Three organizations founded by the late J. Ram Baudh, empower women and students from marginalized sections of society.
Late Junai Ram Baudh retired as a joint director in the Rural Development Department in 1994. A few years after his retirement, he resolved to pay back to society.
He observed that students belonging to weaker sections in the outskirts of the city showed less interest in studies and were engaged in activities like gambling and drinking.
Even the students who were studying fell short of educational standards. For example, a girl studying in seventh grade was not able to spell "seventh."
These findings resulted in the formation of the Dalit Zakaat Foundation in 2002-03. The aim of the organization was to improve the education standards of the Dalit community.
Zakaat is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam, and it is a payment made annually for charitable purposes.
Similarly, the Dalit Zakaat Foundation is a charitable organization that collects money from people to provide basic education to society. The foundation started its work by establishing a school in Chinhat, on the outskirts of Lucknow. The school, named Dr. Ambedkar Baudh Shiksha Niketan, initially operated from rented premises. However, with contributions from the community, land was purchased, and the school moved to its own premises.
Over time, the school gained recognition as a primary school and now provides education up to the 8th grade. Today, the school occupies an area of about 10,000 square feet and has more than 250 students. Abhishek Kumar Gautam, a math teacher in the school, says, "We try to provide them with the best education at minimal cost."
Santosh Kumar, the principal, says, "We provide quality education with our 10-12 teachers. In addition to educating the teachers, we also instill Ambedkarite ideology in students. The photo of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is present in every class. We celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti with fervor and shed light on the life of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar."
If Dalit Zakaat aims to provide basic education to students, the Ambedkar Trust of India facilitates Dalit students by providing financial help to complete professional courses.
The trust sources funds from trustees to provide financial assistance. Tulsi Ram, who heads the Ambedkar Trust of India, along with Dalit Zakaat and Ramabai Ambedkar Mahila Utthan Samiti, says, "Late Shri J. Ram Baudh was established in 2007-08 with the aim to prevent financial obstacles for meritorious Dalit students. We provide financial help if a student has been selected for a course but is unable to afford the admission fee. We have helped students pursue education in premier technical and medical institutions, offering courses like B.C.A, B.Tech, B.Sc nursing, M.B.B.S, etc. The trust has funded a total of 30 students, 15 of whom are engineers."
The trust, registered under the Indian Society Registration Act, 1861, receives funding from people interested in giving back to society. They can become trustees by contributing a lifetime amount ranging from Rs 15,500 to Rs 25,000. This donation is the only source of funding. Some loyal contributors to the organizations are P. Ram, a retired engineer; A.K. Bhatia, a retired engineer; P.C. Kureel, retired from Indian Postal Services; and many others who are contributing to the organization and helping underprivileged children gain an education.
Making women self-sufficient, the Ramabai Ambedkar Mahila Utthan Samiti was established in 2018-19. Sanghamitra Shankar, a retired bureaucrat, is the founder and vice-chairperson of the samiti. She explains, "In the initial stages, women and girls around Chinhat were provided training in embroidery, stitching, knitting, etc.
One of the girls is now employed at Raymond's in Bengaluru." The organization operates Mahila Silai Prashikshan Kendra, where approximately 117 women trained by the institute are earning their livelihood through self-employment or in prominent shops."
Additionally, the samiti funds the training of three girls from Rajkiya Mahila Pratishthan, Aliganj, Lucknow. They also established Kishori Baudh Beauty Parlour, which was inaugurated by Manju Lal, wife of D.P. Lal, from London. At least five girls are currently receiving training at this institute. The funding structure allows individuals to become lifetime members by contributing Rs 5,000 or ordinary members for Rs 1,000. Currently, there are a total of 114 members, with 25 being lifetime members.
Ram Baudh, the financial controller of the three organizations explains, "We spend 110 out of every 100 Rs received." He further elaborates that all the people in their organizations collect and spend money using their own resources, without additional funds from the organizations.
The foundations and trusts undergo audits conducted by chartered accountants, ensuring transparency in financial matters.
Hopefully, these organizations will go a long way in empowering people from weaker sections and serve as a paragon of giving back to society.