We are thrilled that you have joined the Board of AIF. What is it about the organization that draws you so strongly toward it? What is your vision for it moving forward?
The Indian diaspora is becoming increasingly philanthropic which is a wonderful thing. Concurrently, several India-focused organizations have sprung up and are active in both fund-raising in the US and India and target delivery of services in India. While most of these organizations are focused on a single theme or have religious antecedents, AIF is unique in being secular and its mission is to step up and provide assistance where it is needed the most. As a result, AIF deploys its human and financial capital across a spectrum of unmet needs among those who need it the most – women and children, migrant workers, differently-abled individuals and marginalized members of Indian society.
AIF creates a significant and durable impact through a unique and novel set of programs such as Digital Equalizer (DE) that seeks to bridge the educational and digital divide in schools that lack technology; Learning And Migration program (LAMP) that ensures that no child is left behind as over a 100 million people migrate from their villages in search of labor; Market Aligned Skills Training (MAST) trains the country’s youth entering the workforce; Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI) that target’s reduction in maternal and neonatal mortality; and several other much-needed programs.
AIF achieves its goals by signature events in all the major metropolises in the US, raising record funds that are carefully deployed in India. The AIF’s vision is to catalyze social and economic change in India and its Board represents the business and intellectual leadership of the Indian-American community. As India grows to be the largest reservoir of human capital in the world, AIF aims to ensure that this generation is equipped with the skill-set that would ensure that they fulfill the ambitious expectations of their generation.
Your expertise and contribution to the field of medicine is outstanding on many fronts. Could you share on how you would bring that knowledge to AIF which has a strong health vertical. (MANSI).
My wife, Sunita Pereira, is a critical care neonatologist and we are acutely aware of the fact that a large fraction of maternal and neonatal deaths in the world occur in India. While the affluent and those who live in cities have access to world-class care, the smaller towns and cities and the vast rural communities have no access to care. The Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI) that targets reduction in maternal and neonatal mortality is consequently close to our heart. Our hope is to bring the academic and public health leadership in the US and India together under the AIF umbrella to drive down the distressingly high mortality in these vulnerable populations.
What is your personal view on Philanthropy? Why is it more important now than ever?
Philanthropy is one of those unique actions that rewards both the donor and recipient concurrently. As the divide between the have and have-nots widens, there has never been a more important time than now to embark or accelerate philanthropic quests. It is rewarding to observe the vast number of mega gifts made by the titans of industry and the fact that even those with more modest wealth have taken up the challenge to make an impact themselves. The US leads the world and is a shining light atop the hill in terms of thoughtful and impactful philanthropy. Finally, we have enjoyed being part of an ever-growing community of Indian philanthropists in the Greater Boston Area and nationally – this has enriched our lives.
Share with us your passions/hobbies and family values?
We enjoy travel, reading and entertaining. We have been fortunate to deploy our fondness for entertaining towards raising awareness and funds for causes that we care for.