The Editor has dedicated this page to the work of "Niswarth" with the driving force being Harsh Kumar

Below is the link to Gowri Mohanakrishnan web site which has some interesting items about NISWARTH


October 7 2011

Dear friends,  

Puja greetings to all of you!
Here is the latest news from Niswarth:  

Andrew Yule Tea Division's

Vocational Training Centre
in collaboration with Niswarth

  The Vocational Training Centre opened on 28 September in Binnaguri town. Managers and Assistant managers from the gardens in the area attended the opening as did officials from the health department of Jalpaiguri District.  The Chairman of the Dooars Branch of the Indian Tea Association, Mr R.P. Jung cut the ribbon and declared the centre open.   The managers of the area had spread the word about the program. Large numbers of young people from tea gardens and from the town were present.  

After studying the needs of local people and
keeping employment prospects in view, Niswarth has put the following courses on offer :  

Motor driving, Mobile Phone repairing, Tailoring, Carpentry, Electrical Maintenance, Beauty and Hair Cutting, Masonry, Advance Harvesting, Block Printing, Cooking/Baking, Computers, Tea Nursery management, First aid, Physiotherapy, Organic Manure making and Photography/videography  

The Centre head is Prabhat from Niswarth. Jyoti from Engo Tea Estate is to be in charge of administration, and she will also teach the computer class. Barua will teach the sewing class.   Teachers for the remaining courses will join up after the garden Puja holidays.   A total of 115 people enrolled for the different courses.    Children as young as twelve showed an interest and enrolled for some of the programs.   The programs are primarily for tea garden populations, but are open to the poor. The courses are offered for free.   

Niswarth and Earthquake Relief  

Harsh Kumar writes:

Niswarth,represented by Sanjana and Param, distributed aid to earthquake victims in North Sikkim -- old & new clothes, medicines,ration,candles and matchboxes. This was entirely Sanjana's initiative. She collected donations and materials from friends and associates , and cash donations from her father and from friends. Well done Sanjana --Niswarth is proud of you!!   With best wishes to all of you,

Gowri Mohanakrishnan  

August 3 2011

Below is all the exciting news about the great progress and recognition Niswarth is receiving for all it's good work--thanks to Gowri Mohanakrishnan for sending all the information

below is the note from Gowri

Dear friends,

Hello to all of you!

You'll be happy to learn of a couple of developments in Niswarth.

Andrew Yule and Co. has decided to fund a vocational training centre in the Dooars. They have asked Niswarth to set up and run the centre.

The Jalpaiguri District admninistration has entrusted Niswarth with the task of conducting a survey on education among the children of tea garden workers and economically backward families. The aim is to prevent young children from dropping out of school after the primary level.

Niswarth's Day Out:

Some of Niswarth's specially abled youngsters made a trip to the Uttorayan  township, Siliguri, on Saturday last.

Some of you may remember that this township used to be the Chandmoni Tea Estate.

A new police outpost has been set up at Uttorayan, and there was a small opening ceremony. The management at the township had asked Sanjana Sarkar if Niswarth's specially abled people could perform a couple of dances and make an event of it.  


There was hardly any time for rehearsal, but the kids were ready with all their moves. They were nattily dressed and danced wonderfully - as they always do. Not one of the dancers could hear the song to which they performed - they have never heard a sound in their lives.

The audience (over 200) was moved by the performance.

The people at Uttarayon made sure they had a great day of it. They had arranged for them to watch the latest Bollywood hit, 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' (You Only Live Once) at the new multiplex there. Harsh Kumar hosted lunch for them at his home, Niswarth House.

After the dance, the performers received gifts from the Uttorayan management. They left for Bagracote all smiles. 

On stage and in the audience after their dance.

This is Promilla, one of Niswarth's special people.

Promilla has cereberal palsy. She walks with difficulty. She speaks a few words but makes herself understood through gestures.

The camera caught different expressions on her face, but not one picture of her dazzling smile! She was really sparkling with life at the event.


 December26 2010
More wonderful work by the supporters of NISWARTH

 Dear friends,

Christmas Greetings!

It's been some time since I sent an update, but as you might have guessed, Niswarth has been busy and the good work continues.

In the year 2010, a total of five disability camps and ten eye camps were held across North Bengal and Assam with around 3000 people attending.

On 22 December 2010, at the Banarhat Tea Estate in the Dooars' Binnaguri area, Niswarth distributed Disability cards and aids and appliances.

These were handed over to the people who had been identified at the Disability camp held in Banarhat Tea Estate earlier.

There were 316 recipients of Disability cards.

