High School Achievers – Mumbai 2017

External Speakers


Manikrao Thakare - Deputy Chairman, Maharashtra Legislative Council

Mr. Manikrao Thakare is the Deputy Chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Council. He is a member of the Indian National Congress (INC). He was elected as the president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee in August 2008. He served the party in this capacity till late 2014.

Mr. Thakare has been a member of the Legislative Assembly and the Council in Maharashtra for several terms. He has also been a Minister of State in Maharashtra for the Home and Power portfolios. As Minister of State for Home, he spearheaded work on police reforms and pushed the administration to improve the conditions of jails in the State.

Iravati Damle - UBER

Iravati - resizedIravati is the Public Policy Lead for West India with UBER. As part of her work, she engages with the government on policy and regulatory issues related to cab sharing.

Before UBER, Iravati worked as a consultant at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), Ministry of Finance, where she was a part of the core team spearheading the design and implementation of a strategic transformation plan for the central warehousing regulator, WDRA. An alumnus of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, she has previously worked in and then lead the policy team of a Member of Parliament. She writes regularly on issues in regulatory governance and parliamentary procedures.

Puneet Kaur - Praja

Puneet is a development professional specializing in public policy and governance. With a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from St. Xavier's College, she heads the documentation and communication department of Praja Foundation, an NGO that works with citizens and elected representatives to enable accountable governance.

Praja empowers the citizen to participate in governance by providing knowledge and perspective. It also conducts data driven research (on civic issues, health, crime, education etc) and engages with elected representatives to identify and address inefficiencies in their work processes.

Puneet has been focusing on increasing the visibility of Praja among key stakeholders through different outreach activities, including engagements with the media.

Tara Bedi - Instagram

Tara joined Instagram in 2016 with a focus on using social media for advocacy and to promote shared understanding across diverse communities. At Instagram Tara drives Community Partnerships and Programs for India.

In addition to activating the Indian Instagram community towards self-expression and storytelling, Tara focuses on how photography can help communities express themselves visually in an empowering and safe way. Prior to joining Instagram, she helped construct, curate and execute the Nepal Photo Project - an aggregated Instagram feed documenting the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal in 2015. Tara has a BA in Sociology from New York University, and enjoys travel, food and playing with grammar.

Vaibhavi Shitut Amle - WWF

Vaibhavi is the State Head for Maharashtra for the World Wide Fund (WWF) - India. At WWF, she develops outreach programs to involve civil society actors and volunteers in WWF's conservation efforts and campaigns. In addition to mobilizing funding for these activities, she is also responsible for environment education programs and activities in the State.

Before WWF, Vaibhavi worked as a CSR consultant and helped companies in their Corporate Social Responsibility Activities. She has also worked as the State Director for the “Heroes Project” for AIDS Awareness in India.

She is a graduate of the SP Jain Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.



Partner organizations


Muskan Foundation

Muskan Foundation’s association with children with MDVI (Multi Disabilities with Visual Impairment) started as early as February 2007. Muskan was started with the aim of bridging the gap in schools and education centres which are usually not equipped to work with children with MDVI.

Children with multiple disability need an array of services such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech therapy, vision rehabilitation programme and special education. Before Muskan started its work, there was no school for these children in a city like Mumbai. While there were many special schools, there was not a single school offering services to children with more than one disability.

Rising to the challenge, the foundation commenced its work with a small group of 4 children, which has swelled to 33 students in two centers and 43 children receiving regular therapy. Today, Muskan provides a spectrum of customized services ranging from early intervention, education, therapy, counselling and MDVI awareness.

Website: http://muskanfoundation.org.in

OSCAR Foundation

OSCAR Foundation (Organization for Social Change, Awareness and Responsibility) is a non-profit organization that uses sports such as football to instill the value of education and empower underprivileged children and youth with life skills to take responsibility of their community development.

Ashok Shankar Rathod along with two other founding members started the OSCAR Foundation in 2006. Ashok had had a life story similar to many other underprivileged children in Mumbai. He was born and brought up in Ambedkar Nagar slums in Cuffe Parade and graduated SSC from the Hindi-medium Colaba Municipal School. While in school, Ashok fell in with unsavory characters, started skipping classes and was influenced to do drugs. When his father found out, he lectured him on the importance of his schooling and put him back on track.

Learning from his own experiences, Ashok started OSCAR to run a unique program that not only teaches sport to children and youth but also helps them understand the value of education. A team of OSCAR’s young leaders act as role models and work to identify and tackle the barriers that stop children and youth from reaching their full potential.

