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Bringing donors and NGOs together

Kolkata | JANUARY – March 2014


kolkatagives Father Francis Laborde came to India in 1965 but his true journey began around 1974 when he built a housing colony christened Bhratri Prem Nagar for migrant labourers in Howrah. A few weeks into being a pastor at Nirmala Mata Maria Girja on Andul Road, he was put in charge of eight physically challenged kids and felt an overwhelming urge to connect and protect them from the ravages of the world. With help from France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Canada, a non-profit organisation, Howrah South Point (HSP) was born in 1976. Nearly four decades later, his NGO is one of the most respected across India for addressing child disabilities. And Father Laborde, well, enjoys the respect of being a legend in his lifetime.

Howrah South Point

One of Kolkata’s largest NGOs dedicated to the well-being of disabled children is finally recognised with the prestigious President’s Award for outstanding service. (Read full story on page 19) dropout transforms destinies

When the teacher of a Howrah school called

a 13-year-old Mamoon by name sometime in the Eighties, the boy rose from his bench expecting to hear praise for a lesson well done. Instead, what he heard was the opposite: “Mamoon, please don’t come to school from tomorrow because your parents have not been able to pay your fees!”... (Read the full story on page 4)

Messiah of Kidderpore

Rituparna Sengupta in a red light area on her birthday?

‘Oh, not Kidderpore!’ used 7 November 2013 was a to be a tired response a slightly different few decades ago when people mentioned the name of this river-flanked region in the Western part of the city. A neighbourhood marked by lawlessness, gang wars, unemployment, petty crime, drugs, prostitution and illicit trade. Then something interesting happened... (Read the full story on page 6)

birthday for Rituparna Sengupta, the heartthrob of Tollywood. The actress had her usual well-wishers – relatives, friends, fans, associates and peers – but more than this predictable gathering, she had some special well-wishers. The children of prostituted women. Because on this birthday... (Read the full story on page 8)

This inaugural copy of the Kolkata Gives tabloid has been financially supported by NK Realtors and Srijan Realty Pvt. Ltd. NK Realtors is one of the largest integrated real estate service providers in India, present in Kolkata, Howrah, Durgapur, Asansol, Burdwan, Bhubaneswar and Guwahati. Srijan Realty Pvt. Ltd. is one of India’s fastest-growing real estate companies (present in Kolkata, Chennai, Coimbatore and Asansol).


“Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.” - Kahlil Gibran

Editorial initiative. The inaugural edition of this tabloid then is one of the products of our association. “Not another new media publication!” was the reaction of someone I know (and respect) when I casually indicated that we at Kolkata Gives were contemplating the launch of a dedicated tabloid.

Since Anwar has not been able to afford a wheelchair, his mother has remained bed-ridden for years. Since Thapa does not know affluent people, his three-year-old daughter lives with a hole in her heart. Since Purnima does not have the resources for a cataract operation, she continues to see things blurred. We didn’t start this tabloid because we encountered a blinding flash on the road to Damascus. We were provoked by what we heard in casual conversations; we were incentivised by the fact that with so little – money or contacts – so much could be achieved for the benefit of such large a number. And that is how our small group of passionate citizens created Kolkata Gives, a concept dedicated to the one aspect of philanthropy that is perhaps the most effective and ironically the most overlooked - networking. At Kolkata Gives, we are positioned as aggressive network-

ers. We are wired differently: we do not have guidelines on specific sectors that we will work in; we do not have areas of preference; we do not patronise individuals or groups; we do not have budgets. The result is that we are engaged in the ‘business’ of creating appetites; we are engaged in creating markets; we are engaged in mapping areas that people never knew existed. What makes us different is that we didn’t set up an organisation and then chart out our agenda; on the contrary, we stumbled into an agenda, felt our way around, ideated our first networking-driven philanthropy event and then formalised the

But this is why the city needs one: One, philanthropy is a multicrore activity in Kolkata and everything is largely memorybased. When was the last time you looked up the Yellow Pages for an NGO listing? Two, there is a greater outlay available for philanthropic funding today than ever before but sadly no guidepost on where this might be most effectively allocated? Three, some of the NGOs are being driven by remarkable individuals and teams with an established track record in countering challenges and growing the size of their ‘book’. Sadly, few people know about them (how many Kolkata educationists have even heard of Vinayak Lohani who is probably Kolkata’s single largest fund aggregator for educational investments?). Four, we believe that information is really the driver of philanthropy (after intent, of course) – not only from a donor-recipient perspective but also from a recipient-recipient

perspective when some NGOs selectively equip or fund peer NGOs. At Kolkata Gives, we expect to evolve this tabloid from a static recorder of events to a dynamic driver of philanthropic action. We don’t merely wish to report who is doing what – though that in itself would be no mean service – but also to make events happen. In December 2013, Kolkata Gives hosted the dynamic Anshu Gupta of Goonj with the objective of growing the NGO’s presence in Bengal; in mid-December, Kolkata Gives invited Dr Suryia Nayak to conduct a workshop in the area of gender violence with the objective to create teams of counsellors; in late December 2013, Kolkata Gives co-hosted a Christmas Party for underprivileged children. So this is what we want to do: create an informed Kolkata touchpoint for philanthropy, widen our circle of coverage, engage with willing donors, facilitate resource transfers and accelerate the growth of our great city from the ground level upwards. Stay connected.

kolkatagives Volume One Edition 1 January-March 2014 Editor Mudar Patherya Core team Pawan Agarwal Saurav Dugar Mukti Gupta Anant Nevatia Jyoti Sonthalia 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 Core mission To make good work fashionable. And in doing so, to move millions – people and resources. Editorial address Postal address 9 Elgin Road, 4th floor Kolkata 700020 P: 40401030 | F: 40401040 W: Editorial support team Trisys Communications Disclaimer

Mudar Patherya, Editor (and aggressive networker)

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.

Development of the quarter

Forty Chances. Finding Hope in a Hungry world


n a sweeping new book, farmer, humanitarian, businessman, politician, photographer and risktaker, Howard G. Buffett, founder and president of the philanthropic organisation which bears his name, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, has laid out a determined roadmap with an objective of ending hunger and poverty for the world’s nearly one billion persistently disadvantaged populaces by 2045. Howard G. Buffett has chalked out a plan to invest more than $3 billion

in a gamble to find answers to confront global food and water security issues. Buffett’s new book, 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, written with his son Howard W. Buffett, is a historic account of their journey to explore new approaches to help the world’s most vulnerable people. Howard G. Buffett and Howard W. Buffett share their ideas and thoughts on the current global food security challenges and present opportunities for all to participate in their pursuit to end global hunger.

40 Chances is more than a book. It’s a message with five empowering principles we can use every day: Principle No. 1 - Roots: Seize opportunities that excite you, even if they start out seemingly small.

fear mistakes; grow from each of your efforts. Principle No. 4 - Challenges: Sometimes our resources and expertise do not match the needs of a given situation, so we have to be adaptable.

Principle No. 2 - Bravery: From time to time, you’ve got to do something you don’t necessarily know how to do.

Principle No. 5 - Hope: Make the most of your 40 Chances today, while preparing for the future - know that you’re spending your chances wisely.

Principle No. 3 - Lessons: Harvest the right lessons and don’t

In life you only have about 40 productive years to make an

impact on the world. Discover the message beyond the book. Learn about the 40 Chances mindset. Discover ways to incorporate 40 Chances into your life. 40 Chances gives us all inspiration to transform each of our limited chances into opportunities to change the world. Join Howard in his quest to impact the world positively! Review by Khamneithang Vaiphei. Courtesy:

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” - Winston Churchill


Kolkata Gives

Kolkata Gives’ maiden philanthropic summit a resounding success


philanthropic irony is that most Kolkata donors don’t know of credible NGOs to give their money to while most NGOs don’t know of willing Kolkata donors. In a world where terms like ‘payback’ and ‘social conscience’ are being increasingly used, the time has come to increasingly connect the two. The prospective donor with the NGO. This unique form of match making happened for the first time in Kolkata in the form of a unique event called ‘Kolkata Gives’. Event The ‘Kolkata Gives’ event was organised at Hotel Park Plaza Kolkata Ballygunge (lane beside Pantaloons Gariahat) on 10 November 2013 from 10 am to 3 pm. The event was structured around the largest collection of Kolkata’s wealthiest and 22 of the most credible NGOs under one roof.

velopment Trust, Civilian Welfare Foundation, Rural Health Care Foundation, New Light India, Mentaid, Iswar Sankalpa, Paras Padma, Antara, Chhaya, Ek Tara, Tomorrow’s Foundation and Samaritan Help Mission. These NGOs covered verticals as diverse as mental illness, education, care for children with HIV-AIDS, vocational training, disability management, countertrafficking, neighbourhood rejuvenation, rural health care and paraathletic support. The NGOs were provided stalls, desk and chairs to explain their philanthropic model to prospective donors.

a unique funding concept to the city. Each invitee was provided coupons equivalent to `500 to give to the NGO of his or her choice. Following the event, the event initiators matched these coupon grants with actual rupee disbursal so that the NGOs attracted immediate funding in addition to the independent funding that they will receive from visitors. This arrangement empowered each visitor to take a deeper interest in the appraisal and informed disbursement, which was one step towards creating an enduring relationship between NGOs and donors.


Some 800 visitors attended the fivehour event and funded more than `10 million.

We have always known that Kolkata is a city with a heart, but this was the first time that we were able to bring an institutionalised discipline to the positioning of NGOs around a responsible communication pitch that made it possible for them to tell their stories comprehensively to an influential audience. We feel that this communication discipline has begun to enhance donor confidence, which, in turn, will lead to a sizable transfer of money, materials, volunteering, networking and other resources in Kolkata.



Schools in neighbouring Kidderpore and Ekbalpore; there was Hamari Muskan (running a day care centre in a red light area) faced with the grim prospect of its Norwegian volunteer leaving within a month, now receiving an absolutely unexpected windfall of ten volunteers registering at the event; there was the absolutely fascinating Ashabari (running a home for the mentally ill) struggling to make ends meet now having firm commitments from people interested in investing in its facility; there was Chhaya (running a professional animal welfare medical facility) who received handsome commitments from animal lovers among visitors; there was Vivekananda Vikas Kendra coming all the way from Purulia to ‘market’ its story to an audience it could have never otherwise accessed; there was the amazing reality of NGOs networking with each other so that one NGO spending `1100 for the dialysis of a needy patient realized that just three stalls away was another willing to do it for `500 per session; there was one NGO who felt queasy ‘behaving like a Kabuliwala’ only to find that in this event people were coming to ask ‘What can we do for you?’ instead; there was the instance of an affluent wife moving to tears when an NGO said, ‘We will put together your leftover soap suds and make them usable.’

Forward plan n An e-report of our inaugural event was mailed within a month of the event

n Six ‘ministries’ were created to adopt the 22 NGOs showcased at the event across verticals headed by Relationship Managers n An initiative was started to re-appraise the NGOs with the objective to identify gaps and solutions n The creation of a website; strengthening our Facebook presence n Launch of Kolkata’s first philanthropic tabloid (quarterly) starting January 2014 n The launch of a comprehensive 400page book on Kolkata’s philanthropists n The launch of ‘`10 transforms Kolkata’, a unique idea of how nominal contributions at large footfall points can benefit the city

To bring seriousness to the event, the Kolkata Gives event introduced

In addition to industrialists, businessmen, professionals and executives, the event attracted students with the objective to strengthen the volunteering movement in the city. There was this industrialist who excused himself from work starting Friday to call no less than 80 prospective attendees; there was a wealthy businessman who inspired his friend to commit a crore of rupees ‘across five years’; there was the Alipore-based businessman who spent 30 minutes seeking out the good work being done by Sir Syed






The duration of the event (number of minutes)

Estimated number of ‘donor’ visitors

Number of handpicked NGOs that attended the event

Per cent of the visitors interviewed said the event was an eye-opener

The estimated quantum (`/ lacs) of donor commitments

Participants Some 22 NGOs were shortlisted on the basis of their experience, sectoral potential, professionalism and resource management. These NGOs comprised names like OFFER, Humanity Foundation, Sir Syed Group of Schools, Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp, Hamari Muskan, Howrah South Point, Ashabari, Indian Society for Rehabilitation of Children, Vivekananda Vikas Kendra, Jyoti De-


n The launch of Kolkata Gives’ philanthropic calendar for 2014 n The launch of ‘Leader’s Day Out’, a unique volunteering concept engaging citizens of the city This is only a preliminary list. We also expect to do two things: focus on the adopted NGOs (showcased at our Kolkata Gives event) and also add to more projects that significantly benefit the city.


“No one has ever become poor by giving.” - Anne Frank

Calcutta Rescue

“Our rare 100% tax exemption for donations is a huge advantage”


alcutta Rescue was set up by the legendary Dr. Jack Preger in the Seventies. Today, this is a multi-disciplinary institution funding thousands of lives.