The District Disability Rehabilitation Centre (DDRC) and the District Social Welfare Office (DSWO) of Jalpaiguri District facilitated the distribution of aids and appliances worth Rs. 17 lac. These included: -

Hearing aids - 80
Wheelchairs - 54
Tricycles - 22
Walking sticks - 50
Walking sticks for the blind - 30
Crutches- 20

Niswarth President Harsh Kumar said that the distribution of the cards and appliances was the beginning of a lifelong relationship between the special people and Niswarth.

The planters of the sub-district and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Dooars Branch Indian Tea Association were present at the distribution.

Mrs Sanjana Sarkar informed the gathering that Niswarth would be organising a Charity Show in Kolkata in February 2011 to raise funds for a Home for people with special needs in the Dooars. Mrs Sarkar announced that the show would have performances by Niswarth's own special people. The Matrix Group has undertaken to train them to perform, and auditions will be held by Mrs Sarkar and team.

The announcement created a flutter of excitement. Young people came up to give in their names for audition. Some of us enjoyed an impromptu song by Lakshmi of Binaguri Tea Estate. Lakshmi can't see, but she smiled in delight as we clapped in time to her song.

The Home in the Dooars is big on Niswarth's plans list for the months ahead, as is the organisation of more camps in other regions in Eastern India.

A sad announcement was made - two of Niswarth's special people passed away in 2010 : Sachin Lohar of Bagracote Tea Garden and Neelam, aged 6, of Rheabari Tea Estate.

Upcoming events: Dental camp with free medicine at Banarhat Hospital, Banarhat, Dooars.

With best wishes,
Gowri Mohanakrishnan

August 20 2010 
More good news from Niswarth

Sanjana  tells us :
Niswarth had a very successful Eye camp  at Kathalguri Tea Garden on 28th of July

Number of Persons attended .....     205

Cataract  operation... ......... .........     15

Ptresium.... ......... ......... ......... ......     1

Medicine Distributed. ......... ........     180

and we are having our next Eye camp at Danguwajhar Tea Garden near Jalpaiguri
on 29th of August 2010

Hope around 200 persons will be participating in this camp.


August 6 2010
Dear all
  This is Pookchi......   She lost her left leg being run over by a train. She was only 6 years old .... She did not know  how to walk without crutches and till the age of 36 her crutches were her true friend  ..... One day Niswarth provided her a leg. Doctors said that she will require at least three month to walk without crutch's. But our Pookchi immediately got up from her chair and started walking  and she  walked continuously for four hours in the afternoon sun and tears were rolling from her eyes and lips were smiling ..... she is a very strong woman ....and a proud member of Niswarth. She is a leader of our self help group called Tara...
I have many experiences in this journey called Niswarth .....  These three years were like a dream  to me. I do not know  how long I will be with this dream of mine ?? One has to go someday , nothing is permanent on this Earth.... but were ever I will be I will keep on sharing my thoughts and experiences of Niswarth....
Sanjana Sarkar





August 5 2010
Dear all...
Niswarth had a very successful Eye camp  at Kathalguri Tea Garden on 28th of July
Number of Persons attended .....     205 Cataract  operation.....................     15
Ptresium.....................................     1 Medicine Distributed..................     180

Our Next Eye camp is on 8th of August 2010 at Kamalpur Tea Garden ( comes under T.B.I.T.A )
Regards  Sanjana.... 


 July 11 2010
A message from Gowri Mohanakrishnan

Back in Assam  

Niswarth has been active in Assam over the past few weeks. Here is a short record of the activities there.   Disability Camp at Bhooteachang Tea Estate   On June 25, 2010, there was a Disability Camp at Bhooteachang Tea Estate for the tea gardens and the bustees in the area.

This covered 12 tea gardens under ABITA's Mangaldai Circle of Assam's Udalguri district. Niswarth's Harsh Kumar, Sanjana Sarkar and Ramakant travelled to Assam to be present there. The camp was held with the support and collaboration of the District Social Welfare Officer and the ABITA Mangaldai Circle.   Several hundreds of people were present at the camp. There were 450 people identified as physically/mentally challenged from the gardens and around 100 more from nine neighbouring bustees. 

Harsh reports that the camp was a huge success. All efforts were directed towards the main goal - the detection of disability, its proper identification, and the initiation of the process of delivering care, benefits and entitlements.   The bandobust at the camp was excellent. Particular care was taken to ensure that each of the patients was fed a nourishing meal.   Distribution of Cards at Moran  

Harsh Kumar says that for Niswarth, a camp marks the beginning of care for the disabled people identified there. After every camp, it is Niswarth's responsibility to deliver - be it information, care, disability cards or appliances. Therefore each camp is followed up by Niswarth's team of workers, and they keep track of the people who need special care.    A total of 750 patients, identified at camps held earlier at Panitola, Bokhail, and Moran in Dibrugarh district, received their Disability cards. These cards were distributed on the 19th June, 2010.  Niswarth thanks A.B.I.T.A. and the district administration of Dibrugarh and Sibsagar Districts for all their support and cooperation.


