About OBLF

Home > About OBLF

FOUNDING PHILOSOPHY

The Foundation was set up on the belief that quality education is the absolute right of every person. Lack of access, infrastructure, resource constraints, or policy should never be a cause for denying anyone their fundamental right to pursue and fulfil their dreams. Our efforts contribute towards this vision of an equal society where accessibility is not a prerequisite to education.

MISSION

OBLF seeks to provide quality education to children from socio-economically weaker sections of society in rural Bangalore. We leverage the power of the community by developing and creating capacity in rural women to deliver impactful learning, create critical awareness about their role in society and in the environment around them – thus enabling social and financial empowerment for this segment.

VISION

We enable rural communities – young children and women – to take informed decisions and lead meaningful productive lives by setting a strong foundation through education and capacity building.

OUR FOCUS

OBLF has two equally important areas of thrust and impact. The first has been towards curating high quality and research driven curriculum on English and basic Computer literacy. The second area of emphasis has been on socially empowering, capacitating, and creating employment for semi educated women from these communities. This dualistic approach has created a sustainable model of gaining and imparting education through collective community action.

hand_left

BOARD OF TRUSTEES

hand_right

Anamika Majumder – Founder and Managing Trustee

Anamika, the founder and managing trustee of OBLF is a Software Engineer, based out of Boston. She has worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Omgeo LLC (a subsidiary of DTCC) in Massachusetts, USA. With a technical background in engineering and a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Anamika also has a demonstrated history of working in non-profit management. When she briefly moved back to India in 2010, Anamika spent her time travelling to government schools in Bangalore, and interacting with the children.  Her experiences at these state run schools cemented her beliefs about improving the quality of education and enhance learning experiences for children in rural India. Anamika’s mission to instill the love of learning in underprivileged children, became the founding philosophy for OBLF and in July 2010, the organization was set up to meet those ends. When not working, you will find Anamika on a long walk or feeding the family her food creations.

Aashu Calapa – Trustee

Aashu was heading ‘The Live Love Laugh’ Foundation where he spent 18 months working on building mental health awareness. Prior to his social ventures, Aashu worked extensively in Human Resources (HR) sector. He began his career in Wipro where he spent 11 years, followed by another 11 years in Firstsource Solutions Limited. During his time in HR, Aashu was also associated with Red Bus. He has a Masters in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Aashu has done his masters from Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations.

Arvind Malhan – Trustee

Arvind is a Partner at New Silk Route (NSR), a $1.4 Billion private equity fund focused on South Asia, where he has led and managed the firm’s investments, marque ones like VRL Logistics, Cafe Coffee Day, and Ortel Communications. Prior to joining NSR in 2010, Arvind served as the Executive Director at JP Morgan Private Capital Asia, the Asian private equity arm of JP Morgan, where he was part of the founding team. He previously served as Director of TVG Capital Partners, a private equity firm focused on telecom, media and information technology investments across Asia, where he started the firm’s India office. Arvind began his career at McKinsey and Company, where he developed strategic initiatives for leading global companies in the information technology and financial services industries, and has also worked at Morgan Stanley Venture Partners and Pequot Capital Management. Arvind has an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Sangeeta P Mahendran – Trustee

Sangeeta has recently made her transition to social entrepreneurship after a bountiful 27-year career across companies like Hewlett Packard, Compaq, Digital, Microland and TVS Electronics. She plans on investing her vast experience from the corporate sector towards enabling aiding social enterprises & foundations in scaling up. Her venture ‘Antraprerna’ seeks to empower enterprises innovating for social impact by leveraging an ecosystem of experts, technology and resources available. Passionate about Women’s empowerment and Leadership, Sangeeta is also a Business mentor at the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and an avid contributor to Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Forums and Councils Globally. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Electronics & Communications) from BMSCE, and an Executive MDP from IIM, Bangalore. Additionally, Sangeeta is an Executive Leadership alum from Harvard Business School. Sangeeta lives in Bangalore with her husband Mahendran Balachandran, who is a VC with Accel Partners.

