Friday, June 21, 2024

Kushal Raj Chakravorty – Founder, Lotus Petal Foundation

Serving underprivileged: Building nation

At certain point of our lives, most of us want to do our bit for the underprivileged but the daily hustle of our lives makes it almost impossible for us to take the first step towards the noble cause. Nevertheless, there are people who have devoted their entire life for serving the underprivileged. Today, we are going to talk about one such personality who had an illustrious corporate career with a work experience of 20 years in the corporate world. His immaculate learning years were supported by an engineering degree from BIT Mesra, Ranchi, and strengthened by an MBA from IIM Lucknow. His professional life catapulted with his stint with IKEA which lasted over a decade.

We are talking about none other than Kushal Raj Chakravorty – Founder and Managing Trustee of Lotus Petal Foundation. Kushal led different global roles in furniture, textile, and carpets and traveled across continents for work. In November 2011, Kushal established the Lotus Petal Foundation from his savings. He envisioned that the trust would enable people and non-profits to promote their work- Kushal actively participated in this by sharing his finances and solving situations with his judicious insight. To manage and lead the organization, Kushal hung his boots in the corporate sector in 2016 to be fully immersed in the calling of this life journey.

Lotus Petal Foundation is a non-profit organization founded with the primary objective to create equal opportunities for underprivileged children in the urban slums of India. The Foundation makes high-impact interventions in education, nutrition, and livelihood for the child and his/her community. The foundation runs two age-appropriate schools (Vidyananda School and Lotus Petal Sr. Secondary School) and one fast-track education program for underprivileged children. The Foundation started the Lotus Petal Sr. Secondary School in April 2022 in the outskirts of Gurugram, Haryana and envisions it as the largest school for underprivileged children in India. The school currently has classes from Grade 3 to Grade 8 with around 500 students enrolled. Going forward, the school will be affiliated to the CBSE board and will cater to approx. 10,000 children.

Giving a life of dignity

The 2,10,000 sq. ft. school campus is being built keeping in mind the environmental sustainability and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) not limited to quality education, gender equality, reduced inequalities, affordable and clean energy but extending to clean water and sanitation and building sustainable cities and communities.

The idea of Lotus Petal erupted on one cold morning in November. Kushal noticed a group of young children at the bus stop. They were clad in a basic uniform with a shirt and shorts, did not have any extra clothing to feel warm, and walked barefoot in the biting cold. He looked down at his children, the warm clothes they were wearing, and wondered how lucky they were. This moment changed his life because he wanted those kids to have the same. He visited a temple nearby to enquire about them. He learned that they were part of a school run inside the same temple. There were over 200 children, but none of them had access to warm clothes, shoes, socks, or stationery. It moved him to take this step of helping underprivileged children to give them a life of dignity. However, it was not going to be an easy task for him. Being comfortable in asking for funds/ money from people for the cause was a big challenge for him.

He started the organization with six children using his savings and by taking a personal loan. Soon after, more and more children joined the organisation. “I realized that the finances that I need to arrange are for these children and not for myself and so I shouldn’t be hesitant. The internalization of this thought was a challenge for me, something I have been able to overcome in the past few years, and made me realize and have a strong belief that no obstacle is bigger than the purpose”, asserts Kushal.

Aims to have around 2 million children studying in education spaces by 2027

We have the highest young population in the country, which can help us grow and develop as a nation. However, more than 15 Cr. children in the country are out of school, have no means of getting a good education, and will enter the workforce without it. Hence, the chances of them leading a good life are extremely low and at the same time, their contribution to the nation also becomes insignificant than to what it can be.

“My aim is to have around 2 million children studying in our education spaces by 2027”. So far, the organisation has had supporters who have aided this journey. Going forward, Kushal aims to attract more professionals and individuals to spare their time, money, and resources to become a part of the cause, given the challenges that the world is facing are humongous and require collective and collaborative action.

His good intentions have bagged him many awards too by various eminent personalities and organizations. Kushal has received the Vishwakarma National Skill Excellence Award 2021 (National Silver), presented by Sh. Manohar Lal Ji, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Haryana, for his contribution to Innovative Teaching Pedagogy in Higher Education in Institution/Industry Category. Mahatma Award 2021 under the Social Impact Category for judicious use of resources, expertise, and the impact created through Lotus Petal Foundation. Mahatma Gandhi Award at the NGO Expo in United Nations General Assembly week in New York in 2018. Gurugrammers Achievers Award in the year 2018. He also serves on the Board of Directors of IIM Amritsar.

Kushal is a big time bibliophile, and he likes to learn new things, share thoughts and engage in dialogue with people through various platforms like giving TED Talks, leveraging social media and other platforms to engage.

Given the challenges that the world is facing, oftentimes, one underestimates the power of one’s action. The Power of “One” soon becomes the Power of “We”, when an individual takes action, eventually leading to the Power of “US”, which is the catalyst for any change. “And I realized the “Power of One” through my own journey with Lotus Petal Foundation”, he concludes.

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