June 23 2010

A message from Karan Kumar

Hi all,

Just wanted to share some really good news on Niswarth. We are officially a registered charity in the UK! The news is hot off the press as confirmation from the Charity Commission just came through yesterday.

This is great news as it allows us to seek donations from the public in the UK and transfer back to India - though until we are well established, it will be restricted to "use for disability aids and appliances". Then we can apply to change the objects within our governing Constitution here.

All thanks to Dr. Sunil who has worked really hard in getting the registration through. He will take over as the Chairman of UK Operations and I will assist him as the Secretary. We're also looking to expand the trustee base so if you know of anyone keen on joining the organisation, do let us know.

Our next steps are to open a bank account and register with the HMRC for tax exemptions. If that comes through, the government will give us an extra 28% for all donations received from UK tax-payers.

I will keep you all updated on our progress.

Take care,

May 7 2010
Dear friends,

On April 26, 2010, Niswarth held a health workshop on the prevention and control of eye diseases
among tea garden workers. This was in collaboration with the Dooars Branch Indian Tea Assocation (DBITA).

Dr. Somnath Chatterjee and Dr. Musharraf Iqbal of Greater Lions Hospital, Siliguri, conducted the
workshop. Both doctors are specialists in the field of retinal detachment. 
There were 72 participants,
including medical officers and labour welfare officers from the DBITA gardens. The focus was on
eye diseases that are common among tea garden workers, and the detection, prevention and cure
of these diseases. There was a very successful open session and the two specialists answered
many questions patiently. No wonder there was a request for more such sessions from Niswarth! 
Niswarth members thanked the doctors and the DBITA for all their inputs and effort.
The next Niswarth eye camp is on May 9, 2010 at Rheabari Tea Estate in the central Dooars.

 Indong Tea Estate in the Chalsa subdistrict will host an eye camp on May 23, 2010.
With best wishes,


May 6 2010
From L to R, Sanjana Sarkar, M.O. Damdim T.E., Harsh Kumar, Ms Sherpa, Arvind Kapoor.


In this picture from left to right: P.K.Bhattacharjee, Secretary of the Dooars
Branch Indian Tea Association, M.K. Mehta, Senior Manager Baintgoorie Tea
Estate, Anirban Majumdar, Dy Manager DamDim Tea Estate, Arvind Kapoor,
Senior Manager DamDim Tea Estate, Sanjana Sarkar and Harsh Kumar of Niswarth

c/o The Senior Manager,
Moraghat Tea Estate
P.O.Binnaguri, Dt.Jalpaiguri
West Bengal 735203



 May 6 2010
Dear friends,  
Some updates on Niswarth activities in the last two months.   On March 29, 2010, DamDim Tea Estate was the venue for the distribution of disability cards, aids and appliances. These were handed over to the people who had been examined and certified disabled at the camp held earlier in the DamDim subdistrict of Dooars.   Ms D.T.Sherpa, Additional District Magistrate of Jalpaiguri district, attended the event.She addressed the recipients and stressed that they should make full use of the appliances given to them. She also spoke about the importance of taking care of these.   Mr. Arvind Kapoor, Senior Manager DamDim T.E. and his team, including the medical officer, had made a fine bandobust at the garden hospital.   Here's a record of what was distributed.
From a circle of 14 tea gardens, 253 people received Disability Cards. Also, the following aids and appliances:
Tricycles : 13
Wheelchairs : 11
Hearing Aids : 52
Crutches : 4 sets
Walking Sticks : 3   Pic -With the ADM Ms Sherpa. From L to R, Sanjana, M.O. Damdim T.E., Harsh, Ms Sherpa, Arvind Kapoor.   More in my next.
With best wishes,
Gowri Mohanakrishnan

  March 14 2010
Dear friends,
I have not posted any updates in a while but that doesnt mean Niswarth hasn't been busy!   A few events: Sunday, 14 March: Zurantee Tea Estate will host a Disability camp for 14 gardens in Chalsa area of the Dooars. Doctors from Jalpaiguri town will conduct the camp.   Sunday, 21st March: Chupara Central Hospital at Chuapara Tea Estate will host a Disability Camp for 12 gardens in the Kalchini area of the Dooars. Some bustee areas will also be covered. This camp will be conducted by doctors from Alipurduar sub-division. On the same day, there will be an Eye camp at Kurti Tea Garden in the Nagrakata area of Dooars.     Niswarth has selected 30 girls to attend the Nursing Training program at Siliguri's Anandaloke Hospital. Dr. Susanta Roy of the Anandaloke Hospital has agreed to sponsor these students.   With best wishes,
Gowri Mohanakrishnan

