LONDON: It troubled millionaire NRI Robin Raina to see slums being demolished and scores of people rendered homeless as India dressed itself up for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Raina. Raina, who runs a highly successful billion dollar American software company and recently won a multi-million dollar deal with London Stock Exchange, decided to come to the rescue of Delhi’s Bawana refugees by building them homes. Having completed 1732 homes for the refugees living behind Red Fort, Raina now tells TOI’s Kounteya Sinha in an interview that his next mission is to build 6000 more homes for the homeless in Delhi and Noida. A $20 million investment will go into the rehabilitation plan for the homeless.
A home gives you a feeling of security and comfort. At present 100 million people in the world are without homes. It is heart wrenching to imagine the suffering and insecurity they face each day. I recently set up the Robin Raina Foundation and pledged a considerable amount of my time and resources in philanthropy. Over the last two decades, during my travels across Asia and Africa, I saw malnourished and handicapped children without any education.
I became intensely aware of the problem of homelessness in India when I first learned about the plight of Bawana refugees. These people used to live in the Yamuna Pushta area behind the Red Fort. During the Commonwealth Games in 2010, their slums were demolished and they were rendered homeless.
This was the time we had set up schools for kids, vocational education centres and some self-help groups in the area. As we were trying to get these projects off the ground, we realized kids enrolled in our schools were continuously dropping out. We later found this was because their parents kept moving as they were homeless. So I decided to build homes for them to ensure that they stick to this area and their children could get educated. Till date we have handed over 1732 homes to these people in Bawana. We plan to build at least 6000 homes for the homeless in Delhi and Noida.
Most of your work is centred on Delhi and north India? What about other parts of the country?
Actually we are now working across the country with our projects spread across Mumbai, Delhi, J&K, UP and other parts of the country. 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.
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 has been started in the slums of Noida in Sector- 53.
What is your dream project?
My number one priority now is charity. My dream is to make charity fashionable and cool. I want people to experience the joy of giving.
At present my focus is on the poor and the underprivileged. Homes for the homeless, education for underprivileged children and vocational education and skill development for the deprived are the areas I would like to concentrate on.
According to India’s 2011 Census there are 449,761 houseless households/families) existing in our country and if our PM has to meet his promise of giving a roof to every head in India, there is a need to build about 55,000-60,000 houses each year to give shelter to all of them by 2022. Bear in mind that the worrying part is the rise in urban homes, which has grown at 20% in the decade from 2001 to 2011.
RRF’s Raina Shine project in the slums of Noida today provides education, food, clothing, and medical care to hundreds of slum dwellers’ children in Noida and surrounding areas. As a part of this initiative, a new school with 329 children currently enrolled has been started in the slums of Noida in Sector- 53.
What is your investment plans for India?
By the end of 2017, our intention is to invest at least $120 million in India. This investment will mostly be around R&D and acquisitions. I admit, some years back I wasn’t really interested in investing here, but with Prime Minister Narendra Modi really opening up the country for business, I feel this is just the right time to invest. PM Modi’s Digital India dream holds promise.