Anil Prakash Joshi is an Indian green activist, social worker, botanist and the founder of Himalayan
Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO), a Dehradun-based non governmental
organization involved in the development of environmentally sustainable technologies for the agricultural
sector.He is a recipient of the Jamnalal Bajaj Award and is an Ashoka Fellow.The Government of India
awarded him the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 2006, for his contributions to Indian
Born in a middle class family hails from a small town Kotdwar of Uttarakhand. He did M.Sc, Ph.D in
Botany and became a reader in P.G. College. He was involved in social service since beginning of his
carrier as teacher. His commitments for social service were so deep that he left his lucrative job for social
Hesco in its essence is truly rural as it derives inspiration from the villages and devises solutions for their
problems. It helps them to focus on their economic and development needs and encourages them to tap
local resources that open up new avenues to self- reliance.
For the last 28 years, Dr. Anil Joshi and his team members of HESCO have been applying knowledge of
the environmental sciences and simple technologies to bring consistent development to the rural villages
of the Himalayas. Their innovative and ecologically-sound solutions so far, have yielded outstanding
results in their target regions, and have brought them national recognition, and recently international
attention for their contributions to rural mountain development considering the pioneering work and
philosophy of Dr. Anil P. Joshi and his HESCO team, armed with advanced knowledge of the
environmental sciences and low-cost technologies.
HESCO is a core support group of SEED, Department of science and technology, New Delhi and carried
R&D activities in various sectors i.e agriculture, horticulture and energy.
Innovations in the mountains
Spring water recharging
Beginning with their efforts in the Western Himalayas, first HESCO determined the strengths and
weaknesses of the village communities, and the priorities of the region. They focused their attention on
developing a water-availability mechanism, through upgrading the traditional methods of water
harvesting (which were defunct) with new, modified technology.Following up with a more recent initiative,
the group successfully employed the use of an environmental isotope to research the flow and direction
of water in underground springs in the Garhwal Mountain region. Utilizing uphill ponds and check dams,
they have been able to maximize the availability of water in fourteen mountain springs to date, thereby
taking it to the villagers, and to their fields.As work on this project continues, nine additional areas have
been identified for “spring-recharging”, with a target to increase the water supply to approximately 150
Watermills or “Gharats”
Even after a century of Edison’s invention, many of the villages in this part of the world were not
electrified till date, but through another strategy to respond to the need for energy from water resources,
HESCO developed and then supervised the installation of thousands of power-generation wheels in the
running streams of the mountain and border villages of the Himalayas, Jammu, and Kashmir.Hence, this
technologically advanced version of the original wooden water-wheel (gharat) which is simple,
inexpensive, and environment friendly, has been providing lights and excess wattage in thousands of
homes of remote places. These villages, until a few years ago, were all in darkness. Similarly, many
other villages with power shortages have been electrified through the upgrading of community-shared
systems.Its not the only installation that is taken care of by HESCO but the fabrication of the equipments
which is low cost ,simple and technologically feasible is also done by them.
Another task that fit in tandem with the goals of these agricultural-mountain villages is utilizing,
exclusively, the skills of the women villagers. Referred to as “post-harvesting technologies”, these
include: basically value addition activities like bakery products e.g. biscuits and cakes ,which have a
good market virtually everywhere in the country . Traditional crops specific to the region like buckwheat
,finger millet in case of hilly region are used as it is known to have special components which are a part
of nutritional requirement of people and therefore rightly called “nutribiscuits”, snacks (namkeen) from
pulses are another popular product. HESCO intervention in the making of laddoos as “prasad” (a sweet
offered in Himalayan-Temple shrines) from their local millet and corn crop was warmly received by both
the shrine boards and the local people. Apart from these HESCO encourages growing of traditional
crops suiting the ecology of the region. Hence it advocates the idea of ecological farming. Mushroom
cultivation is also promoted, as mountains are favourable for mushroom cultivation and can be grown
Dr. Anil Joshi and HESCO serving the rural villages of the Himalayas are demonstrating a viable and
extremely successful model for rural development in India. Their positive outcomes are, no doubt, due in
part to their adherence to the group’s core philosophy which could serve as inspiration to us all:
Serve in the spirit of dedicated volunteerism
Acknowledge and develop the natural talents of the people you serve
Give freely of your knowledge and time
Encourage self-sufficient and “simple” solutions to the practical problems of those you serve.
