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Passion towards a purpose

In terms of per capita income, US Indians are the most successful immigrant group, writes Shalini Kathuria Narang.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2006 15:51 IST

Indo-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are exemplary of business success and its common knowledge that in terms of per capita income, Indians are the most successful immigrant group in the United States.

After exemplary corporate success, some of these bigwigs have moved on to invest their money, time, entrepreneurial and management skills in varied social enterprises to give back to the needy in India or to the needs of the growing Indo American community.

Passion towards a purpose, financial resources to incept and scale, strong business networks and high caliber management and entrepreneurial skills are some of their strengths being put to use in causes like primary and higher literacy expansion, nutrition and health betterment of the underprivileged, women's issues and others.

Indians for Collective Action (ICA) is a 40-year-old Bay Area based organisation supporting innovative development projects in over 16 states of India.

It functions as a catalyst or an incubator for other organisations engaged in grass roots development and poverty alleviation programs in India.

In the last four decades, among others, ICA has mentored and spawned several successful NGO's such as Asha for Education, Foundation for Excellence (FFE) and American Indian Foundation (AIF).

Involved in accelerating social and economic development in India via grants or/and partnership with NGO's, AIF is also partnering with several state governments in India for project scalability.

Currently, besides promoting universal elementary education, especially for children of migrant workers, women's empowerment and in the management and spread of HIV/AIDS in India, it is also working with several state governments to impart knowledge and help in implementation of successful initiatives.

Stalwarts like Rajat Gupta, Lata Krishnan, Pradeep Kashyap and others are actively involved in the foundation's work. On World AIDS Day, AIF launched a new program titled India Public Health - HIV/AIDS MediCorps that will pilot this year.

Four to six Indo-American public health care professionals will be placed with Indian organisations to work for the prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS infected populace.

The objective of the program is knowledge and skill transfer from Indo American professionals to their counterparts in India, who can then train others.

"Indian-Americans must provide high-level visibility, leadership and resources to accelerate the prevention and mitigate against the stigma and discrimination of HIV/AIDS in India. Broad-based alliances and strong partnerships will make HIV/AIDS a surmountable problem." Says AIF Co-Chair Rajat Gupta.

Kamil and Talat Hasan are another such philanthropist couple. Besides myriad financial grants to universities for Indian classical music, Talat Hasan has also actively involved herself in the day-to-day functioning of India Community Center that she helped incept with the Godhwani brothers.

The center is the largest community facility in North America providing the Diaspora a tryst for communal intermingling.

Foundation For Excellence (FFE), as the name suggests, was founded by venture capitalist Prabhu Goel and his wife a decade back with initial funding of $10 million to provide scholarships to meritorious and necessitous students in India for perusal of high school, engineering, medical or teaching curriculums.

The foundation has disbursed more than $3.2 million in the last ten years to 7,300 students and has launched a 'No Scholar Left Behind' program in an attempt to fund higher education of every needy student in India by 2025.

Besides the corporate stalwarts who have joined the NGO bandwagon after making their mark in the business bastions, there are hundreds of other NRIs who give their time, money and energy to these varied NGOs with a common dream of a vibrant India.

In the words of Ron Victor, one of the founders of Vibha, another NGO working towards grassroots literacy programs, "Good deeds have a viral impact and small efforts by many people makes a huge impact."

The recognition of social entrepreneurs impacting millions in India with their work in the myriad fields at the annual prestigious The Indian Entrepreneurs (TIE) Conference last year was also a step in the right direction by the world's most well known business mentoring body and the accentuation of the close interconnection between poverty alleviation and overall national growth via betterment of primary health and education of its populace.