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Bringing donors and NGOs together

Kolkata | APRIL – JUNE 2014 `0/-

kolkatagives The man with the intense gaze that you see on this page is the man most Kolkatans do not know of. Vinayak Lohani.

‘Parent’ to more than 900 once-vulnerable children. Managing the largest free residential educational facility in Kolkata. Taking care of the social and educational requirements of his children - for life. No wonder his NGO is called Parivaar.


Vinayak Lohani. The man gave up a job at Infosys and then an IIM placement. Only to start a modest tuition class for poor children. Now possibly grown into Eastern India’s largest free residential school for once-poor children (Read full story on page 4) Ruby hembrom REJECTED a job at IBM to work on Adivasi culture

Why would a young lady

doing well at her job resign to work on something as undocumented as adivasi culture? Precisely because it is undocumented. Unarchived. Uncelebrated. Read of the idealism of Ruby Hembrom in ensuring that the story of adivasi culture is not forgotten in the middle of a culture epidemic... (Read the full story on page 6)

India’s lowest-cost dialysis treatment provider is in Kolkata

Dr. Joydeepa Darlong The doctor who treats leprosy in Purulia

Kidney failure might mean ‘Oh leprosy!’ is a term that the kiss of death of most rural Indians. But not if you have turned to Kolkata Swasthya Sankalpa for help. This Kolkata-based NGO runs possibly India’s lowest dialysis treatment facility, providing care and cure at a cost that makes it possible for villagers to travel long distances in hope... (Read the full story on page 10)

people associate with horror. The doctor who has escaped the comforts of Kolkata to dedicate her life to leprosy patients is Dr Joydeepa Darlong. Working 12 hours a day, six days a week in Purulia with no vacation having been taken for years – for making a difference in the lives of thousands... (Read the full story on page 15)

This second edition of the Kolkata Gives tabloid has been financially supported by The Emami Group. The Emami Group is one of the largest industrial groups of Eastern India with business interests across personal care, paper, realty, biotech, art, retail, healthcare, cement and writing instrument categories.


“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” - Albert Pike

“Money is only unused power. The real purpose of wealth, after food, clothing and shelter, is philanthropy.” - Leon Levy


kolkatagives Volume One Edition 2 April-June 2014

The Kolkata Gives tabloid was conceived and launched around a central idea that often it was not the absence of a philanthropic urge that prevented people from donating to other causes, but the absence of relevant information. So when NGOs complained that funds were hard to come by, the blame was generally laid at the door of a world too busy to notice. The reality was that NGOs seldom created compelling (read information-rich) collateral, which inspired recipients to engage. The Kolkata Gives tabloid, when launched, was then a showcase of our conviction that the transfer of information would precede a transfer of resources; that money was not as much a problem as was being made out to be; the real problem was that information was being held hostage, leading to uninformed decision-making and often, no decision-making at all.

This information gap is not a Kolkata phenomenon but a national reality. How else do you explain that even though billions are being spent in the area of philanthropy within India today, the Kolkata Gives tabloid is probably the only publication of its kind that enhances visibility across the broad philanthropic space (as opposed to corporate newsletters that devote a couple of pages to their CSR initiative). How else do you explain that even though Vinayak Lohani is on my shortlist of five Kolkatans who have embodied the spirit of the metropolis, most NGOs in Kolkata have not heard of him? How do you explain that few people outside the count-

er-trafficking circle would even know of Mina Das?

the tabloid that will influence its effectiveness?

So when we launched our inaugural issue, we had a simple agenda: to inform, to educate, to make people aware.

These are some of the things we have in mind: take the tabloid into schools and colleges, get as many NGOs together for a sharing of cross-learnings, place copies at airports, foyers and hotel rooms, aggressively viral the e-copy, create a mobile-friendly tabloid version, get people to share their philanthropic experiences, mail copies out of the city and country – and eventually kickstart a pan-India equivalent.

We have a number of reasons to be pleased with what the tabloid has achieved: „ An industry captain, within minutes of reading the tabloid, indicated that he would sponsor the printing of the next three issues „ A reader called up to say that he was so inspired to read the tabloid that he desired to put down `500,000 to be given out to the various NGOs profiled in the issue and could we help allocate it? „ A young advertising professional conveyed that after reading our inaugural issue he would like to spend `10,000 each month on philanthropy. Now that we have a product available with us, the challenge lies in refining its application. What we can do with

If we can highlight the excellent work being done by a number of our Kolkata NGOs across the world leading to probable resource inflow, then that could be another way of making our world a better place!

Mudar Patherya Editor and ruthless networker mudar@trisyscom.com

Editor: Mudar Patherya Team Kolkata Gives: • Pawan Agarwal • Saurav Dugar • Mukti Gupta • Anant Nevatia • Jyoti Sonthalia


ere, from Bill Clinton, is a call to action. Giving is an inspiring look at how each of us can change the world. First, it reveals the extraordinary and innovative efforts now being made by companies and organisations—and by individuals—to solve problems and save lives

Bill Clinton shares his own experiences and those of other givers, representing a global flood tide of nongovernmental, non-profit activity. These remarkable stories demonstrate that gifts of time, skills, things, and ideas are as important and effective as contributions of money. From Bill and Melinda Gates to a six-year-old California girl named McKenzie Steiner, who organised and supervised drives to clean up the beach in her commu-

nity, Clinton introduces us to both well-known and unknown heroes of giving. Among them: „ Dr. Paul Farmer, who grew up living in the family bus in a trailer park, vowed to devote his life to giving high-quality medical care to the poor and has built innovative public healthcare clinics first in Haiti and then in Rwanda; „ A New York couple, in Africa for a wedding, who visited several schools in Zimbabwe and were appalled by the absence of textbooks and school supplies. They founded their own organisation to gather and ship materials to 35 schools. After three years, the percentage of seventh-graders who pass

reading tests increased from 5 percent to 60 percent; „ Oseola McCarty, who after seventy-five years of eking out a living by washing and ironing, gave $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi to endow a scholarship fund for African-American students; „ Andre Agassi, who has created a college preparatory academy in the Las Vegas neighbourhood with the city’s highest percentage of at-risk kids. “Tennis was a stepping-stone for me,” says Agassi. “Changing a child’s life is what I always wanted to do”; „ al,

Heifer Internationwhich gave twelve

The Protector of Baruipur

The unusual life of Mina Das, Founder of Nishtha

ing, the villagers refused to discuss this as a women’s development issue,” says Das. Then there is resistance from minority communities on the subject of girl education and child marriage. And lastly illiteracy which inevitably trends towards school dropouts, child marriage, gender atrocities and child trafficking. “You would think that there would be no hope in a place like this,”explains Das, “but the reality is that around 3,000 girls have been educated through our initiatives, around 700 farmers adopted bio-farming methods, have resolved around 2,000 cases of domestic violence, child marriage and nearly 2,320 women have become self-employed. There is hope!”

Core mission: To make good work fashionable. And in doing so, to move millions – people and resources. Editorial address: kolkatagives@gmail.com Postal address: 9 Elgin Road, 4th floor, Kolkata 700020 P: 40401030 | F: 40401040 W: www.kolkatagives.org Editorial support team: Trisys Communications Photographic support: Anushree Bhatter

Book Review: Giving by Bill Clinton both “down the street and around the world.” Then it urges us to seek out what each of us, “regardless of income, available time, age, and skills,” can do to help, to give people a chance to live out their dreams.


Tabloid supporters: RS Agarwal, Sanjay Agarwal, Bajranglal Bamalwa, RG Bansal, Piyush Bhagat, Manoj Bhutoria, Chittaranjan Choudhary, Ravindra Chamaria, Jayanta Chatterjee, Pradip Chopra, RS Goenka, Debanjan Mandal, Rajiv Mundra, Utsav Parekh, Siddharth Pasari, Pavan Poddar, Avik Saha, Ghanshyam Sarda and Pradip Sureka

Disclaimer: All rights reserved. Neither this newsletter nor any part of it may be reproduced, stored, distributed, adapted, translated or transmitted in any form or by any means or medium without prior permission of Kolkata Gives.

goats to a Ugandan village. Within a year, Beatrice Biira’s mother had earned enough money selling goat’s milk to pay Beatrice’s school fees and eventually to send all her children to school—and, as required, to pass on a baby goat to another family, thus multiplying the impact of the gift. Clinton writes about men and women who traded in their corporate careers and the fulfillment they now experience through giving. He writes about energy-efficient practices, about progressive companies going green, about promoting fair wages and decent working conditions around the world. He shows us how one of the most important ways of

giving can be an effort to change, improve, or protect a government policy. He outlines what we as individuals can do, the steps we can take, how much we should consider giving, and why our giving is so important. “We all have the capacity to do great things,” President Clinton says. “My hope is that the people and stories in this book will lift spirits, touch hearts, and demonstrate that citizen activism and service can be a powerful agent of change in the world.” Source: This book review has been sourced from www.amazon.com. The book by Bill Clinton is available on www.amazon. com in hardbound and paperback versions.



ust 20 kms beyond Kolkata is another world. A 14-yearold is forcefully married. She returns home in three days. Refuses to go back. The conniving in-laws lure her with a false promise. Her insides are burnt; she is tortured. Next morning she commits suicide.

Turns out that stories like these happen in just about every Baruipur neighbourhood. To the point that people say “Oh, you know what happened yesterday?” and a few minutes later they are discussing something else. Matter of routine. And if this is what

Thanks to Nishtha, the daughter of a sex worker passed her BA exams and got a government job.

happens in a place like Baruipur, which is really Kolkata – the largest city in Eastern India - for all practical purposes with an average literacy rate of 84%, then god help us. Turns out that when Mina Das, resident of Baruipur, heard this ‘god help us’ bit for the umpteenth time a few decades ago after four housewives had committed suicide and six newly wedded girls had been thrown out of homes by in-laws, she recognised that seeking divine intervention was just another turn of phrase. Nobody really turned to god for help. Worse, nobody turned to each other for help either. Typically hopeless. Which is when she began to mobilise a social group to work on such issues. The initial reaction was predictable: “If you want to do social work, build schools and hospitals. Mahila jaagran is not social work!” It is quite amazing how far you can reach if you just continue to focus. Today, Mina Das’ Nishtha employs 100 full-time staff and 500 volunteers who drive the

concept of women’s empowerment at the suburban level, where they have a willing shoulder for someone to cry on, and a listening post for someone who is caught between home and conscience, and doesn’t know what to do. Mina Das couldn’t have selected a more appropriate location. Baruipur is a hotbed of prostitution; the location serves as a mid-way point between the underprivileged South Bengal and the lures of a metropolis. Besides, a number of kids don’t go to school, have no understanding of health and hygiene, suffer from malnutrition or are hitched on to alcohol and drugs. Nishtha (her organisation) runs a safe shelter for the children of sex workers; besides, it engages with farmers to discourage the use of high-cost chemical inputs and encourage mixed farming or organic treatment. Running an NGO in suburban Bengal can be challenging. People’s mindsets represent the biggest blocker. A girl was molested, the local administration passed this off as ‘normal’ and something that could be ‘settled’. “Even when we countered girl traffick-

And sure there is. Thanks to Nishtha, the daughter of a sex worker passed her BA and got a government job. Malati Sardar (13) of Shikharbali was to be married but a Nishtha protest helped send her back to school. Madhumita Naskar (16) of Tripuranagar village lost her father in 2008 and would have been married off (or worse) but, thanks to Nishtha, she passed the Madhyamik examination and is being supported for further studies. Nishtha is a community-based women’s organisation working in 300 villages in South 24 Parganas. Its major activities include girl education, counter-trafficking, health and nutritional support, water and sanitation programmes, programmes on youth and reproductive health rights of women, day boarding for vulnerable girl labourers, night shelter for children of sex workers, campaign and advocacy against domestic violence, sustainable agriculture, promotion of women’s rights as farmers and male-sensitisation programmes.


Nishtha Subuddhipur, De Para, Baruipur, South 24 Parganas Kolkata 700144 West Bengal, India O: +91-33-24331925 E: nishtha1975@gmail.com

Women’s support groups in Kolkata • All India’s Women Conference, 8, Bethune Row, Kolkata 700 006 | Contact: 23373605/24780214/23595864. • Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, 18 Madan Boral Lane, Kolkata 700012 | Contact: 22376459/9874252064. Email: apdr.wb@gmail.com • Bengal Mass Education Society, 99/1F Bidhan Sarani, Kolkata 700004 | Contact: 2555 4672. Email: bmesociety@yahoo.co.in • Bramho Samaj Mahila Bhawan, 210/6A Bidhan Sarani, Kolkata 700006 | Contact: 2241 2280. • City Health & Welfare Association, 14 Parashree Bagan Lane, Kolkata 700009 | Contact: 23502483 • Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, 2/5 Nilmoni Mitra Street, Kolkata 700006 | Contact: 23503148/25437451/7560 | Email: sonagachi@sify.com • Gana Unnayan Parshad, 10 Gomesh Lane, Kolkata 700014, Naboday Centre: Vill: Kalaberia, Block Rajarhat, N 24 Pgns Contact: 2265 2403. Helpline: 10925. Naboday Centre: 2573 6207. Email: gup1984@bsnl.in • Sutanutir Sakhyo, 1/4 Paik Para 3rd Row, Kolkata 700 037 | Contact: 65333789/65223825 | Email: sutanutirsakhya@yahoo.com • All Bengal Women’s Union, 89, Elliot Road. Kolkata 700017 | Contact: 22293292/0007/1763. Email: abwu@dataone.in • Calcutta Legal Aid Committee, 2&3, Kiran Shankar Roy Road, Kolkata 700001 | Contact: 22484833/22483892 • Cathedral Relief Service, St Paul’s Cathedral Road, Kolkata 700071 | Contact number: 22237947/22233292 | Email: crsspc@cal2.vsnl.net.in • Calcutta Rescue, 4th Floor, 85 Collin Street, Kolkata 700016 | Contact: 22175675/22491520 | Email: info@calcuttarescue.org • Calcutta Samaritans, 48 Ripon Street, Kolkata 700016 | Contact: 22299731/5920. Email: emcal@ vsnl.com • Joint Women’s Programme (JWP), 4/2 Sudder Street, Kolkata 700016 | Contact: 22493686/3554 • Legal Aid Services, West Bengal (LASWEB), 5 Kiran Shankar Roy Road, Kolkata 700001 | Contact: 24888381/22483980. Email: lasweb_wb@rediffmail.com


“I really hope that the philanthropy movement is seen not just as wealthy people giving money away but wealthy people giving away their time, energy and ideas.” - David Rubenstein

“The dead carry with them to the grave in their clutched hands only that which they have given away.” - DeWitt Wallace


Father Teresa. Vinayak Lohani. Kolkata’s best kept philanthropic secret


elcome to the best kept philanthropic secret of Kolkata. An educationist who is a case study but has not yet been honoured by the Telegraph Education Awards (because they possibly haven’t heard of him). The largest educational campus in or around Kolkata but most would probably don’t know where. A Kolkata educational institution that expects to report `110 million-plus in donated inflows for 2013-14 but doesn’t have a fundraising department.

“How we have created an austere administration” „ Almost everyone at my 180-person team is home-grown. No recruitment of expensive ‘ready’ professionals. ‘Seemingly’ ordinary people deliver ‘above the ordinary’. „ We developed all processes from sentiments and values and not theories or preconceived notions. „ We engage in no fundraising that involves costs; overheads on this account are zero.

man talks with the guileless delivery of someone who couldn’t be doing much for himself. PhD in fund raising Blunder. Vinayak Lohani is a PhD in just what the world assumes that he is not. Marketing his institution. Mobilising funds. Conserving cash. Investing in infrastructure. Balancing his books. Just the kind of competencies at which most NGOs in India are completely at a loss.

All that you have just read could be a commentary on Vinayak Lohani’s obsessive reticence. Vinayak concedes that due to his under-the-radar profile his name does not register with most people, including those from his NGO fraternity. Whisper the name ‘Vinayak Lohani’ and most will arch forwards and ask ‘Kay?’