Generally, most NGOs prominently state that they enjoy exemptions under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. Simply stated, this exemption indicates that 50 per cent of the amount donated would be eligible for a tax exemption, while the rest would be treated as taxable. But a rare Section 35AC benefit that provides the donor with a 100 per cent exemption? Like the one enjoyed by Calcutta Rescue? “Now that’s a rare exemption,” explains Mr Samir Chowdhury, Honorary Treasurer, Calcutta Rescue. “Calcutta Rescue is probably the only NGO in Kolkata to enjoy this exemption. This exemption was provided following a comprehensive scrutiny simply because of the deep credibility of our work in Kolkata as well as the credibility in terms of spending, austerity and accounting practices. Following this scrutiny, the government considered our work as being eligible for a complete tax exemption starting from 2013,” says Samir Chowdhury.

“Calcutta Rescue is professionally structured to ensure its eligibility. One, only 12 paise of every rupee collected in the form of donations goes into administrative costs, which makes us one of the lowest-cost-tohighest-impact organisations in the country,” says Mr Chowdhury. “Besides, our operational transparency and austere cost management resulted in us receiving the Rockfeller Foundation Award and the Resource Alliance Award (UK), which has enhanced our international visibility. The result was that only recently, our UK support groups organised a unique walk-onfire show to raise 14,000 pounds.” Other NGOs looking forward to applying for these exemptions must first need to get their accounting processes and practices in order and aligned to the generally accepted accounting principles. They need to prepare records preferably since inception and get these audited by a certified Chartered Accountant. Armed with this, they can approach the tax authorities,

complete all formalities in time and hope to receive the particular exemptions. “We will be happy to guide and mentor NGOs looking forward to registering their organisations for these tax exemptions.” adds Chowdhury. About Calcutta Rescue Set up by Dr Jack Preger in the late

Seventies. Provides free medical care, education and development support to the poor and disadvantaged of Kolkata and rural West Bengal. Provides holistic support with free medical care, education and development irrespective of gender, age, caste or religion.

Calcutta Rescue 85, Collin Street, Kolkata 700 016 O: +91 33 22175675 E:

Samaritan Help Mission

This school dropout is Tikiapara’s biggest educationist!


he secret to Mamoon’s growth is simple. “Keep dreaming, especially when people say that it can’t be done.”

sion) now runs schools or vocational centres across five premises, touching the lives of more than 1,500 children. Funded by Tata Steel, EdelGive Foundation and Cognizant, in addition to a number of individual donors. Not bad for someone who couldn’t complete school himself.

ra one day when I noticed a woman being beaten by a man. Arre kaahe maar rahe ho yaar is all I asked. But the man continued to beat her. I couldn’t keep watching. So I caught him by his collar and dragged him away.”

The secret to his growth is simple. “Keep dreaming even when people say that it can’t be done.”

When the teacher of a Howrah school called a 13-year-old Mamoon by name sometime in the Eighties, the boy rose from his bench expecting to hear praise for a lesson well done. Instead, what he heard was the opposite: “Mamoon, please don’t come to school from tomorrow onwards because your parents have not been able to pay your fees!” The dropout from Tikiapara never forgot the humiliation. Provoked, he went on to set up a school that is now responsible for the education and development of nearly 1,500 students in one of the most deprived locations of Kolkata. Mamoon Akhtar is more than a philanthropist; the man is a fighter. “I was walking through the streets of Tikiapa-

This poking-one’s-nose-in-another’s business proved to be the turning point in Mamoon’s life. The victim spilled the beans. The man was unsuccessfully trying to coerce her in the storage of narcotics. She was too scared; she refused. The man was using his fist to get her change her mind. Until Mamoon passed by. As an afterthought, Mamoon noticed her son was standing nearby. So he casually asked: “Padhte-wadhtey ho ke nahin?” Turned out that the son wasn’t going to school. Mamoon replied, “Aajaana ghar pe. Khud padhaoonga!”

About Samaritan Help Mission Provides education to over 1,500 students, employment to over 100 teachers and vocational training to more than 200 women. Attends to the daily healthcare needs of more than 200 patients through a mobile health van (funded by Cognizant).

The following evening, the boy turned up with his friend. The evening after, he turned up with two more. By the end of the week, Mamoon had eight students. By the first quarter, the group – fed on stories that Mamoonbhai was providing children with a direction in life – had touched 40. “I

didn’t plan to become an educationist,” he says. “Destiny made me one.” What Mamoon did thereafter was teach at home, set up a school, raise funds, buy another plot – and the result of this enthusiasm is that Mamoon (through Samaritan Help Mis-

Samaritan Help Mission 127, Noor Mohammed Munshi Lane, Howrah 711101 O: +91-33-26381901 M: +91-9331873584 F: +91-33-26381900 E:

“Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.” - John D. Rockefeller Jr.


Iswar Sankalpa

An NGO that is a global case study in the treatment of the mentally ill


swar Sankalpa is a Kolkata NGO focused on the rehabilitation and mainstreaming of mentally ill women from homes and the streets, making it a respected global showpiece.

Middle-aged Anjali used choicest abuse. She fought with everyone. She trusted nobody. Just the kind of reality that people saw and dismissed with one word: ‘Paagol!’ Most would have written her off except that someone remembered that there was this place called Iswar Sankalpa in Chetla where women with mental illnesses were cared and often returned home completely cured. So even as most people considered Anjali a ‘gone case’, they felt that dispatching her to Iswar Sankalpa would at least have one benefit: she would be out of everyone’s way. Then something unexpected happened. The combination of a disciplined medicinal regimen, peaceful environment and caring professionals began to work an unusual magic. Anjali spoke softer. She smiled often. A change started coming over her. “The most important development that we noticed,” says Dr Prabir Paul, founder

member, “was that she found a new purpose in life. She would not want to remain idle for even a minute. And that is how we got her into beading and crafting earrings or even simply kneading dough.” Gradually, the leader in Anjali re-asserted. She became a mentor; she was elevated to the post of a forewoman of the telebhaja production line. When cured, Anjali left Iswar Sankalpa and was resettled as a live-in domestic help. “The amazing thing is that her employers describe her as energetic and ever-helpful. Don’t forget that some months ago, she had been dismissed as insane!” says Dr Paul. Anjali is just one of several women rehabilitated back to society through the curative science of Iswar Sankalpa. The key lies in holistic care. “Following the identification of individuals by the police or social workers, we initiate diagnosis and treatment,” says Sarbani Das Roy, founder member. “Thereafter, the individual is counselled and trained in domestic activities. Con-

currently, we initiate efforts to know more about her family so that we may reunite the individual.” What makes Iswar Sankalpa different is that while most institutions engaged in the treatment of mental illness would rather do it from a fixed location, this NGO is engaged in providing treatment across the city – even on the streets. “It would be difficult to get all patients to one location, so we have successfully reversed the paradigm,” says Das Roy. “We go to where the patient is. We engage with the local chaiwalla or the paanwalla to provide the patient tea thrice a day – we pay for – and deliver the medicines along with it. The result is that hundreds of out-

street patients improved without their even knowing that a disciplined treatment was underway. The best part is that following recovery, the chaiwalla or local residents assumed emotional ownership and provided the individual with a job, enabling her to earn a modest sustenance.” Interestingly, this model – a combination of the residential and outreach – has attracted the attention of peers working in the domain the world over. “These specialists are watching our street-based model with interest and keen to study our analyses because that would form the basis of a number of their theories and assumptions. To this extent, we are a global case study!”

concluded Das Roy. About Iswar Sankalpa Founded by psychological well-being professionals. Extends psychological support, professional guidance and sensitive services for women patients. Combines an extensive outreach initiative with a residential rehabilitation.

Iswar Sankalpa 138, SP Mukherjee Road Kolkata 700026 O: +91 33 24197451 M: +91 9830260089 E:



he Organisation for Friends Energies and Resources (OFFER) walks the road less travelled when it comes to child welfare.

HIV treatment for street children – at last Anandaghar (OFFER’s dedicated facility for HIV children) provides shelter to more than 60 children, living with the killer disease, and community support (educational and health) to 300 such children.

One day Kallol Ghosh, the man who started the NGO, received an unusual call. “It was a call from the Lake Town Police Station requesting shelter for a four-day-old abandoned on the street. We embraced the child (Joy) and in the course of our preliminary documentation, we did a blood test which indicated that the child had HIV.” HIV. Think of this dreaded abbreviation and the first thing you can think of are adults. Never children. “Our entire objective is to sensitise people to the reality that as per NICED estimates, some 3,300 children are living with HIV/AIDS. Six out of every 554 children on the streets of Kolkata are HIV+.” What does this mean? “That there are very few agencies that are even willing to take the children in for treatment in the first place, which means that in a number of cases, the children with HIV live and die on the streets,” says Ghosh.

Rather than complain, Ghosh decided to do something about this. One, he took the children from Lake Town in. Two, he created an entire residential facility for such children. “In a lot of ways, what we did was historic within Kolkata’s context,” he says. “At a time when no one was even willing to touch an HIV child, we actually created a facility to house them.”

This is how an idea can start a movement. Anandaghar (OFFER’s dedicated facility for HIV+ children) provides shelter to more than 60 children living with the killer disease and community support (educational and health) to 300 such children. Besides, the NGO has extended the envelope; its Atmaja programme is focusing on the elimination of infection from mother to child.

Under this initiative, it is catering to HIV+ prospective mothers with the latest in HIV treatment so that they can give birth to children without HIV. The challenges have been considerable. “We were branded kidnappers and traffickers since some of our projects were financed by foreign agencies,” says Ghosh. “A number of

schools were not open to accepting our HIV+ kids. The resident community complained that they did not want a home for HIV+ kids in their area as our discharged water would infect neighbouring farms!” The result was hours of patience, dialogue, advocacy and eventually even public interest litigations to allow HIV kids to be admitted into government schools. “The result is that I now have a condition for attending social functions: I take two of my HIV+ kids to the function! Stubbornness works!” says Ghosh. About OFFER Engaged in activities communitybased education sponsorship and rehabilitation for children living on railway platforms. Providing residential care units for children without parental care, residential care unit and community schools for children with learning difficulties. Providing residential care-cum-hospice for children infected with HIV/AIDS.

OFFER 152 B.T. Road, Dunlop Bridge Kolkata 700108 O: +91 33 2578 0810/ 8011 F: +91 33 2578 5469 E:


“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” - Warren Buffett

Interview “We deal in miracles every single day” Dr. Anita Butta is one of the exemplary rehabilitators of abandoned and disabled children in Kolkata.

Please give us a background of the work you do. I am a doctor with an orphanage (Indian Society for Rehabilitation of Children) with two wings - one for normal adoption and the other for handicapped children (not ready to be placed for adoption or not adopted because of their handicap). What started out as volunteering 23 years ago has now become a passion. I can’t imagine even a day without them. How do you access these children? It will sound amazing but the reality is that people anonymously drop these children in the cradle outside our door. We also take lost children allocated by the Child Welfare Committee. What is the nature of the disabilities of these children? Cerebral palsy mainly (since they’re born around 32-33 weeks of pregnancy). A number cannot move and need constant support. For instance, 15 year-old Chandan can’t move and lives virtually on a water bed to minimise bed sores; after every hour, the caretaker needs to turn his body to the other side, he needs to be transferred to a chair when fed. What are some of your challenges? When the babies come to us, they are often only a day old, weighing 1-1.3 kg and in critical need of special care. We don’t possess the luxury of incubators so we

keep the children in heaters and nurse them back to health with drips, oxygen and relevant medicines – no sophistication. The other challenge is the mindset; Indians will just not adopt children who are dark or even with rectifiable physical problems. On the other hand, a baby who was blind with cerebral palsy was happily adopted by a family from USA. Devi was adopted by Indian parents, diagnosed with cerebral palsy and returned to us – no thank you. So I brought her up as my kid. Another challenge is looking for ways to keep the children occupied since they are incapable of going to school. We need volunteers willing to spend time with the children. And, of course, donors who can provide milk and food for them. Which have been some heartwarming stories? A baby (15 days old) was abandoned in a Topsia bin with bite marks and muscles eaten by a dog or a rat. The baby stabilised within a few weeks and a family from Italy is ready to adopt him! Bomba was suffering from hydrocephalus, where water fills the brain. He was operated upon, following which he was diagnosed with brain fever and meningitis. He was less than three then and without a chance for survival; he is seven today. Dr Anita Butta is a prominent child specialist and neonatologist at the Indian Society for Rehabilitation of Children.

Indian Society for Rehabilitation of Children, 9 B Lake View Road,

Kolkata 700019, Phone: 24649640 Email:

Messiah of Kidderpore! If there is one man who has perhaps done more than most to lift Kidderpore to a position of respect, it is the philanthropist Anwar Premi.


