In Sanskrit, Punya means merit earned through right thought, word and action. True to the spirit of this word, the team of youngsters behind NGO Punya is involved in doing their bit to bring in a perceptible change in the society through education. Their work is testimony to the fact that anyone and everyone desirous of doing good can do good.
Punya is driven by a vision of an India where every single person is empowered; this they hope to achieve by providing access to quality universal education. At the same time, the team is always looking for opportunities to make a positive impact in any way. They often visit orphanages and special schools along with volunteer groups, so as to create awareness. This also give them an inside perspective of the social conditions in India.
Beginnings of Punya
Punya was founded by Varun V Singhi, a young professional working with a leading IT company Wipro Technologies, in 2009. Why would an IT professional start something like Punya? Varun explains, “All human beings have a conscience. We have a desire to improve the environment around us. Something inside us urges us to contribute, to share and help, to do what we can to ameliorate the lives of our fellow beings, but often we give up or postpone these thoughts not because of money, but due to scarcity of time and lack of focus. Punya started as my humble initiative to build a bridge between the socially conscious people and the people in dire need of help. It is also aimed at revolutionizing and rekindling philanthropic urge in individuals by providing the donors/investors the assurance and satisfaction that their investments will reach the right people at the right time and most importantly, through the right channels.”
Acting on one’s urge ‘to do good’ is probably the first step in becoming the change you wish to see in the world. Why did Varun see this change taking birth through education? He adds, “I focused more on education because I believe that it is the most important enabler for growth and equitable development. Education empowers, particularly, when it offers the most disadvantaged and the most underprivileged the opportunity to influence the very fabric of society. In essence, what education does is to offer everyone the promise of a better life. Hence I targeted education specifically.”
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While Punya intends to make education a reality for the underprivileged, many of the organization’s projects are based on essentials such as ‘food’ and donations for computers, other equipments, etc. It has a very broad approach toward facilitation education, as Varun elaborates, “Punya believes that education cannot be defined by a single dimension. Our approach towards education is multi-dimensional. We not just sponsor the child’s education but also assign him/her a mentor, who guides the student and tracks progress. Our aim is to get involved with the student and make him/her feel more responsible and have a positive attitude towards life. Mentor/Student are then in regular touch with each other to evaluate the growth. This model is inspired from a senior volunteer manager of Big Brother and Big Sisters (a nonprofit) whom I had met two years ago in Boston. I loved the concept and wanted to implement it back home. We want children to realise their potential and build their future. So our focus is not just education but every small thing that helps to facilitate education. Punya’s core belief is to focus on honing the abilities of the disadvantaged children and motivate them to become self dependent.”
People often say that one should earn and spend a good life while young and then reserve the old age for social work, but in today’s pressing times, more and more youngsters like Varun and his team are required as they are the ones who will take the nascent steps of building a better India. Varun rightly says, “I am sure if young youth force of this country gets involved to root out the social evils, which are hampering our growth from within, our country would be the best place to live in!” As evident from such efforts, the change is already happening.
To know more, visit http://punya.org.in/