Pratham raises $130,000 at DC gala for initiatives in India

Economist Arvind Subramanian was keynote speaker.

By Deepak Chitnis

Pratham 01
Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY) speaking at the event.

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.]

To contact the author, email to

One Comment

  1. Sowrabh Sharma Board of Directors of LanceSoft, Inc Arrested

    Company Name: LanceSoft, Inc.

    Business owner, 2 firms face visa fraud charges

    NEWARK, N.J. – Federal prosecutors in New Jersey said Monday the part-owner of two information technology firms and an employee fraudulently used a visa program to reduce skilled labor costs.

    Prosecutors filed conspiracy charges against Sowrabh Sharma, of New York; his two firms, Jersey City-based SCM Data and MMC Systems, of Ashburn, Virginia; and Shikha Mohta, a Jersey City man who is head of finance for both companies.

    Sharma was arrested Monday and was scheduled to make his initial court appearance later in the day. It’s not known if he has an attorney who could comment on the accusations.

    Mohta was arrested in May 2015 and remains free on a $100,000 bond.

    In a statement, prosecutors said the companies offered consultants to clients in need of IT support. The firms recruited foreign nationals, often student visa holders or recent college graduates, and sponsored them for H-1B visas.

    The H-1B program allows businesses in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers with specialized or technical expertise in a particular field, such as accounting, engineering or computer science.

    The defendants and other conspirators recruited foreign workers with purported IT expertise who sought work in the United States, prosecutors said. The conspirators then sponsored the foreign workers’ H-1B visas with the stated purpose of working for Sharma’s two companies.

    Prosecutors said the conspirators falsely represented that the foreign workers had full-time positions and were paid an annual salary. They said the workers were only paid when placed at a third-party client and the defendants sometimes generated false payroll records.

    When federal officials launched an audit of Sharma’s firms, the defendants allegedly provided fabricated leave or vacation slips for the time periods that the foreign workers were not working, to conceal that they were not paid as required by federal law.

    The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and obstruct justice and conspiracy to harbor aliens. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.