Blueprint for a new face of Uttarakhand
We are a not for profit organization based in the geographically difficult, mountainous state of Uttarakhand, India. The state covers a total area of53,484 sq.kmand has a relatively small population of 1.11 crores. Located in the foothills of the Himalayan mountain ranges our land is rich in natural resources especially water and forests with many glaciers, rivers, dense forests and snow-clad mountain peaks. It is blessed with a rare bio-diversity; 175 rare species of aromatic & medicinal plants creating the potential for commercial opportunities in horticulture, floriculture and agriculture. Uttarakhand also has a vast tourism potential in adventure, leisure, and eco-tourism.
Hailed as ‘DevBhoomi’ which literally means God’s Land, the ‘Char dhams’ – four most sacred and revered Hindu temples of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are nestled in the mighty mountains. Every year, our state is a host to about 2 crore pilgrims who come to pay their respects in these holy shrines. The presence of this huge population annually puts a huge burden on the fragile ecosystem of this disaster-prone region. Over the years, commercialization due to the annual influx of tourists in these parts has resulted in encroachment of the embankments, rampant multi-storied construction in route to the shrines, strewing of garbage and wastes which clog the rivers proving to be disastrous for the environment. Such environmental apathy has made our region all the more vulnerable to nature’s wrath; in fact, the recent flash floods and landslides were akin to a Himalayan Tsunami resulting in the loss of lives, property and livelihoods of thousands.
In spite of our natural wealth, the region is backward and underdeveloped. The local population is extremely poor; access to proper education and nutrition is abysmal. Natives make a living through petty jobs as porters, drivers, construction workers etc; with winter months being ruthless in every way. Abject poverty has forced the youth to migrate in huge numbers to urban areas in search of employment.
Our people are hardworking and have a hunger to make their lives better. A great opportunity exists for us. Our region has a huge scope for development; our people have the will and the potential to take it to the summit and put Uttarakhand on the map of the world. The key to sustainable development lies in assisting the entire community to a higher level of occupation. The focus has to be on technologically superior means for wealth generation; the ability in the people of the state themselves, to engage in projects and companies dealing with cutting edge technology. The region has very limited land. A large part of it is under forest cover and we are the lungs of our nation.
To become a State to reckon with, we need to assess and realign our priority areas for growth. It would be a mistake to walk the ordinary line of setting up heavy/ medium scale industries, engaging in cash crop farming etc. High technology-driven industries such as that involving bio/nanotech industries need to be promoted which give manifold returns on the investment made. Furthermore, the state will grow rapidly only if the wealth stays within the State and is used to improve the standards of the local population. The State has a robust youth population of about 25 lacs. The vision envisaged can be realized only through these young, vibrant minds; this young brigade needs to be empowered with superior knowledge and skill sets for bringing about the transformation of our region. Comprehensive development through quality education, proper nutrition and healthcare is a sturdy road map for empowerment and creation of opportunities.
Purkal Youth Development Society
The focus of this Society has been to assist the poorest of the poor in the community; to nurture their creative energies in a positive environment; aiming at excellence in learning; providing contemporary educational tools and exposure for holistic growth. The effort is towards cultivating young minds who would undertake a change of a higher order; provide them singular support on the completion of their schooling to make a smooth transition into successful adulthood.
PYDS is dedicated to creating change agents through various innovative initiatives for enhancing the quality of lives of the underserved.
The Institution is creating not merely qualified students but change agents who will eventually transform the mindset of this region and take it forward into the future. The focus has been on individual young minds rather than undefined masses; this is necessary if the future of our state is to be ensured.
Till date, 76 students have passed out of our scheme and we have been able to help 22 students pursue professional programmes. Many of them are being provided support by the way of school fee and other needed finances to help them pursue their studies in their professional programmes. Three of our students have won an all expense paid scholarship of USD 12,000 per year for 4 years from the Asian University for Women, Chittagong. Four of our students have been awarded the prestigious Khemka scholarships through tGELF( The Global Education And Leadership Foundation) for pursuing higher studies. Even with limited means at our disposal, many of our children are pursuing courses in engineering, management, mass communication, paramedical studies, tourism etc. These were impossible dreams ten years ago; made possible by being true to our belief of sustained hands holding our disadvantaged. With the desired resources, ten years down the line, their achievements would be stellar. Our children have the potential to realize the rightful destiny of our State.