So let me spell out the numbers. This one-man marketing team reported his fifth year of straight growth in donation mobilisations even as India entered its slowest year in a decade in 2013-14. Parivaar’s estimated mobilisation of `11.50 cr during the year just ended was around the same level as in the previous year – and possibly the highest donation inflow across any educational institution in Eastern India.

Under the radar

The magic

“You could consider this partly deliberate,” confesses Lohani. “For years I declined media coverage because I felt a ‘run of the mill’ journalistic story would not do justice to what makes Parivaar different, so we would invent reasons for ducking the story. And then of course, I did not have a social circle within the city, was not seen at public events, went to only few Kolkata industrialists for funding and because I live 15-odd kms from the urban fringe I was literally out of people’s consciousness.”

So what accounts for the man’s magic? One, he comes with an impeccable academic pedigree – IIT and IIM Kolkata. Two, he worked at Infosys before he went back to studies. Three, just when they all felt that he would easily hitch a high-paying job with an MNC, he said ‘sorry’ and had the guts to start a tuition school for those who couldn’t afford it. Four, rather than position himself in the city and operate the school by remote control, Vinayak lives the same life as the children he has selected to parent. Five, it doesn’t take long for you to figure out what fabric he has been cut from; when he is invited abroad for fund raising he lands with virtually no dollar in his pocket as he long as he knows there will be someone coming to collect him.

Typical Vinayak under-statedness. This man in a kurta-pyjama with a shawl wrapped around his shoulder could pass off as a friendly neighbourhood goodsoul. This man in thick black glasses looks as if he stepped out of the easy-paced Sixties. This

Why I respect (even admire)

Vinayak is because he brings one back to the old-fashioned world of letting the goodness show through. No hardsell. This is where the man’s unspoken magic lies. Just think. On the one hand, Vinayak sits in a part of Kolkata where he is yet to be mapped; on the other, he has confidantes in some of the richest Indian achievers in the US or Singapore who have promised him years of consistent funding, one of whom deputed a senior engineer to oversee the next construction phase of Vinayak’s Bakrahat Road property. Governance commitment Perhaps there is a clue to why the wealthy are willing to part with their cash for his cause. It lies in his governance commitment. The man draws no salary, has no assets to his name and will not marry. Whatever is donated to him goes into widening the Parivaar movement. What was a five child residential facility a decade ago, is now a 930-children free residential boarding school. “We have a strong focus on best practices – in operations and governance. Most NGOs will probably have a mandatory financial audit, but we also have a CA firm doing an internal audit and submitting quarterly reports and recommendations against a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual. These CAs visit us three times a week to ask probing questions across the board. And from next year we are thinking of moving our audit to one of the Big Four audit firms like E&Y and KPMG”, says Lohani. The secret But I keep pushing the man. What was the secret of being able to mobilise a growing inflow even during a slowdown? He tells me. “We finally have a significant base of involved supporters who

treat their regular contributions to Parivaar as an essential family expense. Period. During the 2009 slowdown, I had a supporter who, when he came to know that we were facing a decline in financial support, offered to sell his extra apartment in Mumbai (which he eventually didn’t have to). And then of course, Vinayak has de-risked Parivaar by creating a pan-Indian fund sourcing base - about 90% is mobilised from across India and only about 8% from Kolkata, which would normally have been exactly the opposite for most NGOs. We are fortunate to have reached out to liberal donors who identify with the whole of India and as long as they see solid, transformative work happening they are comfortable to fund anywhere.” So pray, who are such people? Lohani runs down the list. “Ramesh Kacholia of Caring Friends is like a father and easily the most extraordinary person I have ever met. Nimeshbhai, the other convener of Caring Friends, is like an elder brother. I talk to them almost every day. Ajay and Shyamsundar Agarwal from Kolkata are involved supporters. Rajesh


Raman (financial services professional from Singapore) has been responsible for developing my Singapore support base. Anu Aga (Thermax) and Chet Kanojia (serial tech entrepreneur) have been active supporters as well.” NGO’s NGO You would think that Lohani’s is just a comfortable NGO story to be envied by other NGOs. And this is where the story turns refreshingly different; here is one NGO always going out of his way to help others. Last year, when an NGO could not run its Joynagar school, Vinayak did a quick due diligence and sent a cheque over for a year’s salaries. “I have been fortunate to have been associated with a number of big-ticket donors keen to support credible philanthropy, so often I recommend them to good NGOs in the early stage with a dedicated founder-leader.”


‘Dada baanchiye dileyn!’


y name is Neel. I am the gardener (maali) at the Ashok Malhotra Cricket Academy. My wife stays in the

village. Since there was no point keeping my son at home in Canning, I got him to Kolkata. One day, someone from the neighbourhood saw my son helping with the pitch-rolling at the academy and asked why he was not at school. I said I did not have the resources to send him to school. He called Parivaar on his own accord. Within a week, my son had been placed there.

other things. Chheley maanush hoye jaabey. I do not have to pay a rupee for his residential stay there. Dada aamar jonnye bhagbaan!

I am grateful to Vinayakbabu for having saved my son’s life. I am content that he is in a safe environment studying English and

He taught my son to dream! Dada baanchiye dileyn!

‘Vinayak is a godsend!’

One day, when my son came down from Parivaar to spend some time with me, he surprised me. He said he wanted to become a rocket scientist! Vinayakda made this possible.

- Neel, Grounds assistant, Ashok Malhotra Cricket Academy


I casually ask him my last question. How much would he have helped raise for other NGOs? “Somewhere around `15 to `20 cr”, he says. He could have knocked me down with a feather.

bits of advice for NGOs to mobilising funds By Vinayak Lohani

1 Domain mastery: Do not focus on fundraising. Strengthen the organisation, enhance scale with existing resources. Insightful donors understand that an organisation’s work can be bigger or smaller due to funds availability, but not better or poorer. Dearth of funds may mean smaller scale but not poor quality. 2 Inspirational effect: Build solid teams that stick with an inspirational charge that rubs off on visitors and supporters. 3 Transparency: I have often advised my donors what amounts to donate – generally lower than what they intend to. I tell them that we would not want a large sum from one source but would like to broadbase and hence we would like see them donate 80 per cent less than what they offered with only a gradual scale-up. In this way, we create supporters for a lifetime. 4 Story built around possibilities: People donate more towards organisation building as against saving organisations from existential crises. Most NGO appeals I come across are about organisations facing survival issues (which does no good for the donor’s confidence), which is wrong positioning. Talk of good getting better. 5 DNA: Discover your organisation’s distinguishing genius. I hear too much about NGOs modelling themselves as corporates, largely because most trainers who are posited as gurus to NGOs are from corporate backgrounds. Find your own character. Emulation does not lead anywhere. 6 Equality: Donors like to interact with equals. However, I find most NGOs too supplicatory or too morally self-righteous. They don’t see the donor as a customer. The question is whether you enjoy the confidence and trust of your supporters. Do they count you as a friend?

Children from Hamari Muskan going to Parivaar


he one man who has had the biggest influence on Hamari Muskan is ironically someone who has not even entered our day care centre or seen us at work. Vinayak Lohani. When you work at a day care centre inside a red light area, the biggest intervention that anyone can make is to provide our children with a career escape. Vinayak did just that by agreeing to absorb 17 of our vulnerable children and giving them a ‘father’, home, family and caring environment – for free and for life. What is remarkable is that when we hesitatingly asked if he could take in 17 of our kids, we felt he would bargain: “Not 17 but only five.” All he said was “Contact Nemai. He will arrange the paperwork.” The send-off was emotional at Premchand Boral Street as Halima (one of the eldest prostitues) was there to flag off the vehicle that transported the children on

the historic journey. Some of these children go on to become professionals, some might become businessmen and some might even go abroad. Who knows? By agreeing to provide these children with a sheltered environment at his 25 acre facility, Vinayak made the single biggest transformation in their lives. Initially the children, who would spend their time on the streets, appeared restricted by the Parivaar discipline. Two children conjured stories about super-natural sightings on the campus, so they could escape Parivaar. But a few months down the road they are happily settled, working on computers, learning English and living their dreams. Vinayak hasn’t just changed the lives of our children; he has changed ours as well! - Aditi Mitra, Hamari Muskan. Her NGO placed 17 vulnerable children at Parivaar in December 2013


am a humble sattuwala sitting on the pavement of Sarat Chatterjee Avenue outside Rabindra Sarobar. Normally, my son’s destiny would have been written at birth – son of a sattuwala to become another sattuwala. However, someone from the neighbourhood introduced me to Vinayakji, who immediately took my son into his school. No payment. No ghoos. Now my son is learning angreji and computer. More than the education he has showered love on my son. Vinayakbabu is a maseeha! - Ranjit Shaw sells sattu on the pavement of Sarat Chatterjee Avenue

“Vinayak agreed to absorb 17 of our vulnerable children and gave them a ‘father’, home, family and caring environment”


“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” - Sarah Bernhardt

“Every dollar makes a difference. Whether it’s Warren Buffet’s remarkable $31 billion pledge to the Gates Foundation or my late father’s $25 check to the NAACP.” - Michael Bloomberg

Corporate Social Responsibility


Ruby Hembrom

What makes BIVA West Bengal’s number one vocational training institute from a field of 600?

Kicked up an MNC job to work for adivasis. An idea whose time had come year a number of indigenous languages are wiped out. Just think… what survived centuries is obliterated in the space of a few years. There is a cultural epidemic! Q: What have you produced so far?

Q: You are a remarkable instance of someone giving up an MNC job to work for the adivasis. Why? Because it just had to be done. Finally, when it came down to the crunch, the question was not one of whether one more person would continue to work in an MNC but whether the entire culture of the adivasis would at all survive. So it finally came down to salary versus culture. Culture won. Q: Sounds simple, but probably wasn’t. What one needs to realise is that I studied law and then worked eight straight years in the Learning and Development segment at IBM. There was absolutely no connect! And while this so-called corporate career was building up, there was this voice at the back of my head drawing me to my roots. Q: Why? Oh, because I had grown up in

“We aim to create a database of the authentic adivasi voice - as recounted by themselves. We wish to document every adivasi narrative, record oral traditions...”


a Santhal family which sowed a deep sense of pride in being adivasi. But also I soon realised that we were being dragged into a negative typecast of what being adivasi was, which was really ‘becoming nothing at all’. Q: So how did all this link up with you? I knew deep down that I would do something related to the indigenous peoples of India. So I did what was most logical: quit my IBM job to extend my Learning and Development skills to adivasi villages. And that is how a project to revamp conversational English textbooks led me to publishing, which became the starting point of everything - to renew, preserve, promote and propagate adivasi being and what will soon expand to include other cultural facets that make up adivasi life. So finally I am doing all that I always wanted to do. Q: Just one question here. Why is this work critical for the world at large? Because more than ever before, our traditional millennial knowledge can withstand the Earth’s changes, heal our world and restore its balance. Just look at the Baigas and how they predict the weather and plan their crops, or how forest dwellers survive droughts ... this ancestral wisdom is waiting to be documented, to be respected and protected. So what

is my work of documentation? A refusal to be a forgotten people! Q. Coming back to your work. What does it comprise? Adivaani (first voices) does something specific: it archives, chronicles and publishes on, by and for adivasis. We feel that the more we do this, the more our culture will survive. And the more our culture survives, the less will the story of indigenous peoples be threatened, ignored, misrepresented or supressed, and the less this happens, the greater the social equity for those at the bottom of our social pyramid. Q: How? Books! Firstly, we aim to create a database of the authentic adivasi voice - as recounted by themselves. We wish to document every adivasi narrative, record oral traditions, preserve stories, collect folklores, script sagas and write out our oral literature. We want to tell the world that the adivasi narrative is not just about misery, pain and exploitation but is also intellectual, imaginative, creative, poetic, romantic and thrilling. There is a reason for this urgency: even as most people do not realise, there is a rapid generalisation the world over. Niche cultures are being sucked into a generic mainstream. Ethnic clothes are not fashionable anymore. Ethnic people are speaking pidgin Hindi or Bengali. Every

Six books, one poster, a critical learning-through-reading project and an adivasi writing prize. Our work entails seeking accounts, knowledge, translation, documentation and sometimes re-documentation. Our books are reasonably priced (`90 to `250). The first year we sold more than 75% of our print run, which I am told is fantastic. Sadly, we have not been able to penetrate urban spaces. If even 10 schools picked up 10 books each for their libraries, we’d be rushing into a second print run! And this is where it is getting interesting as we will not just be about books — we’re venturing into art, craft, musicology and documentary films. Q. What have been the challenges? The stereotypes and prejudices that define the adivasi being. The biggest myth is that indigenous social structures and way of life are traditional and simple. Traditional does not necessarily mean primitive, archaic or crude, but progressive, sophisticated and deeply-rooted balance between people and their natural environment. Then there is the apathy to deal with. Our first book was in Roman Santhali about the Santhals as a people, their history and identity. The base of the cover was in black. One of the printers recommended we change the black to a cheery yellow or maroon as ‘Black is too sophisticated a colour for the backward Santhals’. We stuck to black. For every big bookstore that didn’t have time to meet with us, every online portal that dismissed our books as unworthy, there were ones who took us in and kept our work - and us - in circulation. So how do we cope with challenges? The secret is persistence.

5 things that make adivasi culture fascinating 1 The aesthetics of adivasi culture are unique – rustic, grows out of the land and out of their hands. 2 Adivasi cultures are the best example of beauty in simplicity - minimalistic. 3 Adivasi cultural demonstrations are symbolic and drawn from an ancient knowledge of life-ways. 4 Adivasi cultures are horizontal and not hierarchical; they’re shareable and community-based. No individual enjoys any ownership or patent on any cultural expression. 5 Adivasi cultures are dynamic; adapting anew to changing times without losing the flavour of their originality or relevance.

Q: A curious question. How sustainable is your financial model? With my present revenue model, Adivaani can’t stay afloat for long. I certainly can’t make a living out of this because after the low book pricing, every rupee that comes in from book sales (after the commission bookstores keep) we roll into the next production or pay off the press. And this is despite that we are an austere operation; we pooled our savings, we work from home, we do all our editorial, design and pre-printing work on our iMac, we work with dedicated authors who work without commercial expectations and engage with vendors we know so there is no one breathing down out neck. But because we need to pay our authors, artists and illustrators, we need to figure out a way of raising funds! info@adivaani.org

Adivaani Tulip Apartments 29A, Ismail Street, 4th Floor, Kolkata 700014 West Bengal E: info@adivaani.org


hen Paramita Das enlisted for a two-wheeler repair course a few years ago at the Balrampur Institute of Vocational Aid (BIVA) premises, the students (read males) sniggered. Hands meant for mehendi smeared with grease, one remarked. Will she be able to get under a bike, smirked another. The lady is having the last laugh. She completed the course,

launched a two-wheeler service centre and then graduated to a two-wheeler Bajaj dealership. Today, her annual revenue is more than `3 crore and interestingly she is the unquestioned BIVA poster-girl. The girl who has justified the rationale with which BIVA was set up in October 2004. It might sound curious in hindsight but BIVA was set up partly as a response to the growing unemployment in urban Bengal and partly because the wife of the managing director of the promoting company (Balrampur Chini Mills) was looking for something serious to be engaged in. “I always had the feeling that the country added a large number of passen-

ger cars and commercial vehicles annually, which warranted thousands of additional drivers (not counting the increment required to replace superannuated drivers),” says Sumedha Saraogi, Director. “However, most drivers were trained on the job by some bhai-bandhu, not through some organised training school. Even if the city added 100,000 cars a year, I recognised that we would need at least 25,000 chauffeurs, who in turn would have added `200 crore annually to the local economy. I did a quick back-ofthe-envelope calculation: the one-time cost of training these 25,000 drivers would have been just `12.50 crore whereas it would have generated a sustainable annual revenue 15 times larger! It was a no-brainer.” So BIVA was promoted as a CSR activity of Balrampur Chini Mills with the objective to provide vocational training to the unemployed in October 2004. “We created courses around people’s daily requirements,” explains Sumedha. “For instance, when our mobile phones malfunction we find it difficult to get someone who knows how to repair at a low cost, so we started a course on

mobile handset repair. We have electrical issues at home, so we started a course on electrical wiring and motor winding. A number of us face three-wheeler issues, so we started a course for bike and scooter repair. A number of us face air-conditioner issues, so we started a course on AC repair and maintenance. We are forever looking for good drivers, so we started a course on car driving. Besides we launched courses in computer basics, computer DTP, beauty and tailoring.” The easiest thing in India is to set up a training school; the difficult is creating professionals. Sumedha nods. “Which is why we are not a course-focused agency; we also train in behavioural skills that enhance job-worthiness. We are not just a hole in the wall agency; we have 5,000 square feet at our disposal in South Kolkata. We don’t just train and forget; we provide our students with placement and self-employment assistance (across Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, Mobile Store, Aparna Electricals, Weather Maker, Nehru Yuba Kendra Sangathan, Tempcon, George Telegraph and other schools). We don’t just focus on maximising admissions; we screen ad-

mission inflow for students from the financially weaker sections. We don’t just train in house; we engage with reputed community-based organisations (Rotary Clubs, Lions Club, Red Cross Society) as well as organisations like I-create, Sanlaap, National Thermal Power Corporation Limited and others to conduct outreach programmes.” BIVA’s effectiveness lies in its results. An individual who pays a few thousand for a three-month motor driving course will easily get a driver’s job for at least `6,000 per month. Ditto for other professions. The result is that BIVA has been ranked number one by the West Bengal Government from a field of more than 600 institutes in the state.


