Beyond Money
Care for special Children

Shukti Sarma visits an NGO which caters for children with special needs who require constant care away from home

Sangopan in Sanskrit means upbringing of children, a task performed by parents/guardians of a child. Sangopita, derived from this Sanskrit term, is an NGO in Thane district, on the outskirts of Mumbai. The NGO runs a day-care centre and a residential school for children with special needs—both mental and physical. Besides taking care of children, Sangopita is also a place where parents of children with similar challenges bond and share their experiences.

Ravindra Sugwekar, an employee of Punjab National Bank (Fort, south Mumbai) founded Sangopita eight years back so that his son could have the required treatment for cerebral palsy close to home. “My wife used to take our son to a centre in Bandra (west Mumbai) everyday and again near Haji Ali (south Mumbai) for physiotherapy. It was fine as long as he was young, but how could I carry him when he grew older? He needed something closer, and even we needed some relief,” says Mr Sugwekar.

Mr Sugwekar and some affected parents and doctors got together and conducted a survey. They found 189 children in their locality at that time, who had some form of disability. “When we talked to the parents, they were in despair,” says Mr Sugwekar. “To care for a special child, to look after it 24x7, is stressful for parents, especially for mothers. While the parents showed interest, they did not have hope for much improvement.” With some financial help from his colleagues and a local industrialist Vinayak Ullengal, Mr Sugwekar started Sangopita with two children. From a single, multipurpose hall, Sangopita grew, mainly due to Mr Ullengal’s perseverance who arranged for funds through his contacts. Today, there are 43 children in the residential school and 33 in the day-care centre.

“Parents began to send their children when they came to know about our work from doctors and other affected parents. We even have kids from Indore and Delhi now; we also have adults aged 45 years at our centre,” Mr Sugwekar says.
Children who require constant care and cannot be looked after at home stay in the residential school. The day-care centre caters for those who need help in learning and peforming everyday tasks. Regular classes for vocational training are held.
Children at the day-care centre are now so keen to learn that they want to come even during weekends. “We have 18 care-providers and seven teachers,” says
Mr Sugwekar. “Psychiatrists, speech therapists, physiotherapists and other professionals visit periodically. Every month, we also have counselling for parents.” Local doctors have been helpful and also make room for Sangopita’s children in their hospitals. The Sangopita team interacts with other special schools in Mumbai and ADAPT (formerly called The Spastics Society of India) which works for helping spastics.

Thanks to their efforts, several children now have better lives. Like Avantika, whom the police found on the streets of Nanded (Maharashtra) three years ago. Since she was mentally challenged, they handed her over to Sangopita. “She was in poor health; could not stand erect; had frequent fits, had no toilet training and was aloof. Within six months, she started showing improvement. Now, Avantika is nine years old and you can’t even tell that she has any problem. She can even walk short distances,” smiles Mr Sugwekar. Being far from Mumbai and not associated with any political or religious institution, funds are difficult to garner.
Equally difficult is getting professionals and volunteers prepared to work at a reduced salary. Mr Sugwekar plans to start a dairy farm which will help them finance the NGO as well as provide milk for children, many of whom come from poor families and cannot even pay the monthly fees for the treatment. “The shed for animals is there, but we need money for buying milch cattle,” he says. All donations to Sangopita are exempt under section 80(G) of the Income-Tax Act.


Om Sai Prasad
Opposite Chinar Hotel
Karjat Road, Kulgaon Badlapur (E)
Thane 421 503
Tel: 0251-2694989
[email protected]


Indians’ average wealth grows to $5,500: Report

The nation is now the sixth-largest contributor to global wealth, says a Credit Suisse study released today. The US tops the chart

New Delhi: India may be home to a large number of poor, but the average wealth of an Indian has nearly tripled in the last 10 years to $5,500 (nearly
Rs2.70 lakh), making the country the sixth-largest contributor to overall global wealth, a study said today, reports PTI.

Still, the average wealth for Indians was way below the global average of $51,000 and just about 1% of the world’s highest per-adult wealth of $5,40,010 recorded in Switzerland, found a global wealth study by investment banking major Credit Suisse.

The wealth per adult in India has increased from $2,000 in the year 2000 to $5,500 currently, but the wealth distribution remains very disproportionate and poverty was still rampant in the country, Credit Suisse said.

“While wealth has been rising strongly in India, and the ranks of the middle class and wealthy have been swelling, not everyone has shared in this growth and there is still a great deal of poverty,” the report said.

As per the study, 43% of adults’ wealth in India is below $1,000, as against the world average of 27 percent.

Also, a very small proportion of the Indian population (just 0.4%) has net worth of over $100,000.

The report said that global wealth has grown by 14% since January 2010 to $231 trillion as on June 2011, driven by strong contribution from emerging economies including India.

India was the sixth-largest contributor to global wealth accumulation, while the US was the largest wealth generator in the world over the 18 month-period, adding $4.6 trillion to global wealth.

Asia-Pacific was the main contributor to the rise in global wealth during the period, with China, Japan, Australia and India among the top six contributors to global wealth accumulation.

Based on Credit Suisse's June 2011 estimates, there are 84,700 ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) with net assets exceeding $50 million each globally.

