Speaker: Jayanti Ravi

Educating the Heart

Jayanti Ravi is a scientist, civil servant, writer, speaker, teacher, and thinker. Formally, she holds a Master’s degree in nuclear physics from Madras University, MPA from Harvard University, a Ph.D. in e-governance and is an IAS officer.  

Having worked in sectors like education, administration, health, family welfare & national strategy, for state (Gujarat) & center (PM’s office), she has had rich & diverse experiences. In her own words, she describes her life & her job as, “A civil servant who deals with just about anything - from riots and rallies to floods or famines, from industrial policy to inclusive education and so on. Some of the most interesting moments that I have spent with villagers, citizens, government staff, women and students have given me some amazing insights, almost seeming like moments of truth.”

She has been a key influencer in turning around Gujarat’s education system by introducing quality educational reforms. She also personally championed the Swachh Bharat Mission literally picking up brooms & cleaning toilets in schools and civil blocks. She writes in her book, 'Sanity in sanitation' --  ”Holding brooms and brushes, equipped with toilet cleaners and phenyl, all our office members set out to clean the squat-toilets, urinals, or latrines. It is instances like these that help sow the seeds of courage to espouse a cause or a challenge that seems important to you, even if this makes people deride or ridicule you.”

For three years in between, she was also supporting the National Advisory Council as a Director. Post which, she handled the covid planning, management & media in Gujarat. When she joined the department, the state ranked 17th in SDG 3 of good health. And now the state ranks 1st, after a concerted effort to improve maternal mortality, infant mortality and mortality of children in under five years.

Her work keeps her in close touch with many forms of mass suffering in the society, to which she says “Often, we feel agitated and sad at the complexity & magnitude of the problems of society. Looked at from another angle, these experiences are a series of immersions in a spiritual journey of engaging, attaching and un-attaching oneself. Nevertheless, these moments too, strengthen our faith & forbearance, gently nudging us towards relishing the endless reservoir of strength at the core of each human being!”

As the next step in her journey, she has moved on to bring “The Mother’s vision” to reality in her role as a secretary of the Auroville Foundation. And in tune with the person she is, she describes her role as “The development of Auroville has to be wholly community-driven. I see my role as more of a facilitator.” 

She is an author who has been published nationally & internationally, and weaves her experiences to paint an exquisite picture of our country and our people.Those closer to home, also know her as a classical vocalist who has sometimes sung in even five languages. She has performed tributes with her children for icons like M.S. Subalakshmi and Dr. V, the founder of Aravind Eye Care System. In her books & interviews, she often cites anecdotes from Gita & Ramayana. And thus, it’s not a wonder that she has also translated Ramayana into Tamil with her friend & her mother. In one of her interviews, she proudly said, “I also got the chance to present a paper on Ram Paadukas in the presence of Moraribapu.”

Deeply inspired by Gandhi, true to his spirit of trusteeship and humility, her book preface disclaims  - “If there are parts of the book readers do not like, it would be, I believe, a reflection of my incompetence or inability. On the other hand, if there are parts of the book that readers like, it is due to the people who in the stories, as also in my life have made them nice!”

Join us in conversation with this inspiring public servant, visionary, heartist and changemaker!

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