Face to Face with
Ram Jawhrani - Chairman, Sahyog Foundation
Interviewed by Sunil Shivdasani for Sindhishaan
The success of SAHYOG FOUNDATION, established in 1987 can be totally attributed to the multi faceted personality of its Chairman, the tall lovable and imposing Ram Jawhrani, the moving force behind this philanthropic organization. Whether it is business, social work, philanthropy, journalism or literature, he has carved out a unique niche for himself.
Here is what Ram Jawhrani had to say :
Q. Mr. Ram Jawhrani, could you tell us something about your success story?
I am a strong believer of “Karma”; Bhagwad Gita tells us that as you sow, so shall you reap. “Karma” has been my principle in life and I have always strived, not only for my betterment but also for the progress and development of the community and the nation at large.
Q. You have been in the forefront of social and philanthropic work. How and when did this desire arise to serve the community?
It all started during my college days. I used to stay in Ulhasnagar, a satellite town of Mumbai. A group of youngsters, including Shri Hardas Makhija and myself, had set up in the sixties Charms Friends Circle, a social and charitable organization, to help the poor and needy. Besides, elders in my family had set up the Hukumatrai Mevaldas Charitable Trust in the memory of my grandfather to help needy families. In 1987, Sahyog Foundation was started with the help of my school friends Chander Manghnani and Hardas Makhija and this is how I got involved in social work and philanthropy.
Q. Could you expand on its activities?
Sahyog Foundation was formed on September 20, 1987 by a group of young dedicated people essentially to promote Art, Culture, National Integration and upliftment of downtrodden.
The organization also launched a tirade against social evils such as dowry and drug abuse. Initially, the organization focused on making poor families self-sufficient by providing them with sewing machines and offering financial help to the needy and provided tri cycles to the physically handicapped.
Over the years, a lot of emphasis has been placed on our younger generation, by instituting scholarships for the deserving, conducting crash courses in Personality Development in many colleges of Mumbai, launching campaigns to bring awareness about the harmful effects of dreaded diseases like AIDS among people, particularly students. It has been organizing free health checks and Thalessemia Awareness camps in Mumbai and other places in the country.
Even at our National Integration front the organization has always tried to do its bit, as in the early nineties when our city Mumbai was witnessing communal disturbances, Sahyog Foundation launched the “Hum Ek Hain” movement with the active support of Shri Sunil Dutt and organized folk dances of various states including Sindhi folk dance. As a part of Anti – Drug awareness campaign, it organized “Savera 90”, and “Savera 91” to caution the younger generation about the evil effects of Drugs.
Q. Who are the people behind the success of Sahyog Foundation?
With a humble beginning, 16 years ago the organization took rapid strides in the social activities and today occupies a prominent place among the Non-Governmental Organizations in the country. And not only that, even our Sahyog Parivar (family) has expanded with the inclusion of several prominent personalities of the society – Chander Manghnani, Ram Jethmalani, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Ajit Wadekar, Sunil Gavaskar, Nana Chudasama, Asha Parekh, Dev Anand, Dr. B. K. Goyal, Anup Jalota, Ashok Advani, Snehlata Deshmukh, Sunil Dutt, Kiran Shantaram, Mohan Wagh, Dr. Lekha Pathak and Late Gobind Mahli.
Q. Sahyog Awards have gained national reputation. In how many fields are you giving these awards?
Every year Sahyog Foundation holds a grand function where talents in various fields are recognised and conferred “Sahyog Awards”. The award categories include Promotion of Business and Industry, Education, Medical, Welfare of the Handicapped, Sports, Public Service, Rural Development and Literature (Marathi, Hindi and Sindhi) and Films. A galaxy of film personalities grace the Annual function of Sahyog Foundation.
Q. What is the criteria involved in selecting award winners of Sahyog Foundation?
Nominations are invited through leading national newspapers and the decision of the award selection committee is final.
Q. It is widely believed that there is a decline in patronage to Sindhi readership because of which the language is gradually moving towards extinction. What are your views?
You are absolutely right in saying that there is a decline in the patronage to Sindhi readership. But somehow I feel that the language will not and cannot “die”. Of course, steps will have to be taken to preserve and promote the Sindhi literature and culture, which boasts of its origin traced to the 5000 year old Mohen-jo-daro civilization.
