In the 2nd Indian Multiversities Alliance meet , we intend to create a space to share our work, to reflect on our learnings so far and to evolve a direction for us collectively. We hope to build a network of alternative learning opportunities for youth and support those who would like to create people's Multiversities.
About Anandwan : www.anandwan.in
About Lemon school : lemon-school.com


People running alternative universities, people's universities, learning programs, etc. for youth (between 18-35+ years of age) all over the country


9th March - 12th March 2018


Anandwan, Warora / Gadchiroli /
Lemon Ideas,Nagpur

That Indian education system is in doldrums and needs a overhaul of change * innovation is an oft repeated complaint in our daily lives. However, there are a few brave ones who take the step towards working on solutions to this grave problem. And, a small section of these bold warriors graced Nagpur with their presence recently during the second annual meetup of the Indian Multiversities Alliance (IMA).

For the uninitiated, these are institutions that stress on learner-driven modes of education, increasing the sustainability quotient of the world around them and improving the connection to nature and human consciousness among the learners. Though these values stand as the common ground on which all these organisations work, their areas of operation differ manifold.

While the one-size-fits-all formula may work well in the manufacturing industry, it doesn’t do so well in the field of education. This was the realization that lead to the constitution of what have come to be known as multiversities.

Today, such institutions abound through the length and breadth of the country - from Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh to Sadhana Forest in Puducherry and from Udaipur’s Shikshantar to Guwahati’s Brahmaputra Cultural Foundation. Several of these institutions have now informally come together to collaborate and take the movement forward. However, before that happens, let’s delve into the concept itself and the ideas that went into the formation of this educational revolution. To further strengthen and navigate the efforts of alliance, a gathering was organized for members of Indian Multiversities Alliance at Nagpur in the month of March 2018.

The meet took place between March 9 and 12, 2018, kicking off at Nagpur based Lemon School of Entrepreneurship (LSE) who were the hosts. Incidentally, it was held in an institution that has upheld the ideas of sustainability, learner-led education, rebuilding the local economy, increased synergy with nature and localized solutions espoused by IMA - Anandwan. Thirty five people representing twenty one organizations from all over the country attended it. This meet was also recognized as regional meeting of Global Ecoversities network for Indian Sub-continent and was supported by Ecoversities team and patrons.


The meet kickstarted with a typical Nagpuri breakfast at LSE campus. It was followed by an introduction session which had many an interesting ice breaking activities that helped the participants get better acquainted with each other. Manish Jain from Swaraj University of Udaipur, the grand old man of IMA Claude Alvares from Goa and LSE founder Deepak Menaria introduced everyone to the concept of multiversity and the topics to be discussed over the next three days.

Sunil Deshpande of Sampoorna Bamboo Kendra, Amravati spoke about his experiences of working among the Kokru tribe of Melghat. “People usually equate development of tribal people with them forgetting their own history and traditions. We thought of adopting their ways of life instead and then looking for ways for economic upliftment of the community,” he said while explaining his vision of the project.

All the participants were in awe of Deshpande’s ways of introducing the locals to the tensile strength and other good qualities of the local bamboos which would usually be burnt off. After this realisation, the villagers started utilising it all to make articles out of this erstwhile waste product.

LSE also took the occasion to introduce its paradigms of learning through action, reflection and experimentation that their students go through. The idea is to equip an aspiring entrepreneur with qualities that traditional business schools shy away from discussing. “We are not here to produce graduates who would sell diapers and detergents. Instead, our students are put in real-world situations and undergo experiential learning. Thus, picking up skills required for the venture they dream of floating,” said chief Idea farmer and founder of LSE Deepak Menaria. Many entrepreneurs showcased their ideas as well as work to all participants as part of Start up Mela. The experience of enjoying Maharashtrian food in a very humble Indian way of “pangat” (ground seating) was very touching for the participants where LEMON team played the role of host and serving all visiting guests.

The rest of the first day was spent on the trip to Anandwan, giving all the participants ample time and opportunity to mingle. The next morning, they could see this sprawling institution which is as old as independent India. It was established to provide a home to people with leprosy, who were driven out of their homes and villages and left to fend for themselves at that time. Today, this model village is home to people with many other disabilities. Despite their physical shortcomings, the residents of Anandwan are financially independent, involved in industries like handicraft, textile and agriculture.

The participants were overwhelmed to see the extent of entrepreneurial capability and grit shown by the villagers. They were all especially impressed to see Sahakuntala, an artist with cerebral palsy and unable to use her hands. She painted with her feet! Not just paintings, she did embroidery and murals as well, again with her feet. There were several other talented people around, some of whom performed during a cultural programme the next evening. Everything from stand-up comedy and mimicry to singing and dancing was done by the artistic villagers.

Over the next two days, the participants ventured into several journeys within their souls as they saw the smiling faces of the residents of this village made up of people rejected and refused by the mainstream population, discussed the lack of self love in the world and learnt to look at the world from each other’s perspectives.

