The Founders

Maja Koene, The Founder of CESCI

The CESCI centre was founded by Maja Koene from Switzerland. Regrettably, she died at the early age of 54 in autumn 1999. She was a qualified psychiatric nurse and a very gifted photographer. In the course of her travels to numerous developing countries, including India, she had become sensitive to the cause of the very poor.

She was convinced that measures had to be taken to raise people’s awareness and to improve the quality of life for large segments of the population. In setting up the CESCI centre, she wanted to support and strengthen the efforts of the Ekta Parishad activists. The persistent struggle of the Ekta Parishad movement encouraged her to invest all her savings in developing this centre.

Rajagopal_P.V, Co Founder

PV Rajagopal (known as Rajaji) is from a Gandhian family. After schooling in south India he came to the northern part of India in 1969 during Mahatma Gandhi’s birth centaury.

Rajaji began his work in rural development and nonviolence when he spent 6 years working with the dacoits (outlaws) in Chambal region of India. In 1972 – 1974 period more than 500 outlaws gave up arms and moved into settled life and much of this was the result of hard work of many including Rajaji.

From here he spent the next fifteen years in different part of India building the capacity of rural youth through training programs and other initiatives. In 1993 he became the Secretary of Gandhi Peace Foundation, and subsequently was the Vice-Chair. In the mid-1990s the work of Rajaji was galvanized into a mass movement. In 2007 he carried out the largest non-violent march which was known as the Janadesh 2007. In this he led 25,000 people on a one-month march from Gwalior to Delhi covering a distance of 350 kilometers. In 2012 Rajagopal led a march of 100,000 people to the capital of the nation to demand peoples control over land and livelihood resources and the movement signed a ten point agreement with the Govt. of India