A World Bank economist from 1971-81, Dr. Vinod Prakash wanted to contribute to his motherland but was afraid of one thought: People were generally skeptical about those who claimed to do good work in India, worrying that the money they donate may not after all be accounted for.
Sarla Prakash addressing
students of Gramin Mahila Shikshan Sansthan Samiti at
Sikar, Rajasthan, on December 19, 2005
To challenge this notion, he, along with his wife Sarala Prakash, set up the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF) in 1988. A Ph.D from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Prakash urged people of Indian origin to look for solutions to the problems of poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, and natural disasters the Indian people were facing. Over a period of 13 years since inception, IDRF has collected nearly $ 10 million. The IDRF has worked actively towards relief and rehabilitation efforts in the wake of natural calamities, such as the Orrisa cyclone in 1999, the Gujarat earthquake in 2001 and the tsunami in 2004. The organization supports various grassroots organizations and NGOs working in different fields across India. IDRF chapters across the United States have been organizing successful fund-raisers over the years.
The IDRF’s mission is clear: to support volunteer-based NGOs in India in serving their populations’ critical needs in education, healthcare, and welfare, without regard to religion, caste or creed.
Since inception, the IDRF has expanded to 12 active chapters throughout the United States and its annual funds raised have grown tenfold. While IDRF has raised more than $ 10 million since 1987, nearly 90 percent of that has been raised in the last five years alone. Volunteers are the organization’s backbone. These volunteers are typically working professionals with families inspired by “an eagerness to make a difference to the lives of underprivileged and disadvantaged Indians”.
In 2003, Uttar Pradesh Samaj of Washington, D.C., (UPDC) presented the Social Service Award to Dr. Prakash for sustained leadership and selfless service towards self-empowerment of the downtrodden in Uttar Pradesh. He has also been felicitated at several functions across the United States for his dedication to society and community.
IDRF, 5821 Mossrock Drive,
North Bethesda, MD 20852-3238, USA.
Dr. Vinod Prakash (301) 984-2127
—This piece has been taken from the book, The Idea of Giving, published by the India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians.