Breaking Stereotypes Of Women In Sociopreneurship : Chitralekha N Patil

An educationalist and a social worker, from being a media professional to becoming a political youth icon, we bring you the journey of Chitralekha N Patil, Mentor Trustee at CFTI.

The pandemic has been tough for people across the globe. People have lost their loved ones, their source of income, and even their self-confidence. Despite the challenges, the Centre for Transforming India (CFTI), a Maharashtra based NGO, has been consistently working towards all kinds of remedial efforts to ensure that the underprivileged sections of the society get the help they need in these unprecedented times.

 An educationalist and a social worker, from being a media professional to becoming a political youth icon, we bring you the journey of Chitralekha N Patil, Mentor Trustee at CFTI.

 Tell us a bit about your stint in the media industry.

 Born in the city of Nashik, my childhood has been what every child dreams. My parents gave me the right guidance as well as the freedom to choose my career. Passionate about storytelling, I choose to study BMM in Mumbai, and that decision was indeed a turning point in my life. I have worked with renowned brands like Balaji and Zee, and that is when I realized the impact that media can have on the lives of people. I also realized that I had been blessed, but there are many needy people, who aren’t as fortunate, and one must do all one can, including harness the power of media, for social change.

 What got you into politics?

 It was after marriage that my career took a new direction. Becoming a part of a family with a political background meant that I now had a far greater reach, as well as a responsibility – in real life, instead of the reels.

 What are your learnings as a political leader?

 I believe that politics should reflect people, of their thoughts, and those leaders must mould themselves to do what’s best for their people.  Our responsibility is to make the most of the life that we are blessed with, and that true happiness lies only in ‘giving’. My media background also taught me that media is a powerful medium to stay connected to people, as well as to create awareness. In politics, staying connected is of prime importance, and media provides amplification to the message.

What led to the transition from being a media professional to an educationalist to becoming a social worker?

 Since I had some experience in media, being the Managing Director of Nagesh Publishers came to me naturally. For eight decades now, ‘Krushival’ has been a leading Marathi daily newspaper in the Konkan region. This venture keeps me rooted in my state and the people of rural India and enables me to carry forward the legacy of inspiring people.

 Holding office as the Secretary of the Prabhakar Patil Education Society (Alibaug) further propelled me towards bettering the academic opportunities for the local communities. We have successfully developed almost 30+ schools and colleges in remote villages of Maharashtra, empowering students of the economically weaker sections of the communities to seek better education. We also encourage sports and other activities that enable better futures for these children and help them break the cycle of poverty.

 But what truly gives me the opportunity to make a difference is being the Mentor Trustee at CFTI – a grassroots level non-governmental organization based in Maharashtra, working towards bringing growth opportunities to rural India through education, healthcare, poverty alleviation, women empowerment, and other sustainable development goals. While I wear many hats, this is my favoured role.

What keeps you motivated to do charitable work on an ongoing basis?

 I am truly inspired by the Karl Marx ideology, and this one quote has especially stayed with me: Education is free. Freedom of education shall be enjoyed under the condition fixed by law and under the supreme control of that state.”

 I believe that if children are denied knowledge and education today, we will face a lack of skilled professionals in the future. And so, it has been my constant endeavour to raise the standards of living of the underprivileged by providing them with opportunities to grow and learn. Education is the only tool to ensure a better tomorrow for these children who are equally the future of our society and country.

 Through CFTI, we started our journey of transformation with small steps and then scaled up. We are beginning with distributing school kits comprising a school bag, books, uniform, tiffin box and water bottle; facilitating the provision of benches, computers, and school buses; awarding scholarships and encouraging extra-curricular activities including art, culture and sports. Just seeing the children smile is my reward as well as my motivation.

 Do you think that youth can make a difference in your efforts?

 Of course! I have had the opportunity of being a part of multiple ventures via the PNP Group of Companies. And it brings me a great sense of pride to know that our efforts bring about a positive change. Be it in my capacity as a company’s Director or as a Corporator; nothing brings me greater joy than working on the ground, hands-on, amidst the people. Adding a personal touch to my profession drives my passion for making a difference.

 My journey in this field began at a very young age, and over time, my passion has only amplified. I feel that the youth can and should make a great impact! We are looking for student volunteers to join our cause. Our SCHOOL ON TAB initiative has just been launched. Through this, we aim to distribute over 1000 tabs and digital kits in the slums of Dharavi to ensure that children can avail the benefits of online schooling and continue with their education. If each volunteer sets an aim to touch at least 3-5 lives, we will empower many more children in underprivileged communities. 

 The campaign for School on Tab seems to have been positively received; tell us about it?

Yes, it has been well received and has garnered us the right support too. The campaign features harsh realities and solutions for the same. The team did a lot of research to arrive at the facts – UNICEF, Annual Status for Education Report, Oxfam India etc., we accessed all available sources. The magnitude of the issue is not known to many.

 To help us get started with corporate donors, Cause Patrons like Mallika Sagar, Ritika Vardan and Namrata Tanna lent power to our mission. This was followed by Malishka Mendonsa, artist and voice of the city, hosting a Facebook Live session during our first round of tab distribution. She interacted with the beneficiary children from Dharavi.

 Bollywood celebrity director Farah Khan make a film and appealed to citizens to come forth and contribute to the cause. Noted journalist Faye Dsouza associated with our initiative by hosting an Open Clubhouse conversation that included panellists such as Dr Samir Dalwai (Child Development Specialist), Dr. Arunabh Singh (Director-Principal, Nehru World School) and Gurumurthy Kasinathan (Founder & Director of IT for change, education domain). It is the power of all our combined voices that will pave the way for change for these children’s Right to Education.

 What is the next step for the School on Tab initiative?

They say well begun is half done, we have already raised funds for almost 400 tabs, and that number is dynamic and ever-changing. We have done one distribution session already, and the next is planned in a week. But there is still a gap between our target and our results, and we are hoping more people join us in our mission. I can say that for CSR funding, we make great partners as all our documents, including form CSR1 and our utilisation reports are in place. I am positive that with the support of media, we can exceed the very nominal target we have set ourselves. 

Source: outlook india

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Rohit Mehta is an Indian Blogger-cum-Journalist, Author and Entrepreneur. He have been in digital marketing & IT sector for over 10 years, running his own digital agency, working for thousands of clients and projects.