In An Important Social Cause
For Rationality, Science, Harmony..For Empowering the Unempowered.
Against Hate, Discord, Communalism, Superstition, Ignorance andImpoverishment
I am embarking upon a major social service initiative - at considerablepersonal risks – that can potentially make a useful contribution, in thisregion in the present times, when irrationality and communalism reign.
We have signed to purchase a 4-bigha plot of green land to build a FarmOffice, and a residential academy. While the Farm Office – SPRAT’s extendedback office – would undertake many diverse activities explained below, the CARAVANAcademy will mentor merit-selected deserving poor youth – 50 to 100 every year –in public administration and contemporary journalism. More importantly theywill be groomed into rational ways of thinking and doing, and a responsible andjust way of living. Along the way, they would have gathered good bit of Englishlanguage, computer power usage, quantitative techniques, general studies andcommunication skills, so that they may pursue any career thereafter.
The land is located half a kilometer from the Vatrakriver in quieterenvirons, some 40 KMs from Ahmedabad, in the district of Kheda.
To fund this purchase I am selling my house - located in an affluentMuslim area of Ahmedabad. I shall lease the land, free of cost, to SPRAT sothat it can construct the required facilities and use them for organizationalpurposes.
The Farm Office will launch and maintain:
- a full-fledged IT divisionfor digitally supported social services including web portals, digital hub forsmaller NGOs and for individual social activists.
- a dedicated wing topromote, support and sustain social networking platforms in a professionalmanner
- a graphic division toprepare posters and brochures in many languages to deliver pungent social andrational messages pictorially
- a films division to dub andsub-title global films on rationality, to make and edit short videos, includingbiopics of unsung heroes of the region
- a content division thatwould produce creative quality literature including e-Zines, pamphlets,researched reports, manifestos, memoranda etc on public policy and contemporarysocial issues, and translate great works on rationality in Hindi, Urdu,Gujarati..
- a unique science lab forthe curious students from neighbouring cities to come, experiment and learn howscience and life work, join science-and-nature appreciation camps, includingastronomy
We may also perhaps launch an outreach to provide literacy and supportfor hygiene and cooperative livelihood to neighbouring villages.
There would be a greenhouse with vegetables, floriculture, pisciculturein the portion legally earmarked for agricultural purposes. And plenty ofindoor and outdoor recreation.
So, a variety of talents will be required, including subject expertsin administration, journalism, English language, power use of PCs; mentors inpower learning; dedicated counseling, creative content generation, DotNetand PHP programming, IT hardware, systemadmin, graphics, popular science educators, filming, editing etc.
Also required will be those that may innovatively manage the digitallibrary, kitchen and canteen, hostel, gardening, sports and recreation. And,yes, those that can market this facility and help raise funding and otherresources! And some accounting, admin and secretarial staff. And quite a fewsupport people - from gardeners andcooks.. to wiremen and drivers.
It is my long cherished dream to groom the young – girls and boysfromdiverse faiths and backgrounds – to become responsible, fair-minded, staunchlycommitted rationalists, using personal examples, mentoring, greatfilms/videos/TV, books, talks and interactions.
We also hope to build a couple of guest cottages where thinkers,scientists, writers, active members ofor FB Groups, and other achievers would come to spend a short, serene vacation.We will then engage them in structured conversation and host these videos on ourYouTube channel under the Samvad series. They will also interact with Academystudents as distinguished guests.
All this can only happen if you support me. So, come, join me in love, ascomrades, colleagues or partners, as professionals or trainees, interns or asstudents. Or as supporters, funders, empathizers! Come, give me someyears or months of your time and talents. I need you and your solidarity. Ipromise to use them for the good of humanity as best I can, as professionallyas my training has equipped me.
Let us together build a beautiful, environmentally sustainable nook oflove and harmony, of reason and good sense, of service and empowerment - generatingand spreading sensible and enduring happiness.
For the records, I have been a smalltime bank CEO turned management andIT consultant who took full time plunge into social work in the wake of Gujarat2002, and launched SPRAT.
With the guidance of distinguished men like Dr I G Patel, Lord BhikhuParekh, Dr Y K Alagh, Dr Sebastian Morris, Sri ChunibhaiVaidya, DrRakeshBasant, Dr Dinesh Awasthi, DrAbusalehShareef, MaulanaWaheeduddin Khan, DrMallika Sarabhai etc at different times - and patronized by the likes of theFord Foundation, the US State Dept, the Gujarat Vidyapith, ONGC, BSNL, ShreeCement, Tata Chemicals, and many common folks - this NGO has:
- helped empower over 1.5lakh youth in remedial education and everyday business skills through itsCARAVANCentres
- educated over 13,000 unletteredwomen through its TALEEM basic literacy programme
- provided livelihood to afew hundred poor under its AZMAT campaign
- offered recreation to overa million poor Muslims and Hindus through its MUSKAAN Park located at acommunally sensitive ‘border’
- produced and distributed pamphletsin their lakhs, e-Zines, research reports, books and CDs, and a large number ofbanners and posters through its JAREEDA division
- hosted dozens of publicseminars, workshops and educational exhibitions under MAJLIS
- organized public ralliesand protests on critical public issues under the auspices of MAHAAZ
Along the way SPRAT was adjudged one of India’s 13 best NGOs. Early on,this registered public charitable Trust and Society was granted Sn 80G ITexemption, FCRA Registration, prestigious memberships and affiliations..