Yogi Patel to be President of Ekal Houston

Yogi Patel is President of the Ekal Vidyalaya Houston chapter for 2019-2020.

HOUSTON: Yogesh (Yogi) Patel connects easily with people and has a flair for organization – two talents that will serve him well in his new capacity as Ekal’s Houston Chapter President for 2019-20. An inner recognition that he has been “blessed with opportunities in life and is in a position to do something for others” also factored significantly in his decision to assume the leadership role.

Yogi’s association with Ekal began when his friend Naren Chavda asked him to help organize and emcee an Ekal fundraiser two decades ago. This sparked his interest and he became a donor. On his return to Houston after an overseas assignment, Yogi became actively involved with Ekal. The decision to retire in 2015 and “not work for monetary gains” cemented this commitment.
In 2018, when the Ekal Houston leadership decided to host a Gala, a first for the Houston chapter, they asked Yogi to take the lead. He took up the challenge and with the “support of dedicated volunteers and generous donors” raised a record one and a half million dollars.

As President, his priorities are to create awareness about Ekal’s work in combating illiteracy in rural India among the Indian diaspora and build a closer relationship with donors. He will also focus on promoting many young professionals who joined the Ekal movement at the 2018 Gala. Presently, he is prepping for Ekal’s fundraiser event on June 1 at Cullen Performing Hall, UH – a Bollywood musical program with artists from India.

A native of Mumbai, Yogi came to the US in 1970 to pursue his college education. He obtained his Bachelors and Masters in Chemical Engineering from Tri-State and Oklahoma State Universities respectively. He worked in the Oil and Gas industry for over 38 years including assignments in Oman and Azerbaijan and retired from BP in 2015.
A career highlight was his role as Organization Capability Manager in BP. Yogi was tasked with boosting the competency of the workforce and developing people, a job he found deeply fulfilling. Ekal seemed like an extension of this project.

Holding himself as an example, Patel emphasizes education as one of the keys to success in life. 70% of India’s population lives in villages with many lacking access to education and opportunities. No nation, he notes, can be prosperous or productive without an educated workforce.
Early this year, Yogi and his wife Darshana visited five Ekal schools in Gujarat and Jharkhand and interacted with the children. Both were struck by their keenness to learn, the discipline with which they conducted themselves and above all by the potential he saw in them.

When asked what they would do with their education, they responded with aspirations of being engineers, doctors, police officers, teachers or serving in the army. Ekal, he witnessed, was providing them the opportunity to do so. Yogi’s sense of purpose of expanding Ekal’s vision and mission was reinforced that day.
The Ekal movement with its one-teacher-school structure started in the late 1980’s with 60 schools near Dhanbad funded by the late industrialist Madan Lal Agrawal. It is a measure of Ekal’s success and effectiveness that there are 83,000 schools today in villages and tribal areas educating two million children annually (with more than 50% girls) and an annual growth rate exceeding 30%.

Apart from free schooling, Ekal also provides vocational training, digital competence and agricultural education. Its Gramothan Resource Centers teach tailoring, carpentry and pottery and provide Ekal on Wheels (mobile buses fitted with computer stations to impart digital skills to children and young adults). Ekal’s underlying mission is to make the villages prosperous by skilling them; this in turn stems migration of youth to cities and urban areas.
When not busy with Ekal’s work, the new President loves a game of tennis and golf and much to his wife’s delight often dons the chef’s hat. His wife Darshana, who enjoys interior designing, also lends her talents to Ekal.

Ekal USA Secretary and past Ekal Houston President Naren Chavda says “Ekal Houston is privileged to have Darshana and Yogi devoting their time and energy to elevate Ekal.”

India’s Iconic ‘Gandhi Peace Prize’ for Ekal

Senior Ekal Trustee M.L. Jain (left) receives the Gandhi Peace Prize from President Ram Nath Kovind as PM Narendra Modi looks on.

NEW DELHIi: “Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation (EVF)”, the largest global organization dedicated to integrated village development in rural India, was recently honored with the prestigious National Award in India for social work. On February 26, “Ekal Abhiyan Trust” (Ekal’s umbrella organization) was bestowed with ‘Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize’ for its contributions in providing education to rural & tribal children and for empowering gender social equality in remote parts of India.

This prize is conferred by the Govt of India under the Chairmanship of Hon. Prime Minister. The ceremony took place at the ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan’ in New Delhi and was graced by the Hon. President of India, Ram Nath Kovind as well as Hon Prime Minister N. Modi. On behalf of ‘Ekal’ the award from the Hon. President was received by M.L. Jain, a senior trustee of ‘Ekal Abhiyan’. This unique Honor carries a grant of Rs 1 Crore, a Citation and a Plaque to commemorate the distinction. This prize was instituted in 1995 on 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi to highlight his concept of ‘Gram Swaraj Model’. In his laudatory message to “Ekal”, PM Modi commended its efforts to give educational opportunity to children in tribal areas and empowering rural women-folks.

Currently, “EVF” has been supporting 82,000 Ekal-schools across rural-tribal pockets of India and grooming almost 2.2 million children – more than half of which are girls.