PYDS has relentlessly worked for women’s empowerment and the inclusion of the marginalized sections through various social enterprises. We envision PYDS as a future hub and a fountain for innovative interventions making its ripples felt far and wide across our region.
These are trying times. The country is going through a period of economic crunch; prices have soared, the growth has slowed, inflation has rocketed, the industrial sector is in a state of recession; the picture definitely seems dark and gloomy. Most would contend that it would be prudent not to get into new ventures and wait till the proverbial storm blows over. But when is a period optimal for starting an enterprise or to initiate change?
History records constant crisis either financial or any other such as in Food, energy, environment, health care of that which is Socio-economic. Massive Worldwide poverty is a crisis perpetually present. The All-mighty meant for his creation and life to have a range of colours. Life is preordained to be checkered; that’s what drives survival, character, innovation, invention and growth. There is never an ideal time for innovative action to help correct ills.
To think that the formula for success lies in one’s calibre and hard work is akin to wearing blinkers. Our destinies cannot be charted by the outcomes of our endeavours alone. Experiences through life and the wisdom to open ourselves to the eternal cosmic truth would bring the realization that it is the divine will that conquers. The divine element in our work is the game changer. Surrendering to ‘God’s Will’ spontaneously makes one a conduit to carry out the task at hand. Surrendering comes with a state of ‘zero egos’; it practices honesty, integrity, selflessness and transparency.
Each one of us has two sides to us – one which is virtuous and the other which is selfish. These states coexist and are a part of being an ‘imperfect’ human being. Some of us are blessed with an abundance of the former and a few others with a large element of the latter. There are a set of people who work more for personal gains and an equal number who walk the path of giving and get satisfaction by serving humanity. There is nothing that is ideal but the balance appears to lie in maximizing our virtues by practising a life that gives.
The objective cannot be ‘profit’ for all enterprises. For a social enterprise, the aim is to add value to the lives that we attempt to reach out to; the measure being the wellness that we are able to create. A strong philanthropic bent and an attitude for service are what is fostered and propagated. It is impossible for all social enterprises to generate their own profits to sustain their operations.
As a charitable venture, we are aiming to address the socio-economic disparity and the bridging of this divide. Doubtless, it needs to be funded and always this is not possible by the Charity discovering the funds through its own viable profit-generating activity. Not for profits of this nature who need sustenance, need to address the possibility of a regular income stream through a diversified donor base. If small sized donors are supporting along with larger donors from among Corporates or Foundations, that would make the charitable operation viable and strong. The aim is to persuade people of different sizes to contribute by giving them different options.
This strategy is akin to what happens in a commercial venture; Commercial enterprises practice diversification to expand their income streams – diverse product range, diverse focus groups and so on. Maximizing income streams is the paramount goal of commercial enterprises even as it is the primary objective of social ventures.
Our aim is to create leaders, technocrats and entrepreneurs in our state. This transformation requires nurturing from a very early age – a holistic programme with an equal thrust on the educational, nutritional, medical, emotional and psychological needs of the young. This needs resources; we are not oriented to creating an enterprise that can generate profits that could be applied to this task of building the young of his State. We need to do this by generating regular contributions from a stream of donors. The larger this numbers the better.
We have become a School only two years ago. Until then, we sponsored our children to another school and tried to supplement the effort of that school to help our children. There were multiple handicaps in this experiment. We are now able to keep our children for longer hours at the School and give them excellent attention and Learning. They are able to practice their interests in a range of activities from Chess to chemistry.