Realising that Sindhi Language was facing extinction, Sahyog Foundation has organized several cultural shows to promote culture, produced and presented dramas, musical programs, dance ballets and published Sindhi Literary Works and has even honoured Sindhi Stage Artists. It has organized several seminars with many NGO’s and even Government Bodies like the University of Mumbai.
To promote art and culture the organization came out with “Sahyog Times International”, the complete family magazine. The magazine aims to make the younger generation aware of their rich culture. It also aims to bridge the gap between Sindhis and the non-Sindhis. And recently, Sahyog Foundation has joined hands with Sindhishaan, a prominent Sindhi community magazine to produce Sindhi T.V. serials to preserve Sindhi culture and heritage. Sahyog Foundation and Sindhishaan have also embarked on an adventure to record and document works of Sindhi achievers in various fields. Towards this objective, they will come out with VCD’s and also have satellite broadcast of Interviews given by prominent Sindhi personalities on various perspectives of the community, its culture, art, and other aspects. The VCD’s can be preserved in libraries and will go down in history and archives as the only documentation of its kind.
Q. Other achievements of Sahyog Foundation?
The University of Mumbai has set up “Sahyog Foundation Corner” at its Kalina campus to promote Sindhi Language and Literature. It was declared open by Pro Vice Chancellor Naresh Chandra, Nana Chudasama and Vishwanath Sachdev, Editor, Navbharat Times, Mumbai.
Sahyog Foundation Corner, the first of it’s kind in the country, endeavours to preserve all books of Sindhi Scholars and rare literary materials in audio and video formats apart from promoting research in Sindhi language.
Another achievement of the organization is that it has its own publication “Sahyog Times International” in English (bi-monthly) and Sindhi (monthly). The periodicals are complete family magazines with focus on Art, Culture and Literature. It aims to make the younger generation aware of their rich culture. It also aims to bridge the gap between Sindhis and the non-Sindhis. The magazine has circulation all over the world. Sindhi NRI’s are thus made aware of Cultural activities of their community in India through Sahyog Times International. Eminent Sindhi writers contribute articles to this magazine.
Recently Municipal Corporation of Mumbai recognized the social and cultural services of Sahyog Foundation, by naming “Sahyog Foundation Chowk” at an elite area of Bandra, opposite Khar Gymkhana, which was unveiled by Kiran V. Shantaram, Sheriff of Mumbai, Sunil Dutt, MP and Kripa Shankar Singh, Home Minister, Govt of Maharashtra.
Q. Over 16 years, you have been recognizing achievers by Sahyog Foundation awards, has the community recognized your services?
Honestly, I have never desired recognition in the form of rewards or awards, it’s only love, affection and blessings that are the true awards to me.
Q. Which are the other organizations you are affiliated with?
I am associated with Bharat Sewak Samaj (started by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru), International Sindhi Congress, Ashirwad, World Sindhi Congress, State Federation of UNESCO, Helping Hand Charitable Organisation, headed by Dr. Suresh Advani, Mandke Heart Hospital, headed by Dr. Alka Mandke. Seva Niketan Hospital, Ulhasnagar, Murj Manghnani Foundation (founded by Chander Manghnani), Malhi Cultural Academy and ‘Murk’ Literary Magazine.
Q. Do you nurse any ambition to enter politics?
No, politics is not my cup of tea. I am actively involved in social work and feel that much can be done in this field for the betterment of the society in general and Sindhi community in particular. As of now I do not desire to step into politics. But if circumstances compel me to join politics I will do so if this helps my community.
Names of few of the personalities and institutions who have received award over 16 years in various fields :
Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, P. T. Usha, Dhanraj Pillai, Rajiv Bagga, G. S. Ramchandran and Geet Sethi.
Dr. Nitu Mandke, Dr. V. N. Srikhande, Suresh Advani and Dr. G. S. Sainani.
Ram Joshi (former V.C.), Snehlata Deshmukh (former V.C.), Rupa Shah (V.C., S.N.D.T. Women’s University), Jhamatmal Wadhwani (President, Vivekanand Education Society), Ashok Advani (President, Hyderabad (Sind) Collegiate Board), Indu Shahani (Principal. H. R. College), Mariama Varghese (former V.C. S. N. D. T. University) and Mehroo Bengalee (former V. C. & Managing Trustee, Maneckji Cooper School), Mohanbhai Patel (Trustee, Kalwani Education Institution and Varansi based Sampurananda Sanskrit University).
