Aayush Gupta, an MBA student at IIM Ahmedabad (Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad), was born in a business family and decided from a young age to help underprivileged through trash collection drives, blood donation camps and financial awareness workshops. From school, he graduated at the top of his class and cleared India’s toughest UG management entrance exam to enter Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies at the University of Delhi.
Fuelled by passion and supported by fellow students, Aayush co-founded Project Raahat – an initiative to eradicate open defecation in India. After tackling bureaucratic red tape, they partnered with the Government of Delhi to operate a toilet complex in Sultanpuri slum. Focusing on operations, aesthetics and sensitisation in Sultanpuri, open defecation rates fell from an alarming 95% to a mere 3% - a first-time achievement in India. The project was expanded to 50 complexes in three states before the government adopted the venture in 2017. Having helped over 200,000 people Raahat received international recognition from global brands including Dell and Coca Cola.
A record of academic achievement has seen Aayush consistently in the top 3 of his class, being awarded 12 institutional prizes at school, with more than 20 academic proficiency prizes in subjects ranging from maths to economics, and English to social sciences. In 2014, he was among a select few to score a perfect 10 CGPA and be among the top 5% of India’s students. A year later, he was the only student in the school to score 99.46% in a centralised Problem Solving Assessment logic test, followed the next year by graduating at the top of his class with a Gold Medal for scholastic performance and an All-Round Certificate of Excellence for his strong extracurricular record. Similar accomplishments followed at Delhi University and at IIM Ahmedabad, which he entered for his MBA in 2019.
In 2020, when the COVID pandemic hit and several of his peers were impacted with mental health issues, he launched the Indian chapter of Dear Loneliness Project as the leader of the Literary Society of IIM Ahmedabad. Given the stigma associated with mental health in India, they sought to showcase the contributions by members on social media and normalize the help-seeking and positivity paradigm, securing an outreach to over 400 institutes in India, reaching over 10,000 individuals – showcasing the literary contributions on social media handles.
Aayush has won half a dozen top student awards and distinctions over the last five years, including the Deloitte Best Intern Award 2018 and Heyfolio Student of the Year Award 2019. He has taken part in fellowship and leadership programmes including the United Nations Global Young Leadership Fellowship, Proctor & Gamble (P&G): Emerging Leaders Program, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII): Young Indian Fellowship and Internshala: Be a CEO. His efforts have won praise from the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, as a youth leader bringing positive change in society (2017), Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, for leading India’s largest finance festival to success (2018) and the Chairman of Wipro, Rashid Premji for award-winning sustainability reporting during the pandemic (2021).