Vinai Kumar Saxena

Chairman, Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) in India

Almost everyone has eyes, but only a few have vision! On May 17, 2008, an Indian found that the statue of the Mahatma Gandhi was placed on the second floor near an Ice Cream Parlour close to a dustbin – instead of the wing where the statues of other illustrious world leaders were exhibited at London’s Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. The man raised the issue and wrote a letter to the then British Prime Minister Mr. Gordon Brown, stating, “Is this not a paradox that the memory of the man who rallied world attention on the evil of apartheid in South Africa over a century ago is now subjected to the same scandalous contempt that we thought the world has overcome? Is this not a racial bias against India and its role models of historic reverence?” Taking cognizance of this letter, an apology was offered by the Museum office, and the Mahatma statue was shifted to the ‘World Leaders’ Exhibition’ hall there.
Incidentally, that man with the vision Vinai Kumar Saxena – now is the Chairman of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) in India – an organisation meant to fulfil the dreams of development through Gandhian philosophy that ‘The father of nation’ kicked off 100 years ago in 1917, from the sleepy hamlet of Barharwa (Champaran) in Bihar. Born on March 23, 1958 and an alumnus of Kanpur University with a Pilot Licence, Mr Saxena is a philanthropist in vision and corporate scientist in action. And, his vision and action are so eternal that he always gave priority to his immense social commitment – right from the Corporate to the NGO sectors. With his business leadership in Western India on a diverse range of corporate matters such as petroleum and ports – fusioned with technical, legal, social and cultural skills, Mr Saxena has always led from the front in any issue related to social development like water resource development, fighting the social mal-practices, disaster management support or clean development of the city space. And, for that he leaves no stone unturned in exposing any evil design: In 2000, his brainchild National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), an NGO formed by him in 1991, established a formidable opposition for Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), opposing the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and other upcoming hydro projects on Narmada Valley for the last 15 years. The role of his voluntary organisation NCCL was acknowledged by the people of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
After starting his career as an Assistant Officer in Rajasthan with JK Group, Mr Saxena never looked back. After working 11 years in different capacities with its White Cement plant, he was elevated to Gujarat in 1995 as General Manager to look after proposed Port Project. He then rapidly rose to become the CEO and later elevated as Director of the Dholer Port Project. As the Director of Port Project and a Founder-President of the widely acclaimed NGO–NCCL, his refined persona won accolades, even from his rivals. These are few highlights of his legendary career:

  • May 2008: ‘International felicitation’ by United Nations Decade of Sustainable Development (UNDESD), UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP in association with International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), USA, (UN NGO) and Social Organisation for Health – Human & Management (SOHAM) for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Environment Protection and Water Security’.
  • May 2007: Won ‘Dubai International Award’ constituted by UN-HABITAT for best practices to improve living environment in Ahmedabad City through his project Mission ENDURE (ENsuringDUstREduction), the first of its kind and size in the country launched by any NGO, to reduce dust pollution with public participation. NCCL was selected for this award from 650 entries from 140 countries.
  • July 2000: In recognition of his activities related to water security in Coastal Bhal region of Gujarat, UNESCO invited him to attend a Workshop on ‘Wise Coastal Practice for Sustainable Human Development’. Project successfully solved the problem of non-availability of fresh water in the Bhal region.
  • April 2000: Selected by the “Third World Network of Scientific Organisation”, Italy as one of the four referees for evaluation of an important Joint Research Project at Yemen titled “Characterization an Environmental Prioritisation of the Coastal region in the state of Yemen.”
  • NCCL, on November 21, 2014 launched its new Project ‘Rainbow Hills’ from village VANAJ, in Taluka Vijayanagar, District: Sabarkantha in Gujarat for re-constructions/repairs and modernization of tribal houses in the picturesque Adivasi Vanaj village which is situated on a small hillock facing a huge lake. The 12 selected houses in village: Vanaj, were constructed by the Adivasis using mud for walls and local wood for ceiling. These dilapidated dusty houses were in unhealthy conditions to live in. NCCL completed repair and reconstruction of these 12 houses in a record period of 3 months. Under the scheme repairing of walls, floor, roof, verandas etc were done including Construction of toilets. The aim of the scheme was to provide basic amenities to the poor Adivasis, without disturbing their lifestyle, traditions and surroundings. These Adivasis are also guided to rent out one room in these neatly re-constructed houses.
  • He was also involved in Water Resource Planning and Water Shed Management for Gujarat & Rajasthan. To catalyze the process of deeper scientific understanding of environmental matters by very competent Indian and foreign Scientists, NCCL commissioned a study in the year 2003 called “Trishna” for bringing unutilized water to the parched areas of Gujarat & Rajasthan.