This Independence Day we reflect on the heroes we encounter in our everyday life. Heroes who are silent crusaders for the welfare of women and children. The principles are Gandhian thoughts and ideals. We talk about Ba Bapu Seva Sangham that can be found adjacent to the hustle-bustle of one of Vizag’s premier commercial streets.
While bypassing the hustle-bustle of the ostentatious commercial establishments that dot the main-road in Dwarakanagar – which have been reaping the benefits of Indian Independence – and enter into a by-lane, you would find a very humble building housing a society, which has been dedicatedly practicing the ideals-and-deeds, as propagated by the chief architect of Indian Independence, since 1969 without any show off. It is the Ba-Bapu Seva Sangham.
As a member of the First National Planning Commission, and as the first chairperson of the Central Social Welfare Board, the preeminent freedom-fighter, champion of women and child welfare and supreme organizer, Smt. Durgabai Deshmukh had taken it upon herself to establish many NGOs, almost equal to ten thousand, across India to work under its aegis for the welfare of women and children, mainly destitute and downtrodden, as per the ideals of Gandhian thought and action, during the formative years of building this great nation. As part of that movement, Ba-Bapu Seva Sangham had been set-up in Visakhapatnam in 1969 with many philanthropic women of that time, viz., Dr. Lazarus, Rani Ramakumari Devi, Dr. Indira Bai, Smt. Venkataramanamma, Smt. Samykuta Bullayya, and many more as the founder-members of its managing committee. It built its own building in 1971 in Dwarakanagar, and has been tirelessly striving and continuing its services since then. It was named Ba-Bapu in memory of Kasturba (Ba) and Mahatma Gandhi (Bapuji), whose ideals are the guiding torch for its functioning.
Popularly known as Ba-Bapu Bhawan, it runs a school (now became autonomous with Govt. aid), a yoga center, a library with books on Gandhian philosophy, a Kuchipudi dance school, a Balwadi, Homeopathic, Allopathic and Legal aid centers. Balwadi caters to the requirements of needy children of poor people in the areas of health and education. However, anyone can avail its other facilities. Even medicines are also given free of cost to the extent possible. A room has also been given for another NGO that helps visually impaired people in learning to use computers. When Smt. Suryabhaskaram, its current secretary, narrated that its founder-treasurer, Smt. Lalitamba, who has crossed 100 years recently, is still an active member of this society, and often comes to functions and meetings, ‘yours truly’ got pleasantly surprised at the passion with which it is being run.
Donations from corporates & kindhearted people are the main sources for it to meet its expences . Smt. Suryabhaskaram laments at the low patronage, nowadays, from people for this noble cause. Even though people and corporates can avail many Income tax benefits over the assistance made to it, people are not coming forward to do so. I feel, it is high time that we should all lend a helping hand to such societies to continue their selfless services without any hindrance.
Can we pledge this Independence Day to make a difference?