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Founders and board members


  • Prof. Sadanand Varde
    Founder President - Samarthan
  • Mr. Chandrashekar Prabu
    President
  • Mr. T. K. Choudhary
    Vice-President
  • Mr. Vivek Pandit
    Chairperson
Prof. Sadanand Varde
Founder President - Samarthan
We pay hearty tribute to Late Prof. Sadanand Varde for the recognition that Samarthan received just because he was associated with us and for felicitating Samarthan by being its President till end of his life. Late Prof. Sadanand Varde (Anukaka)Birth: 6th November 1925 Death: 29th January 2007 Education: M.A. (First Class) Stood 6th in Matriculation Examination from Mumbai University Awarded for excellence in Economics in B.A. Examination Professor of Economics at National College, Bandra

  • Started his social and political career with freedom struggle in 1942

  • Participation and leadership in various movements by Samajwadi Party since 1950.

  • Participation in movement for Sanyukt (Joint) Maharashtra state.

  • Member of Mumbai Municipal Corporation during years 1957 to 1973

  • Member of Education Committee, Construction Committee, Standing Committee, Development and Planning of Mumbai Municipal corporation.

  • Member of House Repairs and Reconstruction Corporation.

  • Was in arrest under MISA Act for 16 months for participation in movement against Emergency rule in 1975

  • Member of Legislative Assembly during period February 1978 to February 1980.

  • Minister, Education, Youth Service, Sports and Cultural Affairs during the period August 1978 to February 1980.

  • Member of Legislative Council during the period July 1982 to July 1988

  • Headed building and development of `Rashtra Seva Dal`.

  • Renowned for being a selfless Corporator and Legislator.

  • Instrumental in establishment of `Sane Guruji Vidya Mandir` and `Bandra English Night High School`.

  • President of `Mahapalika Shikshak Sabha` (association of teachers) and `Mumbai Mahapalika Engineer Sangh` (association of engineers)

  • Founder Secretary of `S. M. Joshi Foundation`, Executive Editor of weekly `Sadhana` and Founder of `Aapla Ghar`, an orphanage.

  • Founder President of `Samarthan`
  • Mr. Chandrashekar Prabu
    President
    Chandrashekhar Prabhu is an architect, professor, editor, painter, artist, TV anchor, educationist, administrator, housing, urban development, management expert, who has held public and corporate positions of repute.

    Chandrashekar Prabhu, graduated from Bombay University in Architecture. Pursuit of knowledge and excellence took him to universities in the U.K., and the U.S.A.

    Shri Prabhu has since been invited for lectures on Housing and Urban issues by Universities all over the world.

    He is a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Architects and Indian Institute of Interior Designers (F.I.I.A, F.I.I.I.D).

    Shri Prabhu was the youngest member elected to the State Legislative Assembly. Shri. Prabhu has been the Chairman of Santacruz Electronic Export Processing Zone (SEEPZ) Committee. It was here that the software revolution was conceived and successfully implemented.
    Shri. Prabhu has served on the Authority of the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) and has been responsible for several studies on urban development. MMRDA is the special planning authority for metropolitan development in the Mumbai region and Shri. Prabhu has been responsible for major inputs to the MMRDA on issues pertaining to industrial, commercial and all mega projects, including planning, architectural inputs and advice regarding execution of the projects. While serving on the authority of the MMRDA, Prabhu`s work involved interacting with international investors and facilitating investment related projects.

    Shri. Prabhu has been the President of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA). MHADA has been special planning authority in different parts of the State of Maharashtra and comprises of different regional boards engaged in regional development, town planning, city and infrastructure planning leading to economic development of that area. The Boards under MHADA are the Pune Housing & Area Development Board, Mumbai Housing & Area Development Board, Aurangabad Housing & Area Development Board, Nasik Housing & Area Development Board, Nagpur Housing & Area Development Board, Mumbai Repairs & Reconstruction Board, Mumbai Slum Board etc. MHADA is the apex authority, which controls all these boards and Shri. Prabhu headed the state level authority. In this capacity, he dealt with all issues of housing and urban development including transportation, waste management, economic development etc.