Our school has a multipronged approach towards achieving excellence. We have a comprehensive Teacher’s management programme aiming for high standards in imparting knowledge. This is a constant endeavour and teachers’ training effectiveness are monitored and gauged continually, corrective interventions undertaken for maximizing teaching competencies. An efficient school administration facilitates and ensures that excellence is maintained at all levels; it monitors the potential, performance and deliverance of objectives. An ideal class strength of 25 students ensures that each child is given due attention. A progressive learning programme gives exposure to our students on the latest theories and applications. In addition to this, participation in various competitions on a national and international scale bolsters confidence, broadens the horizons and reaffirms the resolve to scale heights.
Our strength lies in enabling disadvantaged children through comprehensive support, empowering them with quality education and launching them in a productive life. To this effect, we have been contemplating to maximize on to our competence which lies in the ability to run a good school and mentor children into adulthood. We wish to replicate our ‘Test Tube experiment at PYDS’ and build another model on these lines aiming at excellence and quality education. There is a pronounced need for quality education in our backward region and replication of our current set up aims to address this education deficit; education being a key to self-empowerment and progress.
Uttarakhand has recently been struck by a Himalayan Tsunami. The enormity of this tragedy has largely paralyzed life in the seriously affected districts of Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag and Pithoragarh. The official death toll has been over 5700, though the unofficial count is much more. Several thousand are still reported missing, without any clue to their whereabouts. The trauma induced by this disaster cannot be fathomed; our hearts go out to the devastated families.
Restoring normalcy and rehabilitation of the dispossessed victims is a long term commitment and requires a clearly charted path. PYDS disaster relief initiative aims to ‘adopt’ about 100 near orphans and 20 women who have been rendered homeless by the disaster.
The intention is to build a care centre for about a 100 girls in the age group of 6 – 7 years who have been left near orphans by this calamity. We shall also identify about 20 – 25 women who have been left helpless in this community to act as house mothers and helpers. The girls would be in our care for 12-13 years during which we will cater not only to their hygiene requirements of food and shelter but also their schooling, psychological healing and transition to normalized productive adulthood.
We shall undertake to care for these 100 children and provide them schooling support through the years so that they grow into young women capable of fending for themselves. We shall give all these children the type of quality education, health and nutrition support that we currently give our children at PYDS.
The house mothers would be trained by the SOS villages organisation (an independent non – governmental international development organization working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children) from Ghaziabad, to ensure that the women are equipped to handle and take care of these emotionally traumatized children. We also plan to engage psychologists’ volunteers to help erase the deep scars of losing loved ones mercilessly.
Apart from the care centre, we plan to build a school for these children in replicated in the model of our Day Boarding Program aiming at excellence and quality education.
All this is possible only if the Funds necessary for the purpose are assembled. Substantial funds would need to be raised for this vision to turn into a reality. Would reiterate that we need the support from large numbers, be it big or small. The project set up cost is estimated at Rs. 12crore (approx.).I would urge one and all, to write and indicate their wish to contribute and raise support for the realization of this dream. We on our part offer selfless service, transparency, integrity and honesty which are the only strengths that PYDS has as an organization.
Inspiring TRUE Story:
In 1987, a 74-year old rickshaw puller by the name of Bai Fangli came back to his hometown planning to retire from his backbreaking job. There, he saw children working in the fields because they were too poor to afford school fees.
Bai returned to Tianjin and went back to work as a rickshaw puller, taking a modest accommodation next to the railway station. He waited for clients 24 hours a day, ate simple food and wore discarded second-hand clothes he found. He gave all of his hard-earned earnings to support children who could not afford education.
In 2001, he drove his rickshaw to Tianjin YaoHua Middle School, to deliver his last instalment of money. Nearly 90 years old, he told the students that he couldn’t work any more. All of the students and teachers were moved to tears.
In total, Bai had donated a total of 350,000 yuan to help more than 300 poor students continue with their studies. In 2005, Bai passed away leaving behind an inspiring legacy.
If a rickshaw-puller who wore used clothes and had no education can support 300 children to go to school, imagine what you and I can do with the resources we have to bring about positive change in our world!