In conversation with Ms. Kakoli Sengupta, an academician by profession, who can boast of a PhD, along with being the founding member of Engage India Foundation. Currently, a reader in International Relations, Department of Arts at the Jadavpur University, Kolkata, her areas of expertise include Peace and Conflict Studies, Terrorism and Counter-terrorism, Conflict Resolution and Gender issues. More importantly an active social worker and a well known figure in the city of Kolkata, we salute her for accomplishments and wish her all the luck for her future endeavours.
"A Symbol of Hope, A Symbol of Trust, A Symbol of Faith, A Symbol of Love - Engage India Foundation. We feel for society." .
According to you, how important is social work in today's evolving society?
I have always been interested in working for society in a meaningful manner. Apart from academics, social work is my passion. I feel as an educated person, I have a role to play in the society by contributing and applying my knowledge towards addressing social issues.
What made you take up social work?
This passion of mine to actively work for the society and bring about a change in the lives of people who are vulnerable and deprived has been encouraged to a great extent by my very own family - especially my mother and sister who have always motivated me to follow my dream of trying to impact society through constructive and positive social work. I am an alumnus of Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata and my school definitely played an important role in shaping my thoughts. I will always be grateful to my teachers who have taught me and encouraged me to excel in whatever I do.
What have been your major engagements so far?
I have been a member of the Social Service Inner Wheel Club, Tollygunge which mainly works for the cause of women and children. Later I was associated with an NGO- Bhawanipur Ashadeep, which mainly supported meritorious underprivileged students in their education.
Why 'Engage India Foundation'?
Having had experience in social work for 12 years, I wanted to start an organization with a different vision and perspective, hence Engage India Foundation came into being. Personally, my father's illness also affected me - during a hernia operation, he developed post-stroke dementia. I read up extensively on Dementia and Alzheimers and also went to the Alzheimers Society of Kolkata. Today, I am an Executive Member of the Alzheimers Society of Kolkata. Thus, I think an interest in healthcare runs in my genes. In my maternal family, Late Dwarka Nath Gooptu was doctor to the East India Company officials and achieved prominence by inventing a mixture which fought malaria.
Does your foundation limit its purview to any specific age group or section of the society?
I think our society needs to be much more sensitive towards the safety, health and welfare of senior citizens. I have learnt it the hard way seeing the way my father was treated in an established private nursing home and I realized that people need to be more educated, informed and aware of how to treat senior citizens who not only need medical care but also treatment in a humane manner. Our society needs to treat senior citizens with dignity and respect.
Tell us more about 'Engage India Foundation'.
EIF is an independent, not-for-profit Trust which will provide a forum for discussing and actively addressing issues and challenges in healthcare, social issues and will strive for reforms in these areas through informed, educated and meaningful debate and discussion as well as engagement among different sections of society and various stakeholders. It will also seek to promote culture and heritage.
What are its objectives and your immediate plan of action?
One of the main objectives of Engage India Foundation (EIF) is to make people aware and informed about issues and challenges in healthcare and social welfare and ultimately to impact policy. The Foundation will also try to nurture creative excellence and respect talent. It will thus actively try to bring about social change by undertaking several healthcare, social welfare, cultural projects and programmes and try to impact policy at the Centre and in the State. EIF also wishes to bring young people into senior citizens lives and thus bridge the generational divide. Those of us who have been fortunate to be close to our grandparents will understand the need and importance of the presence of senior citizens in the lives of young people and vice versa.
The journey so far…
EIF's beautiful journey began on 5th December, 2014 with the inauguration and its first programme which was a free Health Check-up Camp for 41 underprivileged senior citizens supported by KPC Medical College at Calcutta Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology (CMIG) which has been accredited as the Regional Resource and Training Centre on Ageing by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. EIF also distributed food packets and shawls among the senior citizens. Justice Chittatosh Mukherjee and Producer Satrajit Sen inaugurated the programme. The event was covered by a leading Bengali new channel, 24 Ghanta and Times of India. The Engage India Foundation Facebook page received over 200 likes in two days. We are happy.....our journey has begun!
Health Check-up camp for underprivileged senior citizen
A lot of the foundation's initial undertakings have been covered by leading dailies of Kolkata.
Yes, indeed. At Joyjeet Das Memorial School - Engage India Foundation was blessed to be a part of the childrens' happiness by donating pencil boxes which were distributed as Christmas gifts by Santa at the school. The major highlight of the month was EIF's participation in the 6 Km Ananda Run at the Kolkata Marathon on 28 December to promote the cause of good health and exercise among people which was covered by the Telegraph Metro.