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Using tech to give them a voice

education Updated: Jun 07, 2013 17:19 IST
Aanchal Bedi
National Stock Exchange

Starting with a simple idea that is aimed at helping hearing-impaired children communicate, Sumit Gandhi intends to make SOS India’s first text message-driven NGO.

Tell us something about your project?
Sounds of silence (SOS) is a leadership initiative which started with a simple idea of giving old mobile phones to hearing and speech impaired children. With the help of technology we help the children of rural and urban India to overcome the hurdles of silence. Renowned psychologists have assisted us with a fixed messaging pattern which will lead to an all-round mental development of children and help them overcome insecurity and lack of self-confidence. Our volunteers will be personally training the students to express themselves better and keep a track of their academic and overall development.

What challenges did you face?
The biggest challenge was to convince deaf and mute schools and NGOs to adopt the SMS training communication model. But with the help of a training model and precautions devised by psychologists, we managed to show positive results. Now, schools like Vikas Vidyalaya, Stephens School, Koshish School for Deaf, and Zaveriwala Deaf School in Mumbai and Icare and Cozy Cot in New Delhi have inculcated SOS learning sessions in the curriculum.

Please tell us about your decision to continue with it. What led to it?
As a social internship programme in the MBA at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, we taught ten kids from Pingalwara NGO in Punjab to communicate via text messages. As a result, their IQ increased from 65 to 90. Two girls from that orphanage are national-level classical dancers as they got the opportunity to interact with choreographers. I planned to take this initiative to a higher level. I believe that education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.

With what expectations did you start this project? Tell us something about your team.
To reach 5,000 hearing-impaired children, provide them mobiles, train them in English and enable them to get white collar jobs. From five volunteers, we are now a team of 90 volunteers which include working professionals and college students. We have introduced a six-month SOS leadership programme for the volunteers where they get trained by industry experts and teachers from b-schools like IIMs.

How do you manage funds? Do you get any assistance?
We are self-funding right now. But some organisations such as General Electric, Domino’s and 8Th Day Entertainment are helping us.

Elaborate on the achievements of SOS.
Within a time frame of six months, we have trained over 500 deaf and mute children in Mumbai and Delhi. They have been hired in companies like Mirakle courier company, Café Coffee Day and Cetking and are doing extremely well.

What is your vision ahead?
We intend to reach hearing-impaired children in other countries of Asia. Our first target will be Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. I want to make SOS India’s first SMS technology-based NGO for hearing-impaired kids.

He is a humane manager who thinks about the welfare of society and is also concerned about his career
- Parimal Merchant, director, centre for family managed business, SP Jain Institute of Management and Research

Five facts at your fingertips

1. About SPJIMR SP Jain Institute of Management and Research is a constituent unit of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, which was founded in 1938 by Dr KM Munshi. Since its inauguration in 1981 by the then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, it has been recognised as one of the top 10 business schools in India.

2. Programme The institute offers full time residential programmes in management, courses on family managed business, executive education and entrepreneurship. It also offers two global programmes - a postgraduate certificate in international management and doing business in India

3. PLacement The institute has an active placement cell. This year 49% students from received pre-placement offers from companies such as Accenture Management Consulting, TATA Administrative Services, P&G, Hindustan Unilever Limited etc. The average salary offered to the students this year was Rs. 16.3 lakh

4. Mumbai is the commercial capital of India and a global financial hub. It is home to important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, Bombay Stock Exchange, National Stock Exchange, and Securities and Exchange Board of India

5. Admissions The admission process starts from September and goes on till November. The institute accepts CAT/XAT/GMAT scores. The annual intake is 240 for the postgraduate diploma in management and 120 for the postgraduate programme in management. For details, visit www.spjimr.org