NOTED educationist Jaigopal Garodia passed away in Chennai on April 2. He was 79. He was unwell for some time and was in hospital for 12 days. He was shifted to his Annanagar home from the hospital on March 31 where he breathed his last. He was cremated on April 3 in the presence of many leading and distinguished personalities of the city and thousands of his admirers. His wife Sita Devi had passed away in 1986. They did not have any child. He donated his entire property to his Trust for continuing the social activities which he had started.
Born on March 31, 1931 at Sujangarh under Churu district of Rajasthan, Jaigopal Garodia did not get an opportunity to have formal education due to poverty. But he dedicated his entire life to the spread of education among deprived, specially the girls, through Jaigopal Garodia Foundation. Besides setting up 22 schools in Chennai, Mysore and Bengaluru he helped thousands of needy students through Jaigopal Garodia Vivekananda Vidyalaya Trust by providing scholarship and free textbooks.
He was conferred with many awards for his outstanding services in the field of education. They included Agrawal Ratna Award in 1999 by Agrawal Sabha, Chennai, Rajasthan Ratna Award in 2000 by Rajasthan Association, Tamil Nadu and Paramacharya Centenarian Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 by the Centenarian Trust, Chennai. His name had also been recommended for Padma Shri.
Influenced by the thoughts of the philosophers and understanding the social needs and duty towards the downtrodden he dedicated all his energy, power and hard earned wealth for the sole purpose of serving through charity. He firmly believed that the wealth of the rich should be spend on the deprived section of society and education is the only means by which a country can progress. “Charity to the needy is supreme virtue. Parting with money is not easy, it requires dedication and a strong heart and mind,” he used to say.
Born under inaffluent circumstances, he did not get a square meal a day at home, but he was worried about the hunger of others. At the age of 10 he went to Kolkata in search of a livelihood to support his family and assist the downtrodden. During tours to other states he learnt the art of conversation and developed the reading and writing skills. He dealt with trade and industry in varied items like steel, food supply contract, agency of import promotion licenses for dyes and chemicals, establishment of Electro Plastic combination, etc.
Deeply admired and moved by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda he single handedly undertook the establishment of Jaigopal Garodia Foundation to ensure that the work he started should not go waste after his death. He also founded a number of academies like Commerce Academy, Economics Academy, Mathematics Academy, Sports Academy, Young Scientists Academy, Music and Cultural Academy, Astronomy Club, Photo journalism Academy, Chess Academy, etc. to help the students not only to realise their potential and aptitude but also to develop a capacity for the chosen and desired field.
Jaigopal Garodia’s tryst with educational activities began when he started schools in 1973. Seeing his dedication and zeal to education. the Tamil Nadu Government too took his help for improving the condition of its schools. Guided by a commitment to excellence in the field of education he founded 22 schools all over Chennai, Madurai and adopted many government schools and Corporation schools for quality education. Several schools started by him do not take fees. Computer education was his priority and each school has a fully equipped computer centre. His dream of providing one computer to one student has already been fulfilled long back. More than 60,000 students are inculcated with high values in these schools.
With a view that no student should be deprived of education for want of books, he started charitable Book Banks and Educational Assistance Centres from where free textbooks, note books, study material, etc. are given regularly without any discrimination. By the year 2008, more than 35,000 students had been granted books through the Book Banks.
For women upliftment, he started a free vocational training centre where even deaf and dumb, widows, etc are imparted vocational training. The government schools which he adopted were only girl schools, which shows his concern for the upliftment of women. Apart from it, about Rs 18 lakh are distributed as scholarship to the downtrodden college students through Jaigopal Garodia Scholarship Centre every year.
Showing his love to animals and creatures, he stopped the tradition of dissection in school labs. He implemented compu-frog and compu-rat computer programmes that do away with needless dissection which kill not only thousands of helpless creatures but also the sensitivity of every child. In all his schools, animal worship is inculcated in the young minds by celebrating gau puja. He has also been associated with many animal protection activities for years. He also got the tradition of sacrificing of animals in several temples stopped.
Jaigopal Garodia also had concern for the men in uniform. He was one among the earliest contributors to donate four lakh rupees towards Kargil Relief Fund and Prime Minister’s National Defence Fund. He made it a habit to present cash assistance to war widows of various conflicts. He also donated a number of “Police at Doorstep—May I help You Police Booth” to the police department.
Garodia also used to donate a huge quantity of rice to orphanages and Old Age Homes regularly. He also contributed generously to the victims of natural calamities. He started a Blood Bank with the state of the art testing facility. He also opened free medical centres for slum people by giving them free treatment and medicines. He also rendered help to the leprosy patients.
By and large Jaigopal Garodia proved the saying that ‘service to man is service to God’ in practical life. He was a rare example of how a person can serve the society ceaselessly.