Currently, India is going through dual, parallel identities on global level. On one level, India is emerging as a super economic power with unprecedented development and progress, fueled by 7% GNP growth for several years. Its economy, according to prominent Economists, is immune to current global economic downturn. When the whole world is rapidly aging (few exceptions), huge majority of Indian population is below the age of 40 – a great asset for any country to treasure. It also has the largest pool of consumer middle-class and an exceptional talent-pool of technocrats, scientists & Doctors in the world. Against this impressive backdrop, there exists another India with thousands of smaller rural areas where basic amenities, that we all take for granted, have yet to enter into daily spheres of life. In those areas, illiteracy, poverty and diseases are still the facts of everyday life, in absence of adequate support system. In short, on one hand when India is being showered with all sorts of accolades for the progress, there is a big chunk of humanity which has yet to catch up with it. Mindful of this paradox, it is no wonder that our newly elected Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, has visited 26 countries in last one year alone, inviting global investors to ‘make (things) in India’, by spreading a red-carpet, especially in rural regions.
When he emphasized that, “if we want to develop India, we need to start with villages”, in his very first speech to the ‘Indian Parliament’, it was as if he was referring to Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation’s (‘EVF’) core mission. For past 27 years, ‘Ekal’, (as “EVF” is popularly known) has been supporting Literacy, Health care, and integral Development in rural & tribal areas throughout India, giving sustainability to its people through empowerment. Noting the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy in India, it was Swami Vivekananda who had emphasized that, “if the poor child cannot go to Education, then let the Education go to the poor child”. With this as the guiding light, ‘Ekal’ has been taking education to the door-steps of the remote villages from its inception. For just $365 (dollar-a-day), it provides basic literacy skills and health care training, to a group of 35-40 young children for the entire year (termed as ‘One Ekal School’) and one can sponsor as many ‘Ekal Schools’ as one desires. Donors are given detail information about the schools they have been assigned which they could track on-line. Ekal is extremely low-cost in its operation because of its dedicated thousands of volunteers and this has kept the overhead-cost of the organization in ‘single digit’. Ekal, not only encourages Donors to visit the schools they have sponsored, but can also facilitate the sponsorship of the whole village for its integral development. One-time generous donation of $5,000 can set one village for life. In USA, the funding for this divine cause is realized through a series of concerts, all over USA (from February to June) and by appealing directly to generous Donors like you. To make women-folks self-reliant in these places, multiple cottage-industry have also been introduced. Free Health-camps, by “Health Foundation (HFRI)” play a very important role in their lives. This holistic approach has curtailed social ills, conflicts, human exploitation, and migration to urban areas.
Besides USA and India, where “EVF” is a duly registered as tax-exempt, charitable organization, it also has chapters in several other countries, namely, Canada, South Africa, U.K., Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand with support groups in Muscat & Dubai. “EVF” is now the largest grassroots education-movement undertaken by Indians and NRIs. As of this moment, there are approx. 54,000 ‘Ekal Schools’ in operation all over India, including in Jammu-Kashmir that benefit over 1.50 million children (half of whom are girls). ‘Ekal’, not only, supports these rural masses irrespective of their caste, creed and religion, but also, been honored with several prestigious awards for its transparency of operation and impeccable administration.
As ‘Ekal’ rapidly expands, infusion of innovative ideas with a nod to adoptable modern technology and techniques is a necessity. “EVF’, therefore, has periodically convened interactive seminars on “Power of Education” at various metro-centers to exchange ideas from the bright and the brightest of the Academic fields (Harvard, MIT, Princeton … etc.) and resource-Industries. With their feedbacks, indigenous organic fertilizer, new water conservation techniques, use of solar-power for basic domestic necessities etc have now been adopted in several villages. Considering extensive grass-root network of Ekal, many humanitarian organizations working in backward areas of India have recently forged alliance with it. At ‘Karanjo’ in Jharkhand state, Ekal, with funding from ‘Tarsadia Foundation’ has established a ‘Village Development Center’, fully equipped with Wi-Fi and low-cost computers. According to Bajarang Bagraji, former M.D. of ‘National Aluminum Company’ and now CEO of Ekal –India movement, “we have 10 village Development Centers, each providing training and tools to 100 villages and thus directly impacting one Million people. If indirect impact is to be considered, then we have reached out to 10 Millions people”. As an innovative pilot-project, mobile WI-FI equipped computer-coaching vans have been introduced in some of the states. Ekal is very proud to announce that Dr. SubhashChandra, CEO of ZEE-TV Network, has agreed to be the Chairman of “Ekal-Global” and plans to take this movement to the zenith of global organizations. As long as there is heartfelt WILL to reach out to others, there are many ways an individual can get involved in this ‘humanitarian mission’ to accomplish so much with so little, as spelled out earlier. Please, kindly invest in India’s future, one village-at-a-time. For more information and helping out this cause, please visit www.ekalvidya.org