Ekal Foundation’s Unprecedented $6.5 Million Magnificent Gala

By Prakash Waghmare

On Saturday, December 5, “Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation (EVF)” hosted a magnificent Star-studded Gala, called ‘Future of India’. This Gala-2020 raised record-setting $6.5 Million in pledges & donations for the special projects. The highlight of this virtual event was not only the participation of a galaxy of outstanding personalities, but also, the way they expressed their vote of confidence in ‘Ekal’ movement (as “EVF” is popularly known). The celebrities that lent their whole hearted support were iconic cricketer Kapil Dev, Movie star Vivek Oberoi, Hon. Minister Piyush Goyal, leading entrepreneur Ajay Piramal, Bollywood singer Sanjeevani Bhelande and numerous entrepreneurs. The Gala was chaired by Mohan Wanchu, Chairman & CEO of EC Info Systems who, like all previous Galas, had ushered the concept in the first place. The main objective of the evening was, not only, to raise funds, but also, to acknowledge gratitude to loyal philanthropists who had consistently supported ‘Ekal’ through the years. Earlier in the year, after successfully controlling ‘Covid-19 pandemic in 102,000 rural & tribal villages of India, ‘Ekal’ had raised funds through 10 regional mid-year virtual concerts for its conventional activities even in the current covid-19 pandemic.

Despite a snow storm and tornado that created some technical problems in transmission, the delayed start for the evening could not dampen the spirit of generous philanthropists to support their favorite projects at Ekal. There was overwhelming support for ‘Integrated Village Development’ (IVD), E-Shiksha, Tailoring Center, Telemedicine, ‘Arogya Initiative’, Ekal-on-wheels’, ‘Gramotthan Research Ctr’ (GRC), Computer Center etc. Among the high net-worth donors, 15 pledged $250,000 or more while Ajay Keshap confirmed donation of cool $1,000,000.

Mohan Wanchu, welcoming the virtual audience opened up the evening with an anecdote about a ‘Rikshaw-puller’ and how a ‘Lok-kathakars’ (a cadre of cultural story-teller) from an Ekal village transformed his life for better. Kamlesh Shah, co-chair of Gala started the pledge-drive by contributing $580,000 and appealing donors to raise the bar of Gala-2020 to unprecedented level. Ranjani Saigal, Executive Director of “EVF” gave a brief outline of all Ekal special projects, which was followed by former ZEE-TV CEO & Chairperson of Ekal-Global, Dr Subhash Chandra giving an overview of what Ekal is all about. The person that stole the show was the movie star, philanthropist Vivek Oberoi who also happens to be the Ekal-brand Ambassador. He emphasized that “the donation to Ekal wasn’t a subsidy for the needy, but a divine investment in India’s future”. He further appealed to the youths of India to join ‘inquisitive, creative and passionate organization like Ekal’ to give purpose to their life. Global business tycoon, Ajay Piramal said,” Ekal’s emphasis on dispensing quality education and primary healthcare in rural area is a game changer. No one understands rural-tribal mindset better than Ekal with its wide spread presence in villages nor anyone has a committed pool of huge selfless volunteers”. Sajjan Agarwal, not only donated $250,000 for ‘Arogya Sevika’ (Healthcare Assistant) in the villages, but also, appealed other donors to match his willingness to donate additional $250,000. This challenge, in the very next moment, was met by Manubhai Shah. When it comes to healthcare, it is imperative to know that the donation of $250,000 benefits 7,500 people in 150 villages. A new initiative, called ‘GRANE’ (Gramotthan Atma-Nirbharata for Ekal), that is going to change farmer’s life forever, was introduced by Vivek Sharma. It is aimed at bringing E-commerce activities to the villages so as to avail villagers with new profitable economic opportunities. Hon. Minister Piyush Goyal affirmed his own and his family’s long association with Ekal. He lauded Hon PM Modi’s August 15 speech whereby all villages would be interconnected by digital broadband in next 1,000 days. It is likely to promote wide spread digitization of Education & Telemedicine. It is worth noting that Ajay Poddar of ‘Artech Int’L and Himanshu Shah of ‘Shah Capital’ have established “Gramotthan Research Ctr” that would soon circuitously help up to one Million people, at each place with the state-of-the-art information on multiple levels . The evening was interspersed with brief video-clips of Ekal’s outstanding work, its impact on rural lives and its initiatives to empower rural folks. Kapil Dev was interviewed live for his unique achievements in Cricket. He asserted that, “in life, winning is not everything”. The most endearing memory to him was the fact that he got to play his game for his beloved country – and not winning the ‘World Cup’ or the captainship of the team etc. He was impressed by Ekal’s infusion of fun-sports in education. Earlier this year in September, Bajrang Bagra, CEO of ‘Ekal Abhiyan’ (umbrella organization of all ‘Ekal’ satellite-divisions) had proposed to keep 102,000 school tallies ‘as is’ and embark on a transformative ‘roadmap’ that would revolutionize rural life in all its aspects. Among the primary goals proposed were to increase parameters of various special project, in next 5 years — for example : to increase ‘Ekal On Wheels’ vans from current 25 to 85; ‘Integrated Village Clusters’ (30 villages each) from current 12 to 51; ‘Skill Development Ctrs’ from current 33 to 100; ‘Gramotthan Resource Ctrs’ (GRC) from current 16 to 27; ‘Telemedicine’ from current 120 villages to 6,000 villages and ‘Intensive Health Care’ from current 1,200 villages to 6,000 villages. In addition, the most ambitious project that Ekal wants to push hard is that of ‘E-Shiksha’ or digital education. It wants to spread it from current 1,200 villages to 100,000 villages. With the success of Gala-2020, it is quite apparent that Ekal is on the way to achieve its ambitious goals. For more information to join this organization or to support it, kindly tap into www.ekal.org.