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TOI Social Impact Awards: Pratham USA

Pratham USA awarded the Times of India Social Impact Award for international contribution to India through Volunteer based fundraising activities across 14 chapters in the US.

Inclusiveness, especially in education, rang out as a cause close to the hearts of the jury at the awards. And their selection of Pratham USA as the winner in the category of International Contribution to India seemed to confirm this.

Through the three-hour deliberations, issues of inclusiveness kept cropping up with probing questions about the kind of interventions being made, the extent and scope of work being done, and the model's scalability. But when it came to the International Contribution category, the jury lost no time in choosing its favourite.

This category, along with the Lifetime Contribution award, is a jury award, left to the panel's discretion — there are no applicants, no detailed field reports, no data to go by. The jury picks an organization it feels has contributed significantly to the country's development, and it's usually an organization whose work they are intimately aware of and goals they are convinced by. Six names came up as possible contenders, but the eight-member jury — that was an effortless coming together of the government, corporate and social sectors — zeroed in on Pratham USA.

Anu Aga spoke about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that's invested about $1billion in India over the last decade. Syeda Hameed was for Pratham USA, the global fundraising arm of the Indian non-profit that works to improve education, and Aga agreed instantly. Naresh Chandra's initial suggestion was Unicef, the UN body, for its impressive immunization programme. Sunita Narain was quick to point out, "But that is their mandate." To which Chandra's dry retort was: "Then, do we take the Nobel away from Dr Pachauri?", referring to the chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who received the Nobel Prize in 2007 for his work on climate change.

A question was raised about the BBC World Service Trust's programme to improve maternal and child health, and Narain ruled them out saying the government was paying the trust. "What percentage of its funds go into this work?" she demanded, and voted for Pratham USA.

Naresh Chandra agreed saying he had attended Pratham galas in London and New York. "They were very good," he said. Aruna Roy weighed in with her vote. That settled the matter for J M Lyngdoh and Deepak Parekh, and the organization that has 14 chapters in the US and raises about $11million of Pratham's total annual donations was declared the category winner.

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