Balrampur Institute of Vocational Aid 14/118 Uday Sankar Sarani, Tollygunge, Kolkata 700033, India O: +91-33-32984979/ 24220227 E: biva_admin@rediffmail.com

At JSW, CSR begins even before groundbreaking!


t must say something about the commitment of JSW that even though groundbreaking for its steel plant in Salboni is nowhere in sight, the company is already in the seventh year of its social responsibility programme in this remote corner of South West Bengal. That’s right, seventh year.

In a resource-starved economy, one would call this mistimed spending. Biswadeep Gupta, Joint Managing Director of JSW Bengal Limited, will not hear of the criticism. “When a corporate

as large and forward-looking as JSW encounters social and economic inequity of the kind that exists in Salboni,” he says, “then intelligence lies not in timing our social intervention but in starting as soon as we can. In that economically backward region, the crop pattern is single, there is an absence of major industry, unemployment is high, infrastructure (roads, health centres and schools) limited and higher education facilities almost non-existent. The income source of the area is agriculture/farming marked by occasional incomes as low as `500 to `600 per month. It would have been incompatible with our character to delay a social intervention because, as some say, the timing would not have been right.”

So even as JSW’s steel making investment could still be some years away, JSW Foundation (under Director Ms Sangita Jindal) engaged in an extensive ‘need identification’ process through a baseline survey, coupled with the development of various programmes to augment the effectiveness of government programmes. Thereafter the company focused on healthcare intervention, environment and sanitation (including drinking water access) and education. JSW collaborated with local school authorities to provide maths, science and English tuition, which has not only helped plug an existing gap, helped families save money that would have been spent on tuition classes and saved boys and girls a commute of 15-20 kms to where private tuition is available.

The healthcare initiative has showcased attractive results. “Our rural healthcare intervention across 23 villages achieved exceptional results following medical camps by doctors, distribution of medicines and diagnostic tests – all free,” says Gupta. “We engaged in mass de-worming of the entire population of the project-affected area, assessed ‘anaemia and nutrition’ status in women (1440 years), launched free clinics (including mobile clinics 24 days a month), provided free diagnostics (blood tests, RE, ME, X-ray, ECG among others), launched a 24x7 ambulance service and dug 17 tubewells to provide villagers with access to clean water.” The outcome has been outstanding: 30 percent decline in GI disorders in villages, de-worm-

ing of approximately 6,500 people (male and female of all age groups), decline of 12% repeat patients at health camps and medical centres, and an increase in general health awareness. Going ahead, the other big initiative that JSW is planning to embark upon is providing a ‘health card’ to the target population (around 30,000) leading to real-time health mapping so that their health data can be assessed with the click of a mouse. www.jswfoundation.com

JSW Bengal Steel Ltd. Tower A, 3rd Floor, DLF IT Park, 08 MA Road, Block AF, New Town, Kolkata 700156. O: +91-33-40002020 W: www.jsw.in


“Not what I have but what I do is my kingdom.” - Thomas Carlyle

Responses to our inaugural issue “Admirable effort. Great first issue. Well done!” Ram Ray (Advertising professional)

“Poverty eradication, healthcare for all closer than ever for India” Melinda Gates says India is close to poverty eradication and improving healthcare for all workers living with HIV—to become a part of the solution to the AIDS crisis.

“This is stunning! The idea of having such a tabloid is brilliant!” - Eina Ahluwalia (jewellery designer) “Truly impressive. My compliments to all those who are involved.” Narayan Vaghul “Amazing new quarterly tabloid on philanthropy!” - Venkat Krishnan N. (GiveIndia) “Just received the Kolkata Gives tabloid and was overwhelmed reading the wonderful inspirational stories inside. I applaud you and all the others who have been part of this unique initiative. The print version reached my desk this morning an hour ago and I was compelled to pick it up. May your tribe increase.” Dr Charulatha Banerjee “This is fantastic work, engaging and beautifully curated. I especially loved the `0/- on the cover. Reading this tabloid gives me hope, not for the work I do, but for the good in people and their deep desire to support work like this.” - Ruby Hembrom (Adivaani)

There is so much human potential in India, and it’s being realised more and more every day. All across the country, there have been such wonderful examples of what can happen when people are able to take a role in shaping a better future for themselves and their families and help push India towards that future. Self-help groups are providing a path for people who didn’t have voices before—people like sex

Frontline workers have helped India eradicate polio entirely by getting a vaccination to every child, everywhere. And thanks to that work, now basic healthcare is available to every single Indian. India is closer to that goal than ever, and when it gets there, it’s going to make the country—and the world—a much better place to be. The target of no poor countries by 2035 is ambitious, which is a good thing, but Bill and I don’t think it’s unrealistic at all. If there is any place on earth that has seen that progress is possible, it’s India. In the last 60 years, India’s per person income has quadrupled. Sure, that is in large part due to India’s sizeable and

The Gates Foundation does not give money directly to governments. We join forces with them to tackle the world’s biggest problems together. These kinds of partnerships are actually a great way to help nations make progress in the short term so that they aren’t dependent on aid for the long run. So aid can help a

Premasree was founded by Biju Nair in December 2012 as a free residential school for the blind and visually-impaired children from poor families. Over the year, Premasree has grown into a home for 21 students. “It was a childhood dream to build a school for the blind,” says Biju Nair, founder. “Premasree combines the names of my parents. Being visually handicapped is the worst of all disabilities, which is why I invested `1.5 crore in building this facility which is in the shape of an eye.”

“Excellent work!” - Mamoon Akhtar (Samaritan Help Mission, NGO)

“Fantastic!” - Denise O’Brien

Even in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the trends are moving in the right direction. Bihar’s economy grew by 11% in 2012 and 14% in 2013. And child mortality is going down as fast in Bihar and UP as it is in the rest of India. This is a trend we’re seeing all over the world.

country become self-sustaining, as we have seen in Botswana and Thailand, which used to receive a lot of aid and now receive almost none. Aid is a way to partner with governments as they figure out how to spend their money best. When I travel around India and talk to people about what they need to make a better life for themselves and their families, what I hear, especially from mothers, is that they need all of these things: education, nutrition, healthcare for people of all ages, family planning tools. Both mothers and their children are healthier, and they have better nutrition and increased access to education. This doesn’t only lift up families—the impact can help lift whole communities.

Source: Mint, 12 March 2014

This school can ‘see’

“Kolkata Gives team ‘walks the talk’ in giving us NGOs a good, credible exposure. The research, creativity and hard work that has gone into this issue is awesome.” - Sharda Radhakrishnan (Chhaya, NGO)

“The tabloid is indeed a remarkable way of showcasing efforts of different NGOs.” - Anwar Premi (Sir Syed Schools, NGO)

highly skilled population, but it’s also because when we invest in healthy children, we build a productive workforce for the future— and that can lift everyone up.


“Great initiative.” - Roma Mehta (GarbageFree India)

“We are often so caught up in our own field of work that it is good to read about the work others are doing in the city.” Iona Kundu (Mentaid)

“Serve and thou shall be served.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

school does not just teach survival issues but has a well-trained faculty dedicated to also teaching music, dance, sport, farming, self-defense and yoga. Five, this is no hole in the wall but a 6-acre facility with provisions for modular add-ons as the needs arise. So what does Premasree need to grow? “Resources for hostels (boys and girls), a vocational teacher and a revamp of the campus,” says Rana, Project Manager.



his is the story of 20-year old Sunil Naskar who would beg at Durgapur Station, was provided by shelter by an NGO and then one day heard such things about Premasree that he decided to walk 8 km to its location on the Basanti Highway. Sunil is blind.

Rather than say well done and keep it up, the people who run Premasree, a school for the visually impaired, did something unexpected. They offered Sunil a job and the result is that Sunil now teaches craft to more than 20 children, helping transform their lives with the same passion with which he transformed his.

These are some of the things that make Premasree different: one, it doesn’t just teach and say goodbye at the end of each afternoon, but provides free lodging as well. Two, it doesn’t provide a crutch but helps students become independent. Three, it doesn’t address needs of children only from its vicinity; some come from as far as the Bangladesh border. Four, the

Premasree School address: Jagulgachi village, Gobindapur P.O., Bhangore, 24 Parganas(s), West Bengal, India Anjana Chowdhury anjana@premasree.org +919830031726 Rana Basu Thakur rana@premasree.org +919830034539


Happenings at NGOs New Light commissions Khela Ghar In the last week of December, New Light inaugurated Khela Ghar to provide the male children of prostituted women the opportunity to grow up in a secure environment. New Light’s two-storeyed building (P-103/1 Bidhu Bhusan Sengupta Road, Behala) will provide formal and remedial education, counseling, healthcare, food, opportunities (therapeutic, creative and recreational) and vocational training. New Light seeks help to fund furniture, fixtures and equipment needs. MENTAID creates a buzz In February 2014, the tea packaging unit Sacksbee made an unusual commitment – provide MENTAID with a trial order to put tea bags into packets. Within a fortnight, the order enlarged to cover sealing tea bags. Why is this unique? Gainful employment for the mothers, no worry about buying components or marketing products and the chance that the order could increase. MENTAID organised an awareness walk on 21st March, World Down’s Syndrome Day with 25 children and young adults. A one page flyer was distributed to people explaining what Down’s Syndrome was and also about those afflicted with it, their positives, penchants and how they are being integrated in the community. One young lad with Down’s, confidently played the synthesiser and had the police mesmerised with his skill who gave excellent support and ensured that the group did not face any problems or the traffic was inconvenienced. There was refreshment to end a very special day. Recognition for Rural Healthcare Foundation In January 2014, Rural Health Care Foundation was honoured in the ‘Access to Services’ award by Bihar Innovation Forum. What impressed Bihar Innovation Forum was the model’s replicability and grassroots sustainability. RHCF was awarded `300,000 by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. A month later, RHCF

commissioned a healthcare service centre near Sundia in South 24 Parganas, its eighth in the state, funded by Vedanta Fashions (Manyavar fame). The centre provides diverse primary healthcare services (general medicine, dentistry, optometry and homeopathy)​ . Interestingly, RHCF was granted the 35AC certificate which will make it possible for Indian donors to avail of 100 percent tax-exemption against their donations. Babies’ day out! In late December 2013, the disabled children at ISRC (Indian Society for rehabilitation of children) jived to Christmas carols, gorged on cakes, sweets and chocolates and were then taken to play at Tolly Club. ISRC celebrated Republic Day wherein the children hoisted the national flag and sang the national anthem. Civilian Welfare’s event recognised In February 2014, India Triathlon Association (Paralympics) organised by Civilian Welfare Foundation, received affiliation from Paralympics Committee of India and became the National Federation for Para-triathlon, a sport for the disabled athletes (750 m swimming, 20 km cycling and 5 km running). This federation will act as the sport’s governing body, attract triathlete participation in Paralympics (held with Olympic Games) and create a uniform policy to develop the sport. UK’s rich raise `13 cr for cancer patients Britain’s rich and famous gathered at London’s iconic St James’ Court hotel to raise £130,000 (`13 crore) for Kolkata’s cancer patients. The charity dinner, organised by Tata Medical Centre Trust, saw a Paresh Maity painting sell for £45,000 (`45 lakh) bought by avid art collector Sanjay Newatia of Credit Suisse. A number of rare items were auctioned through the evening, including a piece of exquisite Madras jewellery. The programme ‘Do-

nate a pound’ that was run in two of St James’ Court hotel’s iconic restaurants - Quilon and Bombay Brasserie - helped raise £20,000. Rotary Club of Calcutta Metropolitan opens diagnostic centre Rotary Club of Calcutta Metropolitan contributed `1 crore for a 2,000 sq ft diagnostic centre in Khardah in February 2014. This centre caters to the below-the-poverty-line population of 500,000 in the vicinity. RCM invested in an ultrasound system with three probes, digital X-ray machine, echocardiography system with semi-auto analysers and ECG system. The centre collaborates with Balrampur Eye Hospital for CT and MRI scans. Dr. Naresh Goyal of RCM explained: “We believe in a low-cost, fairpriced diagnostic centre and were pleased that land for the centre was provided for only `7,000 per month while equipment was funded by our Rotary Club.” Celebrating women power! Krishna Fashions, Kolkata-based fashion house, launched Stree Samman to celebrate Women’s Day. Explains Sitaram Dhandhania, Director, “Women have always been our inspiration, and what better way to convey our gratitude than recognising their achievements.” Among the 12 women felicitated Kantha revivalist Shamlu Dudeja, Santhal activist Ruby Hembrom and counter-leprosy evangelist Dr Joydeepa Darlong (who received `51,000 on behalf of The Leprosy Mission, Purulia).

CSR activities. This entity will set up centres for excellences in the areas of education, skills development and healthcare. Sanjiv Goenka said the group has a net profit of around `900 crore. As per the new rule, 2 per cent of the net profit should go to CSR activities. “Our target is to set up one world-class institution every three years. We want to create institutions and do something worthwhile instead of frittering it away. So within a decade we will be able to set up at least three institutions, which the city would be proud of.” Besides, Goenka added that the Group would offer `60,000 a year in each scholarship to 30 Bengal students. “A student (annual family income less than `2.5 lakh) with at least 85 per cent marks in 2014 (class 12 examination) would be eligible to be supported till the bachelors’ degree level,” he added. Hamari Muskan children go places The last few months were busy at Hamari Muskan, the day care centre in the red light area of Premchand Boral Street (Bowbazar). Some 17 vulnerable children were placed at Parivaar in December 2013; Hamari Muskan introduced value education classes for children (10 to 14) in St. Joseph’s School; Seagull Publications conducted storytelling classes for Hamari Muskan’s children; adolescents participated in medication sessions organised by the Art of Living Foundation. Some Hamari Muskan children secured yellow karate belts; 14 are on the verge of becoming champions. Neighbourhood adolescents have enlisted for football training at Avenue Sammilani (Rabindra Sarobar). Number of things happening at Ek Tara

RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group to begin new CSR initiatives The RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group will float a separate entity to take up

Ek Tara, the NGO engaged in education for the underprivileged, helped mainstream 46 children to different schools (Indira Academy on Elliot Road, Jyotirmai Vidya Mandir at Garcha and Saket Public School in Topsia) for 2014-15. The students were selected from the in-house montessori section.