February 9 2010

Dear friends,
  Niswarth's first awareness workshop on medical care is coming up.   The workshop will centre around eye care, and it will deal with the prevention of blindness and night blindness. The deficiency of Vitamin A can also lead to blindness - as can high blood sugar levels.   The workshop will be conducted by Niswarth's own Mrs. Sanjana Sarkar, and  Dr. Musharraf Iqbal and his assistant Dr. Kaushik Dutta, from the Siliguri Greater Lions Club.   This workshop is in collaboration with the Terai Branch Indian Tea Association. It will be held on February 10, 2010, at the TBITA premises. The medical officers and health assistants of member gardens of the TBITA will participate in the workshop. Everyone at Niswarth hopes this will be the first of many such awareness workshops.   More Dooars & Terai news : A disability camp will take place at Looksun T.E. on February 14 in Nagrakata district for all the tea gardens there.
The next eye camp is scheduled for February 22, at Tirihannah T.E. in the Terai.
With best wishes to all of you
Gowri ************************************************

February 2 2010

Dear friends,
More news on Niswarth activities.   January 2010 saw the Niswarth Siliguri office come into being. The office is at House No.840, E-Block, Uttorayan, Dt. Darjeeling. For those who don't know where that is, Uttorayan is a fast growing township located between Siliguri and Bagdogra.   Also in January, Harsh Kumar opened bank accounts for 17 of Niswarth's specially abled workers. The photograph shows Sarvesh Tripathi distributing the account passbooks. Anyone who wishes to make a deposit into any of the accounts is most welcome to contribute. Sanjana Sarkar will be happy to furnish the details. You can contact her at this number: (91)9933311592.   On January 15, 2010, an American couple, Dr. Dale Dykema and Ms.Cathy Morgan of Michigan made a gift of tricycles for people with limited mobility. Eight of the beneficiaries were from Niswarth. This took place at the Amit Agarwal Bhawan in Kadamtala, Siliguri.   The photograph shows Budhni Munda of Leesh River Tea Garden. Budhni suffers from cereberal palsy and never responds to her surroundings.   Or so everyone thought, until she was seated on the tricycle gifted to her. She then smiled, and began pedalling for all she was worth! What a miracle was worked by the generous gift.   With best wishes to all, Gowri

Sarvesh hands over Passbooks

Dr Dale Dykema and Ms Cathy Morgan
of Michigan made a gift of tricycles for people with limited mobility. Eight of the beneficiaries were from Niswarth.

Budhni Munda of Leesh River Tea Garden.
The Joy of it all


January 16 2010
An update on Niswarth activity from Gowri

A very happy New Year to all Niswarth friends! The year got off to a good start with the first Disability Camp of 2010 on January 5. It was held at Bettybarie Tea Estate in Udalguri District in Assam. This camp, as mentioned in an earlier update, served both garden and bustee populations.    The turnout was excellent - a total of 459 cases registered. Of these 206 qualified for the Disability Card. There was one case of a 17 year old child suffering from progeria. An NGO from Tezpur town had sent 35 patients. It was evident from the general turnout that the local authorities had taken care to spread awareness about the camp in the bustee areas.   I was told this camp could not have been held on such a large scale had it not been for the keen interest taken by the ABITA, the garden managements and the district authorities. The Additional District Commissioner, the Sub-Divisional Officer, the Joint Director of Health, and the health teams from Udalguri and Darrang districts were all present there.   Now for some Dooars news. On January 10, an Eye Camp was held at Nagrakata Tea Estate, in collaboration with the Lions Club of Siliguri. Some 159 patients attended the camp. Eye camps are proposed for February 7th and 21st as well in the Dooars, but the venues are yet to be decided. More news when I have it. With best wishes to all of you,
Gowri Mohanakrishnan

December 16 2009
An update from Gowri about Niswarth planned activities

Dear friends,

I heard from Harsh about the meetings he and Sanjana Sarkar had with the administration and with the tea fraternity on their recent visit to Assam. Here's what he has to say:

The Deputy Commissioner, Udalguri District, met with the two Niswarth members on December 11, 2009. The DC had organised a meeting of all concerned officials to discuss the first Disability Camp in the area. During the course of the meeting, the following points were finalised.

A Disability Camp will be held on January 5, 2010 at Bettybarie T.G.Hospital. Mr.S.Sarkar, manager of the garden, was appointed camp coordinator on behalf of the planters, and the SDO, Udalguri Dist was appointed the nodal officer.

The camp will not only cover the seven tea gardens of the area but also the neighouring Bustee population.

While the planters involved will take care of publicity for the camp among the tea gardens, the District administration will take care of alerting the bustee population.

With the help of the ABITA, Niswarth has arranged for an Audiometry machine, which is required for disability detection, and a technician, both from DDRC Tezpur.

The District administration has undertaken to make arrangements for Blood Grouping for the disabled persons attending camp.

