Dressed in denim and a white shirt with short-cropped hair, Shaan Bhargava comes across as your average 24-year-old. The six-foot guy doesn’t really seem the sort who would be heir to a multi-million dollar company. But he is. His father Manoj Bhargava, believed to be the richest Indian in US, is the founder of ‘5-Hour Energy’, an energy drink which controls 90% of the US energy-shot market. Manoj is also the founder of the Hans Foundation, a non-profit organisation which has supported 151 organisations, across 25 states and union ­territories.Born in Indiana, USA, Shaan attended Michigan State University and has a bachelor’s degree in finance. He first visited India when he was a year old. And since then, he has made around 50 trips to the country. The do-gooder asks relevant questions, knows his Hindi and surprisingly even the numerals. "I love my job. I started working for The Hans Foundation in 2012, and I think it’s a privilege to be part of something that helps the poor in such a big way."
From heart surgeries to mental illness, the foundation gives a helping hand to the needful in various ways. Asked if any incident touched him personally, he says, "There are so many! Apart from seeing little kids in villages whose families can’t afford to send them to school, to witnessing widows who have been thrown out of the house by their in-laws, struggling to survive, I guess I’ve travelled so much it’s hard to name any single incident."
Asked about his take on the #RiceBucketChallenge, where people give away buckets of rice to needy people and post that act on social sites, pat comes the wise response from the young ­philanthropist. “The ability to do good work comes with a lot of responsibility. I believe that instead of a bucket of rice, give a bucket of seeds!”
Shaan, who’s a big fan of Sufi music, has spent the past two-and-a-half years learning from model villages. So, if he spent time in metropolitan cities, he has also visited smaller towns and villages such as Ahmedabad, Mandvi, Bhuj, Alwar, Jaipur, Rae Bareli, Lucknow, Moradabad, Guwahati, Dimapur, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Satpuli and Madurai. “My favourite villages were near Jaipur, Bhuj, Rae Bareli and Pune,” he says.
(Photo: Waseem Gashroo/HT)