This was originally published in A First Taste of Law.
We all can contribute in our own ways. However, a few of us take action and most people don’t. We wait for other people to get us a chance. This Christmas, pick yourself. Don’t wait for your turn. Sow seeds right away to do great things, to make the world a little better, to become a better person and to go the extra mile to achieve all the potentials you have. Here is Kunal Dey, who in his first year of college decided to do something meaningful and didn’t say “I am just a first year student, how can I do something awesome?” or “but I have projects to write and exams to prepare for – how will I find time?” Like most good things, he had the support his friends and batchmates, and they together are making some real difference.
So, over to Kunal because we want to know the whole story.
“The darkest of places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their state of neutrality during the time of moral crisis”- Dan Brown.
The first year of Law School, especially the first semester, is a dream come true for any law aspirant who not only wants to make a mark but on the same hand wants to fulfill the obligations one has towards the society at large.
I had inculcated the need for serving the society by being a good lawyer and more than that, by becoming a good human being since I started teaching differently-abled and underprivileged children in an organization in my city called Hope Foundation. The few things that I got to learn while serving that special institution for two years is something which motivated me to start off an organization of my own someday.
U.P.E.S, Dehradun has a unique location; something which cannot be forgotten in a lifetime.
The mountains, rivers and mostly the calm atmosphere, makes it the perfect place to gain knowledge. After the Dhabas named as D1, D2, D3 etc based on their distances from the University, the most famous of all was “Zaid Bhaiyyas Juice Stall”. Zaid Rao, is a boy of 23 years, from the Dunga district of Dehradun. Due to financial difficulties he could not continue his education beyond Class VIII and that is something he always regretted. When I met him, the only thing that I could conclude after our conversation that he is the most humble and compassionate person I have ever met and more than that, I could feel his regret for not being able to complete his education. I came back to my hostel and it was then that my roommate, a Chemical engineering student, spoke about starting a group just like his classmates did. I grasped on that idea and put forward to him my motive of serving the society by establishing a group that would work on educating mostly middle-aged adults and underprivileged children.
Next was planning. I started off my work towards the formation of the group by drafting the Constitution for the group; I initially named the group as AW
As I was drafting the Constitution for this group I understood that this cannot be a one-man show and I need people with me if I would like to give myself any chance of making the slightest of difference to the present situation. I arranged up a meeting with all the interested people, mostly of my hostel and the nearby hostels so that it becomes easier for me to coordinate better and also to take quick action in cases of any difficulty. I explained to them my plan and the approach I would like to take. (A copy is annexed herewith, marked as Annexure A). They all agreed to it though certain amendments were required in the procedure and it was finally after the entire procedure was completed, we had a brainstorming session and we ended up naming the group as JAGRITI, to enlighten people with knowledge. The planning was up to the mark but what required was the execution of the plan and for that I needed someone who is influential and at the same time has a good resource base and that is when I approached my classmate and a very close friend, Gandharv Garg. We together decided to change the teaching procedure and make it more interactive like, besides the textbooks, we decided to carry out Personality Education classes and probably that was the best idea I could have ever got.
Every social group has to undergo struggle before it can emerge and the same happened with our group as well. Promotion of the group and spreading awareness to the people about the group was a major task but with the help of all my fellow group members it was finally accomplished. Problems started when there occurred a shortage of teachers for the children. The Sarpanch had given us permission to work within 8 km from the college campus and that included 4 villages, namely, Bidholi, Kandholi, Paundha, Nanda Ki Chowki. We did not have enough funds to pay the rent in the places we thought of teaching and also there was a dearth of enough teachers give adequate time to towards the group. Thus, our area of work automatically got restricted to only Bidholi and Upper Kandholi.
The first student of our group was Zaid Bhaiyya who was extremely happy for finally being able to start fulfilling his dream of studying once again.
We started teaching Zaid Bhaiyya`s brothers and for that we used to provide them with books (oxford dictionary Hindi to English, grammar books, story books, literature books, handwriting made easy books etc.) For reaching out to the people of these two villages we created an outreach department in our group who used to visit these two villages and inform people about the group working their area. We motivated even the adults to join and come along with their kids but one does not always get what he wants and there is always some other story involved. After few days of work I started receiving information from our group members that there is extremely low turn-up of female students and the main reason for it being we were a group involving only boys and thus their parents were not considering our group to be safe. I respected their concern and immediately formed another department consisting only of female teachers who were my classmates and batchmates and started off a new Saturday and Sunday session exclusively for girls but that was not all as again another issue of permission and legitimacy of our affairs came up. We dealt with that as well. When I was in second semester of my law school, I got a call from the Head of the Directorate of Student Affairs, U.P.E.S who wanted my group to come under the umbrella of the U.P.E.S social group “Social Soldiers”. I disagreed and refused to come under the umbrella and probably that made all the difference. I wanted to keep my group independent but in due course of time we again faced challenges with regard to finances and permission. The group members started losing their patience and after a point of time almost everyone parted their ways from the group.