Niswarth would like to thank the District Deputy Commissioner for all his initiatives and efforts. Also, Circle Chairman Mr. Gautam Roy for taking the lead and offering to have first disability camp in Borsola circle. Thanks also to Mr. D.Chakroborty, Secretary ABITA Zone III, for his guidance and help in all matters.

With best wishes,
Gowri Mohanakrishnan

16 December, 2009.

December 4 2009
A message from Gowri

Dear friends,
There will be an eye camp at Meenglas Tea Garden in Western Dooars on Sunday, 6 December, 2009. On the following Sunday, Jayantika Tea Estate in the Terai will host an eye camp.
A Niswarth team leaves for Assam tomorrow to hold a disability camp in the Udalguri Dt. - date and venue yet to be decided.
Thanks to Sanjay and the Red FM team for all their support - great to hear from you, Sanjay!
Niswarth greeting cards are ready - I just received some samples of the beautiful cards today.
With best wishes,
Gowri Mohanakrishnan.

November 14 2009

Niswarth On Air!

Dear Friends, 
Sanjana Sarkar has some good news to share. Radio Red FM, which is part of the Sun TV Network, will now be a media partner for Niswarth! This means :   The station will air alerts on upcoming Niswarth events, like eye camps and disability camps, creating awareness about Niswarth and the scope of its activites. The station will offer a helpline  for listeners, and It will provide an SMS box.   This will certainly help to create awareness about Niswarth through a most effective medium, and it will provide more scope for interaction! Bravo!   With best wishes, Gowri Mohanakrishnan

November 11 2009

  Niswarth Camp Report November 8 2009

Thanks to Gowri Mohanakrishnan again
Niswarth held a Disability Camp at Banarhat Tea Estate in Central Dooars on Sunday, November 8, 2009. This camp was organised with the support of Andrew Yule and Co. and in collaboration with the Jalpaiguri District Administration. It began at 9.00 a.m. and went on till almost 5.00 p.m. Tea, breakfast and lunch packets were distributed to every one who attended - the patients and their attendants, and all the people who worked all day to ensure that the exercise was smooth and efficient. This included doctors and labour welfare officers from a number of gardens.   The camp was planned for 20 gardens in the district. As it happened, 28 gardens sent patients. The number of patients screened was 456, and of them 347 qualified as having 40% or more disabilities.   This was the first time I attended a Disability camp and actually saw how it worked. First the patients were registered. They were then sent into the different rooms which were earmarked for screening by the panel of doctors from the C.M.O.H. Screenings were under these categories : Mobility/Orthopedic disability, Hearing Impairment, Visual Impairment, Mental and Multiple Disability. Niswarth team members documented and photographed each case who qualified to receive benefits.   The patients who are at least 40% disabled qualify to receive Disability cards and benefits, as well as free aids and appliances from the government. Harsh Kumar reminds us that the camp is only the first phase in the process, as Niswarth undertakes to obtain the Disability cards as well as to organise the distribution of aids and appliances to the patients.

Audio test in progress

Large numbers turned up for registry

Waiting to see the Doctors

A smile of pure joy in the midst of the crowds

  Here are some observations from some of the Niswarth 'regulars'.   Sanjana Sarkar observed : There are no dignitaries or Chief Guests, but only 'special guests' at Niswarth camps. Niswarth aims to introduce the specially abled people to themselves, and to their abilities, as opposed to their limitations. It seeks to educate people about how much the government offers to people with disabilities. Many people are unaware of the aim and the scope of a Disability Card, or of what entitlements are in store.   Sarvesh Tripathi said : A Niswarth camp is like a Maha Kumbh - the "maha" or "great" Kumbh Mela, a spiritual congregation that occurs once every twelve years. Masses of people gather at the Kumbh to seek salvation. Only, with Niswarth, we get to witness one every few weeks! The Niswarth camps are nothing less than a spiritual awakening for many of us. They are a celebration of the human spirit. The self reliance, self-respect and courage of those who live with disabilities is an eye-opener for many 'fully abled' people.    With best wishes, Gowri Mohanakrishnan



November 3 2009
The great work continues

Here is the latest update from Gowri

Dooars: The eye camp held on 1 November at Damdim Tea Estate registered 424 patents. There were 95 cases of cataract. Spectacles were prescribed for 80 patients and free medicine was given to 328 patients.
One case of pterygium was detected.

Assam: While we wait for a detailed account of the two Disability Camps held in Assam, we hear that the camps held at Bokel T.E. and at Langarjan T.E. had 218 patients and 118 patients respectively.

With best wishes,
Gowri Mohanakrishnan

October 26 2009

Message from Gowri  Mohanakrishnan.

