9th January is observed as ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ every year in India to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community towards the development of India. The day is celebrated to commemorate the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to Mumbai on the same day in 1915.
The overseas Indian community is very much involved in the development journey of India. The community is not only invested with India emotionally but also culturally, socially as well as economically. The Indian diaspora living across the globe are responsible for the spread and wide acceptance of Indian culture across the world. This not only increases the international standing of the country but also increases its soft power in the foreign policy significantly.
The Indians living abroad are also invested financially in India as they send back remittances to their families living in India. They also invest in the Indian markets often in form of FDIs and FPIs, in turn contributing to the economic development of the country.
The contribution of Indian Diaspora in the social sector is commendable. The Indians living abroad are very much dedicated to the social development of the country and therefore open trusts, NGOs and non-profits, or support the existing organisations and foundations to address the developmental challenges of the country. On this Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, let us familiarise ourselves with some of the NGOs that are backed by the Indian Diaspora.
Sewa International began as a movement in 1993 to engage the Indian Diaspora(NRI) worldwide. The organisation facilitates the Indians living abroad to remain connected with their roots through contribution to humanitarian causes locally and in India, especially in times of natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis, pandemics etc, which cause large scale distress, and needs huge resources for recovery.
In India, Sewa International was established in 1997 as a registered non-profit trust, based on the Indian ethos of ‘Service before Self’ and “World is One Family”. Since its inception, Sewa International is relentlessly serving humanity in distress irrespective of caste, creed, colour, religion, race or region.
Over the past decade, the organisation has transitioned from providing support to short term disaster relief & rescue activities, towards more effective long-term rehabilitation and development projects in the underserved areas. The organization is driven by the need to provide more permanent solutions to the underlying socio-economic issues. Sewa International is presently working in the domains of health, education, livelihood generation, environment protection, skilling, community/rural development, women empowerment, water conservation across 20 states in India, with direct interventions as well as with the help of committed grassroots organizations.
Indiaspora is a non-profit organization established to transform the success of the Indian diaspora into meaningful impact worldwide. Founded in 2012 by M.R. Rangaswami the members of the non-profit are a powerful network of global leaders from diverse backgrounds and professions who are committed to building stronger communities with a culture of giving and inspiring social change.
By sharing insight, hosting events and connecting people, Indiaspora aims to unite the professionally, geographically and religiously diverse Indian diaspora community toward collective action worldwide.
For COVID-19 relief, the organisation launched “ChaloGive for COVID-19” initiative, through which it collected contributions worth $1 million in ten days. The donations are providing relief directly to vulnerable populations affected most by the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and India. The contributions given are sent to two partner organizations, Feeding America in the U.S. and Goonj in India.
Goonj, which is using the funds to provide food, dry ration and hygiene kits to displaced migrant labourers in parts of eighteen states in India, has been able to provide sustenance for 106,000 migrants and their families through this giving campaign so far.
Akanksha Education Fund
Akanksha Education Fund is a publicly supported not-for-profit organization in the U.S. that supports initiatives to improve access to high-quality education for the disadvantaged children in India. Akanksha leverages the generous donations of individuals, foundations and corporations in the U.S. who see education as the key factor in ending the cycle of poverty and promoting healthy democracies. Akanksha Education Fund has raised and granted millions to the Akanksha Foundation in India, which currently operates 21 best-in-class schools for under-resourced children in the cities Mumbai and Pune.
American India Foundation
The American India Foundation (AIF) is a non-profit American organization involved in accelerating social and economic change in India. It is one of the largest secular, non-partisan American organizations supporting development work in India.
The Foundation is committed to improving the lives of India’s underprivileged, with a special focus on women, children, and youth. AIF does this through high impact interventions in education, health, and livelihoods, because poverty is multidimensional. AIF’s unique value proposition is its broad engagement between communities, civil society, and expertise, thereby building a lasting bridge between the United States and India. With offices in New York and California, twelve chapters across the U.S., and India operations headquartered in Delhi NCR, AIF has impacted 6.7 million lives across 26 states of India.
Pratham is one of the largest non-governmental organisations in India. The organisation was established in 1995 with an aim to provide education to children in Mumbai slums. The organisation is now spread out across the world with its branches in the USA, UK, Germany, Sweden and Australia. The organisation works in collaboration with governments, communities, parents, teachers, and volunteers and focuses on innovative interventions to address gaps in the education system. Through its community-driven approach, the NGO has engaged hundreds of thousands of volunteers and has affected the lives of 75 million Indian children.
Dasra began as a venture philanthropy fund to invest in early-stage non-profit organizations in India. The aim was to bridge the gap between funders and non-profits by educating funders to be more strategic in their giving, and helping non-profits use the funds in the most optimal way. The organisation was started by two American Indians – Deval Sanghavi and Neera Nundy – with a simple premise that supporting non-profits in their growth will scale their impact on the vulnerable lives they serve. With a team of 100+ individuals, Dasra acts as a catalyst in India’s vibrant philanthropic sector by driving collaborative action to accelerate social change. The organisation works tirelessly to build partnerships with hundreds of non-profits in India and philanthropists from around the world, to ensure India achieves the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Snehalaya, which means ‘Home of Love’, and was founded in 1989 to provide support for women, children and LGBT communities, who have been affected by HIV and AIDS, trafficking, sexual violence, and poverty. Snehalaya UK was set up to provide support the vital work that Snehalaya India does to protect, advocate for and rehabilitate vulnerable members of the community.
Snehalaya UK supports the India branch by raising awareness of its programmes amongst the Indian diaspora in the UK and the wider international community. It does so through public campaigning, hosting fundraising events, and developing partnerships with organisations, and community groups that can help them in delivering better services for a longer period of time.
The Indus Entrepreneurs
The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), was founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley by a group of successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and senior professionals with roots in the Indus region. TiE Global is a non-profit organization devoted to entrepreneurs in all industries, at all stages, from incubation, throughout the entrepreneurial lifecycle. With a global reach and a local focus, the heart of TiE efforts lies in its five foundational programs, – Mentoring, Networking, Education, Funding, and Incubation.
The TiE India Angels program by the organisation is has formed a pan-India Angel Network with an intent to provide idea/early-stage capital focused on nurturing and mentoring new generation entrepreneurs.