By Prakash Waghmare
As India is emerging as an economic power on the world stage, there is another contrarian reality by its side which is quite unsettling. Even in this technologically advance new millennium, there are tens of thousands rural-tribal areas in India, which are yet to be touched by the existential necessities and amenities, that we all routinely take for granted. Many of these areas seem frozen in time. There are no approachable roads nor basic educational or healthcare facilities within their reach. “Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation”, has been supporting functional-literacy, healthcare, and integral development in such places, for past 27 years. As of now, there are 53,000 Ekal-schools (and counting), in almost 30 states throughout India, including in Nepal & Jammu-Kashmir. For just $365, Ekal is able to provide education and healthcare training to a group of 30-40 children (termed as one Ekal school) for the entire year. The main objective of this social-venture is not only to eradicate illiteracy, but also, to empower these rural lives by providing sustainable village-based skills. ‘Ekal’ achieves this objective by raising funds, primarily in India and USA.
Every year Ekal-USA, hosts a series of fund-raising concerts, between February and June, in all major U.S. metropolises by bringing well-known Artistes from India. In addition, the funds are also raised by direct appeals to consistent, major donors. In recently concluded fund-raising efforts, ‘Ekal’ hosted 62 concerts, all across U.S. through its satellite ‘Chapters’. According to Dr. Jawahar Taunk, Regional President of Florida, $400,000 was raised in his region alone. Through concerts only, Ekal has raised more than $4 Million so far this year. In addition, for newly initiated ‘Endowment Fund’, $1 Million has been pledged by couple of generous donors in U.S. and Canada. A handful of entrepreneurs have also picked up their own specific projects based on necessities in certain areas. Inspired by Hon. PM Modi’s clarion call for ‘Clean-India’ campaign, Himanshu Shah of ‘Shah Capital’, has taken responsibility to make a cluster of villages ‘environmentally clean’ by devoting his personal resources. Moreover, considering 30% of total funds come into Ekal-coffer, each year, during November-December, Ekal is pretty confident to cross $7.5 Million mark, this year, just for USA alone. This is also a great tribute its 1,000 strong selfless dedicated volunteers in USA.
This year ‘Ekal’ had invited two groups of artistes to headline its various events. One group was headed by ‘Rajdeep Chatterjee & Pallabi Roy Chowdhuri’ and another was headed by ‘Anand Vinod & Vibhavari Yadav’. All the concerts pulled record crowds everywhere confirming, once again, not only the popularity of the quality programming by Ekal, but also, people’s overwhelming support to this divine cause. All concerts were preceded by DVD-briefing on Ekal’s major activities and futuristic plans. During the concerts, the people were also treated to highly focus ‘Power-Point’ presentation that depicted Ekal’s historic progress from its inception, allocation of funds and the model for accountability, at every level. It is worth noting that Ekal renders its services without any credence to caste, creed, religion and region and its overhead is in single digit.
Iconic CEO of ‘ZEETV’, Dr. Subhash Chandra’s induction as the Chairman of ‘Ekal Global’ has been a boon to “Ekal Abhiyan” in attracting major industrial houses and entrepreneurs. Earlier this year, while releasing Subhash Chandra’s autobiographical book, ‘ZEE Factor’, Hon.PM Modi also lauded Ekal’s awe-inspiring comprehensive rural work as a role model for other organizations to follow. Now, Students and young adults around the country are also gravitating to Ekal to play a key role in this ‘people’s movement’. Earlier this year, “Health Foundation for Rural India (‘HFRI’)”, a health wing of “Ekal Abhiyan” had taken a group of Medical student from USA to Indian villages under its ‘Internship Program’. The rationale behind it was, not only to acquaint them with unique healthcare problems in rural areas, but also, to groom them for selfless service for these neglected masses. Every month, new donors are coming on board to support Ekal as they realize that it is the largest grass-root NGO movement of its kind, globally undertaken by Indians and NRIs. Ekal is in dozen countries, including in some ‘Middle-East’ regions. For your support and participation in ‘Ekal Movement’, kindly visit its web www.ekal.org.