TARAgram Yatra – the journey

Yatra – Our vision

TARAgram Yatra

TARAgram Yatra

The dictionary defines yatra as a journey or pilgrimage. At Development Alternatives (DA), yatra more specifically pertains to a journey of knowledge and learning to attain higher goals. TARAgram Yatra (TGY) is an annual event led by the DA Group designed to deliberate on issues of development with the mission of inspiring sustainability in policy and practice. We bring together top-level practitioners and policy makers from across the world to identify and build upon spaces of hope for transformation. With a mix of dialogue and field visits, the yatra provides a platform for multi-stakeholder, multi-perspective dialogue, organised with a belief in action-based research to address the complex challenges of sustainable development. The diverse mix of interests and expertise is designed to encourage new ideas and innovative solutions, and to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience.

Translating vision into reality – Our story so far

With a hope to advance a compelling, practical and solution-oriented vision for a sustainable future, DA has conducted six yatras, in partnership with international thinking–learning organisations, till date since its inception in 2010.

Towards Green Economies: Scalable Solutions for People and Our Planet (2010)A milestone in a series of global multi-stakeholder consultations, the first TGY enabled a consensus amongst key stakeholders on prioritising specific issues in the transition to sustainability and communicated Indian and South Asian perspectives to inform the Global discourse on Green Economy.

Resource Efficiency and Green Transformation: Driving Change in Asia (2011)The yatra connected two development priorities: those of resource management and fulfilling the basic needs of the most vulnerable in an ecologically responsible fashion. It fostered a holistic approach to policy planning, the sustainable use and conservation of natural resources, the use of waste products in eco-manufacturing, and disentangling economic growth and development from environmental degradation.

Sustainable Development in South Asia: Women Driving Change (2012)The focus was on the overall empowerment of women by observing them as an imperative figure required for transitioning to a green economy and realising sustainable development. The yatra acknowledged and deliberated further on the roles and contributions by women that are vital to nurture and revive the wellbeing of our ecosystems, enhance securities of food, water, energy, livelihoods and to construe self-reliant societies.

Safe Water for All and Always: Science – Policy – Markets (2013)Yatra 2013 aimed on designing a roadmap on interventions needed to scale up technology access for safe water to communities through markets. The yatris deliberated on emerging technologies and barriers faced by research institutes while bringing products from lab to the ground, successful service delivery models, identifying triggers for scale, and tools and models for awareness generation and demand creation through behaviour change intervention.

India Post – 2015: A Country in Transition (2014)Following the UN global processes for a post 2015 sustainable development agenda, aim of TGY 2014 was to identify what can India do more, different and/or better such that India transforms to a greener, more sustainable, resilient and inclusive economy.

India Post – 2015: Investing in Sustainability (2015)Most recently, yatra 2015 aimed to identify the investments and investor partnerships to ensure that India’s development path is sustainable. It chose to focus on pertinent issues of growth of local economies through energy access, food and livelihood security and urbanisation in a resource stressed nation.

Catalysing Change                                                                                            

It is clear that current patterns and siloed treatment of socio-economic development are evidently leading us to an India that is socially unequal, ecologically fragile and economically more vulnerable than ever before. A business-as-usual or an incremental approach to improving development outcomes is insufficient in today’s increasingly complex and interconnected world.

For us sustainable development is wellbeing for people, profit and the planet — one that binds together and gives balanced weight to economic prosperity, equitable opportunity, a healthy and productive environment and participatory governance. The question really is how can we transition to such a sustainable future? India will need to address the systemic and structural challenges it faces, negating any development gains so far. Based on years of deliberations through the TGY platform on different but interrelated subjects, the following emerge as our building blocks:

  • Invest in people ­– to build their capacities/abilities and provide access to knowledge to cope with stress and shock of the transition, enabling them to make well-informed decisions.
  • Invest in natural capital ­– to dispel the take-make-discard ideology and promote decoupling of economic growth from natural resources, moving towards a more circular economy.
  • Boost local economy through micro, small and medium industries ­– as job creation engines based on value addition to local resources delivering local services and products
  • Create technology solutions for sustainable production – for attaining optimum utilisation of resources, combining modern science with traditional knowledge
  • Build strong, participatory local governance systems – equipped with greater capacities, science based decision-making tools, cooperative growth models.
  • Implement dynamic policy-making –to converge national policies with local needs and facilitate synergies between policies in different sectors to maximise benefits and minimise the trade-offs
  • Design behaviour change interventions – to promote sustainable lives and lifestyles aiming for convergence amongst the over- and under- consumers

Through the TGY platform, we at DA will continue to envision, device, disseminate, and devote ourselves to a pattern truly sustainable in the local boundaries and further expand its scope and benefits globally.

Mandira Thakur


The views expressed in the article are those of the author’s and not necessarily those of Development Alternatives.

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