The four-year old Bay Area Chapter of community based grass root organization- Pratham held a glamorous gala on Saturday September 13 at the Silicon Valley Marriott in Fremont. The San Francisco-Bay Area chapter started in 2004.
President of the Bay Area Chapter, Aruna Goradia thanked the individual donors and organizational sponsors for their support to the organization. She said, "Pratham Bay Area chapter will not only survive but thrive with your help and support for the cause of eliminating childhood illiteracy in India." Around $200,000 was raised for the varied literacy initiatives for the disadvantaged children in India via the parent organization's myriad community reach programs in varied states of India.
The event in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 14 raised about a million dollars, with a generous donation of $600,000 by Mr. and Mrs. Sudesh Arora.
The program of the evening in Silicon Valley commenced with an informal meet and greet session in the foyer. The formal line up of the evening began with some entertaining dance numbers on Bollywood melodies and an excellent comic act by stand up artiste-Dan Nainan.
The amusing and entertaining first portion of the program was followed by a speech by the chief guest, Government of India, National Knowledge Commission Chairman, Sam Pitroda.
He said, "We have a huge challenge in reforming our education system and without proper focus on literacy and education, we will not be able to meet our growth goal of 8-10 % for the coming years." He elucidated the five fold goals of the knowledge commission including access and concepts of knowledge, creation, distribution and role of knowledge. He mentioned that in the last three years there has been a huge push to update the knowledge institutions of the country.
Elaborating on the urgent need of co-operation from all sectors and sections of the society including the Diaspora, for enhancing the reach of higher and vocational education in all disciplines, he said, "Currently, the demands of a growing economy have surpassed the supply and all kinds of disciplines are understaffed."
He added, "Understanding the need for immediate impetus to all educational initiatives, the Government of India has decided to spend around $ 67 billion in the next five years on education.
He added, "In the coming years, the key challenge for India is training its human resources and education is the key for that." Emphasizing the integration of technology in literacy initiatives, he opined, "Through proper use of technology, we can transform learning methods and paradigms. Administrators need a change in mindset to integrate technology in training initiatives."
Following Mr. Pitroda's speech, Dr Madhav Chavan, Pratham co-founder and Director of Programs spoke about the NGO's work and said, "India cannot be a literate nation with only government's work. People's movement and involvement is very important and Pratham is basically about involving people in the communities that they live in."
The program closed with a dazzling fashion show of designs by Satya Paul and Deepika Gehani modeled by current and former Miss India's and other models.