In The Service Of All: Interview of Keshav Datta, Co-Founder of Sarvahitey
|Volunteers celebrating with local children from the slums of Delhi.|
Sourya Banerjee catches up with the Co-Founder of Sarvahitey, Keshav Datta, alumni of Amity Law School, Delhi.
Sarvahitey is a NGO which works in the NCR region, which not only educates, trains and helps children living in the slums of New Delhi but has also organized numerous cloth donation drives and relief donation drives, specifically during Nepal Earthquakes.
Sourya (S): How did the idea of Sarvahitey come to you?
Keshav (K): I think it can be safely said that it is not an outcome of a sudden proverbial epiphany. When we look back, the conception of Sarvahitey seems like the most obvious and natural thing for us. Sarvahitey was formed initially by 6 members: Smriti Mehrotra, Sanskriti Srivastava, Prem Prakash, Bharat Datta, Ankit Malhotra, and me i.e. Keshav Datta. All of us had been associated, and still were, with various socially inclined organizations. All of us were involved with other NGO’s, non organized social initiatives, social action groups, and so forth. But Social Service had not yet become a regular part of our daily lives, and that essentiality was missing. But a constant yearn to do more, disappointment with the state of affairs vis a vis the existing organisations, and a lack of opportunities to contribute towards the society prompted us to create such an organization ourselves, which can allow everyone and anyone to contribute to the society, each in his/her own way.
(S): What were the initial hurdles that you faced?
(K): As per us, we have been rather fortunate in our endeavors. No initiative of ours has ever failed, and we’ve never under achieved our targets. In fact, the hard work of volunteers, generosity of donors, and our pure sincerity has brought us an unexpected and overwhelming growth. For example, we never expected to be able to send relief material for about 5000 people hit by Nepal Earthquakes; we had never expected to be able to teach about 180 underprivileged kids regularly, and that too without an overflow of funds. Perhaps the only hurdle is to attract someone towards Sarvahitey such that he/she comes to one of our drives for the first time. Because once a person joins us in any of our drives, he/she is bound to return and enjoy the nectar of social service, which is actually a great service to Self.
(S): How many volunteers does Sarvahitey had till now?
(K): There are more than 100 volunteers, out of which about 40 remain regular and active.
(S): How do you manage your law school/legal profession, and your social service work?
(K): I think it’s all about passion and interest. Sarvahitey is our passion; in fact, it is a necessary part of our lives now. We can’t imagine our life without it. Now, once a person has so much enthusiasm for a project or initiative, excuses such as lack of time or energy fade away.
However, the modus operandi of Sarvahitey is such, that even the busiest of persons can take part in the initiatives. Keeping in mind the engaging student and work life, we have customized the model of Sarvahitey, such that we plan the projects and drives during the weekdays, and execute them on weekends, which are off-days. The members communicate on WhatsApp, Facebook, etc., during weekdays, and execute the field projects during weekends. It’s simple and effective.
(S): Do you feel that the civil society as a whole has failed in its duties to help the economically marginalized?
(K): It will not only be arrogant, but may also be incorrect on our part to state such. The civil society is so vast, so diverse, and so much bigger than our circle of knowledge, that it is not upon us to state that they have failed.
|Creative fondant workshop held at an Orphanage|
However, it can be at least said that there is a juggernaut scope for the members of civil society to rise up, and do something for the society. With the rise of social media, we have also seen the rise of mass scale opinions of various sectors of civic society; it will be great to see a similar rise of a class of people, who actually take up actions and do something for the society.
(S): What is your biggest source of inspiration which keeps you going through all difficult times?
|Christmas celebrations with children living in slums|
(K): The biggest sources of inspiration for us are the smiles, the love, and the warmth, which we receive from the people. Whether it be celebrating Christmas in a Slum, whether it be dancing with underprivileged kids, or whether it be singing with kids from an Orphanage, each such moment of reception of a smile or a hug, is a great booster.
Apart from that, Lord often arranges for us to meet such people who keeping their heads low, contribute infinite more times to the society. Each person, who has something to teach us, is an inspiration.
(S): Where do you see Sarvahitey in 5 years?
(K): Sarvahitey, as the name suggests, is for the ‘Hittah‘ of All, i.e. for the welfare of All. 5 years down the line, we would deem ourselves successful if Sarvahitey acts as an agency of change in the society. Sarvahitey would aim at benefiting maximum number of people.
|Winter Blanket Donations Drive|
From the point of view of our educational drives, we would want to be able to render regular tuition classes to about 500 students, and provide them with good quality education. In near future, we will also take up Organ Donations Drives, where we would be spreading awareness about Organ Donations in India, and encouraging people to pledge their organs. 5 years down the line, we would aim at reducing the gap between supply and demand of organs to be donated, in India, which would ultimately save many lives.
(S): What has been your proudest moment regarding Sarvahitey?
(K): Within one year, Sarvahitey has been published twice in newspapers circulated pan-India. However, we do not measure our success by such accomplishments. We measure our success by the outcome of our projects, i.e. our impact on Society. To that effect, it is very difficult to pin point one moment.
|Volunteers teaching slum kids|
However, one particular incident comes to mind: We teach at a Arya Samaj Gurukul. When we began our project there, we had observed that the kids there did not have enough confidence in themselves, and their future. We took it upon our self to enhance their exposure, teach them modern sciences, and resolve their queries. It was a proud moment for us, when after a year of teaching, we could gauge the changing mindsets of students there, their ambitions widening, and yearning learn expanding. It was an ecstatic moment for us, when one particular student of ours, who had squared in his future as being a ‘Pandit‘, now wanted to become the Prime Minister of India. To allow him to expand his horizons was our achievement and proud moment.
(S): How can others like you help you, or collaborate with you?
(K): It’s very simple: Call/WhatsApp/Message me. Simply contact me, and I shall resolve all the queries, explain our method of operation, and answer any question. We have various ad hoc and regular projects, and it is upon the volunteer to pledge any way he/she wishes to contribute.
EDITORS NOTE: Sarvahitey has been doing an amazing job in NCR for the last couple of years. But it is very very difficult for them to continue working without proper financial support. We urge all our readers to share this post extensively so that some kindhearted people may find out about Sarvahitey and come forward to financially help and support them in their endeavors. Thank you.