Zee’s Subhash focuses on Ekal and Education

published on October 25, 2007

Source Link – http://indiapost.com/article/communitypost/1288/


FREMONT: Subhash Chandra, of Zee TV fame, visited the Bay Area on Sunday, Oct 14. The founder and Chairman of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited and the Essel Group of companies, he has interests across the globe in media, entertainment, packaging, technology-enabled services, infrastructure development and education.


This visit to the Bay Area was in a lesser known capacity as the chairman of Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of India. Ekal, which means one,runs single teacher schools all over remote and rural parts of India. Alongside business activities, Subhash Chandra has made his mark as a maven of education in India.


He set up TALEEM (Transnational Alternate Learning for Emancipation and Empowerment through Multimedia) to provide access to quality education through distance and open learning. He is the trustee of Global Vipassana Foundation – a trust to help people raise their spiritual quotient. He created Brain Trust of India to identify and nurture gifted children of the country.


He is also the Chairman of the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of India – a movement to eradicate illiteracy from rural and tribal India. At a lunch event hosted by Rekha & Bipin Shah at their beautiful Atherton home on a perfect Indian summer day, Subhash Chandra encouraged everyone to visit the Ekal schools besides making donations.


Answering questions from Indians regarding the VHP connection with Ekal, he said Ekal is an independent educational organization and like everyone supports education, VHP too supports education. Bipin Shah added, “These days secularism has become anti- Hindu.” Subsequently, Ekal held an open house at the Jain Center in Milpitas. Chandra said that he would first like to thank all the supporters of Ekal.”Volunteers are a very necessary link.


They are the backbone and the breath (shwas) of any movement. Ekal handles the poorest of the poor, remote villages with no access and no electricity. He said that he was surprised how the villagers still laugh and do not have stress. They feel joy and can dance more than us.”


According to him, the challenges faced by Ekal include leftist/extremist groups which may not want the adivasis (villagers) educated. Other special interest groups may also have a negative attitude. He said that the NE region is a good focus area for Ekal

with 1,800 out of approximately 29,000 schools located there.


The main criteria to evaluate a village/ region for setting up an Ekal school is that it has less than 1000 people living there and no government school. The whole process can easily take up to 6 months. With dedicated volunteer teachers who are paid a token salary of Rs. 1500 or $37 per month, Ekal schools can be run on a dollar a day and as said at an earlier event, your daily coffee at Starbucks could easily support a school, if not two, in India.


The Ekal plan for the next five years is to move from just primary education to include higher education. They also would start and maintain better health initiatives. They are also promoting ‘svalambhan’ (self reliance) thus liberating people from economic slavery.


Basic help given to the villagers includes help on what kind of crops/fertilizer to use including natural animal fertilizer. No society can eradicate its ills without education- that is what enables us to differentiate between right and wrong, said Chandra as he concluded his Bay Area visit. He was off then on the rest of his one-man Ekal marathon- a 9 cities tour in 10 days to support Ekal USA and its volunteers.

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