IITians Go Beyond Classrooms to Impact Lives of Underprivileged

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IIT Kharagpur students are going an extra mile to ensure the underprivileged children around their campus get what they deserve. In spite of the choosing the easy way of charity, they chose to fight for the rights of these children and ensure they are upheld and a permanent change is brought.

CRY IIT Kharagpur volunteers in a survey

A sanction for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme arrived, the hand pump was repaired and two new teachers were appointed

To bring a change was the thought of a handful of students of IIT Kharagpur, a premier Indian institute, in March 2010. They joined hands under the leadership of Ramanuj Lal and Monish Salhotra to bring about a change in the lives of the deprived children in and around their campus and formed CRY IIT Kharagpur Volunteer Chapter, under the renowned NGO Child Rights and You (CRY). It has gradually become a decent group of students from various fields of engineering, science, law and MBA. The initiative was flagged off with the launch of a photography contest in the campus which witnessed participants submitting their entries on issues of child rights in and around their campus which often remains unnoticed.

"The child is the father of man." This famous line quoted by William Wordsworth refers to the importance of the child for the development of society as well as for the all-round development of the human race. Childhood is the time to garner the best physical, intellectual and emotional capacity to fulfill this duty towards the nation and to one's own self. However, this simple rule of nature has been crippled Mirpur Adivasi Primary School, a local school in a nearby village in Kharagpur, which did not have a functioning Mid-Day Meal program, lacked supply of drinking water and had poor sanitary conditions. The lack of teachers made the school’s problem look insurmountable. Led by Nikky Pathak, the volunteers decided to talk with the school’s principal who was keen on improving the school’s condition. With his help, letters were sent to BDO requesting the activation of Mid-Day Meal Scheme and prompted the principal to get the hand pump repaired, appoint more teachers, repair bulbs and fans and have better blackboards. A sanction for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme arrived, the hand pump was repaired and two new teachers were appointed.

Recently they took up the challenge to make their campus barrier-free. The disabled students in IIT Kharagpur are presently facing various accessibility problems, especially in their mobility. The CRY volunteers took up the issue with the institute administration. As a result, CRY IIT Kharagpur Volunteer Chapter has been given the responsibility to conduct an Access Audit of IIT Kharagpur by the Committee for the Physically Challenged Students of the institute, headed by Prof. S. K. Som, Dean Undergraduate Studies. This committee was formed in August 2009, after a directive from the Govt. of India. However, after its initial survey of living conditions for Physically Disabled students, it became inactive. After initiative from CRY IIT KGP, the committee was revived. The audit is being conducted under the leadership of Saptak Mohanta, who had prior experience of conducting such an audit in Kolkata schools as a CRY intern in 2008. As a result of this audit, IIT Kharagpur is able to analyze the shortcomings compared to the Universal Design standards by the UN. The report will also contain a full set of recommendations for immediate action and future targets. It is expected that it will eventually bring infrastructural and strategic changes, which in order will make access to the institute more accessible for all, especially Physically Disabled students.


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Saptak Mohanta

Monish Salhotra

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