Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra (VGKK)
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra (VGKK) is an NGO committed to sustainable development for the tribal people of India. Founded in 1981 by Dr. H. Sudarshan, it was inspired by the teachings of the internationally renowned philosopher Swami Vivekananda and the humanitarian work of Dr Albert Schweitzer. It works in cooperation with the medical NGO, Karuna Trust. At the heart of VGKK’s mission is the socio-cultural background and rights of tribal peoples.
Tribal people constitute almost 10% of the population of India. VGKK’s work focuses on development projects with the Soliga and other tribes in the Chamarajanagar and Mysore districts of Karnataka along with other tribal groups in Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. VGKK employs an integrated approach to health, education, livelihood, well-being, biodiversity and conservation so as to achieve renewable development and empowerment.
Among their activities, VGKK provides education through an India-wide school system. In their Biligirirangana Hills campus, they worked with the government to install a playground that teaches physics, so as to encourage a continuity between the classroom and a child’s ‘real world’. This innovative park is built around a 4000 year-old megalith, further emphasizing our continuity and engagement with the past, present, and future.
VGKK also promotes craft production and training. Among their initiatives, they manage horticultural projects and produce items crafted of materials from tribal areas by the tribal people, such as honey, wooden furniture, clothing, and incense.
A central part of their philosophy is on sustainable practices and on tribal empowerment. This is evident in their program to bring together forest agencies and tribal people to cooperate in viable management of ecosystems by tribal residents of the forest
Photographs from Barry Rodrigue, spring and summer 2018.