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Live and Express

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#Gift an #Education, Make a #Life ! – #Isha Vidhya

5 months ago, #IshaVidhya applied for accreditation with #GlobalGiving, a respected online fundraising platform which partners with corporates, employees and individual donors around the world.

Isha Vidhya crossed the fundraising requirements of $5,000 from 40 donors in just 23 days to become a permanent online member partner of GlobalGiving, thanks to many general public, supporters & wellwishers worldwide. They recognize Isha Vidhya’s work in transforming the rural education landscape of #India, and especially in #Tamilnadu. With its high quality education through carefully crafted methodology to the most economically backward children, Isha Vidhya is making a signficant difference in the lives of many rural families – many of them are first generation school-goers.

The fundraising was started to fund the critical infrastructure needs of the rural school near #Dharmapuri in Tamilnadu, needs like academic material, furniture for classroom and staff, compound wall, water facilities, digital class room, etc.

IshaVidhya has obtained $10,175 in donations from 104 donors. It’s heartening to see that 13 of those donations are from #corporate employees through employee gift cards, whose companies are partners with GlobalGiving, and be able to donate to Isha Vidhya through the GlobalGiving portal.

There’s still a long way to go to reach the fundraising target of $97,750, so awareness about this good work need be made to spread the word far and wide so that many more can support this building of rural India through education.

And the good news for the existing donors is that your project Isha Vidhya is in a very good standing at GlobalGiving, in many categories including donations, no. of donors, number and quality of project reports, and frequency of donations. It is expected that IshaVidhya will soon be in the ‘Leader’ category at GlobalGiving, at which time it will be introduced to more corporates, employees, and offered more exposure opportunities.

On February 12th, 2014, between 9:00 AM USA Eastern Standard Time and 23:59 PM USA Eastern Standard Time (between Feb 12, 2014 19:30 PM Indian Standard Time and Feb 13 10:29 AM Indian Standard Time) (what would be the time at my place? :, donations made to Isha Vidhya at the Global Giving portal will be matched 30% by Global Giving, upto a maximum of $1000 per donor, till the Global Giving matching funds of $75,000 run out.  This is a great opportunity for everyone to donate and show their support for Isha Vidhya’s work. The link is:


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Muhammad Yunus – the inspirator!

My friend, who works for RangDe had invited me to watch a video that was to be screened on the event of RangDe’s 6th birthday, on January 26th.

I was a bit familiar with RangDe’s work, and I have had the opportunity to interact with their people a couple of times. I was thinking probably it’s about the work that RangDe is doing in the areas of microcredit to needy people in India.

What I saw was totally incredible – it was a documentary video called ‘Bonsoi People’ by Holly Mosher, which talked about how Muhammad Yunus transformed the lives of millions of people in poverty-stricken Bangladesh. The model is ‘Teach a man to fish’ instead of giving them the fish. It totally made sense to me, as I think – enabling them with the little capital that they need to stand on their own legs will make them take their lives in their own hands and thrive.

A typical example was shown in the video – an enterprising mother, who started with a small loan – how she expanded her economic wellbeing by slowly – educating her child and making him to dream to become a fashion businessman, constructing a house, helping her neighbors by giving them work, etc.

This particular case in Bangladesh – The Grameen bank – for which Muhammad Yunus got the Nobel Price for Peace (Note: not for economics) – strongly displays the point that microcredit is not sucking money from people, but enabling them at grass roots. Muhammad believes that peace can be achieved only if there’s economic wellbeing among the masses – and it shows. His Grameen bank has touched the lives of millions of people in Bangladesh to take their lives in their own hands. 97% of them are women!

It was also interesting to note that Grameen Bank didn’t just stop by giving loans and then collecting them- they have a bank representative who becomes like a family member and cares for what’s happening on a day-to-day basis with their clients. If they have a problem, they try to address it. They give directives to the people on how to live – for example, they stress that having a strong house and roof is important for people – because if they get wet or infected, their health is affected and sometimes they even die.

They have 16 such directives. The one that touched me the most was ‘Limit the no. of babies that you have, so that you can care for them’. How true! How much I wish this message is passed on to the central Indian states where people are having babies just for labour! How are we going to spread the message of having less children, so that they can care enough for them, and also thus not contribute to the country’s burgeoning population! Yes, I feel, an attempt should be made.

India might be a different story from Bangladesh. The dynamics might be different, and the approach could be different to eradicate poverty, bring economic wellbeing, and then bring sense into them to make them not have more and more babies. But, the concept is the same. How it needs be made aware, communicated to the most economically backward rural, is what needs be worked on.

If you are interested in this area of work, please leave a comment with your contact information in the comments section, and I will get in touch with you!


In honour of International Women’s Day (08/03/2013)

First things first. The very fact that we dedicate a specific day to voice on behalf of women makes me put my head down in shame. Before you conclude on that statement, let me explain. So much of injustice has happened to women, and continue to happen, and thus it has become important to voice out, and that’s a shame. And hopefully, it won’t continue. May the next year be without a women’s day, because we started treating women as our integral part.

Dreams aside, its a serious problem. This happened in a ceremony in one of my relatives’ place. We were some 20 people sitting and talking. I told about my daughter, what she does, and how she is doing. And another relative explained what his daughter is doing. We both have no male children. One more relative suddenly raised his voice and said ‘Aamaamaa, pottai pasanga apdidhaan irukum’ (which means in Tamil language – “Yes Yes, girls (in a derogatory way) will be like that”. The point is he has two grown-up sons. He thinks that having male children adds to his status and prestige. May be because, he thinks only male children can go to jobs, earn, and support him during his old age.  So, you see, the problem is deep-rooted, and attitude based.

This is not just in India. There are horror stories from all over the world.  In Africa, in many countries, NGOs are working to make women aware of contraceptive methods. The landlords are using the women who come for work for sex, and these women get pregnant at the age of 14 or 15. They couldn’t stop the menace of women being used for sex, so they thought at least they could educate the women about contraceptives so that the pregnancy does not happen.

There are a couple of things that we could personally, at our homes, offices, and the society to change this.

1) Respect. Treat women with respect. There lies the secret to all the other good things – education, job, health and well-being.  If you treat a woman with respect as thyself, will you demean her in any way?

2) Self-defense: This is the need of the day, and should be done. All women should learn self-defense techniques till our attitudes change completely for good. It could be eastern or western martial arts. No advocacy is going to help you when that auto-driver or a co-passenger is misbehaving with you. You have to protect yourself. So, take your safety in your own hands. There are self-defense workshops being conducted for free in various cities, so take heart to attend them.

So, is this like Happy Pongal, Happy Diwali, Happy Christmas, or Happy Buddha Poornima? No. We have lot of work to do on the ground in our homes, workplaces, and society.

I am not an expert in woman rights nor I have the statistics to talk about it further. But whatever I said above comes from my heart and experience.