The USA is at the top of the ladder with 35,400 UHNWIs, followed by China with 5,400 UHNWIs, Germany (4,135), Switzerland (3,820) and Japan (3,400), Russia (1,970), India (1,840), and Brazil (1,520).

In the year 2011 alone, India has acquired 34,000 new millionaires, however, a larger share of these wealthy individuals “may be more properly regarded as residents of other countries” the report said.

“These are times of unprecedented economic change, and a radical reconfiguration of the world’s economic order is taking shape. Emerging markets are important drivers of the global recovery and remain the key growth engines of global wealth,” Credit Suisse Chief Executive Officer Asia Pacific Osama Abbasi said.

Credit Suisse further said that the personal wealth in India was heavily "skewed" towards property and other real assets like most countries in the developed world, and makes up for 88% of estimated household assets.

Personal debts are recorded at only $258 per adult, Credit Suisse said.

In term of average wealth per adult in 2011, Switzerland, Australia and Norway are the three richest nations in the world, with Switzerland recording the highest average wealth per adult at $540,010—the only country to exceed $500,000.

In Asia Pacific, Singapore follows Australia as the second wealthiest nation in the region and fifth in the world in terms of average wealth.


Euro bailout news makes share prices surge: Wednesday Closing Report

Nifty may move sideways with a positive bias. It has to close decisively above 5,170 for an upmove

All Asian markets opened on a positive note today, and most of them ended in the green on unconfirmed media reports that Europe’s key bailout fund will be expanded by close to $2.50 trillion. US markets also had closed in the positive yesterday, on reports of agreements to strengthen the beleaguered euro-zone’s rescue fund. However, a UK newspaper report indicated on Tuesday that Germany and France had “agreed to leverage the euro-zone’s bailout fund to over 2 trillion euro as part of a ‘comprehensive plan’,” but “a senior euro-zone source poured cold water on the report.”

Domestic indices Sensex and Nifty also opened upwards due to these (unconfirmed) reports. The Sensex was 135 points up at 16,883 and the Nifty was 43 points up at 5,080. Both the Sensex and the Nifty hit their intraday lows at the beginning of the morning session at 16,874 and 5,075 respectively. These indices hit their intraday highs at the close of the session at 17,107 and 5,148. Both benchmarks were able to make a higher high and higher low today. Today’s gain wiped out all the losses of the past two-day fall. Yesterday, we had said that prices might head lower, but domestic bourses looked up due to the reports of a probable EU debt-fix. At close of trade, the Sensex ended 337 points up (2.01% gain) at 17,085, while the Nifty made a 20-day (including today) high, closing at 5,139 (up 102 points) or 2.02 percent. The Nifty may move sideways from now on with a positive bias. But it has to close decisively above 5,170 for an upmove.

After yesterday’s warning to France that its triple-A rating could be at risk, Moody’s came out with yet another negative blow today—the ratings agency cut Spain's sovereign ratings by two notches, saying high levels of debt in the banking and corporate sectors leave the country “vulnerable to funding stresses”.  

All the BSE sectoral indices ended in positive territory, the maximum gains being seen in BSE Realty (up 3%) followed by BSE Bankex (2.69%). The least to gain was BSE Consumer Durables (up 0.84%). All the Sensex 30 stocks ended in the green. The top five gainers were DLF (up 4.16%); Hero MotoCorp (up 4.13% due to good results announcements); Larsen & Toubro (3.74%); Jaiprakash Associates (up 3.33%) and Wipro (3.23%). Nifty 50 stocks had 48 gainers and 2 losers—Tata Power was down 0.30% and Sesa Goa fell 2.56 percent. Today’s gain on the NSE was on the back of today’s trade of 54.28 crore shares, close to its 10-day average of 54.44 crore shares.

Despite the good jump in the index, the NSE had an advance-decline ratio of a weak 87:387. At home, there was a mix of good and bad news. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said that foreign direct investment (FDI) in April-August period has doubled to $16.80 billion. However, he warned that the global slowdown would impacting India’s growth prospects, but expressed hope that inflation will start moderating from December. He added that the tight monetary policy regime followed by the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) has also impacted growth during the current fiscal.

Mr Mukherjee also said that the G-20 nations have started thinking over the issue that the euro-zone nations should first "credibly assess" their own solvency issues before the international community could extend any help.

Countries outside the euro-zone have warned of the damage the European crisis was already doing to their economies and underlined the urgent need for action from the 17-nation single currency area.

ONGC was up 1.80% after the additional secretary in the department of disinvestment, Sidhartha Pradhan, today said that ONGC's follow-on public offer (FPO) may take place next month, originally deferred due to weak market conditions. The government plans to divest 5% stake in ONGC through an FPO.

The government aims to raise Rs40,000 crore through the sale of stakes in state-run companies this fiscal year through March 2012 (FY 2012), but it has been able to raise only about Rs1,145 crore so far due to weak market conditions.

SBI was up 2.99% as Banking Secretary DK Mittal said today that the state-run lender will not raise funds through a rights share issue this fiscal year and the government, the largest shareholder, will capitalise the bank by other means.


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