Three things I have learnt about philanthropy…

By Azim Premji Chairman, Wipro Limited 1 Involving your family early on in philanthropy is very important. Some of the smartest people that I know have been those who chose to become home makers. They can perhaps play a significant role in starting off their families philanthropic efforts. 2 Philanthropy is perhaps more complex than business, because social issues are more complex. I think that the most serious start to anyone’s philanthropic work would be to pick one of their top people from within the business, a person who has the intent, empathy, ability, and trust and move him or her to the philanthropy side. 3 Philanthropy needs patience, tenacity and empathy. One has to change one’s mindset significantly if one has to make a difference. I have learnt this only slowly …

Innovation in philanthropy “I started a “No Polio Zone” in the early 1980s after I saw a girl paralysed waist downwards with polio. My friends from medical college joined me in street plays about the importance of vaccination. We found that mothers rarely completed the three doses needed for complete immunisation of their children, so we donated a metre of a colourful striped cloth to children who completed all the doses of vaccines. Soon we found little girls who had completed the vaccinations wearing frocks of the same striped cloth—a simple but effective solution to the problem of noncompliance for vaccine dosages.” - Swati Piramal, Vice-Chairperson, Piramal Enterprises Ltd.in Mint, 18.02.14


“I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious and difficult task of wise distribution.” - Andrew Carnegie

“Every time you cut off somebody else’s opportunities, you shrink your own horizons.” - Bill Clinton

Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp

Dr. Helgo Meyer Hamme

A Kolkata NGO provides possibly the world’s lowest-cost dialysis treatment!

The foreign hand


he story of a German doctor who gave up practice in his own country to keep coming to Kolkata for nearly 40 years to help the children of the poor find a meaning in their lives.

Dr Fuad Halim explains the innovation that has gone into this reality

Why is this work relevant? Because of the cost of dialysis. Someone who has to spend `1,500 for a sitting, will need to spend at least `3,000 a week for dialysis. Not everyone can afford it. In our model, we provide competent dialysis treatment for `500 a sitting, making it possible to save `8,000 a month. This could well be the lowest dialysis treatment cost anywhere in India. In a country where dialysis affordability is linked to longevity, we are simply making it possible for patients to live longer. How ‘no-frills’ is your nofrills healthcare?

How did a medical professional get into philanthropy? I don’t consider this as philanthropy for two reasons. One, I see myself as providing something that is a fundamental right. Two, I see this as an opportunity to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice. Besides, the story goes back to when one of my friends met with an accident, needed blood and none of us could donate because we were not 18. I lost my friend. Thereafter, my friends and I started a campaign to get the government to change this law. After a year,

we won the case; the government legislated that anybody above 16 can donate blood. So somewhere there was this conviction to be the change that we wanted to see. How is Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp different? Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp is engaged in the practice of making appropriate healthcare technologies accesible. This means providing treatment for a particular disease in the best, sustainable and cost-effective manner for the benefit of the masses. The concept of appropriate healthcare reconciles technology with paying capacity. A big question: is it possible?

“In our model, we provide competent dialysis treatment for `500 a sitting, making it possible to save `8,000 a month.”

We are demonstrating that it is a reality. We combine scientific principles with our intellectual capacity so that people can access advanced healthcare without frills or unnecessary costs. We have showcased this through our dialysis centre in Marquis Street, which is largely directed for the benefit of the poor.


Let me give you a basic instance. We have a dialysis unit but no air-conditioner. It is a myth that a dialysis unit requires an air-conditioned environment. A poor man coming from the village will come from a non-AC environment and will go back to a non-AC environment. What use is an hour of AC to his life? Besides, the cost of an AC will need to be added to the treatment cost. Why burden the poor man with something unnecessary? Or take, for instance, the use of a mosquito net in place of a praline net to treat hernia. Praline nets cost anywhere from `4,0006,000 but a normal mosquito net will cost the patient less than Re 1. Common sense. We sent the mosquito net to the Bhabha Atomic Centre for a mass spectrometry test. The material used in the net was proven to be bio-compatible and scientific. What is the footprint of your initiative? We work in Kolkata, the Sunderbans and Burdwan. We bring the patients from these areas and address their medical problems in the city. We also undertake post-operative and follow-up care of patients following their return to the Sunderbans. Until now, we have conducted 120 cataract operations in the Sunderbans; we are doing 500 dialysis treatments a month and have covered more than 25,000 patients in four years.

What are the challenges that you face? One, the financial. We plug our deficits through contributions from 30 active members and friends drawn from business, pharmaceutical, medical, academic and professional backgrounds. Two, intellectual refreshment and being able to reconcile it with the economic conditions of my patient. Three, growing regulatory compliances and pharmaceutical companies discontinuing the manufacture of low-cost medicines. How do you counter these challenges? On my first day of practice, a patient came to my door, saw the board and went away. He again came to door and went away. When he returned the third time, I asked him what he was doing. He said that the dispensary appeared expensive because the doctor (me!) had so many degrees that looked foreign. I replaced the board with one just stating my name and an MBBS degree. In 16 years of practice, I consciously minimised my clinic to the bare essentials - no AC or gadgets. A patient-friendly chamber. My fees are low to the point that I have to often struggle to make ends meet, relying on my job instead. What areas have you succeeded in? Providing appropriate and sustainable healthcare support. My patients becoming donors and donors becoming patients. Getting four of our seven dialysis machines donated by individuals. Running perhaps the cheapest dialysis centre in the world (comparable with one unit in Thane which provides Rotary-subsidised rates). Running the organisation as a patient-paying model with no subsidies. Some 20 per cent of our dialysis treatments are free and funded by donors. Be-

sides, our fiscal discipline ensures that we close all our accounts on a monthly basis, making it possible for us to control deficits. We make sure that the paid-in model is addressed before a patient is admitted, which completely covers costs.

Deep inside Howrah, a father-son team from Hamburg are at work.

What is the road ahead?

The father is Dr Helgo. He spends nearly eight weeks a year in Kolkata; his son has been in Kolkata for a good year.

We are translating the dialysis technician’s handbook into regional languages – Hindi and Urdu - to enhance usability. In the last four years, we increased the number of dialysis machines from two to seven; we now intend to increase the number of machines to nine. We want to emerge as the largest blood donation mobilisers (from 800 units to 5,000 units a year) leading to the creation of our own blood bank.

Why you can trust KSS Awarded the first ‘Innovative Social Programme’ award by NASSCOM for the ‘Blood Pairing Programme’. Continuously supported by medical technology leaders in Calcutta; associated with PG Hospital, Calcutta Medical College among others. Licensed with the Health Ministry (West Bengal Government). Tie-up with the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology in Kolkata Medical College where patients are sent for free cataract surgery. All donations are 100%-exempt U/S 35AC of the Indian Income Tax Act. Registered under the West Bengal Societies Act 1961 and under the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act.


Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp 2A Marquis Street, Kolkata 700016, India O: +91-33-22273936 E: drfuadhalim@gmail.com

The Hammes have found their calling – working for the uplift of child labourers in Howrah. Why child labourers? “Because child labourers get it bad from both perspectives - exploited through work and under-provided through education, rehabilitation and vocational training,”

says Dr Helgo. So this is what the father-son team does: they work in two centers (Tikiapara and Liluah), take child labourers out of their working places and send them to school and vocational coaching classes against a monthly compensation (food or articles) as well as a mid-day meal. “The journey has been challenging,” says Helgo. “I trusted a chartered accountant who asked me to work with his NGO but as soon as funds were routed through his organisation, his responsiveness changed and he embezzled most of the funds.” So he built a network of Indian friends and NGOs. “On occasions, I felt I could quit but then I thought: if I did quit India, who would suffer the most? Surely, not the tricksters!” he says. His dream? A good future for 200 girls and boys through education and vocational training. “By

‘good’ I don’t only mean a reasonable salary but the ability to stand with their heads held high in society, character forged by morality and unconditional love for fellow men. When we do this, West Bengal will become as clean as, say, Sikkim,” he concludes. What Dr Helgo stands for is reflected in the work he has done with children like Mohsin. Just seven years-old, Mohsin would slave for hours in a Tikiapara plastic factory. When rescued by Dr Helgo and his team, they were pleased to discover that Mohsin possessed a spark and was interested in studies. “So we took him in and sent him to school, moving him from Urdu-medium to an English-medium school in the second standard. The verdict at the end of his first term exam was ‘hopeless’; in the second exam he managed to just pass. But something incredible happened at the end of his first year - he se-


Rasgulla drained of ras to make sherbet for the poor!

How Ramratni Goenka’s philanthropy moulded the ethic of RS Goenka’s industrialist family

‘‘We were not born rich; we became affluent because of one person’s philanthropy” “Maaji would pick single grains of rice from the floor and put it back on the plate or the anaaj ka baksaa with the words ‘Ek ek boond se gharaa bharta hai!’”

humanity; she refused to have lice picked out of her hair on the grounds that the lice would also get the benefit of Gangaji ka snaan each morning.” “Each morning after her Gangaji ka snaan, she would help knead 10 kgs of atta at Bhagatji ke Maa ka mandir to make hundreds of rotis which would be fed to the poor – for 35 years!”

“The food surplus generated within the family would be packed into a tiffin box and taken to Gangaji each morning at 4am where she would feed nearly 15 poor people. Every single day!”

“Even as we prospered and travelled by air across the country, she continued to travel third class (and then second class) non air-conditioned, the difference in fares being contributed to Bhagatji’s mandir for the benefit of the poor.”

“Even when rats at our Kalakar Street Post Office residence nibbled at her feet, she refused to use rat poison on the grounds of

“The doodh that we would chadhaao at the mandir at home would be collected into

a bottle and fed to the poor at the ghats of Gangaji each morning.” “The rasgullas would be drained of ras and that would be collected to make sherbet that would be given to the poor.” “Even in her last years – she lived to be 90 – she would aggregate newspapers within the family, sell them and hand over the proceeds to the poor with the line that ‘Ispe haq to unka hai!’ “After she expired, the family started the tradition of feeding nearly 500 people outside our Southern Avenue residence each morning. We also commissioned a tap for drinking water (attached to a cooler) benefiting more than a thousand people every day.” “She instituted a ‘Bhagatji ka

tax’ at home. People who fell ill were required to make a contribution that would go to feed the poor sitting outside Bhagatji ke Maa ka mandir; Goenka family members traveling outside the city are required to out `500 before each trip.” “She was ingenious in her philanthropy. The kheera chhilkas or mooli ke pattey would be recycled to make chutney that would be fed to the poor.” “She loved aam ras, so she would pour half a glass into an empty one and give it to her maidservant.” As told by the daughters-in-law of the Geonka family

cured first rank! At the end of his twelfth standard he was sent for training in voluntary service to Germany, where he worked with disabled children, grasped the German language and became an educator. Or take the case of polio patient 12-year-old Ritu Kumar Shaw from Liluah who was provided a wheelchair to attend sewing and stitching classes and now is a stitching teacher who makes uniforms for 200-odd children and was the subject of a film by Don Bosco SERI. So miracles do happen.” Dr. Helgo Meyer of Hamburg is part of Howrah South Point and Help for Education and Life Guide Organisation (H.E.L.G.O.) www.helgo.ev.de

H.E.L.G.O. 21/1 Srinath Porel Lane Howrah 711101. E: info@helgo-india.com

Volunteers from other lands Anne Marie Murray: I come from Ireland. Kolkata is where I have been spending at least eight months each year for 10 years. Why Kolkata? Because Kolkata took me in. There may be chaos on the outside, but people are warm on the inside. Presently I am working on a health project that addresses HIV-positive women and children and the development of kids who sleep at Howrah station. Malaika: I am a pensioner from The Netherlands with development experience in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. At Calcutta Rescue, I was assigned to the handicrafts department in the slums. I spend four months here every year. The big moment? Learning Hindi and Bengali! Susan Boyle: I came from Ireland to spend five months working for the poor (no salary!). I was tired of the usual sightseeing and that was when a friend asked ‘Why not volunteer?’ and that is how I reached Hope Foundation. I am a nurse by profession, so I help slow learners and oversee healthcare-related issues.


“When wealth is centralised, the people are dispersed. When wealth is distributed, the people are brought together.”- Confucius

“Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a goal and an essential part of my life - a kind of destiny.” - Diana, Princess of Wales

Women’s Interlink Foundation (WIF)


Duchess of York provides Kolkata sex workers an alternative income opportunity!


he biggest challenge for NGOs working in the area of counter-trafficking can be encapsulated in just two words – ‘alternative income’.

It is okay to preach from a moral high ground that so-and-so would be better off switching her profession, but when a prostituted woman has been trained in precious little, how would one expect her to simply walk out and start doing something else?

Aloka Mitra, founder member of Women’s Interlink Foundation

So even if these ladies would want to reinvent their lives, here are some challenges: an inability to adjust to doing to different things when you are in your forties; an inability to change one’s sleep pattern to early bed-early rise; a big question mark about whether the new profession would indeed pay off, as a result of which the women often wish they were better at doing what they were used to anyway; and lastly, prostitution, however bad it might be treating the women, is a known devil whereas this thing about an organised profession could be some NGO’s fancy talk of exploitation by other means.

The one NGO that shattered the glass ceiling is the Kolkata-based Women’s Interlink Foundation. This is how this dramatic story unfolded: Sarah, Duchess of York, helped WIF launch a range of silk scarves made by vulnerable women involved with the organisation, which were marketed to Topshop, a leading UK retailer. Their initial order for 1,200 scarves in four styles was delivered in less than two months! The story of what this NGO has done with the prostituted women deserves to be case study material for some good reasons: Just when most NGOs working with prostituted women would select to be defensive about their prospects, WIF selected to think big. Just when any NGO seeking to mainstream prostituted women would have encouraged some silaai-bunaai that was apologetically marketed to relatively disinterested buyers, WIF created world-class products pitched at the snootiest customers in the world. Just when any NGO working in this field would have been happy

The historic CSR directive, 2014


he Ministry of Corporate Affairs (Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013) enunciated guidelines related to CSR spending by companies applicable to companies with the following performance in any financial year:

the three immediately preceding financial years. The list of projects/activities are more broadbased, comprising:

citizens, and measures for reducing inequalities faced by socially and economically backward groups;

„ Eradicating hunger, poverty, malnutrition, preventive healthcare and sanitation and making safe drinking water available;

„ Ensuring environmental sustainability, ecological balance, protection of flora and fauna, animal welfare, agro-forestry, conservation of natural resources and maintaining quality of soil, air and water;

„ Possessing a net worth of `500 cr or more; turnover of `1,000 cr or more; net profit of `5 cr or more during any financial year

„ Promoting education including special education, and employment enhancing vocational skills, especially among children, women, elderly, and differently-abled and livelihood enhancement projects;

Among other things, the Board of every company should ensure that the company spends in any financial year at least two percent of the average net profits of the company earned during

„ Promoting gender equality, empowering women, setting up homes and hostels for women and orphans, setting up old age homes, day care centres, and such other facilities for senior

„ Protection of national heritage, art and culture, including restoration of buildings and sites of historical importance and works of art, setting up public libraries, promotion and development of traditional arts and handicrafts; „ Measures for benefit of armed force veterans, war widows and

their dependents; „ Training to promote rural sports, nationally recognised sports, paralympic sports and olympic sports; „ Contribution to Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund or any other fund set up by the Central Government, for socioeconomic development and relief and welfare of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women; „ Contributions or funds provided to technology incubators located within academic institutions approved by the Government „ Rural development projects.

carrying on a managerially loose operation as long as it kept the women engaged in some work, WIF embarked on a tightly deadlined order that needed to be delivered overseas.