I thought of ending the group and the same was communicated to all the families who were still interested or had faith in us.
It was a difficult decision and it was truly heartbreaking. When I went to inform Zaid Bhaiyya about the problems that we were facing and the decision that we have taken, his eyes became moist and in his eyes I could again see that regret coming back and he said to me, “You taught me to read and write once again, I don`t feel that I am an illiterate anymore, I don’t want anything from you but keep this group alive for those who need it.” This statement gave me a new hope altogether and I decided to keep my group alive for those who needs it and wants it and for doing that I am ready to face all the difficulties that comes my way.
It has been a year now since the formation of Jagriti and I am proud to say that even though we are not a big social group operating in Dehradun, but we are a group who works for the people in need and we make people happy.
Every human being needs to understand his or her responsibility towards the people in need and do their part of duty being a citizen of this Nation. The day everyone will realize that, surely we will have a better India.
More about Jagriti
JAGRITIis a non-profit organization which has been formed with the help of the students in the fresher’s batch of UPES 2013. It aims at teaching under-privileged children and those middle-aged adults who have started working at an early age and have not received the opportunity to study in spite of possessing the urge to learn. JAGRITI aims at recognizing such unfulfilled urges and desires and provide them with a platform where they can fulfill their dreams of being an educated human being.
The organization consists of a committee of Core members who mainly reside in the Bidholi area hostels as it is thought to provide ease in coordinating and bring flexibility in the Management procedure. The list of Core Committee members are as follows:
Avalon Greens Boys Hostel
DUAA`S BOYS HOSTEL
C.S. TELECOM INFOMATICS (2013-17)
AVALON GREENS BOYS HOSTEL
Avalon Green Boys Hostel
Akshay Singh Siwach
UPES Campus Hostel
The Management of the group is divided into 5 Departments namely:
- The Finance Department
- The Planning Department
- Food and Health Department
- Education Department
- Transportation Department
- The Finance Department
The Finance Department will be headed by Kunal Dey and Akshay Singh Siwach
The Core Members along with the other members of the Organization will be contributing to the Fund of the group. The amount of contributionby every single person will be noted down along with their phone numbers; e-mail id and a receipt of their money being utilized for a specific purpose will be sent to their respective e-mail id or will be texted to them on their mobile phone numbers.
1) Optimum utilization of resources
2) Opening a Bank Account
3) Utilizing a portion of the funds towards donations to orphanages and old age homes.
The Planning Department
All the Core Committee members will collectively manage the Planning Department. All the modifications in the organization plan will be notified to each and every member and their opinion will also be taken into consideration while taking any decision regarding the group.
The Food and Health Department
The Food Department will be managed by Gandharv Garg. Our aim is to provide nutritious and healthy food to the children. Home cooked food shall also be provided once in a month with the help of our friends who are localites of Dehradun.
The Health Department will be managed by Kunal Dey and our aim is to provide Basic First Aid to the children and adults in cases of emergency.
The Education Department will be managed by Abhinav Gera, Gandharv Garg and Samarth Singh. We aim at providing education in an interactive manner like it was conducted in the Personality Education Program classes in the UPES. The subjectswhich are going to be taught in the order of necessity and importance are:
History/ General Knowledge
More subjects are going to be added on taking into consideration the degree of progress of the children and adults.
Books will be purchased as per the needs and stationary will be also be provided.
Reason behind formation of JAGRITI
Each and every human being deserves a chance to get educated and achieve their goals in their life. Each and every member of our group believes in the concept that KNOWLEDGE IS WEALTH. If a person is educated he can achieve whatever he or she wants to in their lives. Basic education is necessary for the survival and self-sufficiency of every human being. In a country like India where poverty is such a big issue, efforts are bound to be taken to educate the mass because a country can only develop when its mass is educated and people possess the power to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong and as claimed by Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, to develop India one must develop the rural India. With this view and motive all our members decided to form into this group and make an effort to change the present scenario.
WHERE THE GROUP WILL OPERATE
With the permission from the Gram Sarpanch we have been allotted the Bhartiya Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan School located near the Doon Public School. Classes will be held on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 pm to 3 pm (timing is subjected to change as per the preference of the children and their parents)
HELP EXPECTED FROM UPES
Official recognition of the Group.
Permission to spread awareness about the group in the University.
Permission to organize workshops and presentations on topics related to the group.
Permission to use the UPES Medical Facilities in case of any emergency.
Permission to recruit members from the University by setting up Registration Benches.