By Aanchal Khulbe:
There is an eternal race towards the same repetitive pattern which governs everyone’s life, right? The “Study so that you can earn” pattern? That makes it every individual’s top priority to get into the highest paying institution, and bring home the maximum amount of money that you can. Well, some people think differently. Because not everyone’s life revolves around the stacked heaps of currency notes in bank accounts. I am going to introduce you to a visionary couple, who live under no material avarice, who have dedicated their entire being to the enhancement of the society. They had the courage to think out of the box and say no to the looming monotony of ignorance. Mr. Sandeep Bhatnagar – fabricator, businessman, philanthropist, and Mrs. Sunita Bhatnagar – teacher and social worker. They started the work of teaching in their fabrication unit in Lucknow in 1998. They have taken up the duty to educate underprivileged children in the neighboring locality, and have come out successful and ever-expanding.
He says his father was the prime inspiration for such an endeavor. He dedicates the success of his academy to his father, who coaxed him into doing something for the world, instead of sitting and wasting away. So, after his father died in 1998, he took up the charge of teaching two children in his little 8 ft by 6 ft room. By the end of one month, this number had swelled up to 35, and by the beginning of the fourth month, Mr. and Mrs. Bhatnagar already had 150 children in their academy. They named it Jupiter Academy, and took up the charge of educating all children who were unprivileged due to weak financial condition or the necessity to work to add up in the family income. Today, with 8 branches altogether and about 1100 students in their academy, Mr. Bhatnagar does not let go of even one child who is not “permitted” to study. “His persuasion powers are very strong”, laughs Mrs. Bhatnagar, “This is his department.”
She says they are not childless. They are bestowed with the gift of so many children, whom they have the privilege to teach and raise up into qualified men and women. The children from Bastauli, Pratap Nagar, Luvkush Nagar and Gajipur attend their academy.
Smile foundation is a Delhi-based NGO, which is working across the country, aims at providing education to the underprivileged, with a special focus on girl-child. Smile foundation extended financial support to the Jupiter Academy. It started with Rs. 64,000 per year, and at present, the Smile Foundation provides rupees 6 lakhs to 6.5 lakhs to Jupiter Academy. “The Smile foundation helped us expand”, he said.
Along with academics, they also teach their children many forms of art which were further transformed into a business by some of their students. They teach them basket making, computer science, etc. One talented student made them proud when she performed at Boogie Woogie. Many others have also got selected at other reality shows, but they all had to quit due to restricted financial availability.
Mr. Bhatnagar says nobody can eat more than a certain amount, then why the greed? He says he has never felt that he does not have the adequate, except when he couldn’t give to his students. On one rupee pencils and one rupee erasers, that’s how he spent most of his money initially. His academy mainly depended upon donations until it came under the support of Smile Foundation. Today, the couple feels proud, for their business, amidst all restrictions of resources, has always expanded and aims to incorporate all the hidden talent within the pockets of slums and villages of Lucknow. A little ignition is all that is needed. However, a large amount of sacrifice is what lies beneath the curtains. Mr. and Mrs. Bhatnagar are living legends.