Pune: Celebrating the centenary year of late Dr Achyut Apte, a host of programmes have been organised by Vidyarthi Sahayyak Samiti (VSS) on the occasion, starting from November 8, 2018 to November 9, 2019. Apte had started the VSS in 1955 to provide accommodation and food to students from economically weaker sections.
Pune is considered as the Oxford of the East and students from all economical strata come here to study. But students from economically weaker sections face hardships. Apte, who was a mathematician and freedom fighter, noted this predicament faced by poor students and he and a few like-minded colleagues set up VSS, a non-governmental charitable organisation.
Initially, he arranged residential accommodation for a few students. He arranged with some friends to offer each student two meals once a week. Soon, he took some houses on rent to provide accommodation to more students and set up dining clubs in hostels of three colleges where these students could get meals at subsidised rates. All these activities were managed by Dr Apte with the help of a group of voluntary workers.
VSS or Samiti as it is popularly known, now runs four hostels, two for boys and two for girls in its own buildings, which accommodates 775 students. The hostels are located very conveniently at the centre of the city. In addition to students in its hostels, the Samiti provides only boarding facility for another 50 students. Apart from the highly subsidised lodging and boarding facilities, the Samiti organises several programmes aimed at improving the overall personality of the students and inculcating appreciation of dignity of labour, self-reliance and cleanliness among them.
The programmes include another hostel for students from economically weaker sections to be opened soon in Ahmednagar, skill development centre on Senapati Bapat Road, Pune, math workshops at the hostels, study centres, lecture series and a souvenir comprising success stories or quotes of alumni, donors and co-workers. Also planned is a musical programme on January 5 at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch at which prominent singers will perform.
Promotions will be done to attract more students from economically weaker sections of society towards the hostel. Office-bearers of other hostels will be explained how this hostel works for the benefit of the students of their hostel.
Pratap Pawar, President of the Samiti for last 40 years, said, “Apte has taken steps towards making society better. Character building of the students is most important and that is the main objective of this Samiti. Along with it, learning and earning gives the students a new perspective of life and they understand the responsibilities that they have taken. We are working towards skill development centres and other activities for the benefit of students and those will be coming up soon.”
There are 450 students from Vidarbha and Marathwada and 90 such students are in the hostel with single parents, 25 to 30 students are specially abled and two to three students are from out of Maharashtra.