About Sir Syed Group of Schools Sir Syed Group of Schools (SSGS) is a grass-root level voluntary organisation implementing educational, healthcare, elderly care, socio-economic upliftment and advocacy programmes for the disadvantaged sections of the port slums in Kolkata.

h, not Kidderpore!’ used to be a tired response a few decades ago when people mentioned the name of this river-flanked region in the Western part of the city. A neighbourhood marked by lawlessness, gang wars, unemployment, petty crime, drugs, prostitution and illicit trade. Then something interesting happened. As the Hooghly started bringing in larger vessels from abroad, the trade for foreign-made goods started to increase, spawning the Fancy Market in Kidderpore. With this, local residents started to see more money, which eventually kickstarted the cycle – more money, higher aspirations, better education and the pursuit of a better quality of life. “Right in the middle of this, we established the Sir Syed Group of Schools that was primarily engaged to mainstream children – without any gender distinction – and wean them away from drug and alcohol addiction,” says Anwar Premi, Founder, Sir Syed Group of Schools. “What started off as an education venture soon extended to include the formation of mahila mandals and introduction of clinics for the elderly in association with HelpAge India. We also introduced the Rusi Gimi Memorial Scholarship Programme, the Child Sight Project, the Tangra Development

Headed by Anwar Premi, Sir Syed Group of Schools is actively transforming livelihoods and neighbourhoods. Project, a textile printing centre and the Shahi Nagri Development Project. It would be quite correct to say that we leveraged the power of education and social welfare to accelerate positive change in Kidderpore.” The result is that today, there is a marked increase in the number of educated people, the neighbourhood has become

peaceful and progressive with a clear developmental mindset. The best part is that Anwar Premi’s work benefits all communities. “We touch the lives of around 950 students today,” says Premi, “of which a sizeable 250 students are from the majority community. As a result, the intervention is completely secular in its impact.”

Sir Syed Group of Schools DUVA-71/1-C, Diamond Harbour Road, Kidderpore, Kolkata 700023 West Bengal O: +91 33 2449 5753/3922 E:

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” - John Bunyan


New Light

The story of a counter-trafficker who was awarded $10,000 by a US foundation!


ne of the young ladies with whom we started New Light became our Founder Trustee and now enjoys cheque co-signing authority. She was born in a brothel, studied till class eight and started working with me when 17. I saw in her a readiness to leap out of her space. The best part is that she is an active counter-trafficking campaigner who was awarded a US$10,000 grant by Half the Sky Foundation!” The book Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn co-authored Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide which focused on the coercion and enslavement of women and girls in the flesh trade with a focus on prevailing realities in Asia and Africa.

The movement A worldwide movement emerged - ‘Half the Sky Movement’ – comprising video, websites, games, blogs and other educational tools to enhance awareness of women’s issues.

Krishna Mondal Result? More than $5 million donations were made to organisations; around 1.1 million people played the Facebook game; and more than 1,500 campus and community ambassadors hosted screenings and held panel discussions. The competition A spin-off was the partnership between Half the Sky Movement and Students Rebuild, a collaborative initiative in which a hunt began for community leaders to present their stories on various global issues pertaining to wom-


y father was killed by dacoits when my mother was seven months pregnant with me. My mother had no option but to travel to Kolkata for work. What unfolded was the classic story of a woman landing up in Kalighat and being put up for prostitution.”


Urmi Basu, Founder Trustee, New Light India

The television series Inspired by the book, a team of veteran filmmakers collaborated to create a four-hour television series. The series follows Nicholas Kristof and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde on a journey to tell the stories of inspiring individuals. The series premiered in the United States in October (2012).

Krishna speaks

Urmi Basu en and girls. Entries poured in from Sierra Leone, Cambodia, India, Kenya and Somalia — the countries featured in the book. Krishna’s story was one of them. The entries were put up online and people voted. Krishna won with the highest number of votes! The after-effect Krishna received 60% of the grant. The funds received have been used to create a replica of the New Light tried-and-tested model of creche and night shelter in Sonagachhi and for ex-

tending micro-credit assistance and creating income generating options for women of the Kalighat red light area. The project, called ‘Operation Starfish’, is a throwback to a Hawaiian folktale in the first chapter of Half the Sky, where a man walking on the beach picks up one starfish at a time and throws it back into the ocean because ‘it would matter to that one starfish which is going to survive’. The project was inaugurated in October 2013. This day-care centre for children (two to five years) operates between 10 and 2 pm; the children are provided mid-day meals, educational materials and healthcare facilities, among others. Krishna Mondal is the founder trustee of New Light India

New Light India 162, Kalighat Road Kolkata 700 026 O: (91 33) 2485-0068 F: (91 33) 2485-0067 E:

f the story of the beginning of my life does not motivate me to fight for the rights of women and saving of young girls - if this is not my mission in life - I shall not be worth of my salt. I chose to give my voice and my commitment to the women in prostitution and their children in Kalighat.”


n my fight against inter-generational prostitution and trafficking, it is vital to create alternative livelihood options and nothing would mean more than providing this assistance to the women whom I have seen as aunts, sisters, friends and neighbours.”


believe change is possible. But this cannot be just one person’s fight. Every single day, thousands of girls are lost to the horrible reality of prostitution. Each and every person around the world can contribute more than their share of voice, pen, ink and muscle to stop what can be viewed as the worst form of exploitation.”


see my life as an example of what is possible if we decide to challenge the existing mores of this marginalised society and create new models that can be replicated in each and every red light district of this country.”

Rural Health Care Foundation

The healthcare NGO that is a Harvard case study


ow Rural Health Care Foundation provides possibly India’s lowest cost healthcare services.

‘How does a rural Indian get the necessary resources for competent medical care?’ might sound like an innocuous question to a number of people, except that for brothers – the late Arun and Anant Nevatia – this question became the provocation that helped start Rural Health Care Foundation, their NGO dedicated largely to providing affordable medical services to the rural Bengal poor. The brothers ran into their first hurdle soon after they set up their first healthcare centre in Mayapur. It wasn’t that they had failed badly; they had succeeded only too well. The queue was a few hundred metres; patients came from the Bangladesh border; the queue began to form from 4 am, which was an hour before the Nevatias would leave from Kolkata, 137 kms away. And because the health care delivery model was subsidised, the higher the number of patients, the higher the sub-

istrators so that personnel costs could be rationalised. Third, they realised that the principal cost comprised medicines and any improvement in the process of purchase would translate into attractive economies.

sidy and deficit. “The writing was on the wall,” says Anant, “that if we continued the way we started, we would fold up in less than six months. There was a clear need for sustainability. We needed a model that would keep us in business and also service patient needs.” The Nevatias responded entrepreneurially. First, they ran a tight financial ship – no wastage. For instance, they cut out much of the travelling between Kolkata and their respective centres to save on fuel, preferring to network through telecommunication instead. Second, doctors doubled up as admin-

“We literally put our Marwari buddhi to work and researched the product costing across the lifecycle,” says Anant. “What we found amazed us: the most extensive erosion in the cost of the medicines – 90 percent – transpired within six months of the expiry date. So we immediately transformed our procurement model – from 100 per cent purchase of branded medicines to a mix of branded and generic; from among the branded, we selected medicines close to their expiry dates. The result was an attractive cost reduction, which suddenly made our model viable.” Now that the cost side was taken care of, the brothers began to focus on the

revenue side. “We increased our service fee in five stages to `40 per patient (against a cost of `50),” says Anant. “Most people said that patients would desert us; on the contrary, the number of patients increased for some good reasons – because we had a wide 160 SKU range, medicines were always available; besides, a patient was completely covered (diagnosis and medicines) at `40 as against an alternative location where the doctor would have priced the service at `10 but thereafter prescribed medicines worth `400. Gradually, the word of mouth proved to be the game-changer; villagers swore by the fact that they were being treated with care and courtesy and soon the Mayapur operation crossed its monthly break-even point of 5,000 patients - within only 36 months of launch. People had said that hamara diwaala nikal jaayega but now we had broken even!” So what makes Rural Health Care Foundation a case study? One, it usually takes six to 12 months for the patient throughput to rise to break-even point per unit of Rural Health Care Foundation. Two, the moment one centre generates a surplus, the promoters extend to another location. Which is how RHCF has grown: from a one-day onecentre clinic (Mayapur) in 2008 to four six-day rural centres (Namkhana, Ku-

sumgram, Swarupnagar and Maltipur) and two urban locations (Jyotish Roy Road and Zakaria Street in Kolkata). Besides, what started as an initiative that was 90 percent funded by donors is now only 10 percent funded by donations, making this a significantly sustainable model. The endorsement is in the recognition. “The IIM-Bangalore conducted a study and concluded that ours was probably the lowest cost rural heath care model in India,” says Anant. The NGO has also been a prominent case study of the Harvard Business School. Thrift works. About Rural Health Care Foundation Provides primary healthcare to the poor in remote villages and underprivileged urban locations. The staff at each centre comprises an MBBS, BDS, BHMS and optometrist assisted by support staff.

Rural Health Care Foundation 33 Alexandra Court, 60/1 Chowringhee Road, Kolkata 700 020 O: + 91 33 2290 2981/ 30252981 E:


“The hands that help are more pious than the lips that pray.” - Prophet Mohammed

Hamari Muskan

Rituparna Sengupta in a red light area on her birthday?


ometimes when a heartthrob adopts a social cause, some amazing things begin to happen.

wide open as Rituparna sat in their midst and chatted about their interests, likes and dislikes. “Porashuna-ta thik kore korte hobe kintu (You have to study hard),” she told the children with the promise to Skype with the girls on their new computers! Just a week prior to Rituparna’s visit, the children had hosted their first ever concert at St Joseph’s College, presented their first photography exhibition and conducted a preliminary visit that would take a dozen of them to a free and safe residential school on the outskirts of the city.

7 November 2013 was a slightly different birthday for Rituparna Sengupta, the heartthrob of Tollywood.

In late December, there was a more positive development. Some 14 children from the day care centre were placed in an all expenses paid for residential boarding school on the outskirts of Kolkata.

The actress had her usual wellwishers – relatives, friends, fans, associates and peers – but more than this predictable gathering, she had some special well-wishers. The children of prostituted women. Because on this birthday, Rituparna selected to take time out, visit a day care centre (Hamari Muskan) in Premchand Boral Street (Harkata goli) and offer to become its brand ambassador. Why an unpaid brand ambassador for a modest day care centre in a red-light area? “Because I wanted my birthday to be like a rebirth for me,” said Rituparna. “The time has come for me to be

Hamari Muskan is on a roll!

engaged in the anti-trafficking movement in Bengal. The scenario is challenging: south Bengal is losing hundreds of girls to trafficking and it is imperative that we enhance public awareness on this subject leading to responsible police and citizen action.”

Rituparna wound her way to the day care centre in Premchand Boral Street, blew out a birthday candle, unveiled computers the NGO had recently acquired for the children of the area and pinned the first edition of their wall journal Ujaan onto a board.

“Apart from being an actress, I am a responsible human being. I heard some traumatic stories of child trafficking and felt that if my voice or presence could make any difference, then I should take the lead so that the problem can be addressed in a meaningful way,” she added.

To take her engagement ahead, Rituaparna expects to periodically visit the day care centre, engage in policy advocacy and engage in public events that enhance issue visibility. On her birthday, children from five to 15 watched with eyes

About Hamari Muskan Engaged in counter-trafficking and violence against women. Working with children (three to six years old) in the red light area of Bowbazar since 2009.

Hamari Muskan 81 Premchand Boral Street Bowbazar, Kolkata 700012 E:

Humanity Hospital

The unlikely story of how a vegetable vendor built a hospital!


idow. Housemaid. Greengrocer. Philanthropist. The amazing story of Subhashini Mistry.

vider? “Inner strength,” she says, “and the grace of God so that people like me did not need to lose their loved ones due to a lack of medical attention.” Interestingly, Subhashini’s elder daughter and son still sell vegetables, her youngest daughter is a nurse and works in the hospital. Her final take: “My mission is not over. Only when this hospital becomes a full-fledged 24-hour hospital will I be able to die happy.”

Subhashini Mistry was born during the Bengal famine and at 12 was married to Sadhan, an agricultural worker living in Hanspukur village. In 1987, disaster struck when her husband began writhing in pain and had to be rushed to the district hospital in Tollygunge. When her husband’s condition deteriorated, she discovered that the doctors and nurses would not pay attention to him because he was poor - ironically in a hospital built to provide free services to the poor.

work my hands have not done. I have cooked, mopped floors, washed utensils, cleaned gardens, polished shoes and concreted roofs.” Since her son Ajoy was a good student, she sent him to an orphanage for education. Besides, she turned to sell vegetables in Dhapa before setting up a wayside stall on 4 Number Bridge (Park Circus). She opened a savings account in the post office to deposit her monthly income of `500.

sponded; they donated money to build a shed that could be used as a dispensary and that is how a 20x20 ft shed was constructed. On the very first day, 252 patients were treated. The little shed became Humanity Hospital.

Death ended her husband’s torment, which was the beginning of Subhashini’s suffering. She was left poor and illiterate with four frightened children. She started working as a maid servant in five houses, earning `100 per month. She recalls, “There is no

For 20 years, she spent nothing on herself and little on the children, except Ajoy’s education. In 1992, she bought an acre in her husband’s village for `10,000, moved back to her hut and told villagers of her plan to dedicate the plot for a hospital. The villagers re-

That was the start of more challenges. No money. Monsoonal waterlogging. Roadside treatment. Need for concrete roof. Cold shoulder from the local MP. But one day, the tide turned. The MP helped get the governor of West Bengal to inaugurate her hospital. Ajoy (fol-

lowing his graduation at the Kolkata Medical College) began to attend to the day-to-day running of the hospital. The hospital expanded to 9,000 sq. ft. The hospital expanded to include gynaecology, cardiology, ENT, urology, oncology, diabetology and surgery. Interestingly, the hospital continued to focus on the poor. They got free treatment; those above the poverty line paid `10 for consultation. What motivated a vegetable vendor to become healthcare infrastructure pro-

About Humanity Hospital Humanity Hospital is a charitable hospital operating under the umbrella of Humanity Trust.