Niswarth Activities for October and early     November 2009

The festive season is over now, and its back to work for everyone. Between the Durga Puja and Kali Puja holidays, on October 11, there was an eye camp at Tulsipara Tea Garden in Dalgaon District in the Dooars. A total of 183 patients attended. Among them, 32 cases of cataract were detected, and six cases of pterygium.

Spectacles were prescribed to 28 patients. As you know, these spectacles are later made available at discounted prices. Free medicine was distributed to 117 patients. Interestingly, 18 patients from Bhutan attended the camp - the Bhutan border is very close to Tulsipara!

In the Dooars again, there is an eye camp scheduled for November 1 at Dam Dim Tea Estate (Western Dooars).
On November 8, there will be a disability camp at Banarhat Tea Estate in Central Dooars, for all the gardens of the Binnaguri area.

Assam : A Niswarth team left for Assam early this morning. On October 29, they will hold a disability camp at Bokel Tea Garden in the Lahowal area of Dibrugarh district. On October 31, there will be a disability camp at Langarjan Tea Estate, in the Naharkatia area, also in Dibrugarh district.

Do check out the Niswarth home page to read a detailed record of its activities, employees and products. That's

A quote from the website : "Niswarth's activities have, so far, resulted in the local population receiving social benefits worth over Rs. 75 lakhs from the Government, Lions Club and Agencies!"

With best wishes,
Gowri Mohanakrishnan.

October16 2009

Niswarth and Durga Puja

Puja, the biggest festival of the year, just went past. Nothing could dampen the spirit of celebration in the Dooars gardens - not the drought, and not even the high prices of food and goodies. Niswarth's people celebrated with a musical entertainment show in Bagracote Tea Garden on September 25, 2009.   In keeping with the Puja spirit, the show was open to all. There were a number of entertainers from Bagracote, but the Niswarth performers were the highlight of the show. Surjya Oraon's song had everone cheering and clapping loudly. This was the only way they communicate their appreciation to Surjya, who can't see.

About half an hour into the show, we heard there were two and a half thousand spectators. Later, even more gathered. It wasnt possible to get the exact number, but it turned out that all the labour lines were 'Khaali' and every resident of the garden was at the show!  
The show stealer was Deepa, who danced to a lively Hindi film song. This lovely girl has malformed feet; they are twisted and point backwards. The CD took some time to find. Deepa was all ready to dance, and she waited quietly, smiling and excited.

 When the music began, Deepa danced with terrific energy, mouthing all the words of the song and enacting all the emotions expressed by the singer. There were four boys dancing with her. Two of them cannot hear at all, and the other two have very limited mobility. Their team work was remarkable.

As they danced, the crowd went wild. There was no way anyone present would think of the hardship or sorrow of such physical afflictions. Emotions ran high. There were some women sitting behind me, clapping with their hands high in the air, smiling and weeping at the same time.

Thank you, Deepa, and boys. You showed us that music and dance are for everyone, and that they have the power to fill us with happiness.   Harsh told me how Deepa became something of a star that night. Representatives of the local press were seen clustered around her for a long time.    Best wishes, Gowri.

October 6 2009
Eye camp at Jogeshchandra Tea Estate, October 5 2009

Hi friends,

Harsh Kumar writes that today's eye camp at Jogeshchandra T.E was a success. Around 150 patients got a general check-up courtesy the Bagracote T.G. doctor. There were 221 patients who had eye check ups and 41 cases of cataract were detected.

The SDO, Mal Bazar, was present at the camp as were some planters from the district. Manash Bhattacharya, Vice Chairman of the Dooars Branch Indian Tea Association, Ashwin Ohri, chairman of Damdim subdistict of DBITA and M.K. Mehta, former chairman of the subdistrict, were present. Thanks to all for the support!

Best wishes,
Gowri Mohanakrishnan.


October 2 2009

Hi friends,
Just a very brief update for now : Niswarth will hold an Eye camp at Jogeshchandra Tea Estate, a closed tea garden in Western Dooars on October 5, 2009.
More soon,

September 9 2009

Thirty years in tea and I say it with pride, "I have seen it all and
done it all"  - but only till I attended disability camp organized by
Niswarth. Then I realized there is so much to do and so much more to learn.

 This is a couple that has a severely disabled child. I was humbled to see their compassion and patience. They sat from 8 am to 11am to see the doctors taking turns to attend their child. The child was in a lot of discomfort and kept whimpering all through, but not even once I saw mother giving up. She took care of him with such love and care, that watching her I started to wonder from where she draws her strength?

 HOPE I guess.


When Daju Kahar entered the camp, at first look he didn't look physically challenged. He came, picked up a chair and sat down. It was when he picked up the chair that one realized that his right hand was missing. In place of that he had a wooden hand, designed and manufactured by himself. It seemed to be working perfectly. Talk about JAIPUR FOOT we had our own indigenous inventor Daju Kahar with MORAN HAND!


