31st March 2018, marked 10 years of Parinaam’s operations.
When Elaine Ghosh first conceived the idea of Parinaam, it was to provide a social service for the customers of Ujjivan Financial Services, many of whom were in need of health care and educational facilities. However, her interaction with the urban poor made her realise, very quickly, that she faced a much larger problem.
In Rural India, the poor are those who have less material facilities or wealth than their more well-to-do colleagues. Socially however, there is less stratification and the extent of levelling is much greater. Therefore, when working in rural areas, the emphasis is mainly on providing better facilities which are shared by all. In Urban India, one faces a huge social and psychological problem. The differences between the haves and have-nots here is so huge and so visible that the poor feel far more deprived, they are made to feel small and second rate and they lose their self-respect. The temptation to indulge in criminal activities further denudes their moral standards. The concept of the? Ultra Poor? does not exist in our rural areas. However, it is very evident in our urban areas, especially in and around our Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities.
Elaine therefore realised that she had to provide relief to this lowest category of urban society if she wanted work towards resolving the problems faced by urban India. For convenience and simplicity, she decided to draw the differentiating line between those who could not even qualify to get a microfinance loan and those who could. Over the years, our Urban Ultra Poor Program has become our Flagship Program and while the numbers per se may not seem so impressive, I feel very proud of the achievements of the Parinaam team in this area. The uplift of the urban ultra-poor involves health care, education, financial literacy and social improvement and it’s a real source of satisfaction to see the joy on the face of a participant when she qualifies for a microfinance loan and opens a bank account.
At the same time her children are taught the benefits of saving and open their own “Chillar Accounts”. To date, over 15,000 individuals have been impacted by this program and the repayment rate for the people taking loans is over 90%. In addition, over 90,000 children have opened Chillar Accounts where they are saving about Rs. 250/- per month on an average.
Our Financial Literacy Program is also growing very satisfactorily and to date we have covered over 500,000 people in 20 States.
Our Academic Adoption Program continues to grow and we are very grateful to the hundreds of donors who have committed themselves to long-term donations to ensure that underprivileged children can receive a good education. To date there are 36 generous schools of repute who have agreed to partner with us to make this possible. I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of 5 colleges in Bangalore who are enabling several of our children to get a good college education.
A great source of strength for us are the many organisations who have constantly been supporting us financially. Without their help we would be unable to achieve anything.
However, all this and more has only been made possible by Mallika and her dedicated and devoted team who have worked tirelessly and lovingly to make so many people happier than they were before. Parinaam is very fortunate that after Elaine’s untimely death, her daughter Mallika took up the reins of her work so ably and efficiently. In an organisation like ours, there is something more than just professionalism that differentiate the good organisations from the great ones. Could this be one of the reasons that Parinaam?s own team keep voting it as one of the best Organisations to work with???
Sarosh J. Ghandy
Chairman, Parinaam Foundation