Beyond Money
Education as mission

A teacher who doesn’t hesitate to beg, to provide free education, Shukti Sarma reports

Professor Sandeep Desai is rather well known on Western Railway suburban trains. Almost everyday, one can spot him, with a bag on his shoulder and a clear donation box in his hand, asking for money from the passengers. For six hours, from Goregaon to Churchgate, he endures the Mumbai suburban train crush, so that children at his free school can get primary education in English medium. “From Rs10 to Rs500, anything is welcome,” he says.

A former marine engineer, Prof Desai was teaching at SP Jain Institute of Management & Research when he decided to set up a free school for underprivileged children. “My students were required to work and apply management strategies in some rural or social setting for their summer internships. They came back with some very interesting reports; and that got me thinking about starting a free school,” says Prof Desai.

Along with his late mother and renowned advertising veteran Noorul Islam, Prof Desai started Shloka Missionaries in 2001. There are two schools that Shloka runs now, one in Goregaon, where classes are conducted from kindergarten to fifth standard, and the other at Kankavli, where children can study up to class II. “Most students are children of small farmers or landowners. In Goregaon, we have 62 kids and in Kankavli there are 26,” says Prof Desai. He plans to open another school in Ratnagiri which will teach up to junior college level.

The medium of instruction is English which, Prof Desai feels, is essential for progress. “These children cannot afford expensive private schools of ICSE or CBSE Board, but without fluency in English, they will not be able to compete with others,” he says. Not only is command over English important for communication, it also boosts children’s self-confidence significantly.

It was not easy to convince parents, initially, to send their children, although education was free. “Parents think that after they leave our school, they will have difficulty paying the high fees of English-medium schools for their kids. And, in most cases, these schools are situated far away. Also, there is the issue of migration,” Prof Desai says.

“I don’t have any phenomenal individual success stories; because Shloka is still too young. But when I hear children from slums speak English fluently, I feel very happy,” he smiles. Students who have passed out from there are assisted by Shloka to get admission in other schools and they have been doing very well. He aims to add one further level to his schools each year.

Apart from schools, Shloka also organises workshops and activities, one of which is on communication and advertising strategy, conducted all across India. The schools are run mostly by the money Prof Desai collects every day, apart from grants and corporate contributions. Prof Desai employs many temporary teachers. Teachers at the entry-levels are paid at par (or slightly more) with those of the private schools. “Of course, we cannot afford to pay more when they become permanent. But at the entry level, we pay them Rs1,000 more than what they would get in private schools. Apart from that, many of my students also volunteer to teach,” he says.

But things have not been easy. While trying to construct the school building, Prof Desai faced a lot of trouble getting municipal clearances and with obtaining infrastructure facilities like electricity and water. Even after spending as much as Rs46 lakh, legal documentation has not been completed for the Goregaon property, and Prof Desai is fighting in the Borivali magistrate’s court for the same. “Once this is completed, we can make full use of the place and can teach up to 500 students. We also need to get government recognition to get further grants,” says Prof Desai.

One can volunteer for Shloka as a teacher or help raise funds. All donations to Shloka Missionaries are exempt under Section-80 (G) of the Income Tax Act.

Shloka Missionaries

A6 Ujwal, Pandurangwadi,
Goregaon (East),
Mumbai 400 063
Tel: 93227 57030
[email protected]


Understanding global macro issues

One of the best ways to understand what is going on in the world is to able to read and hear Kyle Bass who runs the hedge fund Hayman Capital Management. Here is his latest letter to his investors

Kyle Bass, a strong advocate of gold, was one of the earliest to have spotted the big problem in the US housing market and made huge money for his clients. Bass founded hedge fund after saving $10million from his Wall Street stint. He has now  bet against European countries including Greece. Bass keeps huge gold bars in his desk drawer and owns 20 million nickel coins. In his latest letter to his limited partners, Bass offers his crystal clear views on what lies ahead for Europe and Japan.



State-owned oil companies hike jet fuel price by 3.7%

The increase comes on back of a 2% (Rs1,195 per kl) hike effected from 16th November. Prior to that rates had been raised by a massive 3.8% or Rs2,845 per kl from 1st November

New Delhi: State-owned oil companies on Wednesday hiked jet fuel price by a steep 3.7%, the third increase in rates in a month, reports PTI.

The price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF), or jet fuel, at Delhi was raised by Rs2,312 per kilolitre (kl), or 3.7%, to Rs64,622 per kl with effect from Wednesday midnight, an official of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the nation’s largest fuel retailer said.

The increase comes on back of a 2% (Rs1,195 per kl) hike effected from 16th November. Prior to that rates had been raised by a massive 3.8% or Rs2,845 per kl from 1st November.

But for a one-off marginal reduction in mid-October, ATF prices have been on the climb since September as falling rupee made imports costlier.

The official said the rupee has averaged closer to 52 per dollar this fortnight, 4% weaker than the 49.72 in the preceding two weeks.

Jet fuel was priced at Rs56,260 kl in September.

ATF in Mumbai will cost Rs65,650 per kl from Thursday as against earlier rate of Rs63,228.40 per kl, an increase of Rs2,422 per kl.

Jet fuel makes up for 40% of an airlines' operating cost and the steep hike in prices will raise burden on the cash-strapped airlines. No immediate comment was available from airlines on the impact of the price hike on passenger fares.

The three fuel retailers revise jet fuel prices on the 1st and 16th of every month, based on the average international price in the preceding fortnight.


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