Padho India is a Non-Profit Organisation founded by student Harshith Belagur, and is also run by students themselves. It is the only Non-Profit Organisation in India to achieve this. This organisation opens libraries in rural areas of the country to make education more accessible for children in these areas. They have already set up two libraries and are expecting to set up fifteen more by the end of this year. In an exclusive interview with Harshith, he gives us a deeper insight into the initiative as a whole.
What inspired you to start the Padho India Initiative?
I’ve always been passionate about helping people and in UAE, I was doing my bit for the community by organising collection drives and awareness campaigns of various scales. I realised that since I’ve moved to India, I can do a lot that could impact people out here and I wanted to start with something very crucial to our society that is education. I believe India suffers from a bad literacy rate because children are not interested in attending school. That is when I came up with the idea of Padho India, a model that could sustain itself. Till date, we’ve already set up 2 libraries and are expecting to open up 15 more by the end of the year.
Why do you feel libraries and books are important for a student’s growth?
My childhood was spent reading a lot of books like the Harry Potter series or Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. Books have shaped me to be who I am and have always inspired me to look out for the greater good. I wanted the children of rural areas to also have this opportunity of experiencing the magic and knowledge that books can provide. Books help improve a child’s curiosity which according to me is the only way a nation can innovate and move forward. Books inspire change.
Do you think the current age of internet has reduced the importance of books?
I do think that the age of internet has reduced the time people spend with books because after all, watching a movie is so much easier than reading the book it’s adapted from. But they don’t really know what they’re missing until someone explains the uniqueness of books to them. I believe that physical books and e-books can co-exist.
At such a young age, how do you cope with running an organisation and studies?
It is quite a challenge and I believe that the only way we can improve our efficiency is by pushing ourselves to our maximum capabilities. I allocate separate time for studies and work and have a team which functions on its own. I believe in a society where sharing of knowledge is given prime importance and I see this as a way forward.
Where do you see your organisation five years from now and do you think the objective of the organisation will change over the years?
When I started Padho India as a campaign, back in January 2018, I had pouring support for the campaign. People wanted to support the campaign in their own ways and that’s what made us realise that we were doing the right thing. So, we started investing a little bit of our money and resources into making ourselves legal. Today, we’re the Creightillion Foundation, a registered Non-Profit Company. It’s one of India’s first and only NPO to be completely run by students and we’re proud of it. Five years from now, I see us as a diverse company focussing on multiple initiatives like that o Padho India into segments like the environment and health. We aim to have reached every state and every district in India by 2021 with at least three libraries in every district.
How does one help your initiative to grow?
You can help us in a number of ways –
- Donate money
- Organise a fundraiser
- Donate books to us
- Organise book collection drives at your university/school/city
- Spend a little time with the children of the rural school in activities like reading or teaching them something new.
You can find us at www.letspadhoindia.org. We’re also open for CSR activities.
What is your advice to children who have less access to education and books in general?
Read, read and read even more. Study well and help your family and the entire country progress ahead.