    Shri. Prabhu has also been the Chairman of Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Committee of Government of Maharashtra.

    Shri. Prabhu has been the Chairman, Advisory Committee, Department of Housing, Government of Maharashtra advising the government on housing and urban development issues. One of Shri Prabhu`s responsibilities was to outline the state housing policy and interact with the union government regarding issues pertaining to the National Housing Policy. Shri. Prabhu has submitted to the State Government a detailed vision document which is exhaustive and in 12 volumes.

    Shri. Prabhu has been the Advisor to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

    Shri. Prabhu has been a member on the Slum Rehabilitation Authority.

    Shri. Prabhu has been the Chairman of the Heritage Committee of the Indian Institute of Architects.

    Shri. Prabhu was selected to be the head of the International group for documentation of best heritage practices of SAARC region. This position required him to visit all the seven countries, which are members of the SAARC and oversee the documentation of heritage practices.

    Shri. Prabhu conducted a weekly live show on Doordarshan, which has completed 400 episodes. On this interactive show, various current issues are discussed with the accountable persons and the activists.

    Shri. Prabhu has worked on the independent monitoring panel for World Bank projects such as Mumbai Urban Transport Project and other projects. The independent monitoring panel has been appointed with a view to interact with the World Bank and other international funding organizations as well as the agencies at the State level and the Central level which were dealing with these funding organizations and advise different players regarding the projects undertaken with foreign investment.

    Shri. Prabhu has also worked as the CEO of Shogun Multiplex Limited, a company formulated in collaboration with international funding organizations for executing mega projects in the spheres of entertainment, infrastructure, building multiplexes and creating entertainment cities. The major funding for this enterprise was from investing agencies in the US and the collaboration efforts were with Paramount and Universal Studios.

    Shri. Prabhu has had a long experience in the field of education. He was the Chairman of the Advisory committee to the Pravara group and was responsible for the framing of the first proposal of a private university covering one lakh students. In his 5 year tenure as the head of the organization, Shri Prabhu streamlined the processes in Colleges and schools run by the group including institutions imparting graduate, post graduate education in Management, Medicine, Physiotherapy, Various faculties in Engineering, Pharmacy, Economics, Sociology etc. Pravara Education Society imparts education to one lakh students.

    Shri Prabhu is the Trustee of the oldest education trust set up by the Parsee community called the Bharda Marzban Educational Trust which runs a school, Jr. College, catering to more than 2500 students in the heart of south Mumbai.

    Shri. Prabhu conceived and presented the concept and vision of the world`s first green city which is likely to come up on 1700 sq. kms at Haldia, in the state of West Bengal. Shri. Prabhu edits Economic Digest.

    Shri Prabhu has been editor of the Journal of the Indian Institute of Architects. This prestigious honorary appointment is made by the elected Council of the IIA. He has recently taken over as Secretary, SAARC. Shri. Prabhu is presently advising the Urban Infrastructure Venture Fund, Collective research initiatives trust, Emnet, etc. apart from being the chief advisor to various Multinational companies, Venture Funds, PE funds, NGOs working with the tenants, slum dwellers, mill workers etc. His paintings have been rated highly by senior connoisseurs and art critics.

    Mr. T. K. Choudhary
    Vice-President
    Shri T. K. Choudhary was born and brought up in a small town in Jalgaon District in a farmers` family. He studied in the local high school while helping the family in farming. In the High Scholl, he regularly took part in extra curricular activities like playing volley ball and kabaddi which were the only two games available in the rural school. He also took part in dramatics and social service. He passed his S.S.C. in 1962 and had just joined the local science college when our country was attacked by China.

    Shri Choudhary, as a young man of 18, moved by national spirit, left his home and education half way to join the Indian Air Force in defense of the Nation. He later took part in 1965 war when Pakistan attacked India. He was part of the team which serviced the fighter planes and also protected Jorhat (Assam) Airfield from the Pakistani paratroopers. After the war, he continued his studies and obtained a degree.