Humanity Hospital Hanspukur Post Office, Joka, Thakurpukur 700 104 O: +91 33 2467 0639 M: +91 98830 62354

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” - John Holmes



Ever wondered where the city’s mentally ill go? Pulickal Das Joseph is the unlikely saviour of ‘society’s rejects’. Cowed by challenges but ever smiling. Unsure of funding but planning an expansion!

However, Das is not likely to give up without a fight. “Despite erratic funding, my conscience does not allow me to stop getting in people whom I see in miserable condition on the roads or stations,” he says. “I am an ordinary man with no marketing knowledge or corporate networking but only my heart which is what I must follow.”

The mentally challenged of the city are largely moved to NGOs like Ashabari, where they are cared for – without cost and length of tenure. Ashabari is a special case, located on the outskirts of the city across a 7 acre property looking after mainly 200 patients for free. However, for an NGO that has been in existence for several years and has attended to the needs of hundreds of outpatients, there is a threat on the horizon. Explains Pulickal Joseph Das, founder of Ashabari. “We were being funded by a group from Spain. However following the economic turmoil, the group backed out. Suddenly, we have had to cut our expenses by 50% and there is a possibility that we may have to shut our outpatient clinic, which provides free medication to over 1,000 villagers a month, because we

About Ashabari Residential home for the deprived and mentally ill looking after 200 patients on the outskirts of Kolkata.

are unable to cover our monthly expense of `50,000.” Ashabari’s principal expenses comprise food, medical costs and clothes. The infrastructure cost is almost negligible as the organisation is largely run by Das

and his wife (who’s a certified nurse). “However, food costs have nearly doubled in the last few months. Earlier, we used to provide patients with meat, chicken and fish once a week but we will need to rationalise now,” he adds.

Ashabari Calcutta Home of Hope Ashabari Keoradanga, B. P. Road Betberia, P. O. 24 PGS (S) – 743 503 M: +91 9830109428 E:

10 reasons that make Mentaid a great NGO 1












entaid is the first organisation established by parents of the mentally handicapped themselves and engaged in the development of mentally handicapped children and adults.

entaid has 84 children (52% from economically deprived homes) who are supported with nutritious lunch (77%), medicines (31%), free books and stationery (100%). Over 50% of the children suffer from severe behavioural problems needing a 2:1 intervention.

n 1996, the National Institute of Mental Handicap asked for vocational training proposals from all related organisations. The Mentaid proposal for seed money to start a vocational training centre was approved within 45 minutes. The reason: “Mentaid committed that the profits made of the handicrafts would be used to pay a token of appreciation to the young adults…. noble and inspiring sentiment.”



Dutch visitor started an organisation to raise funds for Mentaid that made it possible to buy 42 cottahs in Thakurpukur in 2004.



entaid leads excursions for children (many with severe difficulties) without their parents to Digha, Puri and the Dooars, inculcating a sense of independent living and helping them address the question of “After me, what?”

Mentaid Office and Vocational Training Centre: 98N, Block E, New Alipore, Kolkata 700 053 Phone: +91 33 2396 9510, 2399 5688. Email: and Website:

entaid is the first organisation in India to start a self-advocacy group that provides training for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

entaid bought a house on a 11 cottah plot in Behala, which is now a special school that imparts a host of services – assessment, early intervention, special education and therapies.

entaid expanded to a spice-making, catering and printing unit. It also makes household products like phenyle and detergent and prints its own stationery. The kitchen churns out food for children (daal, subji, rice and roti), which is made by trainees according to their own capacities. An Inclusion International study selected this among three instances of best practices in the country.



entaid’s professionalised service led to outreach services in West Bengal districts where teachers and students are trained.



entaid empowers young adults. Two were inducted as staff members, one of whom is now in open employment and was awarded the title of a ‘role model’ by the Government of West Bengal on 3 December 2013.


“The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.” - Mahatma Gandhi


Animal hospital that even humans envy!


95% success rate for any hospital engaged in the treatment of human beings in rural Bengal would be considered an achievement. But when you get this kind of success rate in a veterinary hospital, the instance stands out as a case study. These are some of the things that make Chhaya the animal welfare hospital on the outskirts of Kolkata, special: a state-ofthe-art operation theatre sterilised using formalin, an airconditioned operation theatre to minimise infection levels, a restricted-access operation theatre, a Siemens X-ray machine and a separate pathological lab for routine blood tests.

Moreover, post-operation care is taken by keeping the animals under medication and once the wounds are healed, stitches are cut and fully cured and the animals are dropped back. “Till date, 2,290 cases have been operated out of which 99 per cent were successful. Besides, we have 350 dogs undergoing treatment at anytime,” Radhakrishnan adds.

“Doctors have a separate uniform and footwear, which they change in the adjacent room. When the operation is on, the animal is given a continuous infusion drip with vitamins and an oxygen mask. Our cleanliness is at par with any five-star hospital, no exaggeration”, says Vishakha Doshi, a Chhaya Director.

About Chhaya Chhaya works with stray dogs and runs its vehicle six days a week to pick up dogs around Kolkata. The vehicle can comfortably accommodate 20 dogs and is guarded by two guide staff along with the driver.

So what makes Chhaya a clean facility? “We have a pre-operative protocol to make these animals healthy enough to take to the operation table within a short span,” says Sharda Radhakrishnan, Director. “The first thing the animals receive at the centre is a hot water bath (with Dettol). They are given injections to kill external and internal parasites thereafter, following which they are kept under medication and given vitamin B complex and multi-vitamin medicines. Pets are also given good healthy food cooked with papaya, soya bean and chicken. On the second day, the animals are made to undergo blood tests to detect infections and ascertain haemoglobin levels.”

Dogs are operated on mainly for amputation (victims of accident who have lost their leg), ovohystrectomy in females (removal of ovary along with uterus) and castration in males to reduce the dog population.

Chhaya Aswathberia PO: Chandaneswar PS: Bhangore, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal E: chhaya M: + 91 9830211138

“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.” - Jack London


Jyoti Development Trust

Why Hansa Nundy returned from Canada to teach in Kharagpur! W hen someone in her fifties embarks on her second career for nothing financial in return, then all you can say is...

and vocational training with the objective to create informed and trained entrepreneurial mindset across a community exploited across the generations.

Migrating from the back of beyond in Bengal to North America might seem the usual storyline, but what about the reverse? Hansa Nundy (Chairperson and Trustee of Jyoti Development Trust) and her husband did just that. The engineerprofessor coupled left a settled life and family in Canada to return to India - to give back. Which meant getting back to Kharagpur to teach under-privileged children. “The transition led to a huge change in my lifestyle,” says Hansa. “When in Canada, I felt that my soul never belonged to the place. But when I decided to return people viewed the decision suspiciously.” This wasn’t a warm homecoming for the intending do-gooder. She was re-

About Disha Disha (under Jyoti Development Trust) is a residential school that provides life skills to tribal youth. It develops capabilities (general and entrepreneurial skills) to help them live a life of dignity. quired to establish the NGO and register for the FCRA and 80G exemptions. “However, when I see these children, I wish I was 58 and not 68!” she says. Hansa had a spirit of giving since she was a child. At three, she gave away her new birthday dress to a street child. In

college, she regularly gave her lunch to beggars, selecting to remain hungry through the day. So when her daughters were settled in Canada, the overriding thought was to make herself more useful. The opportunity emerged when two IIT Directors visited Canada; they offered six acres for her to start a

school for the under-privileged within the IIT campus. “So in 1993, I took a sabbatical from college, took an early retirement and came right back for good,” she recalls. Today, Hansa’s school has several students, balancing the needs of academic

Jyoti Development Trust Seema Centre, IIT Kharagpur Kharagpur E: M: + 91 9933191066

Vivekananda Vikas Kendra

Who would give an NGO working in Purulia a chance? A

remarkable story of how an NGO made things consciously difficult for itself - and transformed destinies in the process.

Most NGOs engaged in the field of education generally select to do their work within the comfortable handshaking distance of Kolkata. But an NGO engaged in the education of underprivileged children and tribal communities in Purulia? Ah, that’s an interesting deviation… “Most people sitting in Kolkata will never know how under-privileged Purulia is because they won’t even know where it is on the map,” says Atish Chanda, Volunteer, Vivekananda Vikas Kendra. “What kind of education can a family provide for its children when its monthly per capita income is no more than a few rupees?” It is this need that VVK began to earnestly address. The result is that the school has touched the lives of more than 2,000 children until now, many of whom are first generation learners. VVK runs two co-educational schools in Purulia, provides education till class VIII and offers hostel facilities to those coming from far. Presently, the school provides education to 400 students, 150 of whom stay in the hostel. VVK subsidises over half the school fee through donations. Through its two co-educational schools running in the Purulia district of West Bengal, VVK has played a meaningful role in helping bridge rural inequity divide, mainstreaming children. Take the instance of Banamali Mahato, who was a student of VVK, and is now a sub-

inspector in West Bengal Police. Besides, a number of students have been appointed full-time VVK teachers. VVK provides ambulance services in rural areas. The ambulance ferries patients to the Purulia District Hospital and hospitals in Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Asansol. VVK also started a programme in agroforestry; the students

are now well-aware about the cultivation of useful medicinal plants. Nursery development training has also been conducted at Chakaichalang in collaboration with IIT Kharagpur. About VVK Vivekananda Vikas Kendra is a nonprofit organisation working in the

remote Baghmundi block of Purulia district (scheduled tribes, scheduled caste and other backward classes subservient to money lenders). The organisation provides education and vocational training to the economically backward children.

Vivekananda Vikas Kendra 79/1/A, A.K. Mukherjee Road Kolkata 700090 Atish Chanda: + 91 9836002746


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

Tomorrow’s Foundation

Creating the city’s next generation How one NGO has taken a collaborative co-partnership route to growing Kolkata’s educational footprint.

Ritwik Patra, CEO, Tomorrow’s Foundation The classic irony is that Kolkata has more than 250,000 out-ofschool children on the one hand and government schools are closing due to a dearth of students on the other.

munity felt that they were the owners of the school and not the government. We invested in activity-based learning methodologies and within three years of the takeover, Model School added nearly 100 students,” says Mr Patra.

To address this irony, Tomorrow’s Foundation, an NGO engaged in providing education to students of weaker sections of the society, collaborated with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to strengthen governmentrun schools. “Kolkata is the only city where government-run schools are shutting down due to a dearth of children. As per KMC and government records, there are no less than 53 government schools in Kolkata with an average enrolment of 0-10 children! So rather than set up more educational infrastructure, it makes more sense to invest in KMC schools to get the students back in,” says Ritwik Patra, Chief Executive Officer, Tomorrow’s Foundation.

Today, the school has embraced several new and innovative ways of imparting education, capturing the attention of students and ensuring regular attendance. The school also expects to strengthen values-based education, thereby creating a generational shift in the mindset of the young.

“The biggest problem of government schools is that it is a government school with all its attending disadvantages,” says Ritwik. So to counter this handicap, Tomorrow’s Foundation reopened Model School in collaboration with the KMC under a PPP model. “We created a model whereby parents and the com-

About Tomorrow’s Foundation Tomorrow’s Foundation is a non-governmental organisation committed to all-round child development. Supports children from the most underprivileged backgrounds to become selfreliant and enjoy their right to a life of dignity. The organisation reaches out to over 8,000 children across Eastern India.

Tomorrow’s Foundation 417, Hossenpur, KMC Ward 108 Kolkata 700107 O: +91 33 2443 1520/3296 2393 E:

“Never respect men merely for their riches, but rather for their philanthropy; we do not value the sun for its height, but for its use.” - Gamaliel Bailey


Paras Padma

Third leg W

hen a child from a lower middle-class family is born disabled, the parents turn to God. And then to the one NGO that has emerged as a responsible care giver.

Asma Khatun (10) was a Class IV student suffering from poliomyelitis and due to her disability in being able to walk, her parents started looking for a place where their child could be treated and educated - both. This sounded virtually like an impossible dream; for her day-labourer father and housewife mother, it was impossible to afford her physiotherapy. Until they heard of Paras Padma, a place where she could be taught and rehabilitated without the need to move out. Asma was checked by the medical team and admitted as a part of the residential programme. She was also provided with calipers, which enabled

her to walk - with ease. “When she first came to us. She was hardly able to stand, seemed shy and completely withdrawn”, says Ebadot Ali Mondal, Project Director, Paras Padma. Interestingly, over the last eight years, a miracle has unfolded. For someone who had been given up as disabled for life, Asma now walks without calipers or support. “We are delighted to state that at one point even her parents considered her case hopeless,” says Tahamina Parveen, Secretary, Paras Padma. “But she has now cleared her Madhyamik examination and is in Class XII. Her health is stable, her confidence has rebounded, she completed her training in tailoring and is pursu-

ing training in computers and drawing. Best of all Asma dreams of becoming a social worker.” About Paras Padma Residential institution dedicated to disabled children (polio, cerebral palsy, club foot, haemiplegia and muscular myopathy). Provides education up to Class X along with training in computers, music, drawing and tailoring.

Paras Padma Village Makrampur, P.O. Kutina Via Champahati, P.S. Sonarpur District 743330 South 24 Parganas, India E:


Why do patients swear by Antara?


s of 201213 the adult psychiatry OPD had serviced more than 30,000 individuals from across the state. About 200 patients undergo treatment at any given time.