Srinivas Katta – Trustee

Srinivas is a founding and senior partner with IndusLaw with over 15 years of experience and specializes in mergers and acquisition, strategic alliances, private equity investment, joint ventures and corporate governance. Srinivas has been consistently listed in Band 1 for Corporate/ M&A and Band 2 for Private Equity by Chambers & Partners in its Asia guides. He has also been consistently recognized as “one of the leading lawyers of India” by Asia Law Profiles. Furthermore, he has been recognised in ‘The Mint’ for being one of the 40 who ‘matter’ in the start-up ecosystem. Srinivas has also been widely endorsed as one of the most trusted lawyers in India in ICCA’s latest publication “The Vanguards”. Srinivas is a member of the board of several companies and is also a trustee and advisor to charitable foundations and projects.

NIKESH JAIN – Trustee

After 24 rewarding years in the corporate world working with companies like Yahoo!, Oracle and SAP, Nikesh has recently stepped out of the software industry and now wishes to devote the majority of his time towards social entrepreneurship and other social causes. Nikesh strongly believes that technology can make a huge difference in the way education can reach underprivileged children and hopes to be able to use his technical expertise to further this cause. Nikesh used to be a professional cricket player and played Ranji Trophy for his state in the year 1992-93. He also believes that participating in sports like cricket can instil valuable soft skills like leadership and teamwork in an individual. Nikesh is still very passionate about cricket and hopes to take it up again in his free time.

hand_left

EDUCATION ADVISORY BOARD

hand_right

Rajeevan Karal - Education Advisory Board Member

Dr Rajeevan Karal has been an illustrious English teacher and Master trainer for over 45 years. For over two decades he was a member of the Faculty at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. Later he moved into the Publishing industry to set up the Publishing Division for Cambridge University Press, India and retired as the Senior Vice-President of the Press in 2012. Since then he has been an independent English Language Consultant offering consultancy services to different publishers and is actively engaged in training teachers and developing content for teaching-learning purposes. He has authored many course books for teaching English to both the school and university level. His major areas of interest include training, content development, curriculum development and self-directed learning.

Geetha Rajeevan - Education Advisory Board Member

Geetha Rajeevan has been an English Language teacher and trainer for nearly 40 years. In the latter part of her career, she was the Head of one of the premier International Schools in Hyderabad for 15 years and retired in 2016. During those years, she was actively engaged in introducing innovative practices in teaching and teacher development. Her areas of interest include activity-based learning and classroom innovation.
hand_left

MANAGEMENT TEAM

hand_right

Anish Ramachandran – CEO (Hon)

Anish Ramachandran is our passionate and driven CEO – a man of many talents who has spent more than twenty-five years as a business leader at the helm of corporate leadership. Prior to his retirement from the corporate sector, Anish served as the Vice-President and Director of Intel’s Greater Asia Region operations, and has worked at Intel across various leadership positions for over eighteen years. An alumnus of XLRI, Jamshedpur, Anish brings with him extensive leadership chops, a passion to work with marginalized under-privileged communities, and a thirst to bridge educational learning gaps enabling every child to reach their potential. When Anish is not busy working on OBLF’s funding, pedagogy, marketing, impact assessment strategies, you can find him penning down his thoughts most-eloquently or jamming to Simon n Garfunkel.

Ruby Kamdin – Director (Hon)

Ruby Kamdin, a Chartered Accountant by training and profession, is the kind of leader every non-profit dreams of. It is her incredible passion, relentless drive, single-minded dedication to the cause, the ability to find a solution to the most intractable bureaucratic hurdles and her unending empathy for the under-privileged communities that has propelled OBLF for much of this decade. She is a force of nature and much of where OBLF is today can be traced back to her. Ruby has long since been aiding and working for environmental and social causes, especially in the field of education, either by volunteering for NGOs or in her individual capacity. If you ever meet Ruby, don’t forget to ask about her handy old school-Nokia phone, you might just learn something and build perspective!

