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US: West Coast Pratham fundraisers rake in $1 million

October 21, 2008 21:42 IST

Fundraising dinner galas by three chapters of Pratham on the West Coast recently raised more than $1 million for the social service agency's education projects for disadvantaged children in India.

The Seattle, Washington event held September 12 generated about $150,000, while the Bay Area, California event the next day raised an estimated $220,000. The Los Angeles chapter September 14 raised some $850,000, a spokesperson for Pratham told India Abroad. The LA fund included a donation of $600,000 from the Sudesh and Chitra Aurora Foundation.

All three galas featured fashion shows by models and pageant winners and an address by Dr Madhav Chavan, Pratham co-founder and director of programs. But the keynote speeches at Los Angeles and the Bay Area events were delivered by Sam Pitroda, chairman of the National Knowledge Commission of the government of India. The California programs included comedy show by Dan Nainan. Bollywood film star Rahul Bose made a special appearance at the LA event.

Pitroda talked about the urgent need for cooperation from all sectors and sections of the society, including the Diaspora, to enhance the reach of higher and vocational education in all disciplines. Currently, the demands of a growing economy have surpassed the supply, and all kinds of disciplines are understaffed, he said, according to a spokesperson. Understanding the need for immediate impetus to all educational initiatives, the government of India has decided to spend around $ 67 billion in the next five years on education, he said at the Bay Area event held at the Fremont Marriott.

In the coming years, the key challenge for India is training its human resources, and education is the key for that, he noted. Through proper use of technology, learning methods and paradigms can be transformed, he said.

Dr Chavan spoke about the non-government organisation's work, and said India could become a total literate nation with only government's work. People's movement and involvement is very important and Pratham is basically about involving people in the communities that they live in, he said.

The evening there began with a dance item by Taatva. The fashion show featured designs by Satya Paul and Deepika Gehani modeled by Miss India pageant winners. These included Simran Kaur Mundi-Miss India Universe 2008; Sara Jane Dias-Miss India Universe 2007, Sundari-Miss India 2005; Justine Dharni-Miss India Globe 2008; Rochelle Kumar-Miss India Global 2007; Ridhi Patel-Miss India America 2008; Elveera Rebello-Mrs. India America 2007; and other top models from, a modeling agency headed by Jinder K Chohan. The choreographer was Dr Anila Midha of New York. Supermodel Saira Mohan wore the final outfit on the catwalk. TV actress Simone Singh was the master of ceremonies.

'Pratham Bay Area chapter will not only survive but thrive with your help and support for the cause of eliminating childhood illiteracy in India,' chapter president Aruna Goradia told supporters. 

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