A 26-year-old married woman from a 24 Parganas village was brought to Antara’s Antaragram outpatients department. For a week, she had stopped eating and had withdrawn into a shell. The relatives could not explain this. Gradually, following intensive questioning, a picture began to emerge. The woman had lost her brother in an accident three months ago and thereafter her sleep and appetite had disappeared and she had stopped taking care of her child. “The first response of most relatives in such a situation is to write the patients off as someone mad and incurable,” says P.M. John, Hony. General Secretary, Antara. “However, at Antara, we take the view that the mentally ill only need care and treatment for them to recover. So she was treated

with anti-depressants, counselling and the faster she came to terms with her brother’s death, she began to improve. The reality is that she is now recovered and discharged.” Over the years, Antara has established itself as an oasis for troubled minds and offers a versatile response to the mentally distressed. Two of Antara’s distinct interventions make it different: n Child guidance clinic: Children below 16 suffering from childhood mental health problems receive counselling and treatment through a clinic that operates three days a week. More than 2,100 children have benefitted from this programme over the past year. n Adult psychiatry OPD: Open six days

a week, this service has proved to be immensely popular in catering to the mentally ill from not only the vicinity of Antaragram but all over the state. A round-the-clock emergency service is available in case of need. More than 28,000 patients have availed the services of this department over the past year. Says Dr. Bijoy Jacob, Medical Superintendent, Antara, “Our areas of intervention include are, treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with mental illness, persons with addiction, child guidance, community-based mental health services and care, treatment and rehabilitation of the homeless with mental illness. Even as we focus on building our capacity and cabailities, we want Antara to continue to remain an expression of love.”

About Antara The ever-increasing complexities of modern life are creating more problems for the human mind than it can cope with. Mental illness, including addiction and alcoholism, is assuming greater proportions as challenging social problems. Antara is a response to this challenge. It strives to extend a helping hand to the mentally-distressed in ways more than one.

Antara Antara, P.O. Dakshin Gobindapur Kolkata 700 0145 O: + 91 33 2437 8484, 2437 0593 and 2437 0439 E: and


“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” - Muhammad Ali




n interesting model of how a school evolved into a vocational trainer and how a small intervention emerged as a beacon of hope in Topsia and Tiljala.

When the leather factories were moved out of Tangra, Topsia and Tiljala, the result was not just cleaner drains. The result was also an economic displacement that left hundreds unemployed. One of the biggest casualties was the cause of education, translating immediately into crime. “We found that within Topsia and Tiljala, there were NGOs running health and old-age care programmes but none – or few – dedicated to education,” says Vinita Saraf, Trustee of Ektara. The result was that Ektara embarked on a mission that solely focused on the educational needs of children. It was not as if the local community embraced Ektara with open arms. “The parents viewed us with suspicion,” says Saraf. “They feared that aap hamare bachche ko convert karna chahte ho!” recalls Namrata Sureka, Trustee. “The result was a period of insecurity. We were compelled to change four cen-

tres in three years. In one case we were evicted by our tenant, which clearly indicated that the locality did not respect the work we were doing.” Persistence, more than anything else, paid off. Over time, the residents noticed that Ektara, the challenges notwithstanding, kept going about its work without fuss. It assumed complete responsibility of the child’s education. It bore the expenses of education, uniforms, stationery and transportation. It provided after-school help where they taught children to make handmade products. “They observed that if we had been like any group with shortterm gains we would not have bothered to provide a mid-day meal to address malnutrition, nor would we have provided hygiene, career guidance and personal counselling,” adds Saraf. The number of students gradually increased; today, the school has a queue of 150 parents waiting to get their children admitted. These are some of the

things that worked for Ektara: the NGO employed women from the neighbourhood, which enhanced locality incomes. When the NGO recognised that some students did not have an aptitude for academics, it commissioned vocational training. “The result is that some of the girls and women we trained have been absorbed in our small in-house unit, which gets orders from friends and relatives”, says Sureka. About Ektara Provides education, livelihood skills and vocational training to the girls and women of the economically backward communities in Topsia, Tiljala and adjoining areas.

Ektara 31/1 Topsia Road (South) P.S. Topsia, Kolkata 700046 O: + 91 81006 53335 M: + 91 93397 95417 E:

“Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out.” - Frank A. Clark


Civilian Welfare Foundation

“Does anybody give a damn about

Kolkata’s transgender community?” S

aikat, a transgender involved in a train accident, died. Because the hospital could not decide whether to admit Saikat in the male or female ward. Similarly, transsexual Tanushri, a gang-rape victim, was refused doctor’s examination.Ridiculous, but true.

Saikat and Tanushri’s are not stray instances; they are among thousands encountering discrimination, harassment, ridicule, rejection and even exploitation at the hands of health service providers. Their ‘crime’: belonging to a sexual minority group that does not - and cannot - fit into society’s classification across the two rigid boxes of – ‘male’ and ‘female’. “At Civilian Welfare Foundation, we have engaged with numerous trangenders, transsexuals, hijras and kothis to assess the magnitude of healthcare discrimination,” says Shuvojit Moulik, President, CWF. “The two main dimensions of health requiring intervention that have emerged from these discussions include psychological health and the physical health of transgendered individuals.” Some of the most common transgender health problems include cold, cough, loose motion and ailments (malaria, jaundice and typhoid, among others) that can affect anybody. For transgendered individuals, the very reality of walking into a medical facility and getting to the doctor is a challenge. “All the staff, including nurses, ward boys, attendants and security guards make derogatory comments. We are human beings and like to be treated as one. Would you be able to wait with patience in a healthcare facility even if you were allowed entry?” asks Bhanupriya, a transgender who works in the shelter home Prothoma. “So what we require is a dedicated medical clinic with understanding doctors and staff, basic testing facilities and medicines for the sexual minority groups,” says Shuvojit. “CWF is working with all sexual minority groups to create such a basic facility for transgenders and transsexuals.” The proposed clinic will offer routine physical examination and counselling; chronic disease management including anxiety and depression, sameday urgent care visits, gynecological services including breast and pelvic examination, menopausal and obstetric care, contraceptive management,

HIV testing, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, immunisation, hormonal therapy consultancy, post-surgical care for those who have undergone gender affirming surgery and health insurance consultancy. About CWF Aims to facilitate the action of NGOs, societies and individuals standing up for related causes in the interest of India’s development.

Civilian Welfare Foundation Shuvojit Moulik M: +91-9830167177/ 9062264489 E:

Note On 11 December 2013, the Supreme Court set aside the decision of the Delhi High Court, which had in 2009 decriminalised sexual relations between persons belonging to same sex. A bench of justices upheld the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that makes anal sex a punishable offence. The Parliament is authorised to remove Section 377, but as long as this provision is there, the court cannot legalise this kind of sexual relationship, the SC bench observed. This article does not take a position on what is right or wrong. It only highlights the need for healthcare services for the LGBT community.


“That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” - Simone de Beauvoir

Making your contribution count

NGO needs

The right amount contributed at the right time can transform the destinies of thousands. What is required is information of who needs what. This column guides potential donors on the urgent requirements of some of the most credible NGOs in Kolkata

“What seems to be generosity is often no more than disguised ambition, which overlooks a small interest in order to secure a great one.” - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Paras Padma Cost of making 100 calipers for the physically challenged

Samaritan Help Mission T3,50,000

Tomorrow’s Foundation Cost of educating a child/ youth through open school for a year (70 children enrolled)


Cost of educating one child through Mother Project for a year (290 children enrolled)


Rural Health Care Foundation Cost of providing spectacles for 100 poor patients


Cost of providing medicines to 4,000 patients


Cost of opening a rural centre to benefit 500,000 patients across nine years


Calcutta Rescue

Cost to build a classroom (to benefit 100 children; total funds raised `60,000 and `90,000 needed)




Cost to sponsor six underprivileged children for one year


Cost to install five computers

` 1,00,000

Run a computer training centre for a year


Cost of supporting one HIV/AIDS child for one month


Cost of supporting eight HIV/AIDS children for one year




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

Cost of supporting 16 HIV/AIDS children for one year

Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp Cost of providing 20 dialysis sessions for one month


Contribution towards the purchase of a UPS


Cost of purchasing a new dialysis machine


Cost of a new RO plant (major requirement)


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


Total expenditure towards restoration and re-uniting at least 16 homeless women


Purchase of a new fully-equipped Force traveller ambulance



Cost to feed and lodge 100 children for a month


Need funding for the Mother and Child Care Programme for three years.

Vivekananda Vikas Kendra Cost to create a kitchen garden for winter vegetables and flowers


Cost to purchase four computers and one printer


Cost to construct a girls hostel in the school premises (badly needed)




Cost of providing two calipers for two handicapped children


Installation of CCTV at our centre

Total in-house treatment (one month) for one homeless woman with psychosocial disabilities

Howrah South Point

Cost of adding classrooms to Class X


Cost to fund the monthly expense of `300,000 (to address the full-time needs of 75 mentally ill residents and about 1,000 outreach patients)

Funding needed to grow our rural women empowerment programme (self-help group)



Iswar Sankalpa

Funding needed to grow our outdoor clinic programme

Cost of supporting one child for 10 months

Cost of lunch for 20 needy children for a month


Funding needed to expand our existing home to accommodate more destitutes

Jyoti Development Trust


New Light

Cost to repair the infrastructure of the Talapark school


Cost to buy five new sewing machines


Cost to run montessori/non-formal classes for 25 underprivileged children


Cost of a computer laboratory for 50 children


Indian Society for Rehabilitation of Children Cost of part-sponsorship of one disabled child for one month


Cost of 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)


Humanity Hospital Cost to conduct 10 free cataract operations


Cost to purchase medical equipment to complete the Sunderbans hospital



“He who wishes to secure the good of others, has already secured his own.” - Confucius

Hall of fame

Ashoka Fellows in Bengal


s a philanthropist, Mutty Lall Seal established an alms house at Belgharia (Calcutta suburbs) in 1841 where over 500 people were fed daily and which is even open today to the poor. Seal is perhaps best remembered as the donor of an extensive tract of land, then valued at `12,000, to the then British Government on which the Calcutta Medical College was built. The then Government of Bengal recognised his liberality by naming a ward in his honour, The Mutty Lall Seal Ward, for native male patients. Seal subsequently supplemented this gift with the donation of a princely `1 lac for the establishment of a female hospital, which started functioning in 1838 under his benevolence. One afternoon, angered by missionary schools, Calcutta’s rich and influential baboos assembled in a meeting presided over by Raja Radha Kanta Deb at the premises of the Oriental Seminary to establish a predominantly Hindu school. Many speeches were made and resolutions adopted. But when it was time for making subscriptions, none of the baboos came forward. When the subscription book passed to the hand of Seal, he immediately put down his name for `1 lac. Astounded

by his munificence, all others who had estimated contributing a few hundred or a few thousand rupees panicked to close the proceedings and the meeting broke up in a fiasco! However pledged to his subscription, Seal carried out the promise of a national institution with his own independent efforts. On Wednesday, 1 March 1842, a gathering of respectable people took place at his house for the formal opening of the Mutty Lall Seal's Free College. The institution was opened free of cost and only Re 1 was charged per month to cover the expenses of books and stationery among others. The college initially started functioning at Mutty Lall Seal's house and was later shifted to the present building on Chittaranjan Avenue where it still exists. Mutty Lall Seal also extended financial support and cooperation for the establishment of a Hindu Charitable Institution and a Hindu Metropolitan College.

The NGO I admire the most “Easily Ashabari. It is one of the few NGOs to be engaged in providing a free home to the vagrant and mentally ill. This is a soft spot for me. It is almost a crime to discard our mentally ill because we don’t think they are of any use to us. This is why someone like Joseph Das is a godsend. If there were just ten more like him in Kolkata, we could eliminate this problem from the streets of the city.” - Avik Saha, lawyer

Sohini Chakraborty, Human Rights: Working through state ‘remand’ homes and citizen groups, Sohini Chakraborty introduces new and much needed techniques to rehabilitate girls and teenagers who have been forced into prostitution. Indrani Chakravarty, Human Rights: She is designing the first institute in India to combine research with practical work and care for the elderly which will not only provide necessary services to the elderly in Calcutta, but also could eventually draw necessary attention to the plight of the 80 million elderly in all of India. Mina Das, Human Rights: In rural India, Mina Das is enabling women and their daughters to be self-sufficient by giving them the skills, confidence, and knowledge to take control of their lives and emerge as leaders in their villages. Tulika Das, Human Rights: She has been working in rural India to improve the lives of people with disabilities, through a unique integrative approach. She works to include disabled people in mainstream Indian life and to integrate the needs and skills of the disabled into India’s development agenda. Amlan Ganguly, Health: Amlan Ganguly is helping children in the slum areas of West Bengal to lead their communities in improving health, sanitation and hygiene. Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, Economic Development: Chandra Shekhar Ghosh has created an innovative ‘trickle-up’ approach to poverty alleviation. His program aims to graduate participants first to regular micro-finance programmes and then to traditional financial services. Kallol Ghosh, Health: Kallol Ghosh has developed a complete network of services designed to integrate children living with HIV/AIDS into society.

