Ekal’s Washington, DC, gala raises $1.1 million

The event, part of an 8-day, 3-city fundraising drive that raked in 5.5 million, honors IDRF’s Vinod Prakash.

Nisha Desai Biswal, President of the US-India Business Council, delivering the keynote address

Ekal Vidyalaya, which works for the development of rural and tribal India, has raised $1.1 million at its inaugural Washington, DC, gala last week. The event was one of three such fundraisers the organization hosted in different parts of the United States over eight days that raked in a combined $5.5 million.

The single largest donation in the Washington gala, held at the tony Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD, on October 12, came from Venkata Rao Mulpuri, an Indian American professor at the George Mason University’s Engineering and Computer Science department, who pledged $250,000.

The India Development and Relief Fund Inc. USA (IDRF), a Bethesda-based organization that focuses on poverty alleviation, donated $100,000. Two other major donors were well-known Maryland tech entrepreneur and Chairman and CEO of Infinite Computer Solutions Sanjay Govil and his wife, Vidya, and former Ekal USA President Vinod Jhunjhunwala and his wife, Prabha. They donated $50,000 each.

A major source of funding also came from the Sarva Mangal Family Trust for bringing tablets to Ekal schools India. The Trust matched donations from several Ekal supporters totaling around $250,000 for the tablet program.

The tablet tutoring program, known as “E-Shiksha,” was launched in 180 schools across India. Donors who pledged contributions for the program included Gala Convener Dr. Sudhir and Anu Sekhsaria ($30,000), Amit and Vandana Pamecha ($30,000), Dr. Suresh C. and Adarsh Gupta ($30,000), Bhaskar and Sarla Aggrawal ($30,000), Sunil and Aparna Kolhekar ($25,000), Bhaskar Ganti ($25,000) and Sanjiv and Joan Lakhanpal ($20,000).

“The support for the gala in the DC area was overwhelming,” Sekhsaria told the American Bazaar. “It makes us even more motivated to expand Ekal’s activities in the area in the coming years.”

Nisha Desai Biswal, President of the US-India Business Council, delivered the keynote address.

She highlighted the importance of the work Ekal is doing in rural India, especially in the areas of education and skills training.

“For a country to be healthy, for an economy to be inclusive, and for social and environmental sustainability, you have to ensure that opportunity is created not just in urban areas, but also in rural areas,” Biswal, a former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs at the Department of State, said. “We already have urbanization happening in India at a rapid pace. If we don’t stabilize the rural economy, if we don’t create opportunity in villages and towns, the cities will be more and more overwhelmed.”

The event also honored Vinod Prakash, president & CEO of IDRF.

The Washington event was the second Ekal fundraiser in a week. On October 6, its Houston fundraiser collected $1.5 million. Among major donors at the event was Florida philanthropist Dr. Kiran Patel, who donated $250,000.

A week later, on October 13, Ekal raised a whopping $3 million—bringing the total money raised to more than $12 million.

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