By Prarthana Mitra
Software developer-turned-philanthropist Anuj Gupta has adopted a unique approach to boosting education of girl children in India and it all started at a tea shack in Lucknow.
A tryst with a young girl attending the tea and cigarette stall with her mother, unable to read her book and running errands instead, was an epiphanic moment for Gupta, who comes from a family of five sons.
He sponsored the first girl child in 2016, which is also when he founded Bubbli, a two-year-old campaign that works alongside his mother’s NGO and seeks to sponsor the education of deprived girl children by mapping the girl child with the success of a young student.
Engaging and empowering the youth
The idea is to ensure sponsorship for the child as long as the mapped students pursue their professional course, and to encourage a symbiotic academic evolution for both parties. The successful student empowers the community by becoming responsible for another going to school instead of dropping out or being forced into child labour. This not only makes them aware of their social duties but emanates a feeling of pride, and post-graduation, the student who becomes financially independent can even apply for guardianship of the girl they were mapped with.
Gupta realised that this is a tall claim, as it takes recent graduates and young professionals at least a couple of years before they are completely self-reliant. Speaking to Qrius, he said, “The new generation is full of confidence and is poised to contribute and I am sure that there will not be any lack of young guardians. The idea is to make Indian youth realise that their academic and professional achievements are not restricted to them, but has a larger impact on society as well.”
He also claimed that involving the youth in social work from an early age must happen alongside “their run to make a career in today’s competitive atmosphere.” The vetting process is simple and does not follow the traditional yardsticks of excellence or success while choosing the mapped student. Not the institution they are affiliated with or even their stream or background—the only thing weighed are their chances of attaining financial autonomy at the earliest.
Education, which ought to be recognised as a fundamental right for all, is still denied to a large section of Indian women, owing to poverty, ignorance, prejudice, and lack of opportunities. Forced into child labour or marriage early in their lives, underprivileged girls, who grow up to be women and mothers, are unable to make informed decisions for themselves, find their voice or assert their opinions. What could be a bright future is lost forever. Today, numerous non-profits are undertaking rigorous campaigns to create awareness and platforms for educating the girl child, ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ and ‘Teach for India’ being notable among them. Through Bubbli, however, these girls not only get a second shot at schooling themselves, but also gain personal role models to follow in their lives.
Asked what future he envisions for the campaign, Gupta replied that he hoped to find greater acceptance and involvement from Indian academia so that they make an active effort to identify potential students/guardians and ingratiate them into the process. “I dream to see pairs of girl children-young guardians, both self-dependent,” added Gupta, who has personally sponsored the education for nine girls so far.
Keeping his fingers crossed as the first round of mapped students are set to finish their academics and quite possibly assume the role of guardians, Gupta is hopeful that the Bubbli campaign will have started something new here.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.