Anuradha Kapoor, Human Rights: Anuradha Kapoor has developed a model volunteerbased program to combat violence against women with integrated support service and public education components. Raja Menon, Economic Development: Raja Menon is facilitating the creation of ‘grassroots companies’, a new organisational form for poor rural producer groups in India. Kapil Mondal, Economic Development: Kapil Mondol is moving beyond traditional approaches to micro-financing by introducing micro-banking to villagers. Cyril Mooney, Learning/Education: Sister Cyril is showing how middle-class schools can integrate the poor living around them into their educational mainstream, to their mutual benefit. Ratnaboli Ray, Health: A trained psychologist and mental health activist, Ratnaboli Ray is working to transform India’s state mental institutions into centres of modern, high-quality professional care. Krishna Roy, Civic Engagement: A leader in the women’s movement in eastern India, Krishna Roy is creating a broad network of citizen ‘watchdogs’ equipped to respond quickly to reports of violence against women and children. Sikha Roy, Civic Engagement: Sikha fights for the rights of women who are daily-wage earners to exercise a legal right over unused land and then to farm it appropriately. Soma Sengupta, Civic Engagement: Soma Sengupta is devising ways to meet the need for information-sharing among mass based organisations and activists in the women’s human rights movement in India. Ashoka Fellows are practical visionaries who fully commit themselves to a new idea or implement an existing idea in an innovative and impactful way. They bring in a fresh analysis and insight on how to fix a social problem. They challenge the system and open new opportunities for citizens to be change-makers. Ashoka Foundation was created by Bill Drayton in 1980.

“Charity is just writing checks and not being engaged. Philanthropy, to me, is being engaged, not only with your resources but getting people and yourself really involved and doing things that haven’t been done before.” - Eli Broad

Book extract

How two schoolgirls created a unique NGO to responsibly allocate excess food

Q: A philanthropic initiative related to food wastage appears immediately different. This is because people are spending more on food than ever before, they are eating more food and thereafter wasting more food than ever before. As a result my friend and I decided to create ‘Food Rescue’ in May 2013, which was an initiative to minimise the wastage of food in Kolkata. What we did was to connect the restaurants of the city with nearly 300 orphans so that the excess of one would help plug the deficit of the

other. We started this initiative with one restaurant; we now work with 15 eateries across the city. Every morning, our Omni van (branded ‘Food Rescue’) travels some 25 kms, collecting bread and cakes from Paris Café, Flury’s, Park Hotel, Gokul and Gupta Brothers. In the second shift starting 3.30 pm, our van travels to six eateries and the food is transported to a Topsia NGO called ‘Stars’ by 6 pm. Q: How do you control quality? The Flury’s chef told that us that breads

stay fresh for six days whereas cooked food should be consumed within four hours. That is when we resolved that we would send the driver in two shifts (morning and post-lunch). The Flury’s chef also told us that since most of their products could survive only 24 hours, offering the excess food everyday helped them reduce the waste stocked outside their factory outlets. Besides, we visit the NGO every fortnight for feedback. Every night we make a note of the delivered food. On reaching the NGO, the driver needs to get a receipt signed from the person receiving the food. Now that the system is in place, we are looking at scale. Q: What is your reaction to your project having been selected among the top-20 projects in the Design for Change School Challenge 2013? We are delighted. Our senior English teacher told us about this challenge and asked us if we wanted to opt for

it. We immediately agreed. We made a two-and-a-half-minute video and a month later, our teacher in-charge got a mail that we were in the top-20. It is a huge honour. Some 700-plus entries were screened by a 27-member jury. Shivantika Rungta and Sakhi Singhi are students of Modern High School and co-founders of Food Rescue. Source: Excerpted from the book ‘Heart of Giving’ by Shaurya Vardhan Sonthalia

Food Rescue Shivantika Rungta and Sakhi Singhi can be contacted at 1A, Gurusaday Road, Kolkata 700019 M: + 91 98303 69130 E:

“What we did was to connect the restaurants of the city with nearly 300 orphans so that the excess of one would help plug the deficit of the other. We started this initiative with one restaurant; we now work with 15 eateries across the city.”

“I would rather have it said, ‘He lived usefully,’ than, ‘He died rich.’” - Benjamin Franklin


Howrah South Point

The man known as ‘Mother-Teresa-and-more’! How Father Francis Laborde touches more than 100,000 lives in Bengal today privileged children and medical care for the really poor.”

“Who is Father Laborde?” Good question. Because such a question throws as much light on the shyness of the man who selected to let his work speak for himself as well as the general public disinterest in anything that does not benefit them directly. Blunt? Well, how else can one explain that a priest who has been working for migrant communities and underprivileged children for nearly 40 years in Howrah and most people in Kolkata have not heard of him? How else can one explain that a man touches more than 100,000 lives in Bengal and he is not on the first ten recalls of people wanting to fund a genuine cause? How can one explain that the man touches the lives of the poorest of the poor – migrant labourers and disabled poor children – and most of us who call ourselves ‘aware’ respond with a ‘Father Laborde who’?

coverage to include all really poor children. He recognised that Howrah was an advantage and a disadvantage, so he extended his presence to Asansol and Jalpaiguri.

Partly this is precisely how Father Laborde would have wanted it. Talk less. Work more. Consider his track record: in 1976, he started working from a corner of Howrah when setting-up a facility inside Kolkata would have been more visible (for funding agencies, of course). He was given the responsibility to look after eight disabled children, so he went one step ahead and set up a full-fledged home to look after them. He focused on the disabled only to find this limiting as it excluded the rest of the underprivileged, so he widened his

Focus Focus pays. Over the last 38 years, HSP has grown to 350-person organisation managing nine homes, eight schools, three creches, three specialised schools, vocational training centres and dispensaries touching the lives of more than 100,000 individuals. Not surprisingly, HSP won the President’s National Award 2013 for ‘outstanding work in creating a barrier-free environment’ for the disabled. “It would be limiting to refer to Howrah South Point as just another NGO,” says a long

time associate. “For its care and character, it is an institution in itself.’ Institution Institution? Would this be an exaggeration? “Not at all,” defends Swati Gautam, Member, HSP. “Consider the vision of the man who started out with a focus on disabled children but course-corrected to include every poor child he came across in the areas of his presence. Consider the vision of the man who started out with a focus on education but extended to comprehensive care including medical health and nutrition for all the under-privileged. As a result, Howrah South Point is probably three NGOs in one – addressing the support needs of disabled children, providing a home for all under-

There is another irony about an institution like Howrah South Point that touches more than 100,000 really needy Indians. It is largely funded by foreigners. Nearly 80 percent of the 2012-13 budget of HSP came in as international inflows from organisations like German Doctors Committee, Terre Des Hommes, Leger Foundation Canada, Pro Interplast, Hungry Foundation and other individuals. “The time has come to alter the funding profile, given the global slowdown,” explains Leopold Jalais, Secretary. “Which is why events like Kolkata Gives, which enhanced our visibility and helped us connect across a larger sweep of well-to-do Kolkata individuals, really helped and we expect this to translate into higher local funding over the foreseeable future.” How Kolkatans can help So the next question is: how can Kolkatans help? “In a variety of ways,” explains Terence John, GB member “The general assumption is that we need only money, which is not entirely accurate. We need volunteering, we need pre-used clothes (particularly warm clothes in winter), we need contributions of foodgrain and cooking media and I would go to the extent of saying that if anyone has anything expendable at home – even used soap suds – we would be happy to accept.”

The spirited Father Laborde is now into his eighties – with the heart of a lion. The man suffered a mild stroke a month ago, but there is no question of slowing down. “We need to keep growing in response to the external inequity,” he says. “There is so much still to be done – because disabilities have not reduced in the world over the last few decades. So we will need to work with the government wherever we can, work with the corporate sector, attract volunteers, sweat our resources better and provide quality care. If we can strengthen this virtuous cycle, then we will extend our coverage to a wider audience in a more effective way in a shorter time. The best then is yet to happen!” Father Laborde was the inspiration for Father Steven Kovalski, the priest who worked among the slum dwellers in Dominique Lapierre’s acclaimed novel on Kolkata, the City of Joy.

Howrah South Point 15 PM Bustee, 3rd Bye Lane, Howrah 711 102, West Bengal, India O: +91-33-26384481/8608 E:

Interview with Father Laborde

“We need to work more with the government, enter into more corporate partnerships, generate enhanced revenues and protect service ‘quality’.” Q: Why did you select to work in Howrah? A: Simply because that is where the scope of improvement is the largest! Howrah had – and has – the densest slums with the highest proportion of the marginalised. Besides, an estimated 40% of 18-20 million people across Greater Kolkata can be classified as underprivileged. Howrah represents the bulk of this inequity. When we started working there in the Seventies, we discovered the disabled child at the bottom of the pyramid. It was one thing to be poor, it was completely another thing to be poor and disabled. It was a virtually hopeless segment when we began working there. So there was an immediate connect with this segment, which later widened and led us to work with other needy segments. That is how Howrah South Point grew.

was trained in making orthopaedic devices so that he could help his handicapped brothers and sisters. He is now married and has two beautiful daughters. Grace of God!

Q: What have been some really gratifying moments? A: A polio-affected three-year-old came paralysed to us. With will power and confidence in the Maker, he was rehabilitated and schooled in a wheelchair. That is now where the story would have normally ended. The boy

Q: The one observation is that HSP is really low profile. A: A number of people have told me this. I have a simple answer: the poor and the neglected also have a ‘low profile’. As an NGO that works with them, it would be important for us to grow our profile in a direct proportion to

Q: What is your biggest challenge? A: It would be easy to say ‘funds.’ I will say ‘values’ instead. In a competitive society which celebrates efficiency and power over everything else measured by the ability to make money, we need to defend other precious values: values of the heart, accepting other people (disabled in this case) as they are, their right to be recognised not on the basis of their ability ‘to have’ but ‘to be’ and be recognised as beautiful human beings. It is only when we all have this will we be a truly inclusive society, which is the bedrock of any mature society.

their profile or we would be alienating ourselves from them. Besides, I have always believed that maximum effectiveness is derived from working in a simple way with simple means. There is no greater magic than this. Q: What is Howrah South Point’s growth agenda? A: Even though a sea change has transpired over the last 38 years of our existence, the rationale for our presence continues to remain as relevant. This means that as a society, we have not been able to attend to the prevailing inequity. Therefore, HSP intends to continue working towards economic inclusiveness. The first step towards this is by providing education to those who would have gone without elementary education. We also recognise that our organisational sustainability needs to be derived from consistent funding for which we need to work with the government, enter into more corporate partnerships, generate enhanced revenues (through workshops or superior property management) and protect service ‘quality’.

n Pushpa Children’s Home, Howrah: In the same compound as Asha Neer. Dedicated to children suffering from tuberculosis. Run by Howrah South Point and German doctors (serve on six-month rotations). n Creche at BISCO brickfield, Howrah: Tin-covered location divided into three classrooms. One of three crèches run by HSP, catering to field labourers. Doubles as a non-formal school. n AIS Training Centre, Howrah: Nonformal school for drop-outs. n Mariabasti, Jordighi, Mogradangi and Bakuabari: Four homes in Jalpaiguri where our specialised staff of educators, physiotherapists and nurses cater for the all-round integrated development of children (physically handicapped, cere-

bral palsied, mentally challenged, hearing impaired or socially challenged). n Asha Neer St. Mary’s Home, Howrah: Set up in 2004, this is one of the three homes for children living with disabilities as well as some socially and economically disadvantaged children. Comprises garden, play area, messes, dorms and therapy rooms; also specialised school for children with disabilities. 120 students (86 disabled). n Lalkuthi home, Howrah: First home of HSP. Has a vocational training centre. 52 children. All boarders study in mainstream government or private schools. n Ekprantanagar (EPN) School, Howrah: Close to EPN brickfields. Free school catering mainly to a large migrant community. 706 students.


