Mr. Pravin Bhasin is the founder of Books For All, an NGO that works with underprivileged children in schools and is immensely successful in terms of its achievements. His and his organization’s accomplishments are truly impressive, and we salute his work!
Question: Please tell us a little bit about yourself, such as about your education, career, etc.
Answer: I have a degree in Electrical Engineering, as well as over 40 years of experience in Indian Multinational Companies like BHEL, Thermax, L&T, and Reliance Infra.
Question: Tell us a little bit about your organization.
Answer: Books for All is all about setting up libraries in schools where there are none. We started our 1st centre in Prathmik Pathshala Gejha, Noida, on 30th January 2010.
Question: What inspired you to start your own foundation?
Answer: While the idea was mine, many people joined the movement right from the beginning.
So, it isn’t exactly true to say that it is my foundation or organization.
We wanted children to develop a habit of reading good quality books. We felt that igniting the flame of learning is the key to help children yearn to learn more.
Question: Had you always been interested in volunteering and giving back to the community?
Answer: There is a stage in every person’s life, mostly towards the final stages of his career, when he enters a stage of self actualization. This can be a turning point in the way he thinks, as it was for me.
Question: What were the initial difficulties, if any, that you faced while setting up Books for All?
Answer: We started reasonably smoothly—we got books from neighbors and furniture donated by friends, volunteers joined, we employed a librarian, and the project was off the ground. It was such a smooth launch that we decided to open our 2nd centre by September and 3rd centre in April 2011.
Question: How do you motivate parents who are not in favor of educating their children to let them study?
Answer: We meet with parents during PTAs and tell them the advantages of educating their children. Parents generally don’t want female children to continue their educations, and so this is where we face the main challenge. Books for All is proud to say that we have persuaded many parents to send their daughters for class 6 after our counseling.
Question: Where do you see Books for All in the next five years?
Answer: That’s a difficult question! But I can say that we have a sustainable, scalable, and replicable model, as well as a sound support base. The only limiting factor for any organizational growth is the availability of funds—we have yet to find a source of continuous and reliable funding.
Question: What are the main challenges that you think face Indian education and the education of the poor, especially girls, today?
Answer: Good Teachers. Government schools have satisfactory infrastructure, but good teachers are not available. Private schools (for the poor) are mostly established just to earn money and don’t focus on the quality of teachers and giving students proper educations. They don’t have play grounds, computers, or even neat toilets.
Question: Where do you think the youth of today stands in terms of community service?
Answer: Our nation needs to channelize its youth for socially responsible work. Only the youth can offer salvation to our country.
Question: Is there any message that you would like to give to today’s youth?
Answer: Take part in at least one socially active work, like talking to lonely senior citizens, educating at least one child in your neighborhood slums, etc. Even a small act can go a long way.
Thank you for your time!
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