Anant Foundation plans `60 cr in educational scholarships by 2020 daughter of an idol maker, travels more than two hours a day to reach school, scored 82 per cent in her higher secondary examination and wants to become a doctor. Saraswati Murmu, daughter of a poor tribal farmer, scored 78 per cent in her HS exam and wants to become a teacher even as the family is contemplating discontinuing her education. Altaf Ali scored 91 per cent in his HS exam and dreams of becoming a civil engineer even as his father is no more than a workshop mechanic. The son of a bus conductor, who earns `120 a day, wants to become a pilot. Listening to some of these stories I had tears in my eyes. In each one of these kids I saw a hunger to become something. All they needed was a push in the right direction, which was where we come in. Our objective: no one needs to jeopardise his or her education because of an inability to pay school fees. Our goal: scale to 100,000 scholarships by 2020!

“The girls were on top of the world after this experience. It’s a kind of honour that every order gives them. They feel so much more independent and it gives them a confidence to market themselves as well. I’ve been doing this work for 43 years and have understood the importance of knowledge because it is knowledge alone which can improve their lives,” explains Aloka Mitra, founder of WIF.


Women’s Interlink Foundation

“The definition of CSR, as prescribed in rule 2(c), seems to be an ‘inclusive’ definition, although at several other places it clearly states that those CSR activities falling under Schedule VII will only qualify as CSR expenditure by a company. This will create ambiguity. If someone takes up a project, other than that permitted in Schedule VII but in line with the policy approved by the CSR committee of board of directors, its spend won’t be considered as part of the 2% CSR expenditure, even if it is well within the inclusive definition of CSR per se. This restricts the choice of the company with existing CSR schemes/ programmes because it’ll have to reconsider and realign their activities with the newly amended Schedule VII.” - Source: Financial Express, 13.3.2014

5 ways in which I would like to do things differently from other educationists

An interview with its CMD Ravindra Chamaria

Just when any order would have enhanced pride at the collective level, WIF did the unexpected: it encouraged each woman worker to sign her name on the tag, enhancing a sense of individual pride.

2A, Ballygunge Place, Kolkata 700019. O: +91-33-24600765 E: wif@vsnl.com



ost people set up schools. You selected to provide scholarships. Unusual? For some good reasons. One, because the country possesses the ‘hardware’ (schools) but no ‘software’ (teaching methods). Two, providing children supplementary support in their last leg of two to three years made excellent sense in enhancing their employability. Three, this is one project that can be scaled attractively over time. Are you just providing mon-

“Our objective: no one needs to jeopardise his or her education because of an inability to pay school fees. Our goal: scale to 100,000 scholarships by 2020!”

ey or more? Providing a holistic solution. We provide not only a `6,000 annual scholarship to deserving students across Bengal, but we also provide training in communicative English, computer literacy, arts and culture appreciation, self-confidence and financial literacy. The impact of our work will become visible when we link them through Reliance’s fibre optic network, groom them to become job-worthy and get them relevant job placements. The fascinating things about your scholarships are scale and diversity. Anant Foundation started with only 252 scholarships in 2011-12 and increased to 5,275 in 201213. Only 8 per cent of our scholarships were given to students within Kolkata; the rest we gave out across districts. All that we required was a minimum 70 per cent in the last annual examination and a household income

of not more than `5,000. Once these criteria were met, we provided a `500 per month scholarship – which often worked out to 12 per cent of the family income. That best part is that we didn’t just hand cash to the students; we created bank accounts for each, into which scholarship amounts were transferred. So we ended up making this a financially inclusive initiative as well. The big question is how you appraised students as worthy of the scholarships. Because we wanted to be as fair as possible, we engaged with the relevant state ministry, sent letters out to various gram panchayats, accepted 90 per cent of the applications we received, provided each prospective candidate with a transport allowance to come to the city to be interviewed by us and I personally sat in on 300 interviews across six days. What I learnt from these conversations was humbling; Pratima Pal,

How did you become a willing philanthropist? I was born with a diamond – not silver – spoon in my mouth, lost my father when I was six and for someone whose grandfather owned 70 houses in Kolkata, there came a time when I did not have money for my college exam fees. I took a loan of `150 from my cousin and if it had not been for her, I would not be where I am today. The lesson: a small push can take you far. Now if this could happen to me, then what if the same was done for 100,000 such individuals across the state? That is the idea that got me interested…

Ravindra Chamaria, CMD Infinity Infotech Parks Limited Infinity, Tower II, Plot A3, Block GP, Sector V Salt Lake Electronics Complex Kolkata 700091. O: +91-33-23573686 F: +91-33-23573687 E: info@infinityitpark.com

BY Tamaghna Chattopadhay 1 Leverage experience from the academia and corporate world. Makes me a pragmatist; my definition of a solution is one that works. 2 Leverage a perspective that is intensely local (zip code Kalighat) and non-traditionally global (having lived in Russia, Brazil and USA for 30 years). 3 Leverage an understanding of the nuts and bolts of the educational intervention I am involved in, but circling back to theory, research and big policy. 4 Extend beyond my organisation’s role beyond ‘service (education) provider’ to ‘system builder’ - i.e. a catalyst/incubator of new ideas, models and process innovations that can be scaled by other educational organisations (including government agencies). 5 A humble understanding that education may not solve it all, so the big question is ‘After education, what?’ Dr Chattopadhay has worked at Centre for Studies of Privatisation in Education at Teacher’s College, Columbia University (New York), Steinhardt School of Education and University of Notre Dame. He has also been Vice President at JP Morgan, New York. He studied for an MBA Finance at Baruch College. He returned from the US to start the Innovation Institute for Education and Social Development (IIESD), Calcutta in 2013. He can be reached at tamo.chattopadhay@gmail. com


“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” - Albert Einstein

“What the poor need is not charity but capital, not caseworkers but coworkers. And what the rich need is a wise, honorable and just way of divesting themselves of their overabundance.” - Clarence Jordan

Thoughtshop Foundation

Leprosy Mission Home and Hospital, Purulia

Transforming communities using pictures

How a young doctor gave up life in Kolkata to work with lepers in Purulia

Himalini Verma explains the power of a forgotten idea Before I answer this question, let me explain how years ago, Thoughtshop Foundation was engaged in a campaign to end violence against women - one of hundreds of partners of the We Can campaign – with the ambitious goal of creating five million ‘Change Makers’ across South Asia in six years.


ow does one take sex education sessions in a village community comprising girls who have never been to school? How does one discuss equality in homes with rampant violence? How does one get a girl to dream of a better future when she has been married off at 14 and abandoned at 15?

However challenging this appeared, there appeared to be a method in the madness. If each of the five million ‘Change Makers’ influenced 10 people, 50 million ‘Change Makers’ would be created. Strategy through pictures Finally, we brought our challenge down to an effective strategy. Pictures. That’s right, pictures. We believed – and still do – that pictures can transform the world more than text or theory. So what we did was something

really simple. We created a common pictorial language through a series of participatory workshops. This pictorial language would cut across regions, classes, age and language differences. The thumb rule: imagining ourselves in each of the images. This is how the strategy worked: to address gender equality, we showed the image of a woman cooking and managing kids with her husband relaxing with a cigarette. People saw this as normal. Then we reversed the circumstance. Suddenly, people were startled.... What a selfish woman! And that was how a discussion began. At Thoughtshop Foundation, we took our experiment with pictures across Kolkata and neighbouring district communities. We worked with one community at a time. We touched every single person who attended our pro-

grammes. We encouraged those who attended to become volunteers who could then widen our circle of influence. The movement began to extrapolate. Over a period, we created 30,000 Change Makers. The impact extended beyond quantity: young men came forward to commit to personal change; habitual eve-teasers conceded that they now knew of alternative interaction means; some confessed that they had never thought how women felt or consequences. Pleasant discovery One might dismiss all this as ineffectual fun but this is what we pleasantly discovered: attendees recalled the workshops as a series of images; one father confessed his error in forcing his underaged daughter to marry against her will; in one slum, dozens of adolescent girls promised to say ‘no’ to child marriage; in another village, families began to eat to-

The amazing life of Dr. Joydeepa Darlong - in her own words gether as opposed to the conventional practice of women cleaning the leftovers after the rest of the family; families talked of domestic peace as a result.

“After my graduation in 1994, most graduates chose an urban posting. My husband and I selected to work in rural areas (Purulia). We were idealistic; we wanted to give back to society.”

Best of all, a wife with a promising career shared how when her husband asked ‘Why do you need to go out to work when I earn enough for both? She replied ‘What if I earn enough for both and ask you to stay at home, would you?’

“Everyone hears of Purulia and says ‘Oh my god!’ Our biggest challenge is that no doctor wants to go there. There is no social life. No mall. No club. So we (two junior doctors, my husband, and myself) work more than usual; we address around 250 OPD patients a day. My husband does 1,400 cataract operations a year!”

If you think this is unthinkable, remember that it was not intellect, but logic and emotion that worked the magic. It was pictures!


Thoughtshop Foundation

“Some 55 percent of leprosy cases in the world are in India. There are about seven per 10,000 leprosy patients in Bengal (unreported) as against a reported national average of 0.9 per 10,000. Bengal probably has the second highest leprosy incidence in India – after Uttar Pradesh. The word ‘reported’ is operative. Government hospitals do not register fresh leprosy cases after the patient turns 50!”

456 Block K, New Alipore Kolkata 700 053 O: (+91 33) 6525 9273 E: tsfoundation@gmail.com

Breaking Through Dyslexia

Divya Jalan on Taare Zameen Par, dyslexia and hope we need to remember is that even Einstein was dyslexic.”

Dyslexia is an invisible disability that does not discriminate across intellect. So a dyslexic IQ can range from 110 to 140! About 10 percent schoolgoing Indians are dyslexicthat’s one out of eight!” “Dyslexia may be irreversible but not irreparable. Dyslexia can be treated.” “Dyslexic children can excel in visual arts, sports, music and entertainment.” “The social stigma attached to dyslexia is a problem bigger than the dyslexia itself. It prevents parents from coming out clean. What

“At our NGO workshops, teachers are made to read a paragraph of jumbled words, which helps bridge the gap between academic researchers, practitioners, teachers, parents and students.” “The trick lies in teaching dyslexic children the way they find it easy to learn and not how we can teach.” “We plan to open a remedial therapeutic centre in Kolkata. The solution lies not in removing hurdles but in teaching how to cross barriers.” “To enhance awareness we organised an international conference


Dyslexia Awareness and Remedial Efforts To Win’ in December 2013, which brought together educators, parents and renowned specialists (some from Columbia University, Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy and Mental Health Foundation). The objective of the conference was to update the community with the latest research and skills required to deal with students suffering language and learning difficulties.” “Our NGO plans to take up the cause of dyslectic students with the Bengal government - providing extra examination time, scribes for writing and exemption from third languages – like in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.” “This is what my daughter has to

say ‘In school, I never wanted to touch my books. The ‘b’ I wrote would resemble a ‘d.’ My attention span stretched hardly 10 minutes. Once my learning disability was identified, my family sent me to a mainstream UK school (Cobham Hall) for remedial classes. There, I reinvented learning through phonetics, spellings and pronunciation. I began to cope with dyslexia and now I have moved on to University of Manchester!’” “Though the 2008 Bollywood blockbuster Tare Zameen Par highlighted the issues related to dyslexia and raised awareness, it is not enough. Dyslexia isn’t about the English language, it is universal.”

“I had a speech defect and suffered from attention deficiency. Everybody used to call me a ‘duffer’. But I knew I would prove them wrong. Later one of my sons turned out to be dyslexic too and we used to celebrate whenever he got 45 per cent in maths!” - Boman Irani, actor, photographer, dyslexic


Breaking Through Dyslexia 3 Dover Park, Kolkata 700019 O: 033-24744319 M: 9831895577 E: info@breakingthroughdyslexia.com

„ “By 2005, Leprosy was supposed to be eradicated. Reality however paints a different picture. In some areas leprosy is a growing problem. Around 14 states in India showed increased leprosy cases in 2010-11.” The Leprosy Mission Trust, India „ “Many districts continue to have incidences of leprosy higher than the WHO benchmark for elimination of leprosy although India officially ‘eliminated’ leprosy in 2005. Between 2010-11, 77 districts had a number of new leprosy cases per year higher than the WHO benchmark.” The Leprosy Mission Trust, India

“The second largest leprosy treatment centre of India is in Purulia, would you believe that? We treat leprosy, after-effects and sulphur allergies with physiotherapy, wax therapy, among others. Besides, we have a Snehalay where the shunned leprosy-affected stay with us for life. Then we have a department to manufacture artificial limbs. These make us different.” “Our international funding pipeline declined by a million pounds last year (for all India). So even as the incidence of disease is growing, we are facing a reduction in services. We address 16,000 OPD patients and 1,400 cat-

aract surgeries a year with only four doctors (two junior). I haven’t taken casual leave for a year. Don’t remember the last time I went on vacation. I work 10 to 12 hours a day.” “Leprosy is more than a medical problem. It is a social and psychological problem. People get cured of the disease but not of the stigma. This is what makes treatment challenging. Nurul Amin was in pain when he came. When I examined him with my hands, he broke down and said ‘Aapne toh mujhe yahin par aadhaa achcha kar diya! Wahaan ke bade-bade doctoron ne toh mujhe chhoone se bhi inkaar kar diya tha; ek dandi ke zariye mujhe aur mere ghaawon ko apne vidyaarthiyon ko dikhaa rahe the!’ He has been released from treatment!” “The biggest cause of leprosy? Poverty! I have seen people preserve mango seeds during summers just so that they can powder it during the winters and eat that. People drink water from ponds. Women bathe in one sari and stand out in the sun to dry it. One tube well services an entire village. Each family gets only five pots of water. Even today!” “Leprosy patients have to come three times a week for treatment. Each commute costs `80. Plus a loss of the day’s earnings. How many can afford the treatment? The result is that we provide beds for only `60 per day.”

come to an immediate conclusion.” “Why I haven’t taken a vacation for years? Because patients travel 12-16 hours to get to us, sleep on the railway station and if they come and find the doctor gone, that would set them back by `200 and they would not know when to return. I feel terribly guilty when I am on leave!” “Would you believe that leprosy is not part of the list of disabilities announced by World Health Organisation even as we are treating 16,000 patients (including revisits) a year? Bengal is probably the only state where legal divorce is possible if the spouse has leprosy!” “The Leprosy Mission has 14 hospitals in India; many are on the verge of closing down, because most of the states have been declared leprosy-free (which is not the case). For instance, Jharkhand has been declared ‘leprosy-free’, but we still get a number of patients from Ranchi Medical College.” “Our OT ceiling leaks. We have instruments that are decades old. We desperately need an X-ray machine. We need funding to feed the patients. Inspite of all the challenges, there is no other place I would like to be. This is one way I make a difference in people’s lives!” “We treat. God heals.”

