is an inspiring story of what one man's initiative can do,
and how that effort can be magnified manifold by timely and
Bhatnagar is a fabricator by profession and a philanthropist
by choice. Seeing underprivileged children in his neighbourhood
deprived of education - and drifting away from the mainstream
like so many before them - he decided to do something about
started by taking two children under his wing in the summer
of 1998: and began teaching them in the premises of his fabrication
unit. By the end of the same year, the 'school' had already
grown to 24 strong, comprising children aged between 4 and
12, half of them being girls! At this point, the students
were merely divided into homogeneous groups based on their
age and level of knowledge.
year, in 1999, the number jumped to 120, including 75 girls.
A structure of hierarchy was formed - comprising Classes I
to VI. Apart from the organizer himself (who was teaching
Maths) and his wife, three teachers were now hired to assist
children who were attending the Jupiter Academy Society (as
it was now called) came from nearby villages and slums of
Bastoli, Samadipur, Gajipur, Lavkuh Nagar and Pratap Nagar.
Their parents were mostly casual labourers or daily wagers
working at construction sites, small shops and roadside eateries.
to its partnership with Smile, the Academy was able to hire
more staff and thus take on more students. In fact, after
the association, the number of students have increased dramatically
from 200 to over 1200. The Academy has started operating from
5 'branches'. And multiple vocational training courses have
been included in the curriculum: like artificial jewellery
making, soft toy making, chikan embroidery work, glass painting,
steel fabrication and welding. A tie-up with the local Government
Polytechnic has added TV & Radio repair to the list -
with an Instructor training students who have passed Class
X, in the fabrication unit's office every day ! Today, the
children even produce and market a branded toilet cleaner
called 'Kick' !