Home CATEGORIES Business Ethics & Philanthropy Celebrity Philanthropists of India: Rahul Bose Provides Opportunities to Disadvantaged Children Across...
Rahul Bose is an actor, director, screenwriter, social activist, and rugby player. Known for his splendid performance in films like Mr and Mrs Iyer and Dil Dhadakne Do, Rahul Bose is a man for multiple talents. Apart from his contributions to the film industry Bose has committed to playing an active role in the development of society through various initiatives. He focuses a majority of his philanthropic activities through the non-profit he founded called The Foundation. Let us look at some of his philanthropic efforts.
The Foundation is an NGO dedicated to the removal of discrimination from all walks of life. The Foundation believes that in the long run disadvantaged parts of the world can only be economically and socially uplifted by the inhabitants of the region itself i.e. people that are ancestrally, socially and culturally linked to the land. To that end, it has decided to work in the most disadvantaged parts of India from where it will select children and give them an unparalleled education (from grade 6 up to employability), multifaceted experience and exposure, both deep and wide. So that in 15 years, they return to their homelands as world-class professionals who will inevitably assume the role of thought leaders and change-makers.
Rahul Bose, the Founder, has said, “It only requires a glance at some of the greatest aid-receiving countries in the third world to realise parachuting money and supplies into a region only works in the short term. For any disadvantaged region to truly evolve economically as well as culturally, change has to be driven by its people. People who feel a fierce, deep love for their homeland, people who are prepared for the long haul that is true and lasting development. At The Foundation it is our greatest desire to educate children from such regions and then, once they are fully qualified and ready, see how, once they return to their homelands, they succeed in changing attitudes, work cultures and systems to reflect their contemporary, compassionate, excellence-driven ethos.”
REACH which stands for Restoring Equality through Education and Advancement of Children was launched in 2006. It is an educational initiative that provides long-term, full scholarships for bright students from lower-income families within politically and/or economically disadvantaged parts of India, and enrol them in the most appropriate schools of the highest standard.
In 2007, the first area that was chosen to select students from was the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The immense geographical divide between the mainland and the archipelago has left the islanders with an ingrained sense of separateness at best, a sense of inferiority at worst. Executing a simple plan – selecting five children from the pool eligible for admission into Std 6, proved fiendishly difficult in the 38 inhabited islands of the region.
Working with the Directorate of Education, the logistical challenge, from reaching application forms to every island to conducting group sessions, was daunting with 20-hour boat trips, an 8-month monsoon and primitive communications proving imposing hurdles. The foundation even created a radio ad in Hindi explaining the scholarship and played it across the islands! Today, five children from the region have completed their graduation or are in their final year in various colleges across the country including St Xavier’s College, Mumbai; Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology, Bangalore; and Symbiosis College, Pune.
In 2011 REACH was extended in the Kashmir Valley. The Kashmir initiative had its own challenges. The threat of militancy, distance and orthodoxy, six children – four girls and two boys, were selected. They completed their class 10 at the Sahyadri School (a sister school of Rishi Valley), near Pune. As of 2017, they started class 11 at some of the top schools across India including The Valley School, Bangalore; Mahindra United World Colleges (UWC), Pune and Sarla Birla Academy, Bangalore.
In 2015, the third phase of the project was launched in Manipur. After the team reached Manipur for the selection process, political unrest gained pace in the north-eastern state. Violent protests began from myriad insurgency groups, riots, bombs, gunfire and non-stop curfew over days left the REACH team in face of direct, fatal danger. During the ten-month long selection process, the team was often stranded indefinitely and dealt with fear and trauma. Not the ones to back down, they successfully selected five charismatic, empathetic and thoughtful children from across the state based on their emotional intelligence, scholastic ability, extracurricular talents, and interpersonal skills. In 2016, they started Std 7 at New Era High School in Panchgani.