At the young age of 21 years, Swapnil Pandey has not only perceived but also achieved what people only dream about: ‘betterment of the society’. Swapnil Pandey is the President of Youth for Society Welfare Association, General Secretary at National Human Rights & Social Justice Commission and President at Congress IT Department Dehradun Cant Constituency. Today we have him and his team with us for a talk session edifying their struggle and hurdles in the easier said than done task ‘society welfare’.
Our readers would want to know more about your personal life. Where did you spend your early life and how did it shape you? Also, what are you currently doing apart from social work?
I was born and brought up in Dehradun. I have done my schooling from Marshal Scholl Dehradun. I am pursuing my engineering from Uttarakhand Technical University, Dehradun. I live with my family in Prem Nagar, Dehradun. My father is currently General Secretary of Uttarakhand congress. He has been my role model. It is his guidance that has shaped me into what I am today.
When and how did you develop an inclination towards Social work?
Since childhood, I have been a very soft hearted person. When I was in school I used to see children of my age begging on the streets. They did not have the basic amenities like food and shelter. They never got a chance to attend school and get educated. They were deprived of things that are very basic to us but fall into the category of luxuries for them. I used to feel deeply affected by the unequal distribution of resource in the society. I was determined that I will do something about it. But at that time I had no idea about how to proceed. The determination was the only thing that I had. Later I joined Social Organisation for Community Health as a volunteer and thereby began my journey as a social activist.
Now that you have been entrusted with the post of the President of Youth for Society Welfare Association, what are the responsibilities you have to shoulder being on this respectable post?
We work for the betterment of children who live in slums of Bindal River. There are around 120 children living in reckon-able conditions, we try to provide them with medicines, clothes and hygienic food. We organize tutorial sessions to make them literate and capable of earning a livelihood. So that they shape the future of our homeland and make us a proud state with a sky-scraping literacy rate.
What is your current main mission considering the scenario of the youth of our society? There is no need for a validation to the fact that Uttarakhand is soaring in growth rate. However, the youth is getting misled towards alcoholism and drug addiction. Henceforth under the guidance of Anand Rawat son of our Chief Minister Harish Rawat members of Youth for Society Welfare Association are spreading awareness about the consequences of drug addiction and alcoholism amongst the youth of our state. I am working as the Chief Minister for the youth team. As it is evident that the youth population decides the future of the community and in turn the state, this is the most challenging task for our Association at the present.
Can you tell us more about your team members and how do you all work together for a common motive despite having personal opinions?
We are three people who are performing key responsibilities, I am serving as President, Lalit Srivastava is serving as the Vice President and Pankaj Saini is the Spokes Person. We might be different individuals but share the same opinions when it comes to the welfare of our society.
How does your Youth for Society Welfare Association generate funds and how is all of the social work financed?
We organize charity events. There are performances and we sell out tickets and passes. All the money goes in social work. We also arrange donation and charity collection drives. While spreading our Youth for Society Welfare Association mission we encourage people to contribute whatever they can. We generally celebrate all festivals with slum kids. Our Diwali carnival was a huge success and now we are celebrating Christmas with them. Life gets its meaning from these little things we do. The smiles are enough for us we don’t seek any grants beyond the basic needed. We urge people to donate willingly for the noble cause.
What are the problems you face when you work in the slum areas? Are people willing to understand the importance of the message you give about getting educated? Do parents of slum children co-operate with you and your team?
No. Actually, they don’t but it is not their fault. They have been a victim of destiny. When nobody ever told them about it how can we expect that they will adopt an idea out of oblivion? It is very tough to convince them that whatever we are doing is for the betterment of their children. They don’t agree to send their kids to schools. Sometimes they act with a lot of stubbornness and say things like they want their children to grow like this only and that they don’t need education. Sometimes they even refuse to take medicines.
How do you deal emotionally with the hurdles of your path?
I do not blame the slum inhabitants for this, not even a percent. It is life’s brutality towards them since ages. The seclusion and negligence towards them have been a mistake on the part of the privileged section of the society. I have hopes for them and I will keep pushing the limits. One day everyone will be saved from the shackles of ignorance. I have my little slum kids and their smiles to keep me going!!
Thank so much we extend our warm regards for your future missions and I’m sure every Doonite is swollen with pride and sanctified to have a Youth Social Activist team like yours!!