More than 2,200 delegates from a dozen countries converged at Dhanbad in Jharkhand, India earlier this month for “Parinam Kumbh,” hosted by the “Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation. Held at the birthplace of Ekal, which was established 25 years ago, the three-day event aimed not only to bring active supporters and partner-organizations under one roof, but also to take stock of the nonprofit’s success and to witness the transformation it has brought to the overall development of rural masses in India.
Attendees also paid tribute to founder Madanlal Agarwala, who established the first Ekal Vidyalaya in November 1988 in the Laidvari tribal village near Dhanbad. As a full-time worker of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), when Agarwala asked the poor farmers how he can be of help to them, they requested him to make at least their children literate, so that they can avoid economic and social subjugation. The seedling that Agarwala sowed nearly a quarter century back, has now prospered into one of the largest literacy, healthcare and rural development movement in India with supporting chapters in more than a dozen countries, an Ekal press release said. Ekal has now 55,000 schools spread throughout South Asia, including in Jammu-Kashmir and Nepal, with almost 1.5 million children receiving basic education and healthcare training each year.
Prominent dignitaries who presided over the convention were Ekal Chief Shyam Gupta, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghuvar Das, VHP Chief Ashok Singhal, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat, Sadhvi Ritambara, and ZEE-TV Chairman Subhash Chandra.
Singhal, in his address emphasized that India needs to restore its lost identity and true character on the basis of self-respect and self-reliance. Chief guest Bhagwat, in his speech challenged the delegates to explore possibilities where Ekal, as a rural support-vehicle, could be taken further with changing times and in favorable political climate. Presentations on several Ekal projects were also shown as part of the event.