Three months back, NP Vergese, 67, was told that he needed a prostate surgery that would cost him Rs75,000. On hearing this, Vergese, who had moved back to his ancestral home in Kerala after his retirement in 2002, was in a fix.
A needy Vergese turned to the only place he could think of: the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IIT-B) where he spent 34 years working as a mess worker. He requested IIT-B’s alumni association to lend him the money and Rs50,000 was granted to him within two days.
“Even though I left the institute long ago, they were still there for me. I am very grateful for that,” said Vergese.
Vergese’s surgery was paid for through IIT-B’s Benevolent Fund. The fund supports the IIT-community in times of calamity. Even though the fund has collected only Rs10 lakh from the time it was set up three years ago, it has already helped 12 people.
The association is also known to dispense the required amount at extremely short notice. SG Nivdange, who began working as a security officer at IIT-B in 1975, realised the value of having help close at hand when his son was injured and later slipped into coma at Hiranandani Hospital in Powai. “While the institute (IIT-B) pays 80% of the bills, I still needed money for the remaining amount. The alumni association gave me Rs50,000 instantly and paid the amount directly to the hospital,” said Nivdange.
But how does the association keep a check on the authenticity of claims? “While we always ask for original bills or even pay the hospital directly, we also have a doctor on the panel who will crosscheck claims,” said Bakul Desai, an alumni who helps manage the fund.
Now, the association, which turns ten this year, is looking at expanding the fund as part of their decennial year plans. “We want more alumni to contribute to the fund. The fund has been beneficial to several people and there are many more who can benefit from it,” said Desai.