    He was later selected for commission in the Army and rose to the rank of Captain within 3 years. He again saw action in 1971 war when Pakistan again attacked India. He took part in one of the fiercest battles in Shakargarh (Pakistan) sector on the Western front. After 6 years in the Army, he sought release to compete for the Civil Services Examination and was selected for the Indian Police Service. In Maharashtra Police, he worked as SP of various districts, as Police commissioner at Pune, Thane and Mumbai and C.I.D. He was known for his ability in motivating Police Officers in solving crime and in maintaining communal harmony. He was awarded Police Medal by the President of India in 1999 and later rose to the rank of Director General of Police before retiring in 2004.

    Shri Choudhary inspite of his upbringing in the tough and regimented Air Force, Army and Police lifestyle has a literary bent of mind. He involved himself in Music and Art circles. He dedicated lot of time of his for downtrodden, street and underprivileged children, scheduled caste and tribes. For the last 30 years he has been coaching and guiding youth for career making.

    Mr. Vivek Pandit
    Chairperson
    Mr. Vivek Pandit was born on 23rd August, 1957 and a graduate in Sociology and Sanskrit from the University of Bombay.Mr. Vivek Pandit has been working in the state of Maharashtra among the tribal and other rural poor since 1979. He has been instrumental in exposing the age-old practice of bonded labour in the area. He has worked for the relief and rehabilitation of over a thousand bonded labourers. He has also organised the rural poor to fight for issues like minimum wages, land alienation and against atrocities perpetrated on dalits and tribals. By virtue of his long standing experience and commitment he is respected not only in the voluntary sector but has also been invited to officiate on several government bodies like the All India Radio (Mumbai) and the Council for People`s Advancement and Rural Technology (Western Zone) and other Government Committees.

    Mr. Pandit was inducted into the social field through the Rashtra Seva Dal while he was still in school. He was involved in organising youth and children around community issues. These experiences led him to work in rural areas where he founded Vidhayak Sansad in 1978, an organization working for upliftment of tribals, It was started in Dahisar, Vasai taluka of Thane District in Maharashtra. He also initiated the establishment of Shramajeevi Sanghatna in 1982 - a trade union primarily of agricultural labourers, which fought against the system of bonded labour.

    The organisation released bonded labourer and rehabilitated them through various schemes - establishing cooperative societies for fishing, vegetables growing, brick making, and dairy. Struggles for minimum wages were organised in different areas of the district, chief amongst them being the struggle against the powerful Gurudev Siddhapeeth Ashram in Ganeshpuri.

    Among the various activities organised by the Sanghatana under the leadership of Mr. Pandit, a unique programme was the solidarity expressed by the released bonded labourers with Mr. Nelson Mandela who was then in jail. Rs. 12,250/- was collected by as many labourers and their families and sent to African National Congress. Movements against atrocities on tribals, against cases of land grabbing have been taken up successfully by the organisation at different times.

    As a result of his efforts the first convictions under Bonded Labour System (Abolition) System Act as well as S.C/S.T Prevention of Atrocities Act.

    Mr. Pandit has also extended his expertise to other spheres of public life. He has worked as a member on various government committees for rural development, Thane District Bonded Labour Vigilance Committee, rehabilitation of Narmada oustees, Thane Child Labour Rehabilitation Project etc.

    He was nominated on the State task Force for Primary Education and was instrumental in framing of the Mahatma Phule Education Guarantee Scheme. It is the first scheme in the country, which assures primary education to each and every child. Through Vidhayak Sansad he set up more than 500 schools on brick kiln sites for tribal migrant child labourers.

    He also participated in a number of consultative meetings on rural development and other issues called by Prime Ministers including Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, Shri. V.P. Singh, and Shri. P.V. Narasimha Rao. Recently, he participated in a consultative meeting on Child Labour and Education called by Prime Minister Shri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

    Mr. Pandit has extensive experience in working with democratic systems. He initiated Samarthan – a state level advocacy organisation, which gives in-depth information to legislators on grassroots issues and helps them raise these on the floor of the House. He was also involved in disseminating information about the policies and programmes of the government to the grassroots level thus facilitating implementation of government programmes. One of his main achievements was the extensive lobbying for the setting up the State Human Rights Commission in Maharashtra, which came into being in 2000.

