KHOJ evolved as a group of students from Mumbai in 1994. As the journey progressed some of us decided to come to Melghat and explore the rich forest biodiversity and the entailing problem of un-der nutrition and child mortality – a phenomenon tough to comprehend.It wasn't just under nutrition but related more to the idea of development and the marginalisation of the communities that were pushed to the brink of struggle for survival. It was an attempt to study the vast and rich stretch of our natural resources and the deaths of children due to hunger, underpinning that there was some-thing grossly wrong in the principles of sharing of natural resources, there was something grossly wrong in the way rights were accessed. It was an exploration to the processes that would help us address the inequities, the definition of Development, the processes that would help us devise mechanism to ensure effective means of sharing of resources in an equitable manner.

Our quest led us to work with the tribals and the other communities inhabiting the remote village in the forests of Melghat. It wasn’t easy, first to gain roots ourselves, to overcome the challenge of huge distance between villages, lack of communication and transport, 15 to 20kms walk through the forests to reach the villages, however it wasn't as tough as the lives of the people themselves. From shut schools, to exploitation by the moneylenders/government functionaries. the PDS shop-keepers, to non functional health centres, it was soon clear to us that this was not a fight of food or for food, it was a much larger struggle for Survival, for Identity, for Justice and dignity, this under-standing helped us shape some of our interventions that focussed on effective mechanisms to ac-cess health and educational rights, rights to protect, conserve and use our natural resources, right to be free from exploitation of all forms and right to govern our own communities and make choices for the kind of development they would like to see for themselves.