With the support and encouragement of Meera Badve, Founder and Director of the Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalaya, Pune, thousands of visually challenged people have re-invented themselves and are living a life filled with hope. From selling chocolates to programming for Google, they are unleashing their potential to the fullest. “There is no limit to what visually challenged people can do. We are the ones who are blind to the possibilities,” says Mrs. Badve.
Mrs. Meera Badve started Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalaya in 1996. Niwant was a dream then. Mrs. Badve had nothing else other than her own house, talent, and a strong will to devote her life for the cause of upliftment of the visually challenged students-telling them that education was their birth right.
The results of Mrs. Badve’s hard work are clearly visible today-
More than 2000 students have walked out of Niwant as self-reliant individuals.
Every student from Niwant has passed Higher Secondary Education and most have them have graduated in from various streams.
Some of them are pursuing their Ph.D.
Many topped in their respective academic fields.
150 members enrolled every year.
22 different subjects taught from almost every stream of higher education- Law, Commerce, Library Science, MCM, Arts, Science, Bakery, Dancing, to name a few.
16 Braille library branches in Maharashtra and 1 at Goa with a humungous collection of over 3000 Braille books, rendered free-of-cost to the needy.
Today, team Niwant has people from various age groups-retired personnel, housewives to young college students. They help in recording audio materials for the students, translating and typing in the local Marathi language, volunteering as scribe for exams and many more. Experts from IT field all have formed a human chain and are giving a slice of their life for the noble cause.
Many students from Niwant are now employed in various fields as Bank Officers, legal advisors, counselors, teachers, Software Developers; in Railways, P.W.D., Tata Yazaki, Minda Sai, Seed InfoTech; as Telephone operators, Lift Operators, Braille Printers, proof readers, hardware administrators, technical translators for German and Japanese.
Sound mind dwells in a sound body
Niwant has produced International Level Cricketers and Chess players. 120 students of Niwant conquered the Torana Fort this year. 21 girls completed Pinkathon- four of them ran 10 km with a record timing of 59 minutes. Niwant is always fledged with myriad activities- dancing, drawing, singing, planting trees, donating blood, imitating bird calls, performing yoga and mallakhamb, Judo, playing cricket and organizing state level tournaments, skating and many more.
Noteworthy success stories
A group of students has formed “Television” – a software writing firm which is receiving many projects including 9 paid projects by Boardwalk – a U.S. based company
Another group works on ‘Choco Niwant’ – the excellent chocolate making unit
Others are engaged in Braille card writing, making paper bags and organdy flowers, origami handicraft
Amol Kharche, a student at Niwant, is a member of the Indian Blind Cricket team and was the hero of the Blind Cricket World Cup 2014 when he took 2 crucial wickets against Pakistan in the final match, paving a way for India’s victory.
A small video clip that presents the story:
SO CAN ‘EYE’
Many are now married, have children and are leading a mainstream life through Niwant’s efforts. Moreover, they are now contributing back, channeling their effort through the alumni club, ‘So Can Eye’. They have not forgotten their institution, infact they are playing a stellar role, many of the settled ones donating around Rs 20,000 to Niwant to help younger members get an education. She is proud of the fact that begging bowls were replaced by Braille books. Self-respect is the motto of Niwant where vision is no bar.
“They are no longer an unproductive part of the society.They, too, have contributed to the beauty of the world!”
-Mrs. Meera Badve
Mrs. Badve was honored with the “Tata Chemicals Desh Ka Namak Award” for being an inspiring hero of the Nation-2014 (for having contributed to nation building). Through the nationwide campaign, Tata Chemicals collected 200 inspirational stories.
Even at 76, Pradip Burman, the zestful chairman of Mobius Foundation radiates a contagious enthusiasm when he is talking about sustainability. The environmental crusader, better known to many as the great-grandson of Dabur founder Dr S.K.Burman, has devoted substantial attention towards promoting the concept of sustainability in all aspects of life. He refuses to conform to the convenience and comfort in today’s world which ultimately adds on to the adverse effects of climate change.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Burman emphasised why sustainability as a concept is indispensable for us. “We ought to be aware of what lies ahead of us. Soon we will finish the oil, iron, tin, and coal, and our next generations will be left with nothing. Recycling, banning plastics, stop felling trees for paper… This should become a part of everyone’s lifestyle,” he urges.