Mahesh Shetty – Program Manager

Mahesh is our Program Manager, who recently completed six years with OBLF and is without doubt the central pillar on whom this organization rests. His eye for detail, his organizational ability, and his ownership and commitment to OBLF’s cause make him an invaluable part of this team. An alumnus of Manipal Institute of Technology, Mahesh has spent over 10 years in companies like BEL and others in Gulf countries. You will always find Mahesh on the roads of rural Bangalore to ensure the seamless functioning of our flagship program and to supervise and support our women coordinators on the field. The man has become a household name in the communities we work in – a source of guidance and mentorship to the women and a ‘fun-uncle’ to the kids in the schools.

Faiza KHAN – Program Development Manager

A Hyderabad gal at heart, Faiza is a relatively new addition to the OBLF having recently relocated to Bangalore. She is a post-graduate in Gender Studies from The Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and has done some intensive work in women empowerment and adolescent education. At OBLF, Faiza drives our Syllabus and Curriculum working closely with our Education Advisory Board, the Foundation’s social media strategy, its volunteer efforts amongst many other things; she is an incredibly creative and talented individual who has managed to infuse some much needed youthfulness into the OBLF team; and when you do meet her, ask her to allow you to follow her on Instagram, and you will be fortunate to see the amazing artist that she is!

Mahadevan Padmanabhan – Technology Lead (Hon)

Mahadevan Padmanabhan has been one of our earlier volunteers and well-wishers and continues to be the back bone of our IT infrastructure, providing invaluable guidance and advice to us – and stepping in whenever needed to teach our Coordinators. With over 10 years of experience in IT, Mahadevan founded PlayKnow, an Edu-tech company bringing digital intervention in education, and has played a pivotal role in creating and rolling out software and apps that are in line with the English curriculum taught at OBLF. If you ever need advice on how to invest in the stock market, Mahadevan is the man to go to!

Elizabeth paul elenjical - project assoiciate

Elizabeth Elenjical is our most recent addition to the OBLF team and is currently working on our Headstart educational program as well as our newly launched Waste-Picker Community Empowerment program. Elizabeth is a graduate with a triple major in English, Psychology and Communication Studies from Mount Carmel College and has previously worked on content and copywriting projects. When she is not developing syllabus documents and session outlines at OBLF you can find Elizabeth playing chef whipping up healthy and tasty dishes. As both an avid foodie and fitness enthusiast, Elizabeth is on a mission to find the ‘perfect’ biryani by exploring different cultures and cuisines!

hand_left

Standards for Child Safeguard

hand_right

OBLF’s Policy on Child Safeguarding

The organisation is committed to safeguarding all children, irrespective of ability, ethnicity, faith, gender, sexuality and culture. This policy also recognises that types of risk may vary according to the child and that the means of addressing risks may also vary. Preventing harm to children is a commitment that our staff and associates make whilst at work and outside of work. Our Staff and associates understand that they represent, or are identified with, the organisation at all times – and thus will hold themselves to the highest standards of professional behaviour at all times. This policy is reflective of OBLF’s overarching commitment to preventing harm to children.

Who Does This Apply To

This policy applies to all of OBLF’s staff, teacher coordinators, volunteers, partners and trustees. Everyone connected to the organisation has an obligation to know what constitutes harm to children, how to keep children safe and have appropriate learning opportunities to develop and maintain the necessary attitudes, skills and knowledge to keep children safe. Partners, including implementing partners, funding partners or those organisations that contribute to our business operations, should understand child safeguarding measures, which are consistent with our standards. The Children and the families who we serve are ultimately the recipient of our commitment to their safety and should understand our commitments to child safeguarding and what to do if any concerns arise.

Responsibility

The ultimate responsibility and accountability for the definition and implementation of the Child Safety standards and norms rests with the senior management of the Foundation. This includes the Founder, the senior management representatives and the Board of Trustees of OBLF.

