How this guy is helping children get over their gutkha addiction and become better individuals

10th Apr 2017
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Meet Taksh Mishra, the man who is educating slum children and helping them get over addictions.

Taksh founded National Institute of Management and Information Technology in 2000 to compete with and challenge NIIT and Aptech. Two years down the line, when he was on a marketing campaign for his institute, was when he felt he had found his true calling. It was to educate children from the underprivileged section of our society.

Image: Chaaipani

Fifteen years later, he is educating 300 children from slums in and around Rajkot through Pragya Education and Charitable Trust, which he founded. He conducts two sessions of classes for these children — morning class for 200 children and for 100 children in the evening. The former is for the ones who have never attended school, and they are taught reading, writing, and basic arithmetic along with basic hygiene and civic sense. The latter is for the ones who are in school, hence they are helped with their current subjects along with basic computing. Initially, it wasn't easy. There was a lot of mistrust. According to Chaaipani, Taksh said,

"Lack of trust – born out of exploitation – and vested interest are some of the things we tackle as a routine."

What is horrific is that almost all these children are introduced to gutkha when they are too young. By the time they are 10 years old, they have become serious addicts. In almost all the cases, it is the parents who introduced gutkha to their kids, as they are caught in a vicious cycle of poverty and hunger. These children are mostly brought up by single parents and they often tend to be on the wrong side of the law.

 

The Times of India reports an associate professor from Tata Memorial Hospital saying that,

"The number of deaths caused by tobacco-related diseases — one million — is four times the death toll in tsunami tragedy. Gutkha is projected as a harmless mouth freshener and therefore consumed in larger amounts by unaware and ignorant children."

In India, 55,000 children are introduced to tobacco every day and about five million children under the age of 15 are addicted to gutkha.

Taksh isn't there just to make them literate. He tries to bring the children out of gutka addiction and except for a few, the majority doesn't take gutka anymore.

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