“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” - Mother Teresa


Changing OUR Rotary Club of Metropolitan donated a lift and a hydraulically-elevated footboard bus to Akshar School. “The school desperately needed a lift for its specially-abled children to be taken to different floors,” explains Jayanta Chatterjee of RCM. “Besides, the bus – possibly the first of its type in Kolkata – will make it possible for wheelchairs to be rolled into the bus as opposed to being lifted into the vehicle.” For details, contact

Emami Chisel & Art hosted a differed audience in November of 2013 when it invited children of the red light area of Central Kolkata to train in art at its gallery. “The dozenodd children were provided with training and exposure,” says a spokesperson of the gallery. “Such engagements are excellent for the children who would have otherwise never been exposed to a professional art environment. This will take their skills and confidence ahead.” For details, contact

“To give away money is an easy matter, and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it, and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man’s power-nor an easy matter. Hence it is that such excellence is rare, praiseworthy and noble.” – Aristotle

The Telegraph Education Foundation Kolkata provided scholarships to 125 students during its annual Telegraph School Awards event in August 2013. “Nearly 80 per cent of the scholarships were given to rural students because that is where educational support is most needed,” says Barry O’Brien, one of the trustees. For details, contact hrpl@

Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp is 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. Thereafter, we expect to go rural in a big manner where dialysis services are desperately needed,” explains Dr. Fuad Halim. For details, contact

Inspired by El Sistema, Pied Pipers commissioned a Hindustani classical music class in Loreto Sealdah from July 2013. This class trained students who stay and study free in Loreto Sealdah as part of its Project Rainbow. The programme entails two classes of two hours each per weekend for 30 students. “The project is one of the first of its kind in the city especially for an audience that had never been introduced to classical music,” says Vivek Bharadwaj, member. For details, contact

Help Us Help Them, the NGO that provides education to street children in mobile school bus, has extended its services to Kalighat, its third location (after Southern Avenue and Park Circus Maidan). “We stripped off the seats to create a clean 175 sq ft sitting facility (on the floor) with customised desks and a ‘wall’ plasma TV for audio-visual learning,” says Mukti Gupta, who manages the initiative. “Besides, recently, we started showing English children’s films inside the bus as a art of our initiative to get the children to pick up the English language.” For details, contact helpushelpthem05@

Make a Wish Foundation Kolkata addresses more than 80 wishes of children with terminal illnesses a month. These have comprised children’s wishes for a table fan, a child wanting to meet actor Jeet, another wanting to meet Salman Khan, a child wanting to travel to Puri, a child wanting to become engineer for a day and another wanting to become fashion designer for a day. “Once we start working in three more hospitals, we expect to fulfil 150180 wishes every month,” says Shakuntala Chanda who heads the NGO in Kolkata chapter. For details, contact info@

Anant Foundation Initiative (headed by Ravindra Chamaria) intends to resume its scholarships to deserving students across Bengal in 2014. The foundation provided 252 scholarships of `6,000 each per year in 2011-12 and extended to 5,275 in 2012-13. Going ahead, the NGO intends to work with Reliance Jio to provide rural schools with free optical fibre connectivity, arranging with people from Sri Sri Academy to train students and collaborating with an external agency for equipment maintenance, triggering an IT revolution in rural Bengal. The foundation’s objective is to give 100,000 scholarships in a few years. For details, contact

Shaurya Vardhan Sonthalia, student of La Martiniere for Boys, is working on a book of Kolkata philanthropists, covering the noble work being carried by more than 115 do-gooders of the city. The book is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2014. Shaurya is also a keen cricketer led his school to victory in the prestigious Dattu Phadkar Trophy, an inter-school competition across the state of West Bengal. For details, contact

Kolkata’s Sikha Patra was listed by Melinda Gates as ‘The Most Inspiring Women and Girls I Met This Year’ on her Facebook page. “Sikha Patra may only be a teenager, but she’s already changing the lives of so many people in her community in India as a peer leader and educator,” wrote Melinda. Sikha is also among the eight women the philanthropist wife of the world’s richest man has written about in her year-end blog titled ‘Impatient Optimists’. Melinda Gates met Sikha when she attended TedxChange in Seattle on April 3, 2013. Sikha studies commerce at Belgachhia Manohar Academy and wants to be a filmmaker. “At the dinner table, where I sat next to her, Melinda ma’am asked if I believed in fate and I told her ‘My fate is what I do,’” she recalled.

Joy of Giving Week (JGW), now in its fifth year, is a festival of giving which encourages people to make voluntary contributions to others, largely to those who are less privileged. What makes JGW different is that it is not an organisation; it is a ‘festival of giving’. It does not employ anyone and does not collect any funds; givers connect directly with the recipients. It has no office and the volunteers largely work from their homes or offices and stay connected with each other via the phone, in person or the virtual space. Joy of Giving Week’s October celebration in Kolkata saw about 50 nongovernmental organisations and as many institutions participating in the festival. From Howrah’s new Avani Mall hosting an NGO crafts mela and free dental camp to South Point junior school gifting new clothes for Puja to their less fortunate peers and the World Yoga Society giving free yoga sessions for teachers and students of NGO schools, Kolkatans were exposed to a new kind of philanthropy. For details, contact Sara Adhikari at Nishtha, an NGO based in Baruipur, promotes organic agriculture in the villages its serves. “When we started biofarming in 2010, we had about 40 farmers but now around 2,000 farmers use 50-70% organic fertilisers for their cultivation needs,” says Mina Das, Director. For details, contact

“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.” - Robert Louis Stevenson



R World NK Realtors, Eastern India’s largest real estate marketing company, selected to commission a medical dispensary at Jyotish Roy Road (off Tollygunge Circular Road). This 200 sq. ft centre on the edge of Gobarjhuri maath, one of the largest slums in Kolkata, provides primary healthcare (diagnosis and seven days of medicines) for only `10 per patient. “When we commissioned our two hours-a-day service In August 2013, we had anticipated an average daily footfall of 30 patients; by the close of 2013, we had crossed 50 per day! We are now encouraging our peers and partners to scale this medical network across Kolkata,” says Pawan Agarwal, MD of NK Realtors. For details, write to

Parivaar, the 25-acre residential boarding school on Bakrahat Road that provides a home to more than 800 students, is engaged in an aggressive scale-up programme. “We expect to create capacity for 1,200 students in 2014 and possibly room for 5000 by 2020,” says Vinayak Lohani, founder. This could make Parivaar the largest residential boarding school of the country. For details, contact info@

The Emami Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme encompasses a gamut of social issues like education, health service, women empowerment, community development, disaster response and poverty alleviation among others. The Group incurred a CSR expenditure of `624.52 lac in 2012-13 and going ahead, is creating a foundation with a corpus of `150 crore to sustain the activity. For details, write to

Robin Mondal, who was once a tea vendor in Buroshibtala, Behala, expects to commission a residential facility for underprivileged children in his neighbourhood – with a difference. “Normally, one would have wanted to build one strictly for the children of the neighbourhood, but here I differ,” he says. “I felt that I had a responsibility towards the children of my neighbourhood to ensure that they will never need to become a part of an underprivileged residential facility and we will be there to provide for their needs at their very own residences. It is the larger community of underprivileged children from across the city that we intend to address here.” For details, contact behalaburoshibtalajanakalyan@

Samaritan Help Mission, which largely works out of the slums of Howrah in the area of education and vocational training, commissioned a mobile healthcare van (funded by Cognizant) in February 2013 that services the healthcare needs of more than 300 patients a day across two Howrah locations. For details, contact

Sarah, Duchess of York, helped Women’s Interlink Foundation launch a range of silk scarves made by vulnerable women. The Duke of York and his office set about finding a UK retailer for the women’s woven and dyed fabrics and prints. Topshop is now willing to source these scarves and sell them in the UK. The NGO delivered its maiden order for 1,200 scarves in four styles in less than two months. Each scarf doubled as a sarong, its tag signed by the women who made them. “The enthusiasm to sign their names on the labels has had a snowballing effect!” says Aloka Mitra, founder member, WIF. For details, contact wif@vsnl. com/

New Light India, a Kalighatbased NGO engaged in working for the rights of sex workers, intends to start a one-of-itskind hospital for HIV patients in Amtala and is on the verge of commissioning a shelter for boys (Khela Ghor) in Tollygunge. The NGO also commissioned an office in Sonagachhi, the largest red light area in the city. “We are also scouting for land to start a world-class bakery near Kalighat that will provide employment to the children of sex workers,” says Urmi Basu, Founder. “We already have a commitment from some of the best chefs in Paris to train our team!” Also on the anvil is a hostel where international volunteers can come to Kolkata and stay for an affordable charge, bringing with them the necessary competencies and experiences that can make it possible for Kolkata NGOs to climb into the next league. For details, contact

Nature Mates, an NGO dedicated to the environment, intends to make Kolkata a City of Butterflies by 2015. “There are more than 600 parks in Kolkata; even if we created butterfly corners in just 60, it would make us the largest in the country, may be in the world, with such corners,” says Arjan Basu Roy, founder. For details, contact

Sajjan Bhajanka, Managing Director of Century Plyboards, spends 120 days a year for his philanthropic interests – a third of the year! He is associated with six NGOs and actively engaged with Marwari Relief Society (president for 14 years) and Friends of Tribal Society. His company invests `1.5 crore annually in FTS’ school expansion programme, funding nearly 1,000 schools a year.

How can a dance company engage in philanthropy? For the last four years, Sangvee (trained more than 25,000 students in 12 years across Kolkata and Jamshedpur) runs a Christmas Party with a difference. Sangvee performs free for underprivileged children at the All Bengal Women’s Union in Kolkata on burra din. Their objective: to get every single child to dance. Yes,dance. Besides, Sangvee helps coordinate the distribution of gifts and food. In 2013, the party grew bigger – Sangvee performed for 700 under-privileged children, possibly the largest Xmas party for kids in the city. Supported by contributions from Emami, Monginis, Greenply, Balrampur Chini Mills and Magma. For more details, contact sangveehelpdesk@gmail. com

The Philanthropic Society of the Orthodox Church (PSOC) provides schooling and holistic care to over 100 girls (0-12 years) up to Class V in suburban Kolkata. Raju Bharat, President, indicates that its six-acre campus is being supplemented by another five acres on which we intend to grow the number of classes and construct a boys’ residential school. Mr Bharat manages Hotel Kenilworth but dedicates four-five hours each morning (starting 6 am) to charity. “I look after the hotel because entrepreneurship can facilitate sustainable philanthropy!” he says. For details, contact

Rajib Haldar, Additional Director, CINI has this fascinating story on their process. “Kolkata is home to thousands of street children pushing drugs or pick-pocketing. These children (5 to 15) savour their freedom; to make ourselves heard, we needed to listen to their stories. So we requested the railways to provide us space at Sealdah Station where these children could sleep, eat and play. The result is a ‘walk-in walk-out’ facility where the children claim that ‘here we do what we want’. So the reality is that the children run the centre with one teacher and access to a 24-hour emergency phone outreach service”. For more details, contact Rajib Haldar at


“If we are going to be kind, let it be out of simple generosity, not because we fear guilt or retribution.” - J.M. Coetzee

Balrampur Institute of Vocational Aid (BIVA) provides vocational training to the unemployed, training more than 600 people a year through nine courses (three governmentaffiliated) at subsidised rates. “Going ahead, we will extend our outreach programmes to more Kolkata pockets,” says Sumedha Saraogi, director. “We intend to start more courses. We intend to work closer with downstream sectors needing specialised personnel and in doing all this, we intend to emerge as a model vocational training institute in India.” For details, contact biva_admin@

On 25 November 2013, Iswar Sankalpa organised a cultural evening (Ami tomari konna) sponsored by Koel Mullick. The programme’s audience: psycho-socially challenged people. The event’s actors: disabled women. The venue: ICCR Hall, The dance drama was an adaptation of Chandalika. All 23 women who performed were once homeless women and now residents of Sankalpa with psycho-social disability. “The programme was aimed at creating awareness and provide these people with a mainstreaming platform,” says Sarbani Das Roy, founder. For details, contact

PACE Foundation commissioned its spanking new 2.65 acre educational facility in Piyali, 35 kms from Kolkata. Piyali Learning Centre provides extensively subsidised education to girl children of the village. Says Deepa Willingham, founder, “You can see this erroneously as a mere educational facility; this is probably the largest counter-trafficking initiative in rural Bengal. This facility can easily take the school to 600 students; it can accommodate the After School Enrichment (ASE) programme comprising education on life-skill topics (puberty, ‘puppy-love’, abuse, gender rights, among others) and the creation of SAFE (Sanctuary Abode for Education) homes to house high-risk girls and vocational training.” For details, contact contact@

Nalanda Vidyapeeth provides quality residential English-medium education to the children of sex workers. The one area in which the school is immediately comparable with others is in the medium of education – English. “The one weapon that can transform destinies is English; the standard that we achieve in class four is what most Bengalimedium schools of Kolkata do not achieve in class ten,” says Brother Xavier, founder. The school has 300 students and its vision is to accommodate each child from the red light areas of Kolkata so that they study here and move on to university studies. For details, contact

Dhanish Sheth leads an initiative to collect blood to treat patients. “How many people know that in West Bengal, 100,000 people died last year because of a delay in getting the right quantity of blood? How many know that every five minutes a person dies for a want of blood?” he says. The result: his friends and he have embarked on an initiative (‘Project Life Force’) to mobilise more than 100,000 units of blood in a year. “This is the only way we can save lives,” he says. For details, contact dhanish.

Bipin Ganatra has largely one interest in life. Fires. Over the last three decades, he has been a first-hand witness-cumparticipant in more than 100 Kolkata fires. Helping the police, victims, fire brigade and other care providers. In short, a one-man army. Contact him at +91-9748396337

POT-POURRI Straight from the art


ishabh Badoni of Class XII (La Martiniere for Boys) collected photographs, paintings and artifacts, which were sold at a residential exhibition to raise money for Rammohan Roy Seva Pratisthan, a 40-year-

old Chandernagore-based NGO that provides free healthcare to the needy. The exhibition-cumsale fetched `56,000. Source: The Telegraph, Monday, July 8, 2013

Boys raise home for hospice


a Martiniere for Boys students engaged in physical labour (600 person hours) to build two rooms for Arunima Hospice. Before working on the Arunima Hospice project,

a team of 15 from the Habitat Club of the same school had helped build seven houses in Konark. Source: The Telegraph, November 1, 2013


trafficked more than 24 girls from the Darjeeling Hills and adjacent areas, luring them with assurances of marriage. His associates (Sangita Chettri and Jamuna Thapa, a brothel keeper in Pune) were sentenced to seven years and five years of rigorous imprisonment respectively.