Traditional wisdom and modern research
A mechanical engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, Burman had always nurtured a keen interest in helping the society, as evident from his graduation project of designing a sonic aid for the visually challenged, which detected obstacles in the way using ultrasonic wave signals.
As an executive for the nature-centric company Dabur, Burman has always opted for natural alternatives to solve his everyday problems like taking Ayurvedic medicine to cure his Arthritis. He later launched the veterinary wing for Dabur – Ayurvet – which provides nature-friendly solutions for animal health care.
A patron of the ancient scientific wisdom of India, Burman always hailed the confluence of “traditional knowledge and modern research”, which he advocated as the Ayurvet motto.
As part of the CSR initiative of Dabur, Pradip Burman founded SUNDESH (Sustainable Development Society) which has been tirelessly working for last 25 years in remote villages for uplifting the rural communities in an environmentally sustainable way.
An advocate of sustainability
Burman believes that sustainability is the indispensable mantra for the world at present. Due to uncontrolled utilisation of the planet’s resources by human beings, the world today stands at a juncture of destabilisation. Today the human race has reached the pinnacle of progress but the advancement is happening in a very unsustainable manner.
Through energy-efficient use of everyday essentials like transport, communication, altered habits of diet, clothing and daily living, some crusaders of sustainability try to reduce their carbon footprint. Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is one of the forerunners toward sustainability goals.
Mobius Foundation aims to change the sustainability dynamics
In 2015, Burman paved the way for the start of Mobius Foundation, focused on sustainability. Named after 18th-century German mathematician August Ferdinand Mobius, the famous Mobius strip has an important philosophical significance. The extraordinary shape symbolises balance and union.
Similar is the essence of Mobius Foundation which wishes to enhance the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” principle to a widespread basis in India, helping generations to come.
Founder Pradip Burman wishes to achieve notable development in education, population stabilisation and renewable energy projects.
A dream school in the making
At Coorg, Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is constructing the World Environment School, Coorg (WESc) where the curriculum will surpass the boundaries of books and classrooms, with a special focus on hands-on learning in close collaboration with the environment. Amidst the pristine natural beauty of Coorg, the school will nurture young minds to grow up into future green leaders. As of now, the school will be open to teenagers, welcoming students from standards 6 to 12.
Needless to say, World Environment School will be the first-of-its-kind not only in India but also in entire South Asia. The school is expected to start from March 2020.
The school promises to nurture the responsible behaviour of citizens of our future.
The Sustainability Conference of 2019
In 2019, the Mobius Foundation has planned an international conference, on the lines of the celebrated earth summits over the past decade. The 2019 International Conference on Sustainability Education (ICSE 2019) aims to bring together environmental activists, practitioners of sustainable development as well as climate change experts to help develop a sustainability-focused curriculum.
It is surmised that the conference will give a platform to innovative concepts of Sustainability Education including an essential change in the existing education system ensuring a wholesome personal development for a student.
The Sustainability crusader
The Mobius founder strongly believes that it is high time to sprout sustainability awareness among a society drowning in consumerism and unknowingly doing irreparable harm to the planet, every second. The best way to achieve this goal is through education which is available to all. At present, the education system is predominantly career-oriented, making the learners a victim of materialism, and thus, their dreams are also outlined in those colours.
Living beyond the limits
When asked about his wish to attain the age of hundred, he strongly asserts that more than becoming a centurion, he wishes his life and work continue to better the society even in his absence. “I have lived my life. I wish that whatever I start before I go, will continue – for the betterment of my country,” says Mr Pradip Burman.
He is also a trustee of the Climate Reality Project – India (affiliated to Mr. Al Gore of the Climate Reality Project Foundation, USA). Climate Reality Project, India, has been actively engaged igniting the spark and spreading the message of climate change amongst educators, policy makers and civil society. The India branch looks after more than 500 trained Climate Leaders, and more than 900 volunteers spread all over the country.
In his journey, Pradip Burman has been a beacon of hope for millions, motivating many to join the movement for sustainability. We wish he continues his tireless efforts for promoting sustainability awareness and inspire generations to come.