    He has worked with the judiciary and quasi-judiciary bodies. He was petitioner in number of public interest petitions for the rights of bonded labourers, tribals, commercial sex workers, and women before the Supreme and High Court. He presented an audio-visual petition before the National Human Rights Commission on the plight of child labourers on brick kilns leading to the inclusion of brick kiln in the schedule of hazardous industries on which employment of child labour is prohibited.

    Mr. Pandit has studied the police system in details. He made representations before the Ribeiro Committee on behalf of rural organisations in Maharashtra supporting the recommendations of National Police Commission for police reforms. He has also studied the police systems of USA, UK, Thailand and South Africa.

    He has also studied the Legislative Committee System in India and USA. He advocates the opening of Legislative Committees for public hearings on issues of public importance as is prevalent in USA and South Africa.

    He set up the Centre for Budget Studies which was first of its kind in Maharashtra. It is involved in analysing budget documents as well as other policy documents of the government. The analysis is available for the public, the media and is widely circulated to legislators for discussion in the House. The Centre for Budget Studies has become a resource center for legislators and is widely appreciated by legislators as having rendered a yeoman`s service in heightening the level of discussion in the House. He was invited by the Estimate committee of Legislature to express his views on the report of Godbole Committee on simplification and transparency of Budget process.

    Mr. Pandit has been invited as guest lecturer to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, (Mumbai), Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work, (Mumbai), and the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (Dehradun, Uttar Pradesh).

    Apart from being honarary member on the Programme Advisory Committee of the All India Radio. He also writes scripts, conducts interviews and gives talks on various issues over the radio. He has also appeared a number of times on different TV shows on channels like Doordarshan, Star, ZEE, and ALPHA.

    Mr. Pandit is the founder member and the Chairman of the National Centre for Advocacy Studies, Pune - an organisation involved in training and documentation of advocacy and also networking for various issues.

    He is founder member and Chairperson of Samarthan, (Mumbai), a group involved in using advocacy techniques in solving policy level issues of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Women and other vulnerable sections of society.

    Mr. Pandit has several publications to his credit:`Bandhamukti` on Identification, Release and Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour.

    Various articles pertaining to human rights issues, child labour, education and rights of marginalised sections have been published in different regional newspapers and magazines

    . He published a `Booklet about Prevention of Atrocities (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Act, 1989`. This is a valuable handbook for activists and discusses the Act and procedures to implement it.

    `Fearless Minds – A manual on organsing and advocacy` is his latest book based on his experiences in grassroots organisating and advocating at the state level.

    `Parighavarun`, is the compilation of his articles on state budget, Legislative processes and human rights. His another book `Akher Savlya Jinkalach` is the compilation of success stories from India and America.

    Mr. Pandit has contacts with organisations and influential individuals all over the country – in Maharashtra as well as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, etc. He works closely with many organisations and gives strategic inputs in their work. He also has important contacts with many individuals and organisations around the world who support the cause of human rights.

    Mr. Pandit has represented NGOs of India in the UN Convention on Human Rights in Vienna. He was invited as a resource person by South African NGOs on policy formulation in the post-apartheid period. He worked closely with government of Nepal on legislation for abolition of bonded labour.,br /> He was awarded the Anti-Slavery Award for 1999 by Anti-Slavery International U.K. He was also awarded the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship USA to study the police and legislative committee systems in that country. He was one of the earliest Indians to receive the renowned Ashoka Fellowship awarded by the Ashoka Innovators for the Public which he got in 1982-83. He was recently felicitated by the Rotary Club of Bombay with their first `Excellence in Social Service Award` He contested Assembly elections in 1994 from Vasai Constituency as an independent candidate against the dreaded criminal who has direct connections with the underworld. His was the first voice against the terrorism and criminalisation in the state, because of his strong claim that people were voting under fear there were enquiries by the election commission and thrice election got postponed.

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