Ahmedabad, Nov 05, 2004
Nineteen youngsters of Indian origin will be honoured by Gujarat Chief
Minister Narendra Modi at a special ceremony Sunday for their voluntary
work in India.
The Gujarat Garima (Pride of Gujarat) awards, organised by Gujarat
Times, a weekly Gujarati language news magazine published from New York,
will be given to the North American youngsters doing social work in
India for the past year under fellowships from the US-based Indiacorps
The award ceremony will also mark the launch of Indicorps' "Ahmedabad
Volunteer Project", under which selected youngsters will work to
improve civic conditions in the city.
Indiacorps was started by 27-year-old Anand Shah and his two sisters
Sonal and Rupal to help North American youngsters of Indian origin visit
India for social work.
"The idea was to provide a platform to those in North America
who wish to spare time for social work in India," Anand told IANS.
"Many youngsters of Indian origin in the US want to help their
motherland. There are many agencies collecting donations and channelling
funds to various projects in India, but we wanted to help those who
were ready to devote their own time."
The idea germinated four years ago, after Shah returned to the US from
a visit to the Mumbai-based Tattvagyan Vidyapith, a religious institute
founded by the late Pandurang Athavale.
Anand visited campuses and libraries in the US and talked to youngsters
about the idea. He then launched a website, www.indicorps.org, to invite
people to visit India on one-year "public service fellowships"
- funded by the savings of the three siblings
"We had thought we would get about 10-15 applications. To our surprise,
the website registered more than 20,000 hits and we received 60 applications,"
Anand then short-listed several organisations active in the voluntary
sector in India. He also briefed the selected participants, in their
late teens or twenties, about work conditions in India.
Nine youngsters received the fellowship in its first year, followed
by 11 in the second.
"Indicorps has given me an opportunity to understand the people
of India and appreciate their values," said Kabir Kumar, who was
given the fellowship last year but decided to avail it this year.
Another participant, Gaurav Parnami, worked with slum dwellers here
last year, but has returned this year to continue his work.
When the state government announced the Gujarat Garima awards this
year, Anand found himself in an august company that included industrialists
Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata and economist Jagdish Bhagwati.