An Unforgettable Night

Rolling Meadows, IL: Pratham Chicago held an intimate and moving Gala at the lovely Meadows Club on October 14th 2011 at The Meadows Club, 2950 West Golf Road, Rolling Meadows, IL. Pratham supporters enjoyed delicious cuisine, exquisite performances, motivational remarks and comical addresses throughout the evening. Around 350 people attended the gala.

Pratham was founded on the belief that education is a fundamental right. The renowned organization aims to eradicate youth illiteracy in India by supplementing already existing programs. Their motto “Every Child in School and Learning Well” emphasizes that not only should every child have access to education but that the schooling is effective and that students are learning at internationally accepted standards.

Pratham has been internationally recognized for its inexpensive, cost-effective, and easily scalable methodology. They have recently received countless honors including 1010 Kravis Prize, 2010 Gold EMPIIndian Express Indian Innovation Award and the 2009 CNN-IBN Indian of the Year Award.

The event commenced with appetizers and cocktails during social hour where a silent auction took place. Prabha Vibha Singh welcomed acknowledged the numerous individuals that made the event possible and thanked everyone for their attendance as well as their continued support. The lamp lighting ceremony was followed by Dan Nainan (the Emcee) introducing Chicago Pratham president, Dr.Rajaram. After a brief speech, Dan introduces the keynote speaker of the evening, Professor of Booth School of Business at University of Chicago, Raghu Rajan.

Dr. Raghuram Rajan gave a rivetingly inspiring address to the audience. Dr. Rajan currently an economic advisor to the Prime Minister of India. Prior to resuming teaching in 2007, Dr. Rajan was the Economic Counselor and Director of Research (in plain English, the Chief Economist) at the International Monetary Fund (from 2003). Since then, he has chaired the Indian government‘s Committee on Financial Sector Reforms, which submitted its report in September 2008. Dr. Rajan spoke of the importance of quality education in India and the US to find meaningful employment and grow the economy. He praised the efforts of Pratham in providing this education in India and urged them to get involved in the improvement of education in the US also. He particularly addressed the economic gap between the educated and uneducated populations and stressed that quality education is the solution reducing this gap.

Following Dr. Rajan’s brilliant speech, Rukmini Banerji came to the stage next. Rukmini Banerji has been with Pratham since 1996. She is responsible for Pratham’s program activities in several major states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam. Rukmini has been in the core team of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) since it was launched in 2005 and currently heads ASER Center. ASER is a national annual survey of children conducted in every rural district in India. It is the only annual district level source of information on children’s ability to read and do arithmetic. ASER has been recognized internationally for its innovativeness and impact on education policy. Dr. Rukmini Banerji traced her connections to Chicago and how teaching at a poor school in the southside of Chicago got her interested in improving education of the poor in India. She spent over 14 years in Chicago before joining Pratham. She spoke of her interaction with the Chicago Public Schools administration and University of Chicago professors and students on the day before the gala and said that this Chicago connection will be strengthened in the coming years.

Dan Nainan, emcee and famous standup comedian presented his comic act prior to dinner. Dan Nainan got his start by taking a comedy class to get over the nervousness of speaking on stage. In his job as a demo engineer with Intel Corporation, Dan toured the world with CEO Andy Grove, demonstrating the latest technology for audiences numbering into the thousands. After leaving Intel to pursue comedy full time, Dan has toured as a feature act with Robert Schimmel and Russell Peters. Dan has appeared on network television including ¨DLast Comic Standing¡Î as well as in feature films, on radio and in an Apple ¨DGet a Mac commercial.

A total of 115,000 was raised during the gala with generous donations, silent auction proceeds and pledges from gala attendees. Dinner was followed after the amusing comedy act. Teju Deshpande briefly thanked all attendees and volunteers for making the event possible.

Message from the President, Pratham Chicago: It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the Pratham Chicago 2011 Gala. Our theme “Remember the Dream” urges all supporters to remember the dream of an India where no child will be deprived of a quality education”. Since 1994, Pratham has been working with underprivileged children in urban slums and in rural areas where the needs are unmet. As Dr. Madhav Chavan tells me, Pratham is all about Innovation and Implementing Methods and Systems which will ensure that Remedial Learning programs are made available in public schools (in 31 cities and 250+ rural districts) and Urban Learning Centers are available where there are no schools.

Next, musical program with Poonam Bhatia started off with a Ganesh Wandana and couple of new songs in the beginning and then moved on to the evergreen old melodies. It was a short and sweet recital of my favorite songs with some farmaish (audience choice) from the audience.

Poonam Bhatia realised her dream of becoming a playback singer by giving voice to actors like Ravina Tandon,Shilpa Shetty, Twinkle Khanna, Juhi Chawala, Mayuri Cango, Suman Ranganathan, Aishwarya Rai etc. She sang for almost all the bollywood music directors right from Anand Raj Anand, Viju Shah, Nadeem Shravan, Anu Malik, To The Legendry A R Rahman! Poonam started performing with playback singers like Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Vinod Rathod, Shabbir Kumar, Mohd Aziz, Sudesh Bhosle, Babul Suprio etc. She also got a distinct opportunity to do a world tour with the legendry Asha Bhosle! Poonam went on to travel almost all over the world doing bollywood stage shows with the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Govinda, Chunky
Pandey, Karishma Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Sajid Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Kajol, Manisha Koirala, Javed Jafery etc. Poonam is quite a charmer with the live audience.Armed with her witty humour and sher-o-shayari, she is quite like a ‘one woman army’ on stage !! When she performs in mehfils, her audience is always left asking for more

Media Partners present were Suresh Bodiwala Chairman from Asian Media USA, had an opportunity to find out Poonam Bhatia perspective about Pratham (Today’s event) where he replied that ” As always, it was a sense of gratitude that I felt towards god almighty, when I was getting ready in the green room to perform for the Pratham gala. Entertaining people who care about the unprivileged and unfortunate fellow countrymen back home, itself is a fulfilling experience! I have always believed in giving something back to the society. Be it in form of my time, talent or treasure. As usual singing for any noble cause itself is very satisfying experience”.

Suresh Bodiwala
Asian Media USA
Bus: (847) 679-8583
Fax: (847) 679-5336
Cell: (847)420-4789

Copyrights (c) 2010 – Asian Media USA
No one shall download or otherwise duplicate the graphics, images, press release and written content from the PDF without our express written permission. Likewise, no one shall reuse the aforesaid things, as the same are the intellectual property of the Company, we hereby reserve all rights

Disclaimer: – Asian Media USA
“The information in this e-mail and any attachments is confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended solely for the addressee or addressees. If you are not an intended recipient, please delete the message and any attachments and notify the sender of misdelivery. Any use or disclosure of the contents of either is unauthorized and may be unlawful. All liability for viruses is excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law. Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender states them, with requisite authority, to be those of the Asian Media USA