K. Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy
Asha for Education has 70 per cent of volunteers from software industry
HYDERABAD: Software professionals are well known for their lavish lifestyles and weekend partying. However, contrary to the popular belief, Asha for Education, a Gandhian organisation, has been attracting quite a good number of software professionals. Hyderabad Chapter of Asha, which is supporting seven educational projects that help orphans, slow-learners and tribal children, has got nearly 70 per cent of volunteers from software industry.
The interest in social causes is increasing among techies, feel Ravi Mundoli and Uzma Hussain Barlaskar. Ravi who owns a software firm, has been associated with Asha for the past eight years. “The situation has changed compared to few years ago. At times, we are getting many people, but not able to accommodate as we don’t have too many projects to work,” he said. Uzma, a software developer at D.E. Shaw, says software engineers are increasingly engaging with various social work projects. “Some of my friends have associated with Project 511 (the project that is working with government schools to improve the quality of education) and other projects too,” she said.
According to these engineers, busy weekdays and jolly weekend is not the only option. “It’s all about individual choice -- to go to a pub or a school on the weekend,” said Yamini Ayyagari, who is working with SAP Technologies Ltd. and also teaches at Asha-supported projects on weekends. These volunteers say that they find enough time to work for Asha. “I work for 10 to 12 hours a day. That doesn’t mean I don’t find time for any thing else,” said Subir Talukdar, a project manager at Infosys. He said he had been interested in social work, but got the opportunity only now.
The reason behind Asha attracting the software folks is its active presence on Internet. Pradeep Kumar, owner of an online company, found Asha when he was searching for such organisations in the city. Now Kumar is administering the website of the Chapter.
The organisation has put internet in great use. “Apart from our biweekly meetings, we run our activity on net. So far, our chapter has helped six bright children to get back to education in last two years. We did it through our group mails,” said Siddartha Chintapally, an active volunteer of Asha.
It may be surprising that Asha, a Gandhian organisation that has no office and no formal membership, has been inspiring the youth from software and other high-paid professions. It’s all about the difference that they want to make.