Diamond Jubilee of Sakal India Foundation: Setting an example by helping bright students
Sakal India Foundation has completed 60 years of service to needy, merited students
The idea of setting up an organisation to encourage and assist needy, meritorious and deserving students with financial aid and scholarships to pursue higher education in India as well as abroad was conceived by the late Dr Nanasaheb B Parulekar, the Managing Editor of daily ‘Sakal’. With a donation of Rs 1,25,000 from Prof RS Deshpande, a former professor in the College of Engineering Pune, a recurring contribution from Dr Parulekar and moral support of six distinguished personalities, India Foundation was established as a registered society and an educational trust under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 on March 30, 1959.
In 2003, the foundation was renamed as ‘Sakal India Foundation’. In 1985, when Pratap G Pawar took over the reins of the management of the house of ‘Sakal’, he himself initiated a series of events that transformed its image. The administrative and financial reforms and policy decisions led to a metamorphosis of the ‘Sakal Group’. The firm belief of the management, journalism is a means for the enlightenment of the masses and for social engineering, was reflected in the group’s working.
Gradual but determined steps were taken to achieve the objectives of Sakal India Foundation by the trustees and members of the council of management.
They were woven into the diverse activities launched in the next three decades. The thrust was on all element, components, professions and age-groups. ‘Sakal India Foundation’ has been supported by Sakal Papers Ltd since 1985.
- To grant scholarships and financial aid as gift or loan to students, teachers, professionals, social workers with outstanding merit, including potential for leadership for higher studies in India and abroad irrespective of their race or religion.
- To grant scholarships and financial aid to needy, merited and deserving individuals for prosecuting higher studies in India as well as abroad.
- To promote and establish cooperation between India and other countries for the furtherance of research and higher studies.
Interest-free Loan Scholarship
To help students to go abroad for higher studies like MS or PhD, students were selected on the all over India basis and offered interest-free loan scholarships. These scholarships were also extended to students pursuing research leading to PhD in India. In the past 60 years, more than Rs. 3,43,41,000/- have been disbursed to about 1,250 students on interest-free loans. The all-over India publicity, strict scrutiny and thorough screening of applications by a selection committee of trustees and experts have raised the credibility of the programme. Selection for the award of a loan or a grant of Sakal India Foundation has become a high point in the academic world.
The academic achievements and professional attainments of the awardees and loan repayment in the stipulated period have justified the selection of the awardees. The list of awardees is a veritable roll of honour of distinguished personalities from different walks of life.
The success of the interest-free loan scholarship programme led to the launch of another new project. To induce school and college as well as university students and teachers into taking up research activity, research proposals were invited after assessment, financial assistance in the form of research fellowship was offered. In all, more than Rs 14, 07,500 have been offered to 71 research scholars so far. A cursory glance at the titles and contents of the research proposals gives an idea of wide spectrum of topics covered by the research workers.
Career Development Scheme (CDS)
Interaction with Indian expatriates around the world showed that highly qualified and professionally established Indians had a strong urge to extend financial help to socially and economically underprivileged but academically meritorious students. An appeal to them evoked a favourable and generous response in the form of contributions of $150 per year per student over a minimum of four years. Thus began in 1984 the Career Development Scheme of Sakal India Foundation to identify needy, deserving and meritorious students and offer them financial support to continue their higher education, which otherwise was a distant possibility for them.
It is noteworthy that so far, about Rs 1,85,30,473/- have been disbursed to more than 4,701 students under the scheme. A steady increase in the number of sponsors - parents, NRI as well as known NRI contributing $150 and Rs 10,001/- respectively per year per student and consequent increase in a number of beneficiary students in itself a sufficient indication of the success of the scheme. The feedback received from these students gives a feeling of gratification for having done needful for those otherwise would have been drop-outs from the educational mainstream.
With the expansion of formal education in the post-independence era, increased enrolment in schools and colleges led to overlooking of the inherent needs of students. The first casualty of the mass education effort was the personality of young students. To kindle interest in developing as many facets of their personality as possible, a one-year weekend course of about 40 sessions was devised. The integrated personality development programme initiated which was enthusiastically received by students and parents as well. In five years, about 700 students availed the programme. Regular monitoring of the changes in the behaviour of the students on a group and individually and periodic interaction with parents proved the utility and success of the programme.
(TO BE CONTINUED )
The Author is Executive Secretary, Sakal India Foundation