Ameya Agrawal is an engineer turned social entrepreneur
New Delhi (India), November 12: This year Ameya’s NGO Mahatma Gandhi Seva Sangh facilitated the free screening and distribution of assistive aids worth more than ₹ 100 crores to 1 lakh beneficiaries including the elderly and people with disabilities in the Pune District of Maharashtra.
Ameya Agrawal (28) is an engineer turned social entrepreneur and the CEO of Mahatma Gandhi Seva Sangh (MGSS) – An NGO with over two decades of experience in working for the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities (PWDs) and promoting accessibility and inclusion.
Ameya has a long history of community service, and it all started during his college days. During his engineering degree, he facilitated a social project for college students. Since then, he has dedicated himself to positively impacting the community. Ameya left his corporate job in 2020 to work full-time in the social sector.
Last year his NGO SkillSlate Foundation trained 25,000+ individuals, including Directors, Deans, Professors, Teachers, Students, and Professionals across India and abroad in domains ranging from Soft Skills and Personality Development to industry-specific technical disciplines such as Big Data and Cybersecurity.
Ameya joined MGSS as CEO to work for the inclusion, accessibility, and rehabilitation of PWDs. There is a lack of precise data and representation of PWDs, leading to various challenges while policy implementation at the ground level. Ameya’s NGO conceptualised and implemented the ‘Akola Pattern’ project that mapped the socio-economic status of disabled individuals through the home-to-home survey of over 15 lakh people in the Akola district by identifying 45000+ PWDs. This first-of-its-kind project in India, lauded by the then Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra and State Commissioner of Disability, is now followed by all districts in Maharashtra.
Ameya’s work earned him admission from the coveted Harvard University, USA, and London School of Economics to pursue his Master’s Degree.
He said getting selected for Harvard and the London School of Economics was a surreal experience. “Someone like me who doesn’t come from a legacy background or an elite school can get into the world’s top universities feels like a dream.”
Ameya, however, dropped out of Harvard earlier this year.
When asked about his reasons, he said there is a lot to do back in India, and many opportunities are opening up for him that he is considering. He added that although an Ivy League University will add significant value, Harvard isn’t going anywhere. “I will definitely consider it again in the future, and my experiences will only make the education journey more productive and impactful,” he added.
Ameya believes that accessibility is the ultimate leveler. “Coming from a middle-class family from the small town of Bhusawal in Maharashtra to securing admission at Harvard University and eventually having to drop out made me realise that having mere opportunities is not enough. Opportunities need to be accessible,” said Ameya.
Next, Ameya plans to focus on the prevention of disability and rehabilitation of PWDs, a community neglected for a long time.
“We all have freedom, but the main question is, is it accessible? Rehabilitation of people with disabilities is an important issue, but the system has many challenges. The laws lack implementation. Facilities exist but are not accessible. Schemes have been put in place to educate people about disability issues, but awareness is lacking.” said Ameya.
In Ameya’s words, “I aim to ensure that every individual in this country gets an equal opportunity and access to quality education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. I want to ensure that the Government caters to their needs at every stage – from birth till death – with equal attention toward fulfilling their necessities.”
Hon’ble Disability Commissioner of Maharashtra State said, “We need more participation from young people like Ameya who are highly educated and carry corporate experience to contribute to this field. They bring a fresh perspective and a more innovative approach. Ameya’s work is truly commendable and inspiring for today’s generation.”
To know more about the organisation and Ameya’s work, click on https://ameya.skillslate.org/
Ameya urged his fellow youths to consider the social impact sector as a full-time opportunity. There is tremendous potential and need for young minds. Ameya emphasises following a right-based approach to the ‘inclusion’ of people with disabilities instead of a sympathetic system. Only then will true inclusion happen that will not be limited to the welfare of PWDs but will focus on their progress and development.
Ameya, through his NGO, is now working with the district administration of Amravati, Beed, Parbhani, Pune, Nashik, and Hingoli for the home-to-home mapping of PWDs. This project will lay a foundation at the national level to help understand the life cycle of lakhs of people with disabilities who were earlier lacking an identity and a respectful place in society.
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