Support A Noble Cause
Sindhis, Poverty & Education
By Haresh Rupani
Year, 1947. We, Sindhi Hindus, left Sindh due to political compulsion and spread over all parts of India and surrounding countries.
Thus, We, Sindhis, have no state of our own. We have no political strength. No political party will work for our welfare, as we are not a vote bank.
Due to displacement, from the motherland, the “INDEPENDENCE” generation could not shine in the education field as in circumstances prevailing then; livelihood, housing and survival were the issues. Preservation of culture and Education were last on the priority list.
Next generation did go for education in big way, but only the few belonging to already educated families and comparatively economically well off, could and so. Those belonging to business class – small traders – preferred business to higher education.
Now, the current generation has realized the importance of Higher Education & its positive fall out. However, due to policies of government – privatization – and massive cost of Higher Education, many are not in a position to afford the cost of higher education. This has adversely affected many families, although there is awareness and ambition.
The awareness and ambition can be gauged from this true story. We were assisting a young widow, of 30-35 years of age, in getting her modest home repaired. She had a son aged around 10 years or so. I asked to her if he went to school and what we could do for his education. She replied, “Please help me on one count only. Please get him admitted in a Boarding School at Lonavala or Khandala!” I was astonished and asked her if she knew the cost! She replied, “whatever – I will do everything – even sell this house. But I have this dream to make him highly educated”!! She had awareness, she had will and desire. What she lacked was funds.
We, as responsible members of the community, need to address this issue and take stock of where we stand and what is that we can do. This is noteworthy to mention that there are articles circulating on internet that Sindhis contribute 24% towards Income tax, control 62% of charity funds, own 28% of Indian properties, and contribute 20% to the GDP of India, inspite is being less than 1% of the population! If that is so, then why, should there be poverty amongst 1% of population who belong to a group who contribute 20% to India’s GDP!!
We understand that poverty amongst Sindhis, in India, now, is more than it used to be in Sindh, prior to partition. There is visible growth in number of helpless windows, people staying in slums and also beggars. There used to be a saying that “you will not find a Sindhi beggar”. Alas, it is no more so.
So the question arises, what can we do to eliminate poverty amongst Sindhis to that families grow economically and come out of poverty – rapidly and quickly.
Generally ways of growth for the people of the community / Society are:
Business / Entrepreneurship
Intellectual / High Technical / Skilled jobs, mainly in the Private Sector.
Let us see, where we stand:
1. Due to growth of regionalism, minuscule minorities, like ours, remain severely affected on account of political indifference. There is, and will always be, preference for LOCALS in government and other jobs. So, definitely we are at a disadvantage here.
2. No many will start their own business for want of capital and lack of risk bearing capacity.
3. However, the positive is that jobs at the higher levels – top of the ladder – will always be open to scholarly, intelligent, educated and smart people. Our youth is exactly that. Due to “generic effect” we have intelligence and scholarly talent inbuilt amongst us.
We need to exploit this God given quality.
So, one of the important and quick methods, to remove poverty is HIGHER EDUCATION. Now, as stated earlier, this, higher education, has become exorbitant and prohibitive. This is because governments are withdrawing from this sector and leaving the field to private players and this is where Sindhi philanthropist can play a positive, proactive and effective role.
With this in view, we at Sunder Shewak Sabha – popularly known as Sarvanand Hospital – Ulhasnagar, have started Aid, Assistance, Loan and Guidance for Youth. Here we encourage & assist Students to opt for careers in Engineering, Medicine, Chartered Accountancy, Cost Accountancy, Company Secretary Etc.
The students who complete these courses will get jobs with good remuneration and come out of the clutches of poverty forever. Not only this, when they start earning they are expected to return the assistance given to them. This is the explicit understanding with students and parents. From these funds we help other students. Thus a chain starts that will go stronger with time.
We made an informal & modest beginning in the year 2008 with 15 students. They were sponsored by the philanthropist from Lagos and we have not looked back ever since.
A group of Sindhi businessman from Dubai have adopted ONE HUNDRED STUDENTS in SSC, who are brilliant and scholars. One Philanthropist from London has adopted another see of 100 Students, who will enter SSC this year.
These students will be assisted till they finish Higher Secondary education of their choice. Thereafter, we have lined up bank loans at very low interest rates for their further education. We ensure that they get loans and whatever needed we provide guaranty and co lateral security.
Thus, there is holistic plan to make a student successful from SSC onwards.
Once these 100 students finish their education – in about 6 years – these 100 families will be out of poverty forever!
Apart from this we assist 125 students, for various courses in Engineering, B.Ed., C.A., and C.S. etc. Besides, we assist students from middle class backgrounds to get Education loans from CO-operative banks at subsidized interest rates by providing co lateral security.
Our target is to promote 1000 Students in the next two years. Our current budget is about INR 3mn (55,000 USD) & our budget for the next two years is INR. 10 – 11mn or 200,000 USD.
We request Philanthropists, world over, to participate and contribute generously to educate Sindhi youth with the long term view of removing poverty forever. Our long term aim would be create a corpus of say INR 1000Mn (20Mn USD)
If we are able to do this then we can wipe out poverty from our community in 20-25 years.
For this a separate corporate entity under Registrar of Companies, under Indian Companies Act is being considered and we invite Philanthropists from all over the world to participate.
A letter of gratitude from one of many students who have received assistance
I, Dr. Soni Makhija dentist today, am practicing under senior dentist at Badlapur, near Ulhasnagar.
I passed my SSC with 84% in the year 2003. I wished to enroll for science as I was getting admission in CHM College, a prominent college, on merit. But my parents were employed as embroidery workers, and could not support my studies. However my mother always wanted to me to become a doctor, I opted for science stream. Our professor Mr. Naresh Bhatia helped me a lot with coaching and gave concession in fees.
When I was about to appear for HSC examination in Feb 2005, my mother passed away. I was totally lost, but finally I made up my mind to fulfill a wish of my departed mother. I cleared HSC and appeared for medical entrance exam in May 2005. I secured government seat on merit, in dental college in Dhule, in Maharashtra. I took education loan from a bank for fees of my college.
Things seemed to be just fine and manageable, but fate had something altogether different for me. My father passed away during my second year of BDS and I had no one to call my own. I was by myself. Then I faced problems in appearing for final year of BDS due to shortfall in payments of fee of third and fourth year. I was then I met Mr. Haresh Rupani, who helped me in solving my problems. He not only supported me financially but also gave me moral support. He helped me to gets funds for fees through Mr. Anita Nathani. They also supported for hostel fees.
Now, when I look back, I feel that while God put me through so many tests he had also sent me help through these people. I shall always be grateful to all those, who have been there for me, despite not knowing me!
I promise to myself and to all that, I shall return this help as soon as I start earning. I will also help those who need help. This way I can pay back to society who has been so helpful to me.
Dr. Soni Makhija.