- Mahatma Gandhi
As the pandemic took hold in India around end of March 2020, several million migrant labourers were displaced without any means of earning livelihoods, and without homes, almost immediately. Some of the images on national media of migrant labourers walking on foot for more than 1000+ Kms with their families evoked feelings of both pity and compassion but more importantly called for urgent action on the part of both the government agencies and public at large.
With the intent to make a deep impact in the lives of some of these people, the Kushal Bharat initiative was started in April 2020 by Mr. Karan Taparia. It was founded with a simple mission - to provide entrepreneurial avenues, seed funding and a support ecosystem to individuals and families who had lost their livelihood to the paralyzing effects of the global pandemic.
The idea which started as a small project is now gaining tremendous momentum in both scale and impact. It has also received the support of generous donors and mentors who have played a pivotal role in furthering this cause.
“I understood from my mentors early on that while any help is important, but assisting people to kick-start their livelihoods will have the most sustainable impact. People can empower themselves- it is not a question of 'power over’ or ‘power under’, but creating ‘shared power’- that is the difference Kushal Bharat aspires to make.”
- Karan Taparia
I am Karan Taparia, a grade 12 IB student at Bombay International School in Mumbai, India. Besides my curricular pursuits, I have always felt a strong sense of connection with social causes and have cherished every opportunity that has come my way over the years.
Last year (2019) I got the opportunity of spending a week at a small village called Bhillar in Maharashtra, where I worked with villagers to teach them sustainability in everyday life - like development of cloth bags from old shirts (to replace plastic counterparts) to teaching about the assembly of a water purification system (using old household items). Last year I also volunteered with Akshaya Patra Foundation, world’s largest NGO-run Mid-Day meal program serving wholesome lunch to over 1.76 million children in 15,024 schools across 12 states in India.
I have also been fortunate to be engaged with Marigold NGO (in Mumbai) where I got the wonderful chance to teach students from different socio-economic backgrounds. It was here that I saw the harrowing effect of Covid-19 on one of my young students; his father, the only earning member of the family who migrated to Mumbai many years back, lost his job almost immediately and the family stared at a perilous future. Almost instantly I felt a strong desire to do everything possible to help this family in dire need of support.
While I was always aware of the issues migrant labourers face in metropolitan cities like Mumbai but Covid-19 brought their plight to nationwide attention. With the inspiration of making a small but meaningful impact on the lives of people who were facing an unprecedented challenge for survival, I started Kushal Bharat in April 2020. Kushal Bharat is a very small initiative in this direction but I feel if all of us as a society contribute in our own little ways, the collective force will help us see through any challenge.