Economist Arvind Subramanian was keynote speaker.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Pratham USA held their gala here recently, during which it raised around $130,000.
The money raised at the event, which was held on October 27, will go towards funding Pratham’s initiatives in providing education to poverty-stricken regions of India, where many children are often unable to attend school because of the socio-economic status to which they’re born. The event was emceed by Sheela Murthy, the founder of the Maryland-based Murthy Law Firm.
“Pratham has finally found the right audience in the Washington area,” said Ramesh Mahalingam, the president of Pratham DC and former president of Pratham USA. “Nearly 100 million Indian children are at risk of growing up illiterate and not being able to become productive members of the global economy. Pratham is leading the way in solving this problem. Leaders from this diverse community can do a lot to be part of the solution.”
The keynote speaker at the second annual gala, which was officially titled “Engaging Hearts, Engaging Minds,” was Arvind Subramanian. He is the Dennis Weatherstone Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and also a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development. Widely considered one of the world’s best thinkers, by the likes of Foreign Policy Magazine, Subramanian is a key advisor in the Indian finance ministry, and has written several books about economic development around the world.
The guest speakers were New York Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY), who is the co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, and Dinyar Devitre, who is a special advisor at General Atlantic, one of the foremost global growth equity firms.
The designated “Pratham Speaker” at the event was Dr. Rukmini Banerji, who has been with the organization since 1996. She studied economics in India before going on to Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She then did her Ph.D at the University of Chicago, where she did her post-doctoral work as well. She is currently one of the leaders of the team of people that designs and implements Annual Status of Education Reports (ASER), an annual study that assesses the effectiveness of public school curriculum throughout India. It is the country’s second-largest such study.
Since it was founded in 1994, Pratham has reached 1.5 million children in 30,000 villages in 17 states in India. The organization has trained 60,000 volunteers, has taught vocational skills to 20,000 youths, and helped at least 600,000 students get a better education via its ASER program.
Ram Karuppusamy, a board member of Pratham DC and the president of IT company Lancesoft, Inc., said “We are excited about Pratham having a sustained presence in the DC area. This is only our second gala but we can clearly see our support growing. The gala audience is quite excited about Pratham. In the future, I expect that we will be very active in this area to raise awareness and raise money.”
Pratham was founded by Vijay Goradia, the founder and chairman of Vinmar International.
[Photo by Bala Chandran.]
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