01 June, 2017


[As a Friend, a Fellow-Activist, a Co-Professional, a Companion and Partner, an adopted Daughter or Son, as a professional Assistant, as an Intern or Student to be mentored]
My story is not unlike yours: chequered, neither too painful, nor too exciting. But as Russel said for his, I can live it all over again.
Being the eldest of the siblings led me to play father rather early. Questions of theology and science bothered me always. Hypocrisy of our society and recurring communal and caste conflagration in cities I lived in then, compelled me to worry about religion some more - eventually turning me into an agnostic and a rationalist.
Money needs compelled a wannabe lawyer, teacher, travel journalist et al to a banker. Climbed up the steps rather fast – only to quit in my prime as a young CEO, to set up a management and IT outfit. Was doing pretty well until 2002 shook me completely. As many an idol fell by the way and the organized societal structure crumbled, an effective corporate consultant and a conference and party-buddy turned into an activist, in a very different format.
“Coerced” by some good Samaritans and Gandhians I occasionally worked with, I could no more ignore my social obligation. Since I had attained financial solvency finally, and learnt the value of Gandhian ‘voluntary poverty’ in parts, I wound up my material pursuits and took a plunge into social work whole time.
That ghastly incident cost me much; it brimmed the cup of social concerns that was filling, during my turbulent years of inquiry: I lost confidence in the state, redefined ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘friends’ and ‘foes’, revised my world-view, re-assessed our body politick, seriously questioned the role and efficacy of institutional religion, and deeply appreciated the role of reason and science in modern human life. We had been planning to relocate to a developed country but now I couldn’t. My family broke up and largely I chose to live singly since. Alas! my priorities had been completely upturned.
SPRAT [Society for Promoting Rationality, that patronizes these set of FB Groups] was formally registered in 2002 with some illustrious Indians on board. Through a few centres, divisions and projects, SPRAT helped empower nearly two lakh youth, women and children in areas of formal and non-formal education, science appreciation and livelihood. CARAVAN, TALEEM, MUSKAAN, JOYRIDE etc became familiar terms for trusted social service. Research and Publications, workshops and seminars, exhibitions and camps figured in as needs arose.
Although the state of Gujarat and its corporates shied away from us due to our vocal anti-communal political stance, the likes of US State Dept, the Ford Foundation, some central PSUs and several men of goodwill chipped in. This included two former PMs, eminent jurists, legislators, bureaucrats and noted writers and activists.
My social plunge, a serious but failed attempt at my life by the goons, and then my speeches, pamphlets and a book [KHITAB-E-NAU] in print and audio, established my personal commitment for a long haul.
As we had established the credibility that we needed in order to be counted, we returned to our prime focus: Rationality. Therefore, lately, we have been diverting from thinly spread out physical outreach to enhancing awareness and non-formal education, specially using digital media, from its revamped head office at Ahmedabad. This includes portals, social network platforms, videos, books and reports, posters and pamphlets, workshops and other intellectual engagements with youth etc.
Fulfilling its long cherished dream, SPRAT is now setting up a residential academy to train brilliant youth in public administration and advocacy. It has acquired a 10,000+ SqMt plot for the purpose. The designs for Academy, IT building, my house, Guest cottages, hostel, faculty and staff quarters, support and recreational facilities are approved. Construction is awaiting NA clearance. To fund the land, I have put my house at Paldi up for sale.
The multi-purpose Academy’s innovative pedagogy will place emphasis on knowledge, values, skills, commitment and ability to suffer for cherished causes, and encourage self-learning supervised by mentors and expert resource-persons and hands-on community service.
The cottage will host writers and thinkers for weekend retreats during which we will record their life’s message for our video channel. The content and graphic divisions will translate and prepare material on rationality in digital and print format. Research wing will also generate perceptive reports on contemporary social challenges. Students will prepare for public administration and other competitive positions, advocacy, NGO management and social entrepreneurship, even while understanding and practicing rationality.
Presently our flat, right below the head office at Ahmedabad, serves as a hostel for our interns from Indian and foreign universities. I operate from here for now.
As I plan to shift to the Academy site I feel the need for a dependable, long term company in my house, and for other human and material resources. I seek your indulgence in connecting me with a graceful, accomplished, sensitive lady – regardless of faith or nationality – who shares these interests enough to join me as a friend, companion or co-worker for life; and with one or two adolescent girls/boys – deprived of parental love – for adoption; and with fellow activists and institutions engaged in similar or allied pursuits, for collaboration. Please also recommend professionals as resource persons, and social investors who could take a stake in this project, and with interns and trainees in various disciplines.
More about this at http://bit.ly/1UShexB. Please message me on FB or write at mhjowher{at}yahoo{dot}com.

Thank you for sparing your time. But now take the next logical step and find the connections I seek. Remember, they also serve that empower those that do!

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