Promote the practice of “shridan”: that every village which is helped with development, will in turn, adopt
and help another village in their locality.
Promote sustainable development with a priority on environmental protection and economic
The concept is the utilization of the local resources by the local community thereby exploring other
livelihood opportunities through the Green Industry.
HESCO proposes to merge itself for the community it was born for. Since economy is the most important
factor which shoots up different problems. Addressing the problem of the community is major objective of
HESCO. These communities are different trade-based like watermills, horticulture, cobblers, carpenters,
blacksmith etc. Once technically empowered HESCO will amalgamate with it, as HESCO was born with
HESCO believes in empowering the community through technology and organization. Such model communities are used to motivate government and bureaucrats for a larger replication of such self- empowered and economically independent communities.
They also try to motivate the banks corporate sectors and urban consumers to promote the rural
industries and help to achieve the greater common good. The idea behind this approach is to
decentralize development so that the profits reach every nuke and corner of the country. Eventually it
works to decrease the widening economic gap between urban and the rural societies.
The land use pattern affects the ecology of the area. HESCO works to reinstate the idea of ecological
farming and strike a balance between land use and agriculture: agriculture, horticulture, construction etc
by ensuring a fixed percentage of land for agriculture on the lines of The Indian Forest Act and farmer’s
share in the growing industrialization.
Set up groups called “FARMERS’ HELP MATE” to disseminate information on various farm and
agriculture- related matters, and these will serve as help centers for farmers where they can receive
practical advice and solutions for their farming-related problems.
Consistent with their previous approaches to rural development, they will continue to work towards
development of local resource- based goods for the markets, which will eventually lead to economic
independence through rural resources, rural technology and rural market. This is also helpful in
conserving money within the villages
HESCO developed and installed a technologically advanced version of a watermill into many mountain
streams of the Himalayas, which brought lights and excess power to over 2000 villages.
HESCO introduced a joint-venture with the Indian Army known as TIP (Technology Initiative for Peace),
which brought their watermill to thousands more deprived villages on the borders of Jammu and Kashmir
and Arunanchal Pradesh.
HESCO introduced botanical methods to control soil erosion and landslides, which was subsequently
adopted by the Border Roads Organization throughout the northern Himalayas.
HESCO initiated WISE (Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment), which serves as a platform for about
one thousand women from all over the mountains of Uttarakhand to generate employment and marketing
opportunities for income generation in their villages.
HESCO has delivered training in post-harvesting technologies to about 500 villages to maximize the use
of their natural resources such as local fruits, aromatic plants, and botanical fibers, etc.
Through HESCO’s R&D, a local invasive weed, Lantana, has been turned into a resource for producing
furniture, construction materials, many household items, etc. thereby setting up hundreds of employment
opportunities for village draftsmen and youth, which is continually expanding through training sponsored
by successful entrepreneurs.
HESCO, by tapping several of the undeveloped natural resources of their mountain region, has inspired
and trained around ten thousand village families to develop sustainable small enterprises such as
fisheries, organic forming, animal husbandry, beekeeping, milling of grains, and baking, etc.
HESCO introduced and collaborated recently on a joint-venture project with the renowned Doon School
(a private high school) to “adopt a village” for development. The students, with guidance, successfully
constructed a water-flour mill with added power-generation, a fishery, toilets, a makeshift school, and
road connecting the village to the surrounding area. HESCO also recently introduced this “adopt a
village” concept to seventy additional Intermediate Schools in northern India
HESCO currently publishes two important scientific magazines: TIME (Technology Interventions for
Mountain Ecosystems), and Rural Tech., which have a distribution of five thousand villages and
Dr. Anil Joshi, HESCO’s founder, has authored over 80 research papers and books concerned with
sustainable development of the Himalayas.
Thanks for your visit