HelpAge India was formed in 1978 with the founder of HelpAge International (UK), Cecil Jackson Cole as its first President. Two other men joined the HelpAge India story around the same time: John F. Pearson and Samson Daniel.

Pearson and Cole realised that constant endowments from the UK would not be a practical approach for the long run. They realised that they need to think out of the box in order to have regular inflow of funds for charities in the developing world to have a lasting positive impact.

When Cole visited India in 1974, he was approached by the intrepid philanthropist Samson Daniel for financial help in order to start a member organisation in Delhi. A far-sighted man, Cole instead offered to train him on raising funds. Mr. Daniel and his wife completed a three-month training course in London and returned to India, organising a successful sponsored walk with Delhi schoolchildren. Its success inspired HelpAge International to recruit more staff to cover Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta.

A humble initiative in a rented-two room office in New Delhi’s Kasturba Gandhi Marg has now become an extensive operation spanning 26 states with 90 project offices across India with its headquarters in Delhi’s Qutab Institutional Area.

Cecil Jackson Cole John F. Pearson Samson Daniel Philip Jackson M.M.Sabharwal
Cecil Jackson Cole John F. Pearson Samson Daniel Philip Jackson M.M.Sabharwal

By April 1978, HelpAge India was officially registered in Delhi and Pearson became a Trustee of the organisation and a key member of its Governing Board. One of the founder members of HelpAge International, Philip Jackson, joined HelpAge India the same year as its first Chief Executive.

Once financial support from the UK ceased, it took HelpAge India three months to become autonomous. Soon, the Society was awarded Certificates of Exemption under Sections 12A and 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961, thus indicating general confidence for the future.

Two years later, an individual named Madan Mohan Sabharwal became an integral driving force of the HelpAge story. Sabharwal was a happily married man until tragedy stuck; at the age of 51, his wife died and left him a widower. Bereft, Sabharwal focussed his attention and many skills on the promotion of the cause of the aged. Soon, he took over as President of HelpAge India’s Governing Body, succeeding Pearson. He continued to be an integral part of HelpAge as President Emeritus until his passing away in 2011.

No Mr. Daniel, we will not give you any money, but if you’d like to come to London we will coach you on how to raise the money.

Cecil Jackson Cole

Founder of Help the Aged, UK

Then & Now

When HelpAge India was formed in 1978, there were 33 million older persons in India without a dedicated body to voice their concerns, take an interest in their health or fulfill their potential to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives. The number of senior citizens has since swelled to 100 million and still counting. By 2030, the population of the elderly is projected to hit the 200 million mark!

Over the last three decades, HelpAge has put welfare and developmental programmes in place and fought for the rights of disadvantaged older people so that they can be economically and physically secure. However, a lot more needs to be done, a fact that HelpAge India recognizes considering the alarming statistics that confront today’s senior citizens.