What began as a humble initiative from a rented two room office in New Delhi's Kasturba Gandhi Marg has now blossomed into an extensive operation spread across 26 states with 90 project offices in India and headquartered at the capital's Qutab Institutional Area.
HelpAge India came into being in 1978 with Cecil Jackson Cole, founder of HelpAge International (UK), as its first President. Around this time two other men figured prominently in the HelpAge India story - John F. Pearson and Samson Daniel.
- Cecil Jackson Cole
- John F. Pearson
- Samson Daniel
Constant endowments, from the United Kingdom were something both Pearson and Cole felt would not be practical in the long run. They realized that they needed to think out of the box so that charities in the developing world could continue to have a regular inflow of funds so that they could make a positive and lasting impact.
In March 1974, when Cole, visited India, an intrepid philanthropist named Samson Daniel approached him for financial help to set up a member organisation in Delhi. A far-sighted man, Cole instead offered to train him to raise funds. After a three month training course in London, Mr. Daniel and his wife returned to India and organized a sponsored walk with schoolchildren in Delhi. It was so successful that in 1975 HelpAge International recruited more staff to cover Bombay, Madras and Calcutta.
HelpAge India was on its way
In April 1978, HelpAge India was officially registered in Delhi. Pearson became a Trustee of the organisation and a key member of its Governing Board. Philip Jackson, one of the founder members of HelpAge International came on board in 1978 as HelpAge India's first Chief Executive.
Within three months it became autonomous as financial support ceased from UK. Soon after, in July, the Society was awarded Certificates of Exemption under Sections 12A and 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961, thus indicating general confidence in the Society's affairs.
A New Force of Change
The year 1980 saw the advent of an individual who was to become an integral part of the HelpAge story and its driving force. Madan Mohan Sabharwal was born on August 21, 1922. Happily married, tragedy struck when his wife died, leaving him a widower at the age of 51. Bereft, Sabharwal began to focus his attention, and his many skills, on promoting the cause of the aged. He took over the reins as President of HelpAge India's Governing Body in 1986-87 succeeding John F. Pearson. Today, he continues to be an integral part of HelpAge as its President Emeritus.
Sabharwal came from a rich corporate background, so the charitable sector was relatively new to him, but he made efforts to know about its inner workings and felt that changes at the Government policy level were imperative for a long sustaining impact on the lives of India's elderly. He later went on to join the four member committee set up by the Government to review the National Policy on Older Persons.