Education is a significant tool that empowers and enlightens an individual. Unfortunately, even though it is pronounced to be the birth right of every citizen of the world, a monumental proportion has been deprived of it. Nevertheless, there are many who dedicate their efforts to extend education to the destitute and give opportunities to those who cannot afford a quality education.
Dr. Bandukwala is one such philanthropist who has devoted his entire life for the sake of education and extends financial support to the underprivileged children of a minority group. Dr. Bandukwala is a graduate from the Bombay University and a Doctorate in Physics. He started working actively to protect the Dalit students of the Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad University while he was the President of the MSU union in 1981. His write-up on the subject pleading his community to treat their opponents well was published in a leading National Newspaper. On account of his revolutionary activities, Dr. Bandukwala had been targeted several times politically. His house was attacked thrice, including once during the communal riots in the state. Consequently, his wife went into periodic depression and eventually left for the heavenly abode.
Yet, nothing was able to dampen his undeterred conviction. Initially, he established the Baroda Welfare Society with a view to extend financial aid to the minority in Baroda and eventually in the year 2000, he started the Zidni Ilma Charitable Trust (ZICT) to support education of Muslim students and other minority groups in the state of Gujarat. Dr. Bandukwala believes that education is the only means to uplift the minority in all the senses and since the year 2006 he has successfully raised and distributed over Rs. 3 crore to minority students all across Gujarat who are enrolled in undergraduate, post-graduate and professional courses. Zidni Ilma Charitable Trust receives funds for the noble cause from all across the country. Dr. Venkataraman (Venki) Ramkrishnan, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize also extended financial help for the work of the trust. The 22nd Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in 2006 was presented to Dr. J.S. Bandukwala for promoting communal harmony. In a recently held on 2nd Nov 2016 in Baroda, the trust distributed 57 Lakhs to 440 students.
“It becomes difficult for parents and guardians to collect fund for education in these times as education had become an expensive affair. There are a handful of government medical colleges with very limited seats and whose fee is less than 10,000 annually. On the other hand, private medical colleges charge between 2.5 to 6 lacs a year. So how do you expect an average middle class family to arrange 30 lacs for their child’s education? Same is the scenario with the private engineering and other professional courses.” Sadly mentions Dr. Bandukwala. ZICT does not have any staff. “I would rather use that money to fund few more students instead of hiring a staff to manage the internal and external activities.” said Dr. Bandukwala. Although, ZICT has a panel of trustees who voluntarily are involved in rigorous activities of collecting mails and over 1000 applications in a day, develop a computerized database for the same, handle banks, help in scrutinizing the applications and organizing the scholarship distribution event annually.
“Education is the best antidote to the anti-social activities. It is only through quality education that an individual can reach to the summit of social, economic and political powers and work for the betterment of the world.” Dr. Bandukwala quoted, proudly.
This article was originally published in The Optimist Citizen – Issue 19 dated 16 FEB ’17. To read the full story and know more about Dr. Bandukwala‘s work, SUBSCRIBE NOW.
NAZNEEN KACHWALA AND KRITIKA VIDYARTHI | TOC
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