Website: http://www.oscar-foundation.org/


Praja logo - smallFounded in 1998, Praja Foundation is a Mumbai-based non-partisan voluntary organisation enabling accountable governance. Praja empowers the citizen to participate in governance by providing knowledge and perspective. The work of Praja aims to familiarize citizens with the different ways in which they can get politically active and involved beyond the ballot box, thus promoting transparency and accountability.

Praja conducts data driven research (on civic issues, health, crime, education, working of elected representatives and housing in Mumbai and Delhi), provides information to citizens, media and the government, and works with elected representatives to identify and address inefficiencies in their work processes, bridge information gaps, and aid in taking corrective measures.

Analysing data collected from surveys and Right to Information (RTI) applications, Praja reports its findings to the concerned constituents with feedback and recommendations. Praja engages the three constituents of governance in an informed dialogue that ultimately facilitates a better quality of life for citizens.

Website: http://www.praja.org/


Pratham is an innovative learning organization created to improve the quality of education in India. As one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the country, Pratham focuses on high-quality, low-cost, and replicable interventions to address gaps in the education system. Established in 1995 to provide education to children in the slums of Mumbai, Pratham has grown both in scope and geographical coverage.

From its start in providing pre-school education to the children in the slums of Mumbai, Pratham has grown across India reaching over 4.7 million children across 20 states. Their flagship program Read India, launched in 2007, reached over 33 million children in three years.

Pratham means 'first' in Sanskrit. True to its name, it is the first major organization to achieve lasting, wide-scale success in India's educational landscape.

Website: http://www.pratham.org/


Sneha logoSNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education & Health Action) - A secular, Mumbai-based not-for-profit organization, SNEHA believes that investing in women's health is essential to building viable urban communities. SNEHA targets four large public health areas - Maternal and Newborn Health, Child Health and Nutrition, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Prevention of Violence against Women and Children.

SNEHA's approach is two pronged: It recognizes that in order to improve urban health standards, its initiatives must target both care seekers and care providers. It works at the community level to empower women and slum communities to be catalysts of change in their own right and to collaborate with existing public health systems and health care providers to create sustainable improvements in urban health.

In the 1990s, like so many other neonatologists in the country, Dr. Armida Fernandez and her team were spending countless hours in the NICU saving lives of underweight and premature infants born to mothers from urban slums. Dr. Fernandez recognized that the only solution to breaking this vicious cycle was to empower these women with the information and tools they needed to build healthier families. And that's how SNEHA was born. Today, SNEHA is a 350+ person strong and progressive organization that works closely with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

Website: http://www.snehamumbai.org/

Teach for India

Teach For India logo - smallTeach For India is a non-profit organisation that strives to fill the deficit of leadership in education in India. It is a part of the global Teach For All network.

Education is fundamental to an equitable society. A good education equips children and youth with the knowledge, skills, values, and mindsets needed to be empowered individuals and responsible citizens. Yet, more than 50% of students in India in Grade 5 cannot read a Grade 2 text or solve a simple subtraction problem. Socio-economic circumstances that a child is born into determine the type of school she attends, the quality of life outcomes she attains as an adult, and the kinds of opportunities she passes on to her own children.

Teach For India strives to end this problem of educational inequity in India. In the short-term, it provides an opportunity to India’s brightest and most promising individuals to serve as full-time teachers to children from low-income communities in under-resourced schools. In the long-term, it engages its alumni to advocate for change and to build a broad people’s movement for educational equity.

Website: http://www.teachforindia.org

WWF India

WWF India logoWorld Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) was founded with the express objective of ensuring the conservation of the country's wildlife and natural habitats. It was set up as a Charitable Public Trust on 27 November 1969. It was then known as the World Wildlife Fund-India, much before the terms 'wildlife' and 'environment' had caught the attention of the government or the public.

WWF-India's modest beginnings entailed operating out of a limited office space at Horn Bill House in Mumbai and very few full-time staff. The running of the office relied largely on the goodwill of the close-knit group of its founders, and other associates who voluntarily contributed their time and resources to the work of the organization. Throughout the seventies and eighties, WWF-India kept its focus primarily on wildlife and nature conservation.

Today, WWF-India is not only the country's largest voluntary body in the field of conservation, it has also grown into a network with a countrywide presence. Today WWF-India takes on diverse activities in the field of nature protection – ranging from education and capacity-building, to field projects in biodiversity, enviro-legal action, policy studies and advocacy, and even religion and conservation.

Website: http://www.wwfindia.org/





Glimpses from the Mumbai 2017 High School Achievers Program