“What makes leprosy challenging is that villagers discount the importance of a light skin patch, which leads to complications (neuritis or feet ulcers) and ultimately amputation. Over the years, one has developed an insight to scan symptoms (patches, thickened nerves, reddish face, thick ear lobes, swollen feet or smaller fingers) and


The Leprosy Mission Home and Hospital P.O. Box No. 9 Purulia 723101 E: jddarlong@gmail.com


“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.” - Benjamin Franklin

“The deed is everything, the glory naught.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Which NGO needs what Antara One portable monitor (to monitor non-invasive blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation and ecg)


One mini suction machine


Spaying/neutering one dog, which includes pick-up, deworming, operation and food (along with medicines) for the dog

One drinking water filter + cooler


Feeding rice to 400 dogs for 10 days





Sponsor a patient in the community-based care and support programme


T500 per month

Sponsor one patient’s treatment expense for a month


Bed in psychiatry ward


Ashabari T1,500


Feeding rice to 400 dogs for 10 days


Feeding chicken to 400 dogs for 10 days


Food for large animals


12 cottahs of land for grazing of animals


Cost for buying medicines for 350 dogs per month


Cost for fodder for large animals

T5000 per week

Good music system

T25,000 T75,000 to 10,00,000

Hamari Muskan Three cottahs land for the building of our day care centre

T8,50,000+ 1000 per month

Additional musical instruments


Agrarian viability and ecological growth

T50,000 per month

Construction of staff quarters


Regular repairs and maintainence

T3,00,000 annually

Website, film and publicity


T30,000 per month

Treatment of a patient with multi drug resistant TB


Two project managers for fund raising and overall supervision


T15,000 per month

Nutrition for 300 school children for a month

Cost for holidays/excursions/day trips

Samaritan Help Mission Shed in Bankra for preliminary training


Calcutta Rescue Sending one vulnerable child from the streets to a boarding school

T3,00,000 per month

Constructing a new kitchen building


Living quarters for the Ashabari staff (estimated)


Building a mortuary for inmates


Restarting a rural women empowerment programme (self-help groups)


Individual sponsorship to support a child per month


Balanced diet per child per month


Clothes and shoes per month


Doctor’s fees and nursing fees per month


School requirements per month


Hygiene and toiletries per month


T10,000 to T50,000

One day medicine supply to 1,000 marginalised people @ 30 per patient


Free spectacles to 300 poor people @130 per spectacle


Surgeries of 10 cataract patients @ 1,000 per patient




New dialysis machine with warranty and AMC


Sugar detection camp for 200 patients @30 per patient

Installing a new RO plant (the heart of dialysis unit) which will soon be a major requirement


Sponsor deficit of one Rural Healthcare Foundation centre’s operation expenses


Humanity Hospital

The Leprosy Mission Home and Hospital X-ray machine

Conduct 10 free cataract operations Conduct 100 free cataract operations


T10,000 Cardiac monitors T10,00,000

Cost per new bed

T2,50,000 T6,000

Four to five wheelchairs Generator for hospital in the Sunderbans

Annual sponsorship of a schoolgoing child


Feed and lodge 100 children for a month



Monthly expenditure for five mentally disabled children


Quarterly cost of a bridge course for preparing 40 children aged 6-13 for formal school

One and a half months of ration for 300 poor pregnant women and new mothers


Quarterly cost of providing vocational training to 50 girls with professional teachers and training materials


Quarterly cost for 300 children


Quarterly cost of running the crèche of 120 kids


Supporting one child for 10 months


Adding classrooms to Class X


Civillian Welfare Foundation Support a disabled athlete (six months)

T500 per month

Starter kit to start (or restart) education for children


Basic healthcare research on transgenders


Build the world's first professional networking site for disabled athletes


Trans-friendly (all inclusive) medical setup for year


SSGS School Roof repair




Water purifier


10 high and low benches




T400 each

Teaching aids


Quarterly cost of mid day meals for 300 children

Tomorrow’s Foundation



T3,00,000 10-20 crutches

Ek Tara

Two calipers for two handicapped children

Jyoti Development Trust

Rural Healthcare Foundation

Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp

Premasree Six computers


Food, clothing, bedding medicines and contingencies. Salaries of support staff and outdoor clinic for 1,500 rural people

Sponsor 20 dialysis sessions to 100 sessions in a month (giving one sponsored session per week) for patients who can barely afford two sessions per week

Howrah South Point

Building a Youth Resource Cell in a marginalised community (1 year)


Training one Youth Leader for a year


Training one Peer Counsellor for a year


Indian Society for Rehabilitation of Children


Part-sponsorship of one disabled child for one month


Full sponsorship of one disabled child for three months


Contribution towards a building fund corpus (one ward/room to be permanently named after the sponsor)


Painting of the ground floor of the children’s home


Grocery per month


Adivaani A TASCAM portable field audio recorder and shotgun mic for the documentation tools library


Printing a book


English language skills training for adivasi teachers



Women’s Interlink Foundation (WIF)

Educating a child/ youth through open school for a year (70 children enrolled)


Educating one child through Mother Project for a year (290 children enrolled)


New Light Constructing Sonar Tori to provide shelter and all life’s essentials to ‘at risk’ girls and young women


Cost to set up a bakery to produce and market competitively priced, high-quality branded items with a strong USP – employing vulnerable individuals


Vivekananda Vikas Kendra Create a kitchen garden for winter vegetables and flowers


Purchase four computers and one printer


Construct a girls hostel in the school premises (critical requirement)


Construction of training centres. Construction of homes for ageing and children.

Mentaid Lunch for 20 needy children for a month


Installation of CCTV


Portable and common use water, power, light, safety and security at our Thakurpukur centre (250 people)


Borewell pump and water storage for our building project in Thakurpukur


Urgent need for two vans for two of our Homes. Promotion of projects for the development of skills, alongwith market linkages and infrastructure. Sponsorship for service oriented training. Urgent need for permanent office cum training centre for WIF at Kolkata. Life skill training for rescued trafficked victims and women & children, victims of violence. Integrated development of tribal villages.

Parivaar Operating expense for a year


Infrastructure development



“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” - Acts 20: 35

Hall of fame

“The test of a civilisation is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.” - Pearl S. Buck

Bengal NGOs handpicked by the demanding GiveIndia


aji Muhammad Mohsin is best remembered for his exceptional philanthropic work in 1769-70, when Bengal was affected by a famine.

His substantial donations to the government famine fund and setting up of several langar khanas helped counter the crisis. A teetotaler, vegetarian and celibate, he was known to visit poor areas of the city where he distributed food to the hungry, clothes to the naked and medicine to the sick. Mohsin earned a profound knowledge of The Holy Quran, Hadith and the Fiqh when young. He visited Iran, Iraq, Arabia, Turkey among others; he made pilgrimages to Mecca, Medina, Kufa, and Karbala. His expeditions to unknown lands would have continued but for his childless widowed half-sister who urged him to return after 27 years. His sister died soon after, leaving

him a fortune, which he diverted to caste-less charity. He created a deed of trust in 1806 and appointed two mutwallis to administer his income. He apportioned his property into nine shares - three devoted to religious uses , four for amla, pensions, stipends and charity and the rest for muwalli remuneration. The government took over Mohsin’s fund in 1818, the surplus used in erecting residences, school, college, madrassa, mosques, hospitals, tombs and market-place. He made extensive gifts to the Hooghly College and the madrassas in Dacca, Chittagong and other places. He deposited a large sum with the government to enable Muslim youths to read free in Government schools and colleges.

The NGO that I admire Akshaya Patra, no question. For three reasons: the ability to provide a much-needed service (mid-day meals for schoolgoing children), the ability to provide it across the largest scale in the world and with the highest level of transparency. The amazing thing is that Akshaya Patra can provide a meal for less than ` 5. Which means that a contribution of ` 1 lac can feed 20,000 people! Just think... - JP Agarwal, architect

Association for Social and Health Advancement: Works in the area of gender equality. Empowers adolescents in remote rural areas especially tribal and minority-dominated Murshidabad and Bankura districts and over-populated slums of Kolkata and suburbs. The organisation undertakes development activities that are community-centered, user-planned and managed, people owned, gender-sensitive and culturally respectful. Contact: BE135, Sector I, Salt Lake, Kolkata 700 064. Telephone: (+91) (33) 2359 5475. Email: asharajat@yahoo.co.in Bani Mandir: Fighting for the health, nutrition and environment rights of the poor. Now responsible for educating nearly 1,400 children. Contact: BB Ganguly St, Kolkata 700009. Email: banimandir06@rediffmail.com. Phone: (03174)- 244290/ 291, 245707 Paripurnata Half-way Home: First half-way home in West Bengal for women confined in jails and mental hospitals. A psycho-social rehabilitation centre, which prepares them and their families for subsequent mainstreaming. Contact: 1912, Panchasayar Road, Krishak Pally, Pancha Sayar, Kolkata 700094. Phone: 033 2432 9339 Rural Health Care Foundation: Runs primary healthcare centres six days a week, 52 weeks a year where such services are virtually non-existent. These centres provide health care interventions across general medicine, dentistry, eye care and homeopathy. Contact: Rural Health Care Foundation 33 Alexandra Court, 60/1 Chowringhee Road, Kolkata 700020. O: +91-33-30252981/22902981. Website: www. ruralhealthcarefoundation.com Sabuj Sangha: Works in the Sunderbans across four priorities. Providing mission-critical intervention with superior reach; empowering people, engaging in research, documentation, advocacy and networking; working with the government to uphold human rights. Contact: Sabuj Sangha, 30/9, Rajdanga Main Road (East), Narkel Bagan, Kolkata 700107. Phone: +91+33-

24414357/32964618. Website: www.sabujsangha.org Sarada Ramkrishna (Sishu O Mahila) Sevashram: Non-profit making and non-sectarian NGO working in rural South 24 Parganas for 45 years. Contact: Sarada Ramakrishna (Sishu-O-Mahila) Sevashram, P.O.Hotar, Police Station Magrahat, South 24 Parganas 743 610. Contact: 03218-241185, Mobile +919474807165. Email: saradarks@gmail.com Society for Visually Handicapped: Provides the visually handicapped (low vision blind, deaf blind and visually impaired) with education, rehabilitation and training. Sends teachers to educate and train children at their homes. Contact: Society for Visually Handicapped, 60/5/1 Haripada Dutta Lane, Kolkata 700033. Ph: +919433113733. Website: www.svhdeafblind.org Tomorrow’s Foundation: Brought smiles to hundreds through educational support, healthcare and technical training to adolescents and youth and psychological counseling to street children. Contact: 417, Hossenpur, KMC Ward Number 108, Kolkata 700107. O: +91-3324431520/32962393. Website: ritwik@tomorrowsfoundation.org Towards Future: Offers basic education to economically challenged children. Contact: 6 Dum Dum Park, Keshab Apartment, Kolkata 700 055. Phone: 91-9831630412. Mail: 2wards. future@gmail.com Turnstone Global: Provides education and training to the visually handicapped. Also focuses on early blindness prevention. Kanchan Gaba is ideally equipped to run this institute. For someone who is visually challenged, she is a first-rate mountaineer. Demonstrating that the word ‘impossible’ is found only in the dictionary of fools. Contact: Dr. Kanchan Gaba, 63 Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road, Kolkata 700016. Email: nab.kolkata@gmail.com. Phone: 91 33 25460034 Give India is an NGO’s NGO, marked by rigorous appraisal standards

Book extract


s he became more wealthy, Chuck Feeney began giving some of his money away in a piecemeal fashion. He was generous to colleagues and often paid for hospital treatment for staff or their kids. The earliest significant act of giving that he remembers was a donation of $10,000 that he sent in the 1960s to his friend and former professor, Robert A. (Bob) Beck, who was dean of the Hotel School. The Hotel School had asked for $1,000, but “I wanted to make a gift that was meaningful, and I reckoned $10,000 was meaningful,” he said. He recalled with a laugh how Beck, who had lost a leg in Normandy, told him that he was so excit-

ed at getting such an amount that he held up the check to get a good look at it and a gust of wind came along “and the next thing he was running across a field to catch up with it.” No one in the world of philanthropy in the United States or elsewhere was aware that a major new player had come on the scene. Dale, who assumed the role of president and chief executive of the Atlantic Foundation, required everyone involved in setting up the foundation to sign a highly lawyered confidentiality agreement, drawn up by the Manhattan law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, to protect Feeney’s privacy. Strict rules were formu-

lated for the conduct of the foundation. No solicitations would be entertained. Gifts would be made anonymously, and those who received them would not be told where they came from. The recipients, too, would have to sign confidentiality agreements. If they found out anything about the Atlantic Foundation or Chuck Feeney and made it public, the money would stop. The Atlantic Foundation would be the biggest secret foundation of its size.

orary degrees.

From the start, Chuck Feeney was adamant that he did not want recognition for his giving. There would be no plaques or names on buildings he funded, no black-tie “thank-you” dinners, no hon-

The check arrived in the mail, accompanied by a letter that laid out the conditions to be observed by the donee. The basic message of the letter was, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” It stated: “The donors do not want to receive any recog-

As a further measure to ensure that beneficiaries could not know who the “donors” were, grants were transferred from the foundation’s bank in Bermuda to the Bessemer Trust Company in New York, a private bank that serviced high-net-worth clients, family endowments, and foundations. Bessemer made the checks out to the donees, without any indication of the source of the money.

nition for this gift. And our ability to seek out, assess, and assist worthwhile projects on their behalf is greatly dependent on being able to do so confidentially. Thus the issue of confidentiality is a matter of the utmost importance to the donors. We specifically request that this gift is referred to—both externally and internally as a private donation and that it is not stated, orally or in writing, that it has been received from our principals. Please list it in this way in your annual report and in internal reports. In addition, it is recommended that the papers relating to this gift be retained in a confidential file... I would ask you to confirm your acceptance by countersigning a copy of this letter

Why is legal compliance critical for NGOs?

Manovikas Kendra

Ray of hope

Soumya Kanti Bhaduri recounts how Manovikas Kendra has provided his mildly autistic daughter with a fighting chance in life Playschool (Patna, where we lived) the first complaints came in. They were disturbed by the fact that our daughter didn’t respond to commands, didn’t make eye contact, while being called and was hyperactive. This is a true story. Our ordeal began a year and a half ago, when we discovered that our daughter Aditi would not respond to external sounds or make eye contact while being addressed. First doubt. Then fear. Finally panic. That’s how we responded. And soon we were at Vellore for some of the best developmental paediatric supervision in India. The doctors pronounced their verdict: autism. Except that in this case they merely indicated; they did not pronounce it as a case of autism because the minimum age required for diagnosis is three years. Made no difference to us. The writing was on the wall. For parents in our position the challenge was not only in the problem; it was in the reaction of the world. We should have known. When we admitted our daughter to Shemrock Petals

The principal was sympathetic; she suggested that we seek out Manovikas Kendra in Kolkata, an institution respected for the treatment of differently-abled children. We did. And so in April 2011, we reached Manovikas Kendra, where Aditi was assessed for two days. The doctors confirmed what others had indicated: mild autism. And then the first ray of hope. The doctors added: ‘Stay seven days to see a marked improvement.’ The operative word was ‘marked’. After seven days in Kolkata, we headed for Deepshika (Patna NGO) and then Dr. Neena Aggarwal (Ranchi clinical psychologist), Dr. Neeti Chetri (occupational therapist), Dr. Shweta Lakra (speech therapist) and Sharmila Mukherjee (special educator) also started their sessions with my daughter, which helped her overcome the challenges by a great deal. However, all these experts swore by one name. Manovi-

kas Kendra, Kolkata. For some good reasons. Manovikas Kendra is a one-stop therapy destination. It comes with decades of experience in handling specially-abled children. It cares and cures. MVK charges half of what large organisations do. The result is that every three months we are back with Aditi at MVK for the attention of Dr. Piu Majumder (special educator) and Mahua Chatterjee (occupational therapist). This is how Aditi has improved: She was hyperactive with virtually no concentration or speech; MVK provided her with a home-based programme for six months. Earlier, Aditi could not respond to commands and never made eye contact when addressed; gradually, Aditi began responding with eye contact. Differently-abled children are hyperactive, never sticking to a place for more than a couple of minutes; following the program, Aditi began sitting at a place for her meals. Aditi would jump and flap her hands without getting tired; gradually, she became less hyperactive. Initially it was impossible for Aditi to hold a pencil; Manovikas Kendra’s home-based program made it possible for

“Creating a community of givers”

The millionaire philanthropist who hid his identity

- Neera Nundy, Co-founder, Dasra, Mumbai and returning it to us.” “It was all very strict and there was a convoluted way of getting the donees the money so it couldn’t be traced,” said Cummings Zuill, who recalled that the anonymity rules created a problem for foundation staff as they couldn’t tell their families what they were doing or get a job reference. “People would tell their wives they were in a pub to keep secret that they were at an Atlantic Foundation meeting,” he said. Extracted from: The Millionaire Who Wasn’t’ by Conor O’Clery Published in the United States by PublicAffairs, a member of the Perseus Books Group.


her to write. Previously, she couldn’t differentiate between a cat and a dog; picture-card usage by Manovikas Kendra made it possible for Aditi to distinguish between animals. It’s sad but true that there are hundreds of autistic children in Patna, but there’s no therapy available. Manovikas Kendra needs to go national. If MVK were interested, I would be happy to provide assistance for the opening of a centre in Patna. This would be the least I would be willing to do in gratitude for what MVK has done for Aditi in Kolkata. MVK’s services • Post-stroke rehabilitation • Post-surgical rehabilitation • Rehab of children with CP • Rehab for terminally ill patients • Rehab of cerebral ataxia patients • Genetic disorders like HSMN, haemophilia, xanthoma • Rehab of progressive diseases like MND, DMD • Rehab for people with rheumatic disorders • Hand therapy • Vertigo rehabilitation • Pain clinic

Deepak Parekh’s list of Indian NGOs doing outstanding work

Managing a for-profit company is often simpler than running a non-profit charitable organisation in India. There are a plethora of complex laws governing charitable organisations both at the state and central level. An organisation (details below) guides NGOs in the area of legal compliance for a nominal fee, which is our way of changing the world.