 This bearded man with a missing foot came dragging himself on crutches. We had planned to register the physically disabled first to save them from the trouble of long queues. One moment I saw him as one of the first ones in the queue. Suddenly he turned around and left  hopping away hurriedly on his crutches., I followed him to find out why he was going back. Without  stopping, he told me he was rushing  back home to shave as he had heard there would be photos taken of  each patient and he simply didn't want to look unkempt. I saw him again after 2 hours, clean-shaven and beaming.. It might be a few months till Niswarth is able to get him a disability card and then an artificial limb, but I am happy that for that day Niswarth camp managed to give him a smile and some hope. Such smiles are the reward of being a Niswarth volunteer.



Thank you Priti for that moving account, and for the lovely photographs!

Gowri Mohanakrishnan   P.S. Niswarth home page is and on koi hai you can read about Niswarth at http://www.niswarth .com/home

Below are pictures taken by our Niswarth members, and they document the proceedings at the camp. Niswarth's Moran Disability Camp was attended by  Mr. Pawan Singh Ghatwar, Member of Parliament and Mr. Prithbi Majhi, Labour Minister of  Assam.  Niswarth team members were delighted with the support and enthusiasm of the people in Assam! Special thanks to the Deputy Commisioner from Dibrugarh, Mr. Tripathi, who came to attend the camp. Thank you to all the managers of all the14 gardens who were present at the camp, and to A.B.I.T.A. Zone 1 Secretary Sandip Ghosh for all his efforts. 

These smiling ladies are selling Niswarth produce - greeting cards, incense sticks and glass covers


With Mr. Prithbi Majhi, Labour Minister of Assam

Jt. Director, Health Dr. D.C. Hazarika addressing the gathering

Mr. Pawan Singh Ghatwar, Member of Parliament, with Harsh Kumar and P.S. Dowerah, General Manager, Moran T.E.


August 22 2009
Harsh Kumar and Gowri send this report of the progress at Niswarth

 Niswarth Second Disabilty Camp in Assam

Dibrugarh, Assam
August 16, 2009.
Niswarth members will be happy to know that the second Assam camp, held in Dibrugargh town, was very well attended. More than 205 people were identified as disabled, and the process of getting Disability Cards for them is now under way. It's heartening to know this, considering that only 15 disabled people in the area are card holders at present. We all now know that a Disability cardholder is entitled to free rail travel, free rides on public transport, aids and appliances and other benefits from the government.
A Disability Card is valid only for a period of three years in Assam. Niswarth team members have applied to the authorities for an extension of the validity period to ten years.
The next Disability Camp in Assam will be held on the weekend beginning August 28th. It is going to be held in Moran Tea Estate, and a total of 14 gardens - seven from Dibrugarh District and seven from Sibsagar District - will be covered.

Mr. Sabyasachi Bhattacharjee, Mr. Dinesh Roka, Mr. Kinkar Pandit, Mr. Harsh Kumar and Mrs. Sanjana Sarkar and Mrs. Priti Parmar are all set to head for Assam again. They have met with enthusiastic cooperation and total involvement from the A.B.I.T.A. (Assam Branch Indian Tea Association) .

The crowds began to line up early in the day at Panitola Group Hospital - 
Niswarth's first Disability Camp In Assam-

 Mr. Sarkar Group Finance Manager of the M.K.Shah group speaks at the Niswarth Disability Camp held at Panitola Group Hospital, Assam. Seated on his left is Mr Matharu, Chairman ABITA Zone 1. On Mr. Sarkar's right, from left to right, are seated Dr. P Khaund, CMO Assam Tea Company, Mrs Sanjana Sarkar from Niswarth, and Dr Liaqat Ali, CMO Panitola Group Hospital.  At the extreme right of the picture is Mr. Sandip Ghosh, Secretary, ABITA Zone 1.

 From Right to Left : The Deputy Commissioner, Dibrugarh District, Mr.G.D. Tripathi, Dr Hazarika, Joint Director, Health, Dibrugarh District, and Mr. Harsh Kumar of Niswarth. On the table are the 'dhoop-kati' or incense sticks named NEELAM, and some glass covers, all made by Niswarth. They were sold out very quickly, thanks to the remarkable energy and efforts of our friend from Dibrugarh, Mrs.Shalini Mehra!



Dibrugarh pic

This is a picture from the second Disability Camp conducted by Niswarth in Assam.
The camp was conducted in Dibrugarh town in collaboration with the Rotary Club.
In this picture, along with the Niswarth team members we have Rotary Club Past
Governor Mrs. Kalpana Khaund, President of Rotary Club Mr Agarwal, Dr Khaund
and  the Distt Social Welfare Officer Mr Alak Rajkhowa.

One of the patients at the camp - we hope Niswarth can make a difference in the lives of many like him.

