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Tireless social worker Jeet Suchdev, Chairman of well-loved community organization Bhartiya Samaj, is contemplating yet another innovative service offering to the community – something he tentatively calls ‘skill bank’.

In the course of running the not-for-profit charitable trust Bharatiya Samaj since 1995, Mr Suchdev has had the opportunity to look at and study a range of challenges that communities face every day.

“There are so many needy people in the community who deny themselves vital healthcare and other services simply because of costs they cannot afford,” Mr Suchdev said in an exclusive interview with The Indian Weekender about his new idea that is quickly beginning to take shape.

Some time ago he came across a woman in unbearable pain because of a bad tooth, and who had no money to pay for the recommended extraction. Mr Suchdev called a dentist friend, explained the situation and was able to arrange for the extraction without cost, thanks to the generosity of the dental practitioner.

He also has come across several instances where people simply cannot afford to fix defective plumbing or undertake simple repairs in their homes that if not done could compromise safety, all because of unaffordability.

Community leaders gathered at a consulate event in Auckland

“There are people in genuine need and there are good people who want to genuinely help with no expectation of monetary return. But there is no platform to bring them together – and that’s what we are working on.

“We want to create a platform that plays matchmaker to the needy and the generous,” Mr Suchdev said. “It’s a platform to pay it forward.”

The ‘skill bank’ is in the process of enlisting people and professionals who would like to donate their skill, experience, talent and time to anyone who is in dire need of services but cannot genuinely afford them. Mr Suchdev said, to the best of his knowledge, there is no initiative that works in this space for the community.

Mr Suchdev and Bhartiya Samaj haven’t made a formal announcement of plans to launch such a service. However, he has been talking to people from all walks of life in his wide network about the idea and is surprised at the support that is forthcoming.

“We already have legal and medical professionals, transport operators and tradespeople who have expressed willingness to donate part of their time to help the needy and the list is growing,” he said.

How will the proposed service determine the ‘genuinely needy’ that approach it? The Indian Weekender asked.

Outgoing High Commissioner of India to New Zealand Sanjiv Kohli

“There will be parameters drawn by a competent panel of experts. There will also be a process of assessment comparable with other similar organisations engaged in delivering social services. It’s at an early stage but we are mindful of it and are working on it,” Mr Suchdev said.

He is also mindful of other issues that may arise in terms of legality and the quality of service delivered. “Of course there are many hurdles to tackle before a system and process is put in place – but this is true of any new service that is planned. You need to factor in as many scenarios as possible.”

Mr Suchdev is hopeful of launching the service by the end of this year. He first made an announcement aboutthe proposed service at a farewell dinner for outgoing Indian High Commissioner Sanjiv Kohli. Mr Kohli wholeheartedly endorsed the idea and it was well received by those present.

The Indian Weekender is supportive of this community initiative for the needy and wishes Bhartiya Samaj success in this endeavour.


- Dev Nadkarni



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