Building Institutions to Serve: Two Successful Indian Social Entrepreneurs Share their Vision and Work

SEWA_IN01HOUSTON:  Sewa International, in collaboration with India Culture Center of Houston, organized an interactive session – “Public Policy and Public Health” on September 11, with two highly successful social entrepreneurs from India. The event held at the Consulate General of India was addressed by Dr. Anant Pandhare of Dr. Hedgewar Hospital, in Aurangabad, India and Shobhit Mathur of Vision India Foundation, New Delhi, India.  Both of them shared highlights of their personal and professional journeys, and what it takes to create institutions that serve the needy, and develop leaders in public policy and good governance.

Shobhit Mathur, a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and the University of Washington, Seattle, gave up his job at Amazon, where he had worked for five years as he was called to serve a higher cause. He left for India where he saw that the many problems in the country could be addressed through systematic policy planning and through a proper governance model. “For those two things to happen there is an urgent need to develop leadership skills in these areas,” he said. Vision India Foundation has created a model for developing thought leadership, for which an understanding of grass root level issues as well as the cultural and spiritual values of India is necessary. Mr. Mathur shared many success stories of alumni of Vision India Foundation being recruited by various government agencies and entrusted with crucial jobs. He shared the Foundation’s vision of building a world-class institution in India dedicated to developing future leaders in public policy and good governance.

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Incidentally, Shobhit Mathur was Sewa International’s first Youth for Sewa (YFS) intern. Later, he also worked full-time for YFS in India before joining Vision India Foundation.

Dr. Anant Pandhare shared his experience as well as that of his seven colleagues’ journey of 29 years in building a hospital to provide high-class healthcare at affordable price to the middleclass and poor people in and around Aurangabad, Maharashtra in Central India. The journey that started with a noble thought in mind – to serve the poor and middleclass population with high quality healthcare — has today transformed into a 300-bed hospital. The hospital serves over 40,000 patients a year and caters to over 1000 people in their Out Patient Department each day. The doctors working at the hospital work on fixed salaries, just enough to lead a simple middleclass lifestyle. This unique model helps to keep the cost low but increases the level of dedication in providing high quality service.

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“The aim of Dr. Hedgewar Hospital is not just to address the physical ailments but for the overall uplifting of society,” Dr. Pandhare said. Hence, under the auspices of the larger foundation -– the “Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Pratishthan” -– more than 40 social projects are undertaken. These projects address the variety of challenges faced by people coming to the hospital, and the projects range from skills development, women’s self-help groups, building entrepreneurship, and animal husbandry. Dr. Pandhare shared the positive impact of many of these projects, and said the hospital encourages the involvement of local people to make it a real social enterprise. Today, the hospital has 67 doctors in over 20 departments, with 400 volunteers assisting the doctors and professional staff.

Nisha Mirani of the India Culture Center, and Gitesh Desai, Houston Chapter President of Sewa International welcomed the guests. Sachin Dabir, Founder/Director of Ashnik Pte Ltd, an information technology company, introduced the speakers.

Swapan Dhairyawan, CPA, offered a vote of thanks.

For further information: contact Sewa International 281-909-7392 or email at houston@sewausa.org

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