Varun is the Founder Director of Manavodaya, an institution recognised as a center of excellence in people-based, self-help approaches to development.
Varun Vidyarthi has a formal background in Electrical Engineering and Business Management from premier institutions in India. He started his career in the corporate world but during his twenties itself abandoned that track to live and work among poor villagers in Uttar Pradesh. For a short period in early eighties, he became Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK the East West Center, Honolulu, U.S.A. and also served as a consultant to organizations like FAO and UNICEF.
Varun and his wife Amla, are known for their pioneering contribution to the self help movement in North India. They have motivated and trained several thousand professionals in India serving the government, banks and other institutions in practical methods of dialogue, empowerment and self help.
The practical details of the process (see Development from Within co authored by Varun with Prof Patricia Wilson of the University of Texas, USA) can be learnt from workshops at Manavodaya, Lucknow that has already received participants from Asia, Africa, Europe and USA. Varun has also started conducting workshops outside India and recently held one in Ethiopia and Scotland.
Varun and Amla were conferred the Human Values award at the national level in India in recognition of their contribution to values based management and social change. They continue to provide education and support to facilitators of social change in India. Varun is currently working with Carl Poll and others to develop Manavodaya International.