Ram Jethmalani, S. B. Jaisinghani and Goolam Vahanvati
Promotion of Marathi Theatre
Mohan Wagh, Daji Bhatwadekar and Dilip Prabhavalkar
K. R. Malkani (Writer of Sind Stories), Pramod Navalkar (Columnist Nav Shakti – Marathi leading paper), R. Rangraj (Senior reporter of P.T.I.), Prabhash Joshi (Chief reporter Jansatta Delhi), Vishwanath Sachdev (Editor Navbharat Times Mumbai) and Photo Journalist Pradeep Chandra (Bombay Times), Mukesh Parpiani (Indian Express).
Lata Mangeshkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Dharmendra, Sunil Dutt, Shatrughan Sinha, Manoj Kumar, Sridevi, Shabana Azmi, Hema Malini, Pran, Rekha, Asha Parekh, Jeetendra, Yukta Mookhey, Zeenat Aman, Javed Akhtar and many more.
Promotion of Rashtra Bhasha (Hindi)
Leading Private Industrial Sectors like MTNL and HPCL.
Sindhi Literature Award in memory of Poet Narayan Sham
to Dada Hundraj Dukhayal, Hari Dilgir, Dr. Moti Prakash (Eminent Poet from Dubai) and Prabhu Wafa.
Many NGO’s have also received the Sahyog Awards
such as the National Association for the blind, V-care trust, Spastics Society of India and Shanti Avedna Ashram, Tamil Nadu based Amar Seva Sangham, All India Cricket Association for the disabled headed by Ajit Wadekar, Vijay Merchant, Rehabilitation Centre for the disabled and Naseema Hurzuk of Kolhapur.
Ram Jawhrani, the moving force behind Sahyog Foundation, has been awarded Hemu Kalani Award, Instituted by International Sindhi Panchayat’s Federation at the hands of Dada Jashan Vaswani, ‘Friend in need’ Award, Instituted by Rotary International at the hands of the spian Yash Chopra, ‘Sindhu Ratan’ Award, Instituted by Government of Madhya Pradesh at the hands of Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, Appreciation Award for Social Service, Instituted by Sindhi Sahitya Academy, Govt. of Maharashtra at the hands of the Cultural Minister, Indian Airforce Award for Social Service, Instituted by Jal Vayu Vihar Branch, Indian Airforce at the hands of Mega Star Amitabh Bachchan, Prof. Ram Punjwani Award, Instituted by Goregaon Sindhi Panchayat at the hands of Arjun Shad.
Sri Ram Jethmalani says : Ram Jawhrani, Chairman, Sahyog Foundation, is the Cultural Ambassador of Sindhi Community.
Sunil Dutt says : “Ram Jawhrani is the soul of Sahyog Foundation”. Sahyog Foundation has not only honoured film personalities for their contribution to promotion of Art, Culture and National Integration but also the organization has striven for helping the disabled and fighting social evils such as drug abuse and AIDS. In his own humble way, Jawhrani is trying to eradicate evils from the society.
Nana Chuadasama says : “Mumbai is a city of Miracle men and one of them is Ram Jawhrani. Should Mumbai have 100 persons like Ram Jawhrani, the entire city would wear a different look. Sahyog Foundation has been instrumental in removing social evils like drug abuse and dowry menace besides promoting art, culture and National Integration. I compliment Sahyog Foundation for honouring deserving persons / Institutions every year. I am very much impressed with the activities of Sahyog Foundation and that is why I have associated myself with this organization since its inception”.
Dr. B. K. Goyal says : Ram Jawhrani is a dedicated social worker and has been contributing his might for the betterment of the society. As chairman of Sahyog Foundation, he is true to his slogan “Support the helping hand”.
Sudha Chandran says : Sahyog Foundation, Ram Jawhrani and myself have been fighting for the betterment of the society and striving to remove the word “handicapped” from the dictionary.
Dilip Kumar says: Sahyog Foundation a prominent non-governmental organization of city of Mumbai, is doing excellent work without difference of caste and creed.
Vilas Rao Deshmukh says : Sahyog Foundation is doing socio-cultural work which government has to do