Definition of Harm & What Constitutes Potential Harm to Children: Given OBLF’s scope of work, the following definitions will be used as a guide:

  • Physical Abuse : actual or potential physical harm perpetrated by another person, adult or child. it may involve hitting, or shaking a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a teacher or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child.
  • Sexual Abuse : forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities that he or she does not fully understand and has little choice in consenting to. This may include, but is not limited to, rape, oral sex, penetration, or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching. It may also include involving children in looking at, or producing sexual images, watching sexual activities and encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
  • Child Sexual Exploitation : a form of sexual abuse that involves children being engaged in any sexual activity in exchange for money, gifts, food, accommodation, affection, status, or anything else that they or their family needs. It usually involves a child being manipulated or coerced, which may involve befriending children, gaining their trust, and subjecting them to drugs and alcohol.
  • Neglect and Negligent treatment : this refers to a persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, which is likely to result in serious impairment of a child’s healthy physical, spiritual, moral and mental development. It includes the failure to properly supervise and protect children from harm and provide for nutrition, shelter and safe living/working conditions.
  • Emotional Abuse : persistent emotional maltreatment that impacts on a child’s emotional development. Emotionally abusive acts include restriction of movement, degrading, humiliating, bullying (including cyber bullying), and threatening, scaring, discriminating, ridiculing or other non-physical forms of hostile or rejecting treatment.

Reporting and Responding to Complaints

A child safeguarding allegation may be defined as a complaint involving one or more perpetrators and one or more children. In all investigations of a child safeguarding allegation, it is essential that staff involved maintain a high level of confidentiality in relation to the information in their possession, without jeopardising the investigation or the welfare of the children involved. Subsequent information generated throughout the investigation will only be shared on a ‘need to know’ basis. This usually means only the designated OBLF management representative who commissioned the investigation, and any member of the investigation team (if any), should have full access to all information. All other potentially involved co-workers should receive only anonymised reports.

Complaints/allegations can come from a variety of sources including:

  • Past or present staff, volunteers, contractors, associates, consultants
  • Children and young people
  • Via social media
  • Other partners, NGOs, agencies
  • Supporters, donors, government officials
  • Anonymously via letters, emails or telephone calls
  • Inspections, audit activity.

Managing the Investigation

If the organisation decides to conduct an internal investigation, senior management will appoint an investigation team. It is usually made up of an Investigating Manager and investigators and, in some cases, observers, interpreters and outside experts. Given OBLF’s size of operations, it is highly likely that the lead investigating manager will either be the CEO, or a senior management representative or one of the Trustees – unless there is a direct conflict of interest involved. Investigators conduct the investigation, review all collected information and write an investigation report. The team should be chosen on the basis of their integrity, understanding of child safeguarding, knowledge of human resource practice and ability to negotiate conflicting interpersonal and institutional interests.

When conducting the investigation, the following core principles should be upheld. All investigations should be child focused to ensure that children’s best interests and safety are of paramount importance. It is the Investigating Manager’s role to oversee that the principles of best practice are applied. The key principle is that the safety and wellbeing of children must be the most important factor in any investigation. It is essential that the risk to them, or their families, be considered alongside other risks to witnesses, suspected perpetrators or other staff or consultants, including the investigators.

Checklist for recruitment and selection

OBLF will also ensure adequate care and safeguards at the time of recruitment and selection of staff members. More specifically, OBLF shall:

  1. When you are designing the job description, analyse the role and think about the issues of child safeguarding and risk in that job.
  2. Develop clear job descriptions, terms of reference/role briefs for all posts including where short-term contracts, consultants are being recruited.
  3. Make sure that the selection-criteria outlines the relevant experience needed if the post involves direct work with children.
  4. Make sure that the commitment to keeping children safe is included in details of any post sent to prospective job candidates.
  5. Ask for documentation to confirm identity and proof of relevant qualifications.
  6. Make sure we have a well-planned interview process and ensure the interviewers have the relevant experience of and knowledge about child safeguarding and best practice.
  7. Include some specific questions in the interview that draw out people’s attitudes and values in relation to the protection of children.

Training and Education

Education and training are very powerful ways to improve practice. OBLF is committed to ensuring that there will be regular dialogues with its staff about the importance of child safety and the norms & guidelines that need to be adhered by all.

Reporting

Any allegation or complaint shall be duly investigated, and the report – without any information that might potentially identify the victim – shall be presented to the Board of Trustees, along with key recommendations and actions to be taken to avoid any recurrence.