J N KAUL /PAPA JI
The post independent of India has witnessed some names becoming synonymous with the work they did which brought revolution all over the country. The names of eminent scientist Sh. M S SWAMINATHAN, for the green revolution in the agricultural sector all over the country making country self sufficient in food and Verghese Kurien, an engineer by profession ----- for operation MILK flood by organising co-operatives of farmers in the Kaira district of Gujarat, thereby making AMUL, the household name in the country. This group of trail blazers includes the name of Shri. J N Kaul/ PA PA JI, for his pioneering work in the field of social sector and hence is being described as the ICON of social sector.
Pa Pa Ji was born in Srinagar ---- Ali Kadal, to be precise, where he had his early education. He graduated from Punjab university and got his Masters in Economics from Rajasthan university. He joined the Social Services Department of Delhi administration where he rose to the position of Assistant Director. He went to USA for studies in the field of CHILD CARE. By 1963, when he was 40 years old, had a comfortable Government job in good position. Any person in his place would have been a happy person dreaming of a higher position in the department by the time he would retire. In the later years he would tell his friends and colleagues that though he had a desire to do a lot and bring some changes but was unable to carry out because of red tape ism and stumbling blocks created by the superiors who were mere file pushers with no conviction. So it can be said that spark was there .
Prime Minister Sh. Jawahar Lal Nehru, while touring Europe had liked the concept of Dr. Hermann Gmeiner of providing a home to the abandoned child who has lost his/her parents and no body to look after him/her. He invited Dr. Hermann Gmeiner to India for establishing SOS Children’s Villages in India in 1963. Shri. Kaul was asked to accompany Dr. Gmeiner and show him the various Social Welfare programmes conducted by the Delhi administration. It turned out that both of them had identical ideas and in a way "MEETING OF THE HEART AND MIND". Fired with zeal of doing something good. Sh. Kaul, gave up the Government job and accepted the challenge of establishing SOS Children’s Villages in India. Normally a person at his age, with a large family and growing children would not have taken this risk. With firm determination and with equally firm conviction he brushed aside the suggestions and advices of his friends and well wishers to implement the concept in letter and concept.
The orphanages existed in our country which were either run by the Government agencies or non governmental organisations. The concept was the same Huge halls lined with the beds like a hospital ward and each child given one cot, for sleeping, studying and some personal belongings such as clothes etc. In the name of clothes each child would be given same type of clothes. For food they would come to the Dinning hall carrying their own Thali and tumbler and carrying them back to the cot after finishing.The scene was slightly better than the beggars being offered food outside a temple or a worship place by some philanthropists.
The concept of SOS for giving HOME to a child was totally different. Here 8-10 children would be put under the care of a lady called "MOTHER", in a hut consisting of several tastefully decorated bed rooms , a drawing room and kitchen.The mother would manage the house hold like any normal lady looking after the children. She would see that the children go to the school properly dressed , pay attention to their studies and this would continue till they got rehabilitated, arrange for their marriage to start a family of their own.
All these look quite nice on the paper but to implement and filter them down needs total commitment and conviction. It is here where PA PA JI stood head and shoulders above the rest and made him the ICON of social services in this country. He had his heart and soul in this concept. He lived in the Greenfields Village for 18 years and watched the concept being implemented in letter and spirit. He saw the children growing from the closest and like a father was aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
He guided and helped them to overcome their weaknesses and strengthen their strengths. Though he had a large number of staff to assist him but he did not totally rely on their reports and observations. His personal involvement in the welfare of the children kept the staff on their toes. No wonder the children who branched off in different professions have done and are doing well in their respective professions. Sh. Kaul earned the name of PA PA Ji by treating these children as their own Time and again he would urge the staff to treat them as their own.
Having established SOS vilage in Green Fields, Faridabad, any person in place of PA PA Ji would have given a pat on his back and been satisfied about his achievement and cooled off his heels sitting in an AC office bogged down in the routine office work. But not PA PA JI, a person of different stuff.He had a burning passion to bring in more and more children and give them a HOME. The SOS concept being different from the routine, everybody was very keen how it worked. People from all walks including Chief Ministers, Ministers, top level bureaucrats, social activists from different states came and saw the concept being implemented in letter and spirit. They expressed desire that their state should have the same type of village. The states offered free lands or on a very nominal rent for long periods.This resulted in almost all the states there was one SOS village.
The readers will be curious to know who financed the establishment and day to day management of these villages. They will be surprised to know that apart from offering free land by the states there was no financial assistance from the state agencies. Sh. Kaul while being in the government service had a bitter experience about the working of state agencies. He had taken a decision that SOS will never apply for any financial assistance or if they want to give, it should be absolutely with out any strings. The finances for establishing SOS villages come from philanthropists, corporates,individuals living in the country and abroad. The readers may be informed that it involves an expenditure of Rs. 8 -Rs.10 crores to establish an SOS village. PaPa Ji would involve himself from the begining to the finishing stage by going personally to the site of construction. A person of high tastes he wanted the best and never compromised. Those of you who have visited any of these villages have the unanimous opinion that nothing is left to desire. A keen environmentalist, he ensured that all the villages are lined with rows of trees , lush green lawns with varieties of flowers.
During his more than four decades of work with SOS villages a large number of natural and man made disasters took place in our country. Assam witnessed large scale massacre rendering hundreds of children orphan and homeless, poisonous gas leak in Bhopal claimed thousands of lives, earthquakes in Uttarakhand,Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir severe cyclone and tsunami caused large scale devastation in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, terrorist activities in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir killing thousands of innocent people. Pa Pa Ji, without loosing any moment would launch emergency relief programmes and rush teams of experienced to the worst affected areas. He would personally go the site of tragedies and monitor the execution of relief programmes. These experiences had made him an expert in Disaster Management.
Pa Pa Ji, did not restrict his vision to the establishment of SOS villages. Whenever he would step out of the office he would keep his eyes and ears open.His keen observation gave birth to two innovative programmes namely FAMILY STRENGTHENING PROGRAMME and REACH OUT PROGRAMME. The programmes implemented in India have been adopted by the Kinderdorf International ---- the umbrella organisation of world wide SOS movement, in other countries.
PaPa Ji, had a firm belief that EDUCATION is the only firm plank which can rehabilitate the young people by getting good jobs and become decent citizens contributing to the society.The result was opening of chain of schools at Faridabad and Varanasi, Jammu and Boarding schools at Bhimtal, Uttarakhand.In addition he was instrumental in opening the Nursing School at Annangpur, Helmut Kutin vocational and industrial centre, Faridabad, for training young people in computers, and a 20 bed hospital in Annangpur providing medical facilities to Annangpur and surrounding areas.
PaPa Ji, utilised every minute of his life. His was a life of total dedication and commitment. His Contribution to the society in general and the community in particular will be matched by very few . A humble person , he never used the word "I". He was a firm believer of delegation of responsibilities and had tremendous faith in people who worked with him.
I reproduce a part of the letter Pa Pa Ji wrote to his friends and well wishers on his 80th ,birthday, from Bhimtal on September, 29, 2004 :-
"Today on reaching 80 years in my life, I look back with much reflection and fulfillment. I consider myself quite fortunate at having been associated with the field of Education and Social Welfare.I started with the field of education and slowly discovered that I could be more effective in working with children especially children in need of CARE and Protection. And then 40 years ago, I had the opportunity to start an endeavor to do something which is very close to my heart ------- work with the CHILDREN.With the dedication of our small family of Mothers and co workers helped us transform this dream into reality".
V K WATTAL
SAHIBABAD, Ghaziabad (India)