: as an engineer in General Electric Company, USA and as a research scientist at the world's cutting-edge research institutions in the field of nuclear and particle physics like the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Switzerland and Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (TJNAF), USA.
However, all along he was anything but disconnected from his experiences of growing up and living in the tea plantations of Assam. Even as a child he could see the deep socio-economic-political-environmental challenges of the tea industry and how it was affecting not just its people, but also the larger ecosystem of life. His foray into the highest forms of knowledge through his past experiences uncovered his existential realms and a humbling sense of realization of the unified sense of human experience and knowledge. Arjun uses the metaphor of a farmer and an astronaut as a unified experience, which got fragmented over time making certain forms of knowledge superior over the other. He works with such a vision in the organisation and advocates for working with whatever is here with us now abundantly and believes that this is essential for empowerment. He advocates for universal values such as compassion, peace, love, which binds all human experience.
Khagen is a respected member from the community, revered as a gaonburra (village headman) for the Oriya community. He resides in the tea plantation and has been working as the Head Plumber in the plantation for almost three decades now- a job he took over when his father passed away. It is common in the plantations for jobs to be passed on within a family over generations and several generations of Khagen’s family have also continued to serve the plantation. Given the space to think about his childhood which he seldom gets in his context, he candidly recalls that maybe he possessed leadership qualities since school itself when he was appointed as the Head Boy!
Khagen highlights three challenges with respect to accessing education in the area- distance, affordability and financial constraints. Good english-medium schools in the area are located far away and it is often difficult for people from the villages to afford such schools. He feels that families bear high financial constraints thereby leading to increasing drop-out of children. His vision is to see Selenghat Valley School bridge this gap of good quality and affordable english-medium school in the area and nurtures a vision to see the organisation expanding its work on livelihood development in the area.
Rajib Patra is a community leader who has a deep understanding of the problems and issues of the tea plantation communities stemming from his lived experiences. He expresses that though India is an independent country for over 70 years now, but the communities residing in the tea plantations are still not independent as they do not have rights over their own land where generations have lived.
He has seen tough times during his childhood when his mother was struggling to make ends meet with the wages of the tea plantation. He recalls days of sleeping on a gunny sack in winter nights and taking a gunny sack to sit in the school classroom. He eventually had to drop out of school after passing Class 10th. He began working at a shop to earn a daily wage and eventually, as an agent in a local bank, recovering loans from people. He has also been active in student politics throughout and is currently serving as the Assistant Secretary of ATTSA (Assam Tea Tribes Students Association) in Jorhat District.
Rajib is the Secretary of the Board of Trustees. He wants to see Selenghat Valley School to adopt the best education methods and work for the unemployed youths in the tea plantation.
Unnoti’s delicate appearance belies her strength and resilience. She is a permanent worker in the tea plantation. A single mother of 3 children and an active woman in the community, her day starts at the break of dawn setting up everything at home, while she is away as a tea plucker for most part of the day. Unnoti has a vibrant social life with a leadership stature among fellow women in the SHGs and in the church. She has been instrumental in setting up SHGs in the tea plantation where there were none. She was one of the first women who emphasised the need for a good school in the area which pushed our Founder to pursue the vision of the organisation.
Starting from the upbringing of her own children, Unnoti strongly advocates for the power of good education. She wants to see Karunar Kheti Trust as a space in which the children of the communities residing within tea plantations can dream of a bright future. She wants to work towards cultivating a bold shared vision between the organisation and the community around how education is perceived and imparted in the school.
Co-founder & Member
Mineswar Dutta is one of the Founders with Dr Arjun Trivedi, who was instrumental in setting up the the organisation on the ground and translating Dr Trivedi’s vision into reality. He played a crucial role in strengthening relationships with members of the community to create a close-knit network in the area for the organisation.
Mineswar has been working in the tea plantation for more than 30 years. He provides strategic leadership to the organisation when it comes to navigating through local issues/challenges and systems of bureaucracy. He possesses an exuberant personality who wants to get things done quickly! He has been a successful entrepreneur and a small-tea grower (STG) and was one of the pioneers of small tea cultivation in the area in the 1980s, long before the small tea sector revolutionized the tea industry. He extended his technical expertise and helped set up small tea gardens, fostering a culture of entrepreneurship in the area.
Mineswar has supported Arjun’s vision relentlessly as perhaps the only companion who understood him after he came back from the US. He shares that Arjun’s strive to work for the community is what he saw initially and started working with him. He has a vision to see Selenghat Valley School registered as a CBSE school.
OUR GROWING TEAM OF TEACHERS, CONSTRUCTION WORKERS, CRAFTSMEN, AND VOLUNTEERS
Since the day of our foundation, our team has been growing, little by little, and day by day. Each new member of our team helps us take a confident and steady step forward in the vast landscape of our vision. We already have a diverse team of teachers, construction workers, craftsmen, and volunteers -- each member bringing a unique perspective and skill, while also remaining a part of our dynamic coherence.