The SERVE gang ( from left to right ) Rajesh Arora , Hamza Malkani , Joe Chirimal , Sonia Bhattacharya , Abbas Bengali , Arunima Sengupta , Brother Brendan MacCartheigh. Missing from the pic , among the active SERVE members are Anjul Chaturvedi and Rukaiya Bengali
When in 1996 Abbas Bengali, Rajesh Arora and Brendan MacCarthaigh had seen Alor Pathe – a Bengali dance-drama by Br Saju sj , on the life of an Irish 19th century saint, Edmund Rice, who transformed his country by a new approach to education – they were inspired collectively to do something similar for India.They started the NGO SERVE Students’ Empowerment, Rights & Vision through Education. Save Students, Save India summarises their inspiration. In practice, every child going to school smiling, every child returning home smiling, not every child going to school in tears, every child coming home in smiles .
Since then SERVE has provoked much re-thinking of education in the country, especially in Kolkata schools. Grieved by the discovery that children suffer a lot in both mind and even body in our classrooms, that in fact for several years India has been the suicide ‘topper’ of the world, and more recently that Kolkata is the student suicide capital, they have used every medium available to challenge parents, teachers, Principals and even the Government towards an alternative”.
They have even provided such alternatives. We were introduced to our succeeding West Bengal Governors over the years – Viren J Shah and Gopal Krishna Gandhi – and are currently organizing a meeting with the present incumbent. They were more than enthusiastic about what we are attempting, and spoke about us publicly on other occasions.The pages ahead will spell out what we have attempted, and what has changed because of what we did....