By Karan Kapoor
Ludhiana, May 8 : Many private industrial establishments are today coming forward to help needy people in the State particularly in areas like education, agriculture and women empowerment.
The Bharti Foundation, a philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, has joined hands with the Punjab government to provide free education to the deprived sections of society.
Bharti Enterprises is one of India's leading groups with interests in telecom, retail, financial services and agriculture-based business.
Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal recently informed the State Assembly that the children from the poor families, who otherwise could not afford to pay tuition fees of private schools, would no longer have to (suffer). He said: "A revolutionary scheme has been launched in Punjab to see that the poor will have every opportunity to study."
Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, tells: "Under the program, till 2010, we will set up 2,000 village Primary schools and 50-60 senior secondary schools. For every 10 primary schools, there will be one secondary school. From 2010 onwards, once the program is fully executed 200,000 students will be part of the scheme each year. I am very glad to announce that the Panchayats (village governing bodies) and villagers are heartily supporting our mission."
Under the Satya Bharti Model School Program, eight schools are already operational in the State with over 1,200 children getting education of a high standard. The children of migrant workers and dropouts are also given uniforms and meals.
The curriculum and teaching-learning processes has been designed to enable children acquire skills to explore, question, reason and communicate effectively and acquire values which help them value their culture and connect with the society.
Manoj, one student, said: "I belong to Samastipur in Bihar where English was not taught to us in schools. Here, I am learning both English and computers. My father is a cook."
Vikas, another student, said: "The standard of education is high. English was not taught in our ancestral village. Here, I learn all subjects."
In the field of agriculture too the private firms are coming forward to help. The Punjab National Bank, under its Farmers' Training Program Scheme has appointed agricultural scientists to help farmers in diversification of their crops.
D. Singh, General Manager of the Punjab National Bank, Punjab Zone, said: "We are also educating the farmers so that they should come out of the clutches of village money lenders. By doing so they can avail of the various schemes of banks and can start scientific farming."
"They can take up or start other allied activities like dairy farming, fisheries, pigsties and bee-keeping which will ultimately give them better yield rather than going for the conventional farming," Singh added.
Rural women in Punjab can now hope to achieve success in activities like embroidery, tailoring to information technology.