Portrait of Sudha Parthasarathy, ASED country coordinator in India

India according to Sudha ? Diversity, growing – but more to grow in socio cultural attitudes – a country of picturesque destinations, a country where the poor are increasingly getting opportunities (long way to go still).

In the photo Sudha and her flower necklace – inaugurating the purchase of an innovative bus as part of a project.

Her background ?
My family hails from the South of India (state of Tamil Nadu). I was born and brought up in Delhi in North India and have stayed here for all my life (till now). Academically, I have a Masters Degree in Child Development from the University of Delhi and have been working in the social development sector since 1990.

Why did she choose the child development sector ?
I  have grown up JUST enjoying the company of children younger than me. I would prefer spending time with them-kids of relatives, of neighbors – where my peers  would label me a ‘Nanny’ – kids of random strangers whom I met at bus stations, on the train or a market place! I was always intrigued by their behavior, how they communicate, how they learn and unlearn.
During my graduation, Child Development was an area of specialization in the final year. What more could I ask for – here was something which would help me understand my young friends and also help me guide their guardians how best to respond to them. This training helped me immensely in planning programs for both young children and the growing ones. 

What inspires her ?
Strength of character, Honesty, Empathy, Being happy and striving to achieve despite all odds, “to do for others”.

With a magic wand, what problem would she solve in the world ?
I would create shelters for the homeless and destitute children, give them a sound nurturance, a good relevant education and skill sets and enable them to lead a dignified future. I would also make it mandatory to have students of elite institutions to spend a concentrated time with organizations which are giving opportunities to the economically and socially poor.

Who would be her intimate dinner guest ?
My house help, the vegetable vendor, the rickshaw  puller,parents of my students (from NGO where I worked earlier/ ASED is partnering with)-to get to know them more besides what I know of them during our daily interactions, understand their lives, their dreams/aspirations for their children, their challenges and coping mechanisms.

What does she like to do outside of work ?
Listening to music and singing along in my awful voice !!, watching movies, catching up with my limited group of friends, going for long walks, cooking, rearranging my home.

Which project, supported by ASED, impressed her the most ?
Difficult to choose any one. Every project supported by ASED in India is different, nevertheless inspiring. The motivation, commitment and enthusiasm of the founders has been a very strong lesson to imbibe. The ultimate beneficiary-children, women, youth and larger communities-their participation in the process for change has been very encouraging and satisfying. Interactions with the alumni of partners like Aasraa, Lotus Petal Foundation, PPES, Umang, PYDS- makes me so proud of ASED’s decision to partner with them. They are so full of life, and have a ‘never say die’ approach to life now-thanks to all that they have imbibed from their organizations.

Has support for children’s education in India changed since 1990 ?
Definitely, esp in the non profit sector. The growing belief that education is an equalizer has led enormous efforts at educating the underprivileged. Apart from government  many non profits are focusing on quality education and preparing the child for a global world. Education is not confined to the 3R’s* : it goes beyond that to shape the entire personality of the child. 

Thank you Sudha for all these years of accompaniment and this magnificent daily commitment !

*In reference to the so-called fundamental skills at school (reading, writing, counting) completed by three other skills named the 3 R’s of education: reflection, relationship, resilience by Daniel Siegel, neuroscientist.