As India readied itself for the 2010 Commonwealth games, the slums inhabited by Bawana refugees in the Yamuna Pushta area were demolished. Scores of people were rendered homeless. Millionaire NRI Robin Raina, who was troubled by this news, decided to ease their plight by building them homes.
Raina runs a successful billion dollar American software company and recently won a multi-million dollar deal with London Stock Exchange. He completed the construction of 1732 homes and plans to invest another $20 million to build 6000 more in multiple areas of Delhi and Noida, he told TOI in an interview.
Over the last two decades, Raina’s travels across Asia and Africa have exposed him to a large population of homeless people. There are a 100 million homeless people in the world, and the sight of the huge number of uneducated and malnourished children amongst them moved Raina to set up the Robin Raina Foundation (RRF) and devote considerable time and resources to philanthropy.
India’s 2011 Census recorded 449,761 homeless families. Modi’s promise of providing a roof over every head by 2022 would only be fulfilled if 55,000-60,000 houses are built each year. Aggravating the situation more is the rising number of urban homes which has grown 20% within 2001-2011.
Most of Raina’s work is concentrated in North India, but RRF projects are also spread across the country in Mumbai, Delhi, J&K, UP and other areas. “It so happened that I decided to build homes in Bawana simply because this was emerging as the second largest slum area in the sub-continent and my dream is to convert Bawana into an area that has permanent homes for all,” Raina was quoted as saying to the newspaper.
When the RRF started work in the Yamuna Pushta area by setting up schools, self-help centres and vocational education centres, they quickly realized that the kids were continuously dropping out of school. It was later found out that the reason was their parents’ homelessness which forced them to keep moving. “So I decided to build homes for them to ensure that they stick to this area and their children could get educated,” explained Raina.
RRF now works on a number of projects targeted towards providing education, food, clothing, medical care and shelter to the slum dwellers’ children in Noida and surrounding areas. A new school with 329 children, currently enrolled, was started in the slums of Noida in Sector 53.
Raina wants to focus on “homes for the homeless, education for underprivileged children and vocational education and skill development for the deprived”.
“My dream is to make charity fashionable and cool. I want people to experience the joy of giving,” said Raina.
The Raina Shine project launched by RRF works in the Noida slums, providing education, food, clothing, and medical help to the children dwelling there.
Raina feels that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India plan “holds promise” and said that even though he wasn’t interested in investing in India earlier, Modi really opened up the country for business, making him feel that “this is just the right time to invest”.
Raina intends to invest at least $120 million in India by 2017-end, which will “mostly be around R&D and acquisitions”.
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