5 biggest legal compliance issues facing NGOs 1 Ensuring that the NGO’s so called ‘business income’ does not exceed `25 lakh in any fiscal year.

3 Complying with various aspects of FCRA 2010 and FCRR 2011 4 In states like Maharashtra and Gujarat getting the charity commissioner to approve ‘change reports’ and passing an ‘order’.

Our biggest problem is transparency. We don’t have a centralised place where you can find an NGO and see their tax returns like you can do in the US. It’s very ‘who knows who’ very much network-based and dependent on who one knows or who one trusts. You can’t do due diligence that easily. There is a level of complexity that gets challenging for folks. Regulatory issues, tax issues are also problems. Most NGOs only give a 50 per cent tax exemption here, which is also an issue.

5 Ensuring that all activities undertaken by the NGO conform with the definition of ‘charitable purpose’ as defined U/S 2(15) of the Income Tax Act.

What is your vision going forward to Dasra Philanthropic Week?

Source: Business India Magazine, March 3-16, 2014

Being on the right side of the law is the very bedrock on which an NGO builds its credibility. Lapses in statutory compliance could lead to severe penalties, loss of registration or suspension of tax exemption—in addition to the loss of credibility. Ignorance of the law is never an excuse.

2 Service Tax and VAT-related issues.

What are some of the biggest giving related issues in India?

We don’t want to be huge. These things cost money and it is not just a big party we throw at the Taj. We have consciously stayed away from celebrities or having an auction or making it a fundraiser. It’s very much a platform to learn and be inspired. Most of those who come to DPW, Mumbai, are from Mumbai. Can we do something similar in metros such as Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata or Chennai? There are groups of philanthropists there, who can equally benefit from something like this. Another interesting segment is the Indian diaspora abroad, which also gives a lot. So, we need to see if there is a section of Indians in the US, the UK or Hong Kong, who would be interested in something like this.


GOs in India address a number of welfare and developmental issues and help fill major gaps in the government’s social services programmes. But the fact that an organisation is ‘doing good work’ does not exempt it from legal compliance.

• The Indian Cancer Society • St Jude India ChildCare Centres • Om Creations Trust


• Shraddha Charitable Trust

Noshir Dadrawala, CEO

• The Akanksha Foundation

Centre For Advancement of Philanthropy Mulla House, 51 M.G.Road, Flora Fountain, Mumbai 400 001 O: 91-22-2284 6534 E: info@capindia.in

• Teach for India • Mobile Creches • Save the Children India Source: Business India, March 3-16, 2014 issue


“There are eight rungs in charity. The highest is when you help a man to help himself.” - Maimonides

“One can’t indefinitely do for somebody what he is reluctant to do for himself. - Christopher Hitchens

Heroes Paul Walsh Bull dog. In size and spirit. Resigned a British diplomat’s job to coach rugby. Could have started an upmarket academy but worked with Kolkata slum children. Result: some of his students went on to play for India. His ‘kids’ have inspired others to kick vice and grab ball instead. One of his boys went to the UK on scholarship. Deservedly selected as one of Times of India’s 16 unsung heroes in January 2014. Contact: info@junglecrows.org

Aaron Walling An abandoned warehouse under the Lake Gardens flyover comes alive each Saturday afternoon. The centre of attention is an American expat, his wife and six volunteers. They teach 24 kids something completely alien - skateboarding. More than just sport, the team teaches them the value of discipline, studies and housekeeping. The kids actually cleaned the warehouse! This is how neighbourhoods can transform when someone just takes a little interest. Fancy it took an American to spark this interest in a South Kolkata area. Contact: kolkataskateboarding@gmail. com

Hena Nafis When this professional nutritionist encountered yet another obese 12-year-old, she decided to launch a scientific analysis of obesity among children. Her inaugural survey (across 119 students) in St James’ School yielded eye-popping results: 50% of the sampled set were obese. Nafis wants to engage with more schools, present more painful numbers and counsel parents into restructuring home diets as her form of philanthropy. Contact: nafishena1@gmail.com

Ghanshyam Sarda When Times of India embarked on the initiative to spruce up the Maidan, a horticulturist provided 160 palm varieties to create a palm grove. However, a problem remained. What was desperately needed was an irrigation network to provide water consistently and continuously to the trees. That is when Ghanshyam Sarda (Agarpara Jute) stepped in. The industrialist volunteered to fund the pipeline. This will ensure that the trees will get adequate water through the year, resulting in consistent growth.

Harsh vardhan Patodia CREDAI Bengal, the association representing the state’s real estate fraternity is engaged in a facilitating form of philanthropy. The organisation has started a vocational training module for women (based on a PPP model with the government) where economically challenged students can enroll for courses around architecture, construction, carpentry, plumbing, electrical and surveying disciplines. Following CREDAI subsidy, students emerge financially independent.

Manoj Bhutoria This businessman who runs a tiny hotel in downtown Kolkata has an unusual calling (among a number): he provides wheelchairs free to the disabled on request. All they need to do is write to him and within 48 hours a wheelchair is delivered. This singular initiative has translated into mobility opportunities for a number of those holed up in their beds or been reduced to being carried around on a chair. His free wheelchairs are inspiring people to take some control of their lives and step out! Contact: mano4775@ gmail.com

Melvyn Brown What do you do when you retire? Get busier. This is what storyteller, matchmaker, writer and historian Melvyn has done with his life. By focusing on the preservation of the Anglo-Indian culture. Through the creation of Dragons and Dreams, the first Anglo-Indian fairy tale book. Also publishes a newsletter Anglo-Indian that binds 28,000 of the city’s Anglo-Indians. And to top it, reads stories to children twice a week at his residence. Selected as an unsung Kolkata hero by Times of India. Contact: melvynbrown_in@yahoo.co.uk

GM Kapur Kolkata is the only ‘British’ city created from scratch. Our hero intends to preserve most of Kolkata’s architectural beauties. For the last 30 years, Kapur has worked on the preservation of Prinsep Ghat, Currency Building, Town Hall, Gwalior Monument, Metropolitan Building, Sovabazar Rajbati among others. His art conservation centre restores artifacts, manuscripts, sculptures and paintings. Recognised as an unsung hero by Times of India. Contact: gmkapur@gmail. com

Mriganka Bhattacharya The conventional image of a corporator is someone who sits comfortably on a perch and expects the world to come to him. Mrigankababu is different. A few years ago he resolved to do what nobody could have contemplated – clearing the Bangur area in North Kolkata, of plastic. He argued. Pleaded. Persuaded. The result is one man’s determination cleaned up the neighbourhood. Wonder why the other corporators haven’t caught on to this. Named among 16 unsung heroes by Times of India. Contact: mrigankacic@gmail.com

Santasree Chaudhuri Where can affluent women encountering domestic violence go? Nowhere really, realised Santasree, because the affluent desire privacy above all else. So she started an anonymous legal strategy service addressing the needs of these ladies. No-nonsense, tough-talking and strategy-adivising. With a track record of 350 successful domestic violence cases. Best of all: she works free! Contact: santasreechaudhuri@hotmail. com

Devang Gandhi When sons of prostituted women in Premchand Boral Street (Bowabazar) expressed a desire to be trained in cricket, it was a distant dream. The kids couldn’t even hope to move from their pin code into the next, forget standing on a cricket pitch. Then their destinies transformed…former Test cricketer Devang Gandhi took them in, they got new shirts, trousers, bats and kit bags. Fancy being coached by the former Test cricketer himself! Someone recalled: ‘When the kids walked out of the red light in their whites it was like they were going out to bat for India!’ Miracle! Contact: allrounder1@ gmail.com

Ishika Seal Facebook or teaching kids? The latter won. This La Martiniere for Girls student Ishika works for an NGO (run by the son of a prostitute) in Sonagachi, a red light area. Where she teaches, mentors and counsels children. When relatives first heard of where she was spending most of her spare time, they shook their heads, but eventually better sense prevailed. Contact: seal.ishika@yahoo.in


Changing OUR World. Anindita Deb Sarkar This young lady is among the first in Kolkata to start a CSR team in a company from scratch. Coming in with precious NGO experience, Anindita heads the CSR practice at NK Realtors. Her focus: healthcare and education for the under-privileged through timely donations to dedicated NGOs. Her biggest challenge: identification of credible grassroots NGOs, comprehensive projects evaluation and credible funds deployment. Her immediate priority: strengthen service delivery and then extend the service to outside Kolkata. Contact: anindita@nkrealtors.com

Palak Muchchal Palak Muchchal, a Bollywood playback singer, supports children with congenital heart ailments through musical fundraising events. She has dedicated her life to this cause in association with Narayan Hrudayalaya doctors. What is amazing is that Palak is just 22 and has already helped some 572 children! Amazing.

Sushil Mohta The irony is that Jai Hind Abaitanik School (run largely for children of sex workers) in Tollygunge is not more than 150 m from the office of Merlin Group, one of the largest real estate developers in Kolkata today. One was desperate for funding school books and stationery for 160 students; the other was looking for credible causes to back. An introduction through Kolkata Gives brought the two together. The result is a winwin collaboration, which emphasises the saying that effective charity really needs to begin at home (in this case, neighbourhood).

Saibal Roy Chowdhury Rather than invite a starlet to inaugurate their pujo, the Chakraberia Sarbajonin Durga Utsav selected to be different in an absolutely unusual way: it made donations to smaller and older pujas in its Bhowanipore neighbourhood. Besides, it donated wheel chairs, tricycles, crutches and hearing aids to the disabled. If only more puja committees could think likewise! Contact: saibal_roy_chowdhury@yahoo.co.in

Debasish Bhattacharya One of the safest recession-proof professions is medical practice. So when Dr Debashis Bhattacharya gave up a flourishing private ophthalmologist practice to turn his attention to those who could not afford treatment, his relatives were surprised. However, this doctor with a vision was destined for bigger things: his Disha Eye Hospitals has since helped restored the sight of hundreds of patients at a minimal cost. No wonder was he selected among the city’s 16 unsung heroes by Times of India. Contact: dibdisha@gmail.com

Mukul Somany Even before the term ‘corporate social responsibility’ had even gained currency, the Kolkata-based Hindustan National Glass had assumed voluntary responsibility to maintain a garden at the corner of Loudon Street and Shakespeare Sarani. It is years since HNG has been maintaining the garden, having invested a significant amount in its capex and maintenance. The showpiece attracts dedicated walking groups. It’s time other corporate drew some learning from the HNG model!

Subhas Dutta Crusader of lost causes. Like trying to relocate the Kolkata Book Fair from the Maidan. Or the illegal use of carcinogenic fuel (kaata tel) by the autorickshaw mafia. Or a ban on idol immersion in the Hooghly. This chartered accountant fights his own cases. Spends his own money. Probably done more to clean the city over the last couple of decades than any NGO. Was selected as a Times of India Hero in 2014. Contact: subhasdutta@rediffmail.com

Kunal Kapoor You saw him in Rang De Basanti sacrificing his life for the nation. In real life, actor Kunal Kapoor, Varun Seth and Zaheer Adenwala, came together to launch KETTO, an online ‘giving’ platform. This online support network brings individuals closer to the cause they wish to support, be it women empowerment, disability, child welfare, heath and sanitation or education among others. The online fundraising platform is looking to partner with multiple brands to raise funds that have been listed on its platform.

Sohini Chakraborty Dance as therapy? Dance as a form of philanthropy? This spunky lady reconciled both to work with trafficked women and girls. To help them forget their problems through the harmony of dance. Result: hundreds have got their balance back (pun intended). Selected as one of 16 unsung Kolkata heroes by the Times of India in January 2014. Contact: kolkatasamved@ gmail.com

Brinda Crishna India has the largest population (18 million) of the hearing impaired. The one organisation that is the first stop for all hearing impaired is Vaani. Brinda Crishna, who founded Vaani, has touched the lives of more than 15,000 hearing impaired children, more than 8,000 parents and more than 4,000 professionals through awareness programs, skill-based trainings, capacity building and workshops. Proof of her credibility is that she is funded by The Jamshedji Tata Trust and the Mahindra Group. Contact Vaani at +91-3340601117

Sanjay Ghosh Finally an auto driver (Garia-Tollygunge route) who made the news for the right reasons. Selected among 16 unsung heroes of the city by Times of India in January 2014. For giving the elderly a free ride. Feeding the destitute. Clothing the poor. Ferrying the sick to hospital. Protecting the vulnerable. You don’t need a big pocket to have a big heart. Lesson for us all. Contact: 9163135929

Ravi Modi This one man wears his heart on his sleeve. Literally. The promoter of Manyavar, one of India’s fastest growing organised couture companies, has made philanthropy his passion. In February, he funded a rural primary health care centre at Aswathberia, which is a 75-minute drive from downtown Kolkata (near Champahati on the Canning railway line). The health care centre provides diagnosis and medicines for seven days for a cost as nominal as `50. Helping bring the benefits of responsible health care to rural millions. Contact: ravi. modi@manyavar.com


“We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” - Louis D. Brandeis

“A man there was, though some did count him mad. The more he cast away, the more he had.” - John Bunyan

Research reports A 2006 World Bank study indicated that 50% of the 10-yearold students surveyed were unable to read and 28% of students aged 11-12 years old were unable to do two-digit subtraction Source: Girl Power –Transforming India through educating girls by Dasra in association with Godrej High Net Worth Individuals indicated that about two-thirds of the donors surveyed believe that NGOs have room to improve the impact they are making in the lives of beneficiaries; the survey found that 26% of the donors would increase their philanthropic contributions if NGOs stepped up their game to improve their impact creation and communication. Source: India Philanthropy Report 2013 by Bain and Company Out of approximately 1,10,000 private foundations registered in the US, only about 5,000 are operating foundations while the rest are grantmaking organisations. Further amongst the 20 largest foundations by asset size in the US only four operate their own programmes while the remaining 80 percent are grantmaking organisations. This stands in stark contrast to the Indian situation where the largest givers almost always operate their own programmes. Source: Catalytic Philanthropy in India by FSG in collaboration with ISB Rather than launch new efforts, Manoj Bhargava, a signatory in 2012 to the Giving Pledge, has a staff of 20 based in the town he was born to scout out charitable organisations already doing good work. Source: Revealing Indian Philanthropy By 2010 private philanthropy in India had nearly doubled figures reported in 2006 - reaching almost 0.4% of the GDP and over $5 billion. Source: Excerpted from the article Myths and magic: philanthropy in India 2013 by Alison Bukhari appearing in the Philanthropy Impact magazine

Ahhhhh, numbers!


The power of Satyamev Jayate...

