Profiles in Courage and Leadership


IIT Kharagpur Foundation (USA) NEWSLETTER

Volume: 11.04.2023

Dear Reader,

Profiles in Courage and Leadership

IITKGP alum Varun Shrivastava (2009/B.Tech/Instrumentation Engineering) is an Indian social reformer focused on children’s education. Shrivastava received IITKGP’s 2020 “Young Alumni Achiever Award" for his significant contributions to Indian society. While working full time as a Manager at NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) an Indian Central Public Sector Undertaking, Varun has been involved in founding multiple nonprofit initiatives in India. In 2010, Varun founded an NGO called UPAY (Underprivileged Advancement by Youth) for the upliftment of underprivileged students. In 2015, he pioneered the concept of “footpathshala” through this organization. It is an open school that runs on footpaths and provides basic education to street children. Footpathshala operates in multiple cities around India and has served hundreds of poor children to get a basic education. 

According to the UPAY website, their vision is based on the idea that “Every child, no matter rich or poor, from the street or Bungalow must have the Right to Childhood & Right to Education!“ UPAY and Varun assert that “Today, in India, almost 1 in 4 people are below the age of 14. It is a crucial position to be in and the steps taken from here will determine the future of India’s education. However, the truth is far from reality.  More than 50% of students in Grade 5 cannot read a Grade 2 text or solve a simple subtraction problem. Only 16% of children in Class 1 can read the text at the prescribed level, while almost 40% cannot even recognize letters. More than a quarter of Class 1 students in government schools are only 4 or 5 years old, younger than the recommended age. These younger children struggle more than others in all skills. At the same time, 36% in Class 1 are older than India’s Right to Education (RTE) Act (2009) - mandated age of 6.“

Times of India has referred to Varun as a Big Brother to street kids. Lokmat Samachar and other social media groups have cited him as a top 10 ordinary Indian doing extraordinary things. He has inspired youth from different backgrounds including doctors, engineers, college students, and teachers to take up the street children's cause under the motto of "Reach & Teach" underprivileged children.

Announcements and Events

IBSR 2024: Call for Abstracts

The Ranbir and Chitra Gupta School of Infrastructure Design and Management (RCGSIDM) at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur is delighted to introduce the "2nd Annual Conference on Infrastructure and Built Environment: Towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies" (IBSR).  More information

IITKGPF Board Member and Alumnus Praful Kulkarni (1974/BArch/VS) Hosted a Get together for his batch mates in Mumbai

Click to view slideshow of event

Suresh Nair (1979/B.Tech/MET/AZ) Receives his 2022 Distinguished Alumnus Awards (DAA)

IITKGPF (USA) board member Suresh Nair received the DAA 2022 award during a visit to IITKGP this month for his many ongoing contributions to the development of IITKGP as a world class engineering and technology institution. In 2022, Suresh and his wife Vidya  established the "Suresh and Vidya Nair Chair Professorship in Industrial and Systems Engineering” with a $100,000 donation. The professorship was setup to encourage practice-based research and industrial collaboration in IIT-Kharagpur's Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and concomitant benefits in teaching, pedagogy, and outreach.

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