November 9, 2019 will remain as the historic day in the annals of “Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation (EVF)”. On this day, in star-studded, glamour filled “Future of India” Gala in New York City, Ekal reached 100,000 school milestones within minutes of its beginning. Going into the ‘Gala’, Ekal had 99,200 schools and so the evening was full of anticipated excitement to ring the bell for magical 100,000-school landmark.
As soon as ‘Mohan Wanchoo’, took the reins of the evening as the chairperson of the gala, he took everyone by surprise with his trailblazing announcement. He pledged $1 Million over the period of 5 years patching, with immediate effect, shortfall amount for 800-schools to reach the magical figure of 100,000-schools. These additional schools will be established shortly and will benefit 25,000 children bringing annual literacy total to 2.7 Million children.
Mohan Wanchoo’s pronouncement was not only celebrated with thunderous applause and sparkling ‘fireworks’, but it also set in motion exuberant outpour of generosity, for the rest of the evening. By the end of the evening $3.1Million were raised. This was in addition to Los Angeles Gala were $2 Million were raised.
This year, NYC magnificent Gala was hosted at lavishly decorated majestic ‘Gotham Hall’ and was attended by the elite of the society and Ekal’s dedicated supporters. Although rooted in literacy, Ekal has blossomed into empowerment of rural-tribal folks across India. The evening’s keynote speaker and star-attraction was Bollywood celebrity and philanthropist ‘Vivek Oberoi’.
In addition, distinguished speakers included ‘Raju Reddy’, a successful entrepreneur whose company was acquired by Hitachi, and ‘Ragy Thomas’, leading social-media management & marketing enterprise. ‘Ranjani Saigal’, the Executive Director of Ekal, traced 32-year history of the Ekal, including its transition into a nation building movement. Vivek Oberoi completely stole the show with his pledge to put all his entrepreneur might behind rural issues and spearhead small-scale solar power solutions for energy requirements of villages. He said,” I have already received a commitment of over half a million dollars for such initiative”.
At the conclusion of his captivating speech, he applauded Ekal getting Iconic “Gandhi Peace Prize” from the government of India for its social work in rural-tribal areas with gender equality. This award, which is given to only one organization each year was recently bestowed on ‘Ekal Abhiyan’ by Hon PM Modi and President Ram Kovind. For the benefit of people assembled, the ‘Peace Prize’ itself was ushered on the stage by a select group of people and presented to the gathering by Prakash Waghmare, a member of PR national committee and Suresh Iyer, President of Ekal-USA.
There was a brief panel discussion also moderated by ‘Amrita Saigal’, a young entrepreneur to highlight various aspects of Ekal that appeal to the Donors. Ragy Thomas pledged strong support to education and pledged $100,000 to accelerate its pace. Raju Reddy, partnering with Ekal expressed desire to bring transformation to rural Telangana. ‘Sarva Mangal Family Trust’ and ‘Keshap Group’ confirmed to match technological intervention in education in ‘digital-tablets’ format. A momentous turn occurred when 13-yr ‘Riya’ donated $1000 from a fund-raiser she had at her home.
Vivek Oberoi was so touched by this that he appealed to the gathering to match her cute gesture and the gathering responded by additional $30,000. Several dignitaries were honored, including India Consul General of New York, Sandeep Chakravorty and New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Ekal also recognized several supporters for their distinctive projects. Among them were Dr Kavita Navani of ‘Sankalp’ for aiding 625 Ekal schools; Himanshu Shah of ‘Shah Capital’ for supporting ‘Gramothan Resource Ctr’; Adish & Asha Jain and Vandana & Vivek Sharma for corroborating in integral village development; Subra & Anu Dravida for promoting digital literacy through ‘Ekal-on-Wheel’ project.
‘Perfection of Man Foundation’ made significant announcement at the end of the evening to support planting of 1 Million trees in Ekal villages. Pradeep Goyal, Chairman of ‘Ekal Abhiyan Trust’ and S.K. Jindal, a Trustee had specially had flown from India to grace this occasion and to boost the morale of everyone to make gala a grand success.
No gala is complete without the musical treat and this was no exception. To preserve the upbeat nature of the Gala’s success, Bollywood singer Shibani Kashyap kept the crowd sizzling with her singing and enticed them to dance to her tunes. Unlike most of such events, the remarkable thing about this event was the participation of young professional in large number. This is an indication that Ekal’s future is on rock-solid foundation.