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The redoubtable babus of Mumbai[continued]

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If these two requirements are not met, the Mandal withdraws all support to the school. These conditions motivate teachers, headmaster and the whole village community to monitor and support the child, lest the whole school should forfeit assistance. The support funds are deposited in a local bank account jointly operated by the headmaster and the student.

So affordable for us:

It costs a mere Rs 2,000 per year to support a child's entire education. To take a child from early education, through to a three-year bachelor's degree in college, it costs but Rs 30,000 spread over ten years. The Mandal has never approached the government for help, because it works on the basis of caste. Supporters have not been lacking. Early donors were Mandal members. Soon doctors in Nair Hospital where many Mandal members are clerks, adopted several children. Others followed. As of date, the Mandal has arranged totally supported education of 171 children, 91 of them girls.

Most of the Rs 500,000 they raise annually for purchases, comes from members' own contributions and their friends'. They never run active campaigns or approach any firms. Pawar firmly believes the middle-classes must take to philanthropy. "There is a belief in India that philanthropy is for the rich," he says. "We want to show that everyone can afford it."

His faith has not been belied. Most of the funds are from faces in the street, offices and trains.

Once every two years, they stage a Marathi play as a fund-raiser, the proceeds from which are considerable. They bring out a souvenir volume on the occasion, featuring articles by members, teachers and beneficiary students. Details of Mandal's activities are included.

Whenever there is a short-fall, a member takes a personal loan for a year, to be repaid from Mandal's proceeds next year;this goes on by rotation. "There is no lack of money for good causes," says Pawar.

In delivery mode:

When the shopping has been done, it's time to plan the trip to deliver the goods to the schools. The Mandal has a well ordered structure. Besides the President, 3 VPs and a General Secretary [Pawar], there is an Executive Committee of 19 members. No one is ever paid anything, not even incidental expenses. The Mandal has zero-overheads. What they raise equals what they give. All incidental expenses are picked up by member subscriptions.

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