Pune-based Chaitanya Kaushal Charitable Trust has been working for the betterment of underprivileged students in the city for the last 25 years. Group Captain Harsh Kaushal (Retd.), principal trustee, said over 300 students have been helped by the trust so far, many of whom discontinued their studies due to financial constraints.
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The decision to build the Trust was taken after a personal tragedy wrecked the Kaushals in 1990. Chaitanya Kaushal — the 12-year-old son of the family — met with a tragic accident, bringing the young life of this Bishop School student’s to an untimely end. “On November 27 1990, Chaitanya and five of his friends were cycling back home from school, when a speeding truck dashed onto his cycle at the bridge near Koregaon Park, injuring him grievously,” he said. Soon, a crowd gathered but no one was willing to take the boy to the hospital. Finally, a good Samaritan took him to the hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. The Kaushals had recently moved to Pune but the tragedy put a screeching halt to their normal life.
After spending a year come to terms with their loss, the family decided to form the trust to perpetuate the memory of their young boy on Chaitanya’s birthday — November 3, 1991. “We decided to channelise our grief in a constructive way and we wanted to give back to the society in our own little way. After experimenting with various charities — like helping the sick or helping students in municipal schools — we decided to focus our attention towards students who are finding it difficult to complete their studies due to financial constrains,” he said.
The reason for zeroing in on the educational field was the academic excellence Chaitanya had exhibited in his short life.
The Kaushals never accepted contribution from outsiders for the Trust and instead pulled in their resources and worked part-time to raise the corpus of the trust. Every year, the corpus was increased by Rs 30,000 and it currently stands at Rs 12-15 lakh. Majority of the money is invested with financial instruments of banks and the interest is used in arranging scholarships for needy students.
Every year, the Trust calls for applications from students and after a rigorous screening process the scholarship is granted. “Students must maintain high academic excellence through out the course and ensure that they carry out a simple exercise of self introspection to understand their weaknesses to ensure the scholarship is maintained,” said Kaushal. These two exercises, Kaushal said, ensured students remained dedicated to their studies and walked on the path of self-improvement.
As the Trust completes its 25 years this year, Kaushal looks back on various incidents which have left an indelible mark on them. “There were students who had almost given up their studies but our counseling helped them decide against it. A student from Jejuri, who had got admission at a very prestigious engineering college, wanted to give up studies as he could not pay for hostel accommodation. We arranged that and now he is well-placed,” he said. Kaushal said the trustees want to expand their field of operation in education.