Phase I (1969-72) : The Emergence of an Idea and Birth of Rural Campus
In the late 1960s, a group gradually took shape in Mumbai, doubting the correctness of the post-independence model of development. Rural development was essentinlly a plan of shifting rural poverty into urban poverty, with increasing inequality and discrimination in society. This understanding became the basis of viewing education as a major tool of social transformation. A series of deliberations, famously termed ‘chai-bhajia’ meetings were held. The Gandhian model of Nai Taleem, aimed at demolishing the dichotomy between productive work, on the one hand, and knowledge, values and skills on the other, became the central inspiration of the group. The success of AMUL as a co-operative endeavour of the farmers, was yet another important source of inspiration. Hence, the decision to set up a rural campus, based on agriculture (including animal husbandry) in combination with cottage industries, built on a co-operative mode, was taken. The Nai Taleem experiment will be at the centre of rural development programme. Thus the search in rural Gujarat and Maharashtra for a rural campus began in all earnestness. It is a different story how the search instead ended in Hoshangabad District, Madhya Pradesh.