Imagine a person getting into the premier most institutes of India, and when all his batch-mates and friends started getting lucrative offers from the big names in the industry, he decided to give up everything for serving the humanity. Vinayak Lohani is the person. Vinayak Lohani did his B.Tech from IIT Kharagpur (2000) and MBA from IIM Calcutta (2003). Vinayak did not appear for the placement process at IIM and immediately after his MBA, started Parivaar.
Starting from 3 resident children in 2003, today Parivaar is a home for more than 700 destitute children. Parivaar helps rehabilitate orphans, street children and children of sex workers in and around Kolkata. It has children from West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand. One may wonder, what moved Vinayak to give up a glittering career for social service. Sounding it too natural, Vinayak says, “I never felt at home in the IIM ambience. Something was lacking. I could visualise my career 25-30 years on. I realised it would be a lifetime of counting how many chocolates, radios or soaps I have sold; how much business I’ve secured; manipulating compromising and planning strategies. This was not for me.”
Inspired by spiritual and humanistic ideals of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, Vinayak Lohani decided to devote his entire life for serving ‘Divine in Man’. Immediately after passing out of IIM Calcutta in 2003, with just 3 children in a small rented building with almost no financial resources, Vinayak started Parivaar. Till the level of 15 children at Parivaar, he used to take some lectures for students appearing for Management entrance examinations and through that could meet the expenses. Gradually people began to be inspired by this dedicated service and started to support this initiative and the number of children at Parivaar grew. At the end of 2004, Parivaar could purchase its own land to develop its permanent campus called Parivaar Ashram. Parivaar’s mission and theme began to attract dedicated youth, many of whom joined Parivaar Ashram as resident workers and began to become bearers of this mission.
Here is an email dated 13th March 2004, from the blog http://mynethome.net/2009/02/the-road-less-traveled/:
My name is Vinayak Lohani and I am a 38th batch alumnus of IIM Calcutta. After graduating from IIMC I did not take up a corporate placement but started Parivaar, a Residential School for socially ostracized children from categories of orphans, children of women in prostitution, street children, children abandoned by their families etc.
Parivaar Centre (as it is called) started in January and currently houses 20 such children. We are admitting 40 more children whom we have identified who are highly vulnerable and need immediate support.
IIM Calcutta alumni have been of great help and 35 IIMC alumni (15 from my batch i.e.. 38th) have extended support to one child each at Parivaar. We need 15 more individual donors to place these children and ensure that they too get opportunities like children form ‘normal’ backgrounds.
You would be able to read about Parivaar Center at: http://www.parivaar.org/parivaarcenter.htm
You can extend support to one child at Parivaar through our Child Sponsorship Scheme. The cost of one child at Parivaar residential Centre is Rs. 1025 per month i.e. Rs. 12,300 for a year. You will be associated with the sponsored child over the years and will be apprised of his/her progress.
Sir, this is a personal appeal to you for joining hands with us in this cause. If I do not get confirmed support from 20 individual donors before March end I would not be able to admit some of these highly vulnerable children, 15 of whom are girls who have been identified to be under threat of being trafficked and forced into prostitution.
We had planned for 40 children this year but since 15 more such extremely vulnerable cases have been reported we need to move away from planning. What is planning when human lives are concerned. And hence for this reason I am writing to IIM Calcutta alumni who might be willing to extend their support. Your contribution will be a destiny-changing support to one child.
Looking forward to your reply.
I would be glad to answer any queries that you may have.
Today, Parivaar is considered to be a model institution for caretaking and overall development of children from destitute backgrounds in a residential setting. Additionally, Parivaar’s day education initiatives cover more than 3000 students in far-flung tribal areas in West Bengal and Jharkhand and provide a plethora of services to the local communities. In 2011, Parivaar started the separate girls’ residential campus Parivaar Sarada Teertha with a capacity to accommodate 500 resident girls. Like the Parivaar Ashram (Boys’ Residential Campus) Parivaar Sarada Teertha also has its own library, play areas, dining halls, cultural halls, prayer halls and after school programs.
Parivaar’s website says “A lot of people used to advise us not to scale up in girls’ residential caretaking domain, as it is quite challenging and generally undertaken by all-women’s organisations or organisations founded by women social entrepreneurs, but we never toned down our vision and goals.”
Parivaar’s own quality Formal School Amar Bharat Vidyapeeth continues to attend to formal education of all the resident children, i.e. from boys’ as well as girls’ campuses.
Parivaar’s Village Welfare Block
Parivaar is also a base for many other projects serving the rural areas of West Bengal and Jharkhand. Parivaar is like a guardian to entire neighbouring villages and anyone who is any kind of crises knows that Seva-vratees at Parivaar are always there to do whatever they can, ever-ready to serve.
Parivaar’s services include Education Excellence Programs for village students supporting 1500 meritorious students, 24 hours Ambulance services for the population in the adjoining rural areas and Monthly Foodstock Scheme benefitting more than 700 old and ailing villagers.
Awards and Accolades
Vinayak Lohani and his Parivaar recently received the National Child Welfare Award 2011, which is the highest recognition by the Government of India to any organization working in the field of child welfare. Vinayak Lohani is a also a recipient of IIM Calcutta’s ‘Distinguished Alumnus Award’, Sanskriti Award 2011, CNN-IBN’s ‘Young Indian Leader of the Year Award’ 2012 and many other awards.
Using competencies of Parivaar, he has mentored a large number of organizations in different parts of India, helping them to reach a certain maturity level. On Vinayak and Parivaar, many academic case-studies have been authored dealing with grassroots Social Entrepreneurship and Organization-building. These cases have been taught and discussed at various B-Schools in India. Best-selling author Rashmi Bansal’s book ‘I have a Dream’ has an entire chapter on Vinayak Lohani and the initial phase of Parivaar.
Parivaar’s Support Base
Parivaar’s work has attracted an increasing number of supporters from amongst Indians in varied walks of life, and at the same time has been able to build a cadre of highly dedicated youth Seva-vratis. A large no. of working professionals including IIT and IIM alumni all over the world support Parivaar. Bulk of the donations and support comes from individual donors who inspired by Parivaar support it magnanimously. Parivaar also receives donations from institutions like IOCL, SBI, CLSA, UCO Bank, Cognizant Technology Solutions, United Bank of India, etc.
The Road Ahead
Parivaar wants to continuously develop its cadre of dedicated Seva-vratis who can take vow of service and work in various neglected parts of India for our unserved brethren and bring light to their lives. Thus in the years to come similar full-fledged Seva-Ashrams shall be started in other places first in West Bengal and then in rest of India.
Take a Bow, Vinayak Lohani!