The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation was established on 21 June 1991 to commemorate Rajiv Gandhi's vision for India. The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation aims to work in areas, which were of deepest concern to Rajiv Gandhi, and to act as a catalyst in promoting effective, practical and sustainable programmes in areas of national development. The Foundation has established its presence in virtually all the states and union territories of India, and launched programmes and activities in all areas of concentration that have been decided upon by the committee to make India a better place to live in for the underprivileged one.
As the RGF Chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has pointed out, "it is not just what the Foundation does, but how it does it that counts". The Foundation has marshalled its scarce resources and used them to achieve outcomes of high quality to empower women and children, encourage water conservation and rainwater harvesting, help the disabled, improve education and healthcare, and extend a helping hand to some of the most deprived and marginalized sections of people in the country.
RGF has recognized rainwater harvesting as a key element in responding to the country's growing water challenge, which will worsen with global warming and its impact on India's hydrological cycle. Capturing rainwater to recharge rapidly depleting groundwater aquifers is vital to mitigate water stress and enhance rural livelihoods.
It was with these objectives that RGF in 2001 launched its "Green Corps" of rural volunteers dedicated to promoting rainwater harvesting and conservation in Rajasthan and Karnataka. Through the Green Corps, more than 200 water-harvesting structures have been built in 115 villages with the active participation and support of the local community. A recent external evaluation has confirmed that significant benefits have accrued to the people - higher agricultural productivity, more remunerative cropping patterns, and better water availability for livestock. Other initiatives include the formation of women's self-help groups, livestock improvement initiatives and other rural income generation efforts in the project areas.
Education and Literacy
RGF's education and literacy programmes thrives to promote literacy, foster quality education and encourage the education of girls, the tribal communities and minorities.Its latest initiative, in partnership with the Siva Subramaniya Trust, is a scholarship scheme for Muslim and Dalit girls in three districts of Uttar Pradesh. The programme called the 'Vidya Gyan Scholarships' will target girls from class 6 to 10. It is planned to award 1500 scholarships in 2007-08 and another 1500 in 2008-09. Special arrangements will be made for group coaching and mentoring. A second new initiative is offering fellowships for developing open-source software to promote localization of educational material into Hindi, Urdu, Kashmir, Assamese and Oriya and dissemination in schools through NGOs.Its third major initiative, in partnership with the Ministry of Human Resource Development, is the "BaLa Programme", a blueprint for improving primary school buildings, by using architecture and design elements as learning aids, to make the school environment more child and learner friendly. Some States have showed great enthusiasm for these new concepts and are incorporating the new ideas in the design of new school buildings.Over the last 14 years, the Foundation has promoted a countrywide village & slum library programme.
Landmine Survivors Assistance Programme
RGF also recently launched a Landmine Survivor Assistance Programme, a pioneering effort to develop cost effective community-based rehabilitation of people maimed by the land mines laid in border villages while most of the mines have been removed some remain undetected and cause horrific injuries to innocent, unsuspecting villagers. Economic, medical and social rehabilitation of land mine survivors has been taken up in 40 villages in the Abohar Block of Ferozepur District in Punjab.
Initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir
In Jammu and Kashmir, awards were instituted for creative writing to young writers in Kashmiri, Urdu and English. A Children's Film Festival organized in Srinagar was a big attraction and success. Thousands of children thronged the venue to see prize-winning films from India and abroad. Through a series of workshops on "Discovering Srinagar", children were helped to rediscover their heritage in history, culture, arts and craft.
Motorized Vehicle Distribution
RGF distributes motorized tri-wheeler scooters to needy orthopaedically challenged young persons. More than 600 such vehicles have been distributed free to deserving candidates to help them pursue their education and sustain their employment. In 2006-07, a record number of 150 such scooters, christened Bingo, were awarded.
RGF supports innovative and cost effective public health care strategies that are accessible and affordable. The Foundation's Mobile Aids Counselling Services (RGMACS) conceptualized in 1997 to foster behaviour change at the societal level by raising awareness, provide services like on the spot testing, preventive and supportive counselling, treatment and referral for STI's and infections and builds the capacity of the communities involved. The services are currently operating on the slums of Mumbai and Delhi.A Smart Parenthood Campaign is being implemented in Kurukshetra, Haryana as a pilot project to combat female foeticide.RGF also organized a National Consultation on the Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994 in order to make the Act more donor and recipient friendly.
Programmes for Women and Children
Project INTERACT supports children who lose one or both parents to terrorism. The effort is to minimize the dislocation in their lives and to see that their education up to higher secondary level is not disrupted in any way. RGF is currently supporting 770 children under this project. Counselling and psychosocial support are also offered.