This Kolkata! n Kolkata had a suicide rate of 2.6 per one lakh. But the alarming piece is that the city’s rate has doubled since 2000. Source: Times of India n Kolkata emerged as the ‘smoking capital’ of the country with 19% of the respondents being smokers, the all-India figure being about 16%. Source: Times of India n The largest red light area of Asia is Sonagachi, providing shelter to 11,000 sex workers


ohn D. Rockefeller made his only son wear his big sister’s hand-me-downs. Warren Buffett still lives in the Omaha, Nebraska home he purchased for $31,000 in 1955. Azim Premji reportedly monitors the number of toilet paper rolls used in Wipro facilities. And according to India Today, he used paper plates at his son’s wedding to save money. He has already signed The Giving Pledge to donate 50% of his wealth to charitable uses. Michael Bloomberg (New York City mayor) is worth more than

landmark judgment n a landmark judgment, the additional district and sessions judge, Kurseong, sentenced a human trafficker to life imprisonment. The judgment assumes significance as this is the first time in the Darjeeling Hills that a life sentence has been pronounced for this crime. The accused Bicky Biswakarma

Thrift and philanthropists

n The provisional estimates of below poverty line (BPL) surveys in Kolkata pegs the per capita income of poor in Kolkata at `27 a day. The poor residing in Bengal’s villages are still worse off, earning `21 a day. The national urban per capita income is `32, while it is `26 in villages. n According to the 2011 Census, there are 70,000 homeless living in Kolkata, up from 55,000 in 2001.

$30 billion. Yet it’s widely reported that he has been wearing the same black loafers for a decade. Bloomberg told the New York Post, “You don’t have to throw them away and get new ones, you can use the old ones.” Chuck Feeney founded “Duty Free Shops” and is worth $1.3 billion, after giving away more than $6 billion to charity. Feeney takes the subway, flies coach and buys clothing off the rack. He also made sure his five kids worked their way through college – as maids, waiters and cashiers. He plans on giving all of his money away by 2016: “I want the last check to bounce!”

Act of kindness


woman delivered a baby at Girish Park Metro station on Friday afternoon, helped by a railway employee who was being guided by a doctor over the phone. Mumtaz Begum, 32, a resident of Ashoknagar in North 24-Parganas, was on her way home when she went into labour. As she was expecting, Mumtaz’s husband Rafikul Islam, who earns a living by pulling vans, had asked cousin Kabir Dafadar and his wife Sonia to accompany her home. The trio had boarded a Metro train at Tollygunge to reach Dum Dum, from where they were to catch a suburban train to Ashoknagar. “We didn’t get seats. My sisterin-law started crying in pain after we had crossed three stations,” recounted Kabir.

but by then Mumtaz’s pain had become unbearable. Some fellow passengers who got off with them made her lie on the platform. The station superintendent called a doctor at the Metro hospital and was making an appeal over the public address system that if there was any doctor at the station, he/she should come forward and help the woman. “None of us knew how to tackle the situation. I have rudimentary knowledge of first aid and seen deliveries in movies. So I decided to help the woman,” said Ashok Dey, a Group D employee at the station. “The woman was unconscious and the baby’s head popped out. Following the doctor’s directions, I pulled out the baby by its head. It took us three minutes,” said Dey. Source: The Telegraph, 9.11. 13

The three got off at Girish Park

On philanthropy “Myth number one: People are naturally selfish. People are selfish, it’s true, but they’re not naturally selfish; people are unnaturally selfish. When we are our best selves, when we are in equilibrium, when we are where we’re supposed to be cognitively, neurochemically, and

spiritually, then we are giving people. Myth number two: Giving is a luxury. It’s not. It’s a necessity—the first 10 percent, not the last 10 percent. And the reason is that if we want to be better, we have to give.” - Arthur C. Brooks

Changing the world... one person at a time n A New York couple, in Africa for a wedding, visited several schools in Zimbabwe and were appalled by the absence of textbooks and 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. n 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. n Andre Agassi created a college preparatory academy in the Las Vegas neighbourhood with the city’s highest percentage of at-risk kids. n Heifer International gave 12 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. n As a mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg personally spent 556 grants in 61 countries worth $109,244,391 to counter smoking. And that doesn’t count the ban on smoking in public spaces that Bloomberg passed in New York city, a policy that took off around the world. Due to this across the US, life expectancy has climbed three years in a decade. n Bill and Melinda Gates gave away $26 billion to their foundation from 1994-2006. n David Koch gave more than $300 million to medical research and $65 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. n The Waltons of Walmart have donated more than $608 million to school reform since 2009. In 2012, the family gave $92 million to freshwater and marine conservation. Jim Walton donated $34 billion from Walmart. n George Soros gave $100 million to Human Rights Watch.

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” - John F. Kennedy



Kachuri-wallah who runs a school! A s soon as the 6.14 Down Hasnabad local rolls into Kadambagachhi station, Kanailal hops aboard carrying a bucket in either hand. His kachuri-sabji is a hit with commuters on the Hasnabad and Basirhat locals, but that’s not the only reason people love him in these parts. He is also the principal of ‘Little Planet KG School’, which he built paisa by paisa, brick by brick.

Kanailal saved his hard-earned money for 13 years to buy a small piece of land in Kadambagachhi, about 50 km from Kolkata. When he started building a two-storey house, locals thought it would be his home until a signboard went up saying ‘Little Planet KG School’.

What started with 30 children now has 120 on its rolls, from nursery to Class IV. There are eight teachers and an attendant and the fee is just `100 a month. There is so much pressure from parents from nearby colonies that they have to go through a screening interview to get their kids admitted. From the kachuri-wallah, Kanailal is now called ‘Kanai Master’. “I have to sell kachuri and sabji worth at least `600 every day. Half of it I save for my son’s education and the other half goes to keep the school running,” says Kanailal. Source: The Times of India, 05.05.2013

Panos Karan (centre) and his team perform for vulnerable children at Premchand Boral Street in September 2013 as a part of their Keys for Change initiative, a global philanthropic programme for transforming the world through music.

NGO plants trees

Giving pictures away



ot more than two years old, the Kolkata-based Sustainable Green Initiative (SGI) is engaged in the exercise of planting trees. The initiative balances environment and commercial interests. Since September 2012, SGI has planted around 2,700 trees in Uttarakhand, Gurgaon, Delhi and Kolkata, with donors paying `500 for every sapling. The SGI enjoys a profit margin of 20% (including overheads) though director S.M. Devadason says

margins could be halved in places like Uttarakhand, given the logistics. Devadason, who spent over 30 years in the corporate world, says he joined the start-up after Raj Mohan chalked out plans ‘to give back to the world.’ Their vision: to plant a million trees in the next few years. Contact Raj Mohan at or 91 84200 84225

“This is our chance to give people a professionally clicked picture of their family, something they may have never had before,” says Sudhyasheel Sen, the

photographer who kickstarted the Kolkata initiative. “We partnered a dynamic NGO (Responsible Charity) in 2013, giving away about 50 portraits.” Till date, 2091 photographers have participated and gave away a collective 34,837 pictures (Source: Contact Sudhyasheeel Sen, +91 9831404255,

A thousand words

Teacher donates plot for playground etired schoolteacher Nirmal Kumar Jana, 71, donated three cottahs to a primary school in his West Midnapore village for students to play in as the 100-year-old Kharika Primary School in Sabang’s Kharika village did not have a playground. The school services


161 students and six teachers. Nearly 80 per cent of the children belong to poor families. “My shop is small. My younger brother Arup is a part-time teacher. We don’t earn much. Still our father gave away the land for children. We are proud of him,” Jana’s son Asit said.

Nilekanis gift `50 cr to NCAER

Langar runs for 42 years



andan and Rohini Nilekani Bangalore-based Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) gifted `50 cr to the National Council of Applied Economic Research. The funds will fund a new India Centre of the institution in New Delhi and further research. In 2011, the power couple had donated `50 crore to fund a School of Environment and Sustainability at the Bangalore-based Indian Institute for Human Settlements. Nilekani had also given $5 million each to IIT-Bombay in 2002 and Yale University in 2008.

elp-Portrait is a global community of photographers using their skills to enrich local communities. This is what they do in December: grab cameras, find people in need, take their picture and give it to them.

he langar run by members of Holy Mission of Guru Nanak Amrit Vela Mandir (on the pavement outside the Indian Museum on Sudder Street) entered its 42nd year. The langar feeds more than 400 every Sunday morning. “This is no longer a purely Sindhi operation; the donor profile has widened to Parsis, Muslims, Gujaratis, Marwaris and Bangladeshi tourists,” explains Nanik Samtani, Secretary of Holy Mission of Guru Nanak. For details, contact ssintl@

For all you people who will sleep comfortably in your bed tonight... This picture was shot by Mudar Patherya in the Sunderbans a few years ago. A telling insight into the then healthcare reality in rural Bengal. You can either flip this page, or ...


“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.” - Horace Mann

Last word By Mudar Patherya


ne of the best instances about passionate giving revolves around someone I have known for nearly three decades. Former Test cricketer Arun Lal. Arun had a presswalla, someone who would iron clothes for him. One day, the presswalla came to Arun and his wife Reena with an unusual request: his son had been admitted to an English medium school (Julien Day School) in Kolkata – by itself unusual for someone from an under-privileged background – and needed help with conversational English. Following initial hesitation (“We thought he would be here today and gone tomorrow”) Arun and Reena took the boy in; he would, as per the arrangement, come to the couple for an hour a day of language familiarisation. Gradually, the brief extended; Reena started covering more subjects. Not merely as in ‘covering’ them. “It got to a point when, if we wanted to

go on a holiday,” says Arun, “Reena would decline saying ‘Oh, but Bikash has his exams coming up.” Two things began to unfold gradually: Bikash started spending more time with the couple, including having a meal before getting home to spend each night on the pavement off Northern park (Bhowanipore); a few years later, the couple started liking the boy enough to formally propose an active support arrangement with his parents’ consent and get him to move in with them. And that is what happened: Bikash would spend the day either in school or at the Lals’ residence off upmarket Ballygunge Circular Road in Kolkata just like a family member, but each night he would zip down for dinner with his family of origin, remaining connected with where he came from. From school, Bikash moved to Assembly of God Church for his plus-two and thereafter was good enough to be admitted to St Xavier’s College for his B.Com. “We did something interesting for him at that point,” says Arun. “We got him to sit for CAT tutorials, so that he would get into the groove of competitive examinations. We said don’t worry if you fail, just get the experience.” Bikash failed the first time. Tried again. Cleared the examination this time. Got a call from IIM Bangalore and IIM Kolkata. Went for the latter.

The general Lal family apprehension: in a mathematically-oriented institution, Bikash might not be able to take the heat.

two-year course, Deutsche Bank took him in. Bikash now works for a large French investment banking company in Mumbai.

Bikash surprised. In his first year at what is rated as the second best IIM in the country, Bikash was elected Lord by his seniors; the following year he was elected President, an unlikely combination for most IIM-ers and an unusual combination for someone just middling academically.

“One of the most moving moments in our relationship,” explains Arun, “came when we wanted to move from an apartment into a bungalow and did not have enough money to make it happen. One day we received an envelope by courier from Mumbai, opened it to find a demand draft from Bikash for the remaining – significant – amount. On another occasion, I returned from some place to find two young ladies outside my residence. They motioned me to my garage and there was standing a silver grey Mercedes presented to us by Bikash for getting him where he is today.”

Bikash’s next big break was when Deutsche Bank visited the campus to select recruits for summer training in London. Bikash sent in his application for a lark; from among dozens who had sent in their paper, Bikash was selected. When he finished his

A few years later, the couple started liking the boy enough to formally propose an active support arrangement with his parents’ consent and get him to move in with them.

So what’s the take big message? Reena encapsulates: “Most will see Bikash as the beneficiary. The reverse is true; we gained more than him and in a nonmaterial way. We became more aware of the inequality around us; it gave us the confidence to financially support four more deserving youngsters through college and the result is that they are on their way to becoming doctors.” Arun concludes: “A number of my friends are willing to fund me create an NGO that does only this – support deserving underprivileged children – as they feel that by now I have acquired some core competence in this subject. The reality is that this model does not

respond to scale or mere financial infusion; one must feel strongly about to give a part of one’s life, time, emotion and money to provide an opportunity to someone who can probably do more with life’s chances than I can. But despite most of us having more than enough for this existence, we pay lip service and do hardly little to help someone transform his destiny and those of his succeeding generations. And that is where the real tragedy lies.” Tailpiece Pramod Mittal (brother of steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal) is reported to have recently spent `500 crore on his daughter’s wedding in Barcelona. In another event, VS Gaitonde’s untitled minimalist landscape in gorgeous yellow was bought for `23.7 crore at Christie’s debut auction in India at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel. The Saifai event in Uttar Pradesh involving film stars reportedly guzzled `30 cr even as people in Muzaffarnagar died in the cold. I am not going to be killjoy but I will say is that a year’s deferred spending could have, through interest earnings alone, generated enough resources to feed mid-day meal a million children for a year or restore eyes (through cataract surgery) for 250,000 people or provide two million smokeless chulhas to poor rural women,saving them three years of inhaling smoke.

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NK Realtors Kolkata Gives Tabloid  
NK Realtors Kolkata Gives Tabloid  

03rd February 2014