I had heard about Shashwat organization, Anand Kapoor and Kusumtai for the last 25 years ever since I was a college student. I had heard and read that the couple had done a relentless, laborious task for the tribal people in Bhimashanker area and specifically who were affected by Dhimbhe dam. I came into actual contact with the organization specially with Anand Kapoor in about 2007.We received his guidance and valuable contributions for our new M-Tech course at CTARA and for Retags project. Two of our students Devang and Mandar had gone for fieldwork related to Shashwat organization of 10 weeks in Khadkiphata and decided to stay there. We kept on visiting Manchar and Dimbhe dam area intermittently and thus got a chance to understand the personality of Anand Kapoor.
Though he had a luminous engineering degree from IIT Anand Kapoor had left that career which would have given him personal prosperity and chose the beaten track to live with the adivasis on remote locations. He became one of them by learning the language and culture of the region completely foreign to him. We used to feel ashamed about our urban luxurious style of living when he narrated to us how to have a bath in three liters of water. We were always eager to meet him due to his extremely simple living, ever smiling face and soft speaking. We got his special attention due to the commonality of being an IIT engineer. Then onwards few of our IIT students kept on visiting Dimbhe dam for summer internships and in no time Anand mama extended his blanket of love on his nephews (students) starting from Kalyan, Nikhilesh to Shrijit and Sushant. All these years we the students and professors always got something to learn from Anand Kapoor.
Every year without fail I took all our students to visit Shashwat organization wherein Anand Kapoor used to take good care of us for two full days. We often used to get influenced when he talked about his journey after IIT, his introduction with Kusuma, commissioning of Shashwat organization and the ever-increasing work load related to it. He proved to be a role model for our engineer students wishing to do some social service.
While watching the “Devrai” in Ahupe and Adhane we realized that the agitation started by Kusumtai for the saving the jungle is still alive. The adivasis of Bheemashanker today are to some extent financially independent and living a better life due to the fight led by Kusumtai for preservation of the jungle and rights of the adivasis as well as constructive rehabilitation programs implemented by Anand Kapoor for education, health, means of lively hood and for the better future for the next generations of the adivasis.
Anand Kapoor passed away last year leaving many programs, ideas and dreams halfway but I firmly believe that the fleet of the young generation of the local adivasi volunteers created by the couple will continue their work for eternal progress.