These pit stops of these journeys were the formal sessions of the meet where all participants spoke about the work of their respective organisations. Some of the new members of the IMA also discussed their ideas of projects that were still being thought about. There were many open spaces for participants to propose and discuss new ideas and projects. One of the essential elements of the meet war to help participants develop bonding with others as well as explore possibilities of collaboration and co-creations. Few important threads that eventually got converted into smaller focused group were :

- The idea of Gap year and take this thread forward and make it more concrete concept which could essentially open doors for many youngsters to explore gap year and explore who they are and what they want be

- Another discussion thread was around mentoring and incubating more education based innovative startups ideas to push the engine the change forward

- Few participants got into discussion of hunting for multiversities in India and getting them to this alliance make this movement reach newer geographies , The question was can we become 100 Multiversities alliance in one year

- Human’s of multiversity was another project being discussed during the meet

- There was discussion around next meet and many participants volunteered to host the nest meeting either at Baroda or Auroville or North east India

- The upcoming Global Ecoversities meet in Udaipur was also discussed where members of IMA join as part of host team

On the sidelines, there were discussions about the current state of education in India. “At one time, scholars from all over the world would come to India for higher studies because of the superior syllabus in our universities. But today, young people here are avoiding going to classes because we are serving them useless garbage there!,” said Claude.

Dilip Jain from HIAL believes that the current education system is not futuristic enough. “It does not inculcate the quality of evolving their learning ability among the students. Education has now become content driven rather than being character driven,” he said. He added that the key attributes expected of an education can not be taught in a classroom.

Agreeing with this thought, Meenakshi Puvidham who runs a school in the small town of Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu, said, “Kids don’t want to confined to benches and tables, listening to boring lectures. They want to be free, move around and speak out.” This is the principle she holds dear while running the school where children learn through being involved in organic farming and creative arts in a completely transparent and non-judgmental environment.

There was a full-blown session on coming up with an accepted definition of the term ‘multiversities’ wherein every adjective used to describe the term was discussed in detail. This was done to make sure that like the constituting institutions themselves, the term ‘multiversity’ remains boundless and all-encompassing. The new, improved and universally accepted definition will soon be put on the alliance’s new website!

After coming back to Nagpur, the participants had the chance to meet with Nagpurians who were working on projects similar to theirs or could help their cause in some manner.

These ‘outsiders’ were made a part of this year’s meet, with the intention of introducing the work of multiversities across the country to the general populace. They had overwhelmingly positive reaction to this parallel stream of education flowing by them. Here are a few of their reactions:

Bhagyashree Deshpande, runs a school on a farm for village children: Meeting the people here and hearing their ideas has had a deep impact on me. It is a rare chance for people who do not identify with what the mainstream preaches. It is inspiring that nobody here is saying, “This is the way to do things.” but “I have this solution.”

Shalini Arora, social activist: People are now getting tired of the conventional ways of learning, earning and living. They are looking for alternatives. I am pleased to have learnt of many such alternatives through the IMA. This is how learning will evolve in the future and it is happening right in front of our eyes!

Shalini Arora, social activist: People are now getting tired of the conventional ways of learning, earning and living. They are looking for alternatives. I am pleased to have learnt of many such alternatives through the IMA. This is how learning will evolve in the future and it is happening right in front of our eyes!


Here are the reflections at the end of the meet that some of the participants had:

Bhila Thakare, Abhivyakti Media for Development, Nashik: I felt like being a part of a revolutionary movement during all the discussion sessions. People from varied backgrounds brought different perspectives which was a great stimulant.

Sonika Gupta, Swaraj University, Udaipur: I realised all over again how people usually feel trapped by the rigors of the ‘real world’. While most people would look at the multiversities here as an escape, they are providing much needed respite and succour to so many by giving them the courage to reclaim their lives and means of livelihood.

Shilpika Bordoloi, Brahmaputra Cultural Foundation, Guwahati: In my area of expertise, physical theatre, I touch upon educational philosophies. But here, I got a whole new perspective by learning of the heartening journeys some of the other participants had undertaken. Overall, it was a healing and wholesome experience!

Mukesh Ashar, Lemon School of Entrepreneurship, Nagpur: I surprised myself by express myself in a way I haven’t in the past 20 years! The associations built during the meet was priceless, especially because I came to know that the world is full of unselfish people.

All the participants were grateful for the presence of two special little ones among them. (Thank you, Rishin and Rajni for the practical demonstration of benefits of unschooling through Coco and Durga!)


It is safe to say that this four-day meet was extremely successful. Not only was this an opportunity for the older members of the IMA to come together for a discussion of the direction of the organization, but also gave a chance to the newer members to discuss their budding ideas with them. The occasion was also used to introduce the wonderful work of the participating organization to the general public through interactions as well as media reports. Many smaller teams got constituted with specific focus areas to work further as part of collaborating and co-creating this movement of change.

Participating organizations

Nashik Abhivyakti Media for Development
Auroville Anveshan
Guwahati Bahmaputra Cultural Foundation
Bangalore Bhoomi Network
Udaipur Break the cycle
Hyderabad Hyderabad Trails
Bhubaneswar Klorofeel/ Mindtree
Nagpur Lemon School of Entrepreneruship
Goa Multiversity
Bangalore Navgurukul
Vadodara Oasis
Bhopal Oasis Social Innovation lab
Bilaspur Prakriti Organics
Tamilnadu* Puvidham
Auroville Sadhana Forest
Melghat-Amravati Sampoorna Bamboo project
Udaipur Shikshantar
Udaipur Swaraj University
Udaipur Travellers University
Ahmedabad Youth Movement