Man who bought freedom for 4,500 prisoners Firoz Merchant, chairman of UAEbased jewellery chain Pure Gold Jewellers, provided financial assistance to foreigners imprisoned because they had been unable to clear their debts. Over the last three years, he has helped 4,500 prisoners repay their debt and return home. In 2011, he asked the secretary of UAE’s interior ministry how he could help, and was put in touch with the different director generals of police and consulates, with whom he coordinated to get the released prisoners an out-pass. A list of prisoners

„ The most watched TV show in India. „ The first episode was seen by nearly 6 crore Indians, making this the most talked-about new television show in the world (source: World Information Tracking). „ More than 50 crore Indians viewed the show in its first season – three of four Indians who watched TV or owned a mobile phone. „ Following the episode on gender discrimination, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot set up six fast track courts to try all doctors engaged in foetal determination. The individuals highlighted in the sting operation during the course of the show were apprehended. The government passed the Child Sex Abuse Law following the episode on child sexual abuse. The first conviction came within months when one doctor was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment by the Kota fast track court. „ There were 968,86,902 Twitter impressions following the show on female foeticide; ‘Satyamev Jayate’ were the most searched words on Google on 6 May 2012; there were 487,144 messages on the programme’s website, 445,389 on the Facebook page, 3176,620 page views on the website and 59,230,605.97 Facebook impressions. The site engaged people from 165 countries (5,435 cities and towns worldwide). „ More than 450,000 alcoholics conected to Alcoholics Anonymous through the special helpline number displayed on the show, probably the biggest alcoholics-in-recovery experience anywhere in the world. „ The episode on Child Sexual Abuse generated 14.97 million responses (web, Facebook, Twitter, SMS and IVR) and a staggering 2.99 million people wrote to the website. The Chattisgarh government launched a program to conduct CSA awareness workshops in schools, calling in the psychiatrist from the Satyamev Jayate show to conduct ‘train the trainer’ workshops. With 1.15 million viewers voting in support, the Lok Sabha passed the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Bill that had been languishing for years, providing the first-ever recognition of child abuse as a crime in India. „ The show helped mobilise `22.3 crores through donations.

“My domestic help has been with me for years. I got her PF, medical insurance and paid for her daughter’s education. Today, her daughter has completed her graduation from Wilson College and got a job with an ad film company!” - Alyque Padamsee

“When I wrapped up my career at ChrysCapital, people would say I had retired. I would say, ‘Listen I am working as hard or harder,’ and they were like, ‘How could that be possible?’ They don’t see philanthropy as something that could keep you gainfully occupied. For most people in the corporate world, philanthropy is still something you do when you retire. It’s not thought of as a proper career.” - Ashish Dhawan, ChrysCapital

Trust kids to raise cash


inally, an upside to students spending time on Facebook. Student Meera Mehta of Aditya Birla World Academy mobilised a cool `10 lakh for the Mumbai Marathon through Facebook. The amount was forwarded to an NGO called Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care, which works for patients and rural children. Mehta has been mobilizing funds for the last few years; in fact, she began mobilising funds immediately following the 2013 event. Meera explained: “All dreamteamers (those who raise funds) have their own page in unitedwaymumbai.org where they can write an appeal. There is a ‘donate’ button and the whole transaction is online.”

Download these philanthropic journals for free 1 MN Sights magazine - Fall 2013 issue: The Minnesota Philanthropy partners have been sharing expertise and operations to improve the effectiveness of their ‘giving’ since the last four decades. This magazine speaks about the organisation’s philanthropic ventures and various insights and inputs on philanthropy.

2 Alliance magazine: It’s a leading magazine for philanthropy and social investment worldwide. It is filled with information and analysis of various developments in the philanthropy and social investment sectors across the globe. It also acts as a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences for the practitioners of charity.

prepared by the authorities is now sent monthly to Merchant; he helps 1,500 to 2,000 people clear their debts annually and buys them air tickets to return home. His average spending: `5-6 lakh per prisoner. “When the breadwinner of the family is imprisoned, it’s as if the whole family is in prison,” he says. The maths tot up to a crazy number: it is estimated that Merchant spends no less than `75 cr on this account per year! Dated: 11.7.13, Source: The Hindustan Times

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n 2005, a young tech-savvy couple Matt and Jessica Flannery started KIVA following their visit to Uganda. This is what got them started: microfinance did not exist in Uganda; Americans lent only if they knew the recipients.

This is how KIVA circumvented the reality: a donor funds a KIVA account with a credit card, then browses among possible on-site borrowers to ascertain who to lend. KIVA takes no commission and nor does it charge any percentage to its field partners who administer the loans; it only banks on corporate sponsors, grants and foundations. This is what makes KIVA a case study: it empowers people from the remotest corner to create opportunities. The lender count (1,050,562-plus) has forwarded a staggering $531,778 in loans with an impressive 98.97% repayment rate. KIVA has made its presence felt across 73 nations, has 241 field partners and 450 volunteers across the globe. KIVA envisions a world where all people hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others. It believes in providing safe, affordable access to capital to those in need, helping people create better lives for themselves and their families.

Kidnapped saves 10 kids in Assam

Seven ways to give

Honour for ‘faceless’ The mind of heroes Mandela

The careless way: To give something to every cause that is presented, without inquiring into its merits.


The impulsive way: To give from impulse–as much and as often as love and pity and sensibility prompt.


ounds crazy, but it’s true! In a rare act of bravery, 14-yearold Gunjan Sarmah volunteered to be kidnapped in order to save the lives of 10 children from their school van at Simaluguri (Assam). And then she lumbered through dense forest along the Assam-Nagaland border, where she was left abandoned by her armed kidnapper, and reached the house of a tea garden worker who called the police. Her ordeal lasted around 14 hours. This is how it happened: “The kidnapper picked up a small girl in a school van (Nazira Kendriya Vidyalaya) who started crying. I volunteered to be kidnapped instead. He clutched my hand and ran with me towards the forests,” Gunjan told reporters. “We crossed a river and walked through the forest for some time and stopped at one place. It was pitch dark and I couldn’t see a thing. I didn’t eat anything all night. In the morning, I couldn’t see him and escaped to reach a village. The villagers called up the police and I was brought home,” she added. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi announced a reward of `2 lakh for Gunjan for her bravery.

Teacher donates playground


retired schoolteacher donated three cottahs worth `250,000 to a primary school in a West Midnapore village for students to play. Nirmal Kumar Jana, 71, said he felt bad that the 100-year-old Kharika Primary School in Sabang’s Kharika village did not have a playground. Jana, who retired from Sarta Taraknath Institution in the same village over a decade ago, said: “A playground is needed for the betterment of children’s physical and mental health. But Kharika Primary School did not have a playground. That is why I donated my land, which is adjacent to the school.” Source: Business Standard, 6.1.2014


The lazy way: To make a special offer to earn money for worthy projects by fairs, bazaars, among others. The self-denying way: To save the cost of luxuries and apply them to purposes of religion and charity. This may lead to asceticism and self-complacence. The systematic way: To lay aside as an offering to God a definite portion of our gains--one tenth, one fifth, one third, or one half (rich or poor can follow this plan). The equal way: To give God and the needy just as much as we spend on ourselves. The heroic way: To limit our own expenditures to a certain sum and give all the rest of our income. - James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 240-241.

What people will do for hockey!


ince July 2010, 38-year-old Andrea trained children in hockey on a sandy, stonestrewn ground in Garh Himmat Singh, a village in Dausa district with a population of 4,000. Then she had a brainwave: she spoke to Bremer Hockey Club (Germany) to donate its old astro-turf and then spoke with Gulf Agency Co. Qatar to transport it. Andrea thought up ingenious ways to mobilise funds. “I started an NGO called Hockey Village India, my friends and family contributed to it, and thereafter I participated in an auto-rickshaw rally (sponsored by German Adventure Company) from Jaipur to Chennai and from Jaipur to Goa to raise funds.” Andrea comes from a sports-loving family in Schwabach (Bavaria) and is now onto her next project — setting up an English-medium school with support from a Hong Kong sports foundation. The school’s USP? Hockey mandatory! Source : The Telegraph Date: 1.07.13

rust for Retailers & Retail Associated of India (TRRAIN), a charitable body, felicitated 16 ‘faceless’ retail workers at a ceremony in Delhi for going beyond the call of duty to give customers a heartwarming shopping experience. Three of them hail from Bengal. Take Patna-based Aditya Vir Singh’s experience. A couple of months ago, on the last evening of a visit to Kolkata, Aditya realised his wallet had been stolen after he had ordered a pizza from Domino’s. “I called them back and told them to cancel the order but the person at the other end asked me the reason. I told him I had lost my wallet. Surprisingly, he told me not to worry.” A few minutes later, the pizza was delivered without payment. The pizza delivery man Chandan asked Aditya if he had money to return to Patna. “I told him I had my return tickets, but had to pay the hotel rent,” said Aditya. Without batting an eyelid, Chandan offered `500 from his pocket. “He said I could deposit the money in his account once I reached Patna. I was overwhelmed,” says Aditya. Chandan’s action has been adjudged as one among the 16 most compelling such deeds by workers in the retail sector by TRRAIN. Source: The Times Of India, 12.12.2013

How the Drishti Mobile app is philanthropyfriendly


his interface for the visually-challenged comprises two components: a spectacle with two cameras and a touch screen. The spectacle, embedded with cameras on each lens, grasps and converts images into physical patterns that appear on the touch screen and can be felt by the user. OpenCV, a library used in image processing, helps convert objects, numbers and patterns in front of the camera into designs, which can be felt to understand the things around them. This technology also helps read documents without the Braille! Who says technology does not have a heart?! Source: The Hindustan Times, 9.1.2014


million, the number of adolescent girls in India


The percentage of the world’s adolescent girls in India


his is what Dr Ali Bacher had to say about Nelson Mandela: “Mandela would read all the newspapers, particularly the financial ones, and make a note of the companies which were doing really well. He’d then call the CEOs of those companies and request assistance to upgrade the health and educational facilities in specific areas. He’d ask for Rands 1 million or Rands 2 million and nobody could say ‘no’. It came to such a stage that if the President’s Office called, the CEOs would wonder just how much they’d have to fork out!”

Man who sets birds free


number of years ago, Kolkata tailor Nur Nabhi lost his son and nephews on Eid to drowning. One day, as he sat thinking of the boys, he saw a cage full of birds being sold by someone. While customers admired the beauty of the birds, the only thing Nur could see was the pain in their eyes. Nur walked to the bird-seller and bought his entire catch, took them to a park, opened the cage door and set them free. As he watched the birds flying away into the sky, he felt they would carry his wishes to the boys’ souls, as if he was reaching out to his boys through the birds. This is now Nur’s habit; he spends a fourth of his earnings to free caged birds. He brings them home, feeds them and opens the door of their cage so they may fly free as they were meant to. Till date, Nur has set free hundreds of birds. Source: Kiran - The Power of One

Inspired by Dhoni


ahendra Singh Dhoni has started a new wave in Ranchi: adopting stray dogs. Ever since he adopted a stray, more and more people are coming to adopt strays from a population of 40,000 dogs. Source: The Hindustan Times, 9.1.2014


The percentage of adolescent girls married before 18 in Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh


The percentage of girls in Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh who drop out of schools


The percentage of girls in Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh who face domestic violence


million additional teachers were needed to fulfill the RTE Act requirements as per a 2010 report by the National Council for Teacher Education


The percentage of rural children who were unable to do division; half dropped out by the age 14 as per The Economist


The female literacy rate in Kerala, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have female literacy rates around 55-60 percent.


“Help thy brother’s boat across and lo! thine own has reached the shore.” - Hindu Proverb

Last word By Harsh Mander


have lost another dear friend to cancer. In a small Dutch town Driebergen on an overcast autumn afternoon in November, I joined a large crowd of mourners as they lowered his body into the ground in a church cemetery amidst falling leaves. The story of the bond which grew between Ferdinand van Koolwidj, Dutch business and development consultant not just with me, but with a few thousand of India’s most disadvantaged children, is unlikely. The tale begins some 28 years ago, when his wife Loes, a nurse, and he heard in a church of a little baby dying in an orphanage in Karachi because of a congenital heart defect. They spontaneously decided to adopt the baby to save her life, and flew to Pakistan, returning home a week later with her bundled in their arms.

She survived, and grew into a healthy, happy child, until a brain tumour in her teens suddenly impaired her sight and hearing. Her parents were devastated, but helped their precious little girl grow strong and self-reliant despite her multiple disabilities. Ferd did not allow his suffering to turn inwards, festering into bitterness and anger. Instead, he turned it outwards as compassion, resolving to establish 50 homes for orphaned and homeless street girls so they would not have to suffer the hunger and neglect that his daughter had lived with in the early months of her life. Since it was difficult to work in Pakistan, he decided to build these street girl homes in India, a country with which he had had no association until then. Ferd established the Partnership Foundation, dedicated to realising his dream, and looked mainly for high net-worth individuals, inviting them each to commit support for many years for a street girls’ home for 100 children in India. He first located Sister Cyril in Loreto Convent, Sealdah,

who had made the radical resolve to open her elite girls’ school for homeless street girls, assuring them safety, food, education and love. She was looking for money to support her work. Ferd helped her take care ultimately of 700 street girls in five schools, in a unique model in which day schools were refurbished to create residential spaces for homeless children. They called these ‘Rainbow Homes’, where children who had families and homes studied, played and made friends with girls who had none. When Sister Cyril could expand no further, he began a search for another partner in India. He did his research, and found me. With some friends we had by then, in 2006, established Aman Biradari, envisaged as a movement for justice, peace and caring, and we had resolved one of its tasks would be to work with homeless children. Ferd and I met

memorably for breakfast in a hotel in Delhi, and a friendship took seed which flourished until his death, and beyond. When he left the world, he had helped establish 30 ‘Rainbow Homes’, and there were 15 more created with other resources, with around 3,500 street children in six cities. There was little that gave him more joy than meeting the rainbow children, which he did as often as money permitted. During one such visit over a year ago, he complained of nagging stomach pain. Back in Holland, doctors told him that he had colon cancer. His subsequent surgery and many painful rounds of chemotherapy still did not vanquish his spirits. He emailed me that when he was well again, we should take the rainbow model to other countries. Bangladesh, he suggested, and maybe South Africa. April this year his doctors

When he left the world, Ferd had helped establish 30 ‘Rainbow Homes’, and there were 15 more created with other resources, with around 3,500 street children in six cities.

advised another surgery. But they sewed him almost as soon as they opened him up. There was no point, they told him. His cancer had spread too far. He had no option except to await his death. I went to Holland to see him a month later. It was too early for him to go, he told me. There was too much work to be done. As his body failed him, he devoted himself to strengthening the Partnership Foundation, so that the work with homeless girls in India and elsewhere would not end. He also planned life without him for his wife and feisty daughter, now married and a mother. His final weeks were particularly painful. In his last email to me, a week before he died, he wrote that he was reading my book Ash in the Belly, “It is incredible”, he wrote, “in what circumstances poor people live, try to survive and especially the role that food plays as a day to day tormentor. I cannot find the words to express my compassion to all those people mentioned in the book, it is horrific that these lives are still called a ‘life’”. He

added, “Perhaps it is the painkilling stuff, but my thoughts wandered to a next life — sorry, I am aware of your views on this topic — where you and I joined hands to initiate an even larger worldwide social movement…(which) will be needed as long as there are people on the roads as the ones you describe”. His demise leaves me with too many questions, impossible to answer, about why a man of such goodness had to suffer so much and leave so early. But also why it took a Dutch man to dream of an India in which no child has to sleep hungry and uncared for under the open sky? Why not an Indian person of wealth, one who sees these children on city pavements every night returning from work or a party? Unlike Ferd, why are we able to look and just turn our faces away?

Harsh Mander is Director, Centre for Equity Studies Source: Hindustan Times, 24.12.2013

Profile for Abdul Rahim

Kolkata Gives Tabloid Apr 2014  

Connecting NGOs and Citizens

Kolkata Gives Tabloid Apr 2014  

Connecting NGOs and Citizens

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