A section of the people waiting to be examined by doctors at the disability camp.


Meanwhile, the Eye Camp held at Lakhipara Tea Garden in the Dooars on August 16 was well attended in spite of the pouring rain. Around 35 patients were identified as cataract cases. Arrangements for these patients' free transportation, free hospital stay and surgery were made as they always are at every Niswarth Eye Camp, in collaboration with the Lions Club Hospital in Siliguri.  Mrs Priti Parmar is also accompanying Niswarth group for the Camp Lakhipara in the Dooars

Below are two pictures of those attending 
    kindly supplied by Priti Parmar


the Initial Introduction March 2009
Gowri sent us this information about the help freely offered to others

I'm sending you a story  about an organisation called 'Niswarth' that helps the underprivileged/disabled people in tea gardens.

It was started by Harsh Kumar and his wife Neelam, of Bagracote Tea Garden (a Duncans garden). They were our Burra Saab and Burra Memsaab when he was acting in Bagracote almost 20 years ago. Neelam had suffered a stroke when the couple decided to start work in this direction. She passed away last year, and Harsh has redoubled his efforts to keep the good work going.


"The Niswarth Story"

Niswarth (Hindi word; meaning - unselfish) is the name of the organisation started in Bagracote Tea Garden, Jalpaiguri District, by the Manager Harsh Kumar and his wife, Neelam. The aim of the organisation is 'providing employment and a social standing to the underprivileged in our society.' The focus is on disabled people.

Neelam passed away a year ago, on the 29th of February. A little over two years before that, she had suffered a stroke. Life changed drastically for both Neelam and Harsh. They fought hard against the effects of the stroke, which affected her movements and her speech.

Neelam was a cheerful and lively person, full of fun. All of us who knew her found it tough to reconcile to what had happened. Harsh and Neelam were a devoted couple, and their son and daughter, who live abroad, made frequent trips home, providing help and moral support. Her strong nature and the family's love helped; Neelam improved tremendously.

Harsh learnt and read everything he could about stroke related disabilities. At such a time, the couple's thoughts turned to those who didn't have the means to help themselves. And that was how they started 'Niswarth', in 2007. In May 2007, members of Niswarth started a scheme providing employment to the disabled - the production of incense sticks.

Soon after Neelam passed away, in March 2008, Harsh donated Rs. 4 lakh to Niswarth. Duncans Industries allocated land and a building for the organisation in Bagracote Tea Garden.

In July 2008, Niswarth held a Blood Donation and Disability camp. Identity cards were organised for hundreds of disabled people. At a camp in December 2008, hearing aids, wheelchairs, tricycles, crutches and disability cards were distributed to 176 beneficiaries. In January 2009, an eye camp was organised in collaboration with the Lions Club of Siliguri.
Harsh started talking to his friends in other tea gardens about hosting such camps.

In February, Anandapur T.E*., Kumlai T.E. , Leesh River T.E. and Nowera Nuddy T.E. in Dam Dim Subdistrict, and Moraghat T.E. in Binnaguri Subdistrict organised eye camps.
Early on the morning of the 16th February, a team of doctors, nurses and technicians, headed by Dr. Agarwal of Siliguri, set up camp in the garden hospital in Moraghat. Over 250 people got free eye check ups. Forty were diagnosed as cases for cataract surgery, and were taken to Siliguri the same evening by the team's Lions Club bus. Their stay, surgery, and treatment was all taken care of at the Lions Club Hospital.
The patients returned to the garden after two days. An optician came in from Birpara town to collect prescriptions and take measurements for spectacles, which were made available at discounted prices. Two children, deaf and mute since birth, were taken to visit the Niswarth centre at Bagracote the next day. They could be sponsored to attend a special school in Gangtok, if their parents wish to send them.

Next up on Niswarth's calendar is a Disability camp at Birpara Tea Garden on 1 March, 2009, for the gardens in Dalgaon Subdistrict. Niswarth will also sponsor deaf and mute children between the ages of 5 and 12 at special schools from March onwards.

Niswarth is a registered charity. If you wish to make a donation, or help in any way, please visit

Below are some photos which help to set the scene


saying "Thank you " to Dr Agarwal and Team

Harsh Kumar, President and co-founder of Niswarth

Harsh Kumar and S. Mohanakrishnan

  The eye camp in progress in Moraghat T.E. hospital

The yellow sign at the back of the photo is in Hindi but reads in English (Thanks to Gowri)

Free Eye Testing Camp
by Eye Specialists and Surgeons
for testing and curing eye disorders
Organised by Niswarth
A Group that assists the disabled and the Poor

Patients board bus to Siliguri


Production of incense sticks, 'agarbatti', at the Niswarth Centre in Bagracote

This is a photograph of the late Neelam Kumar who did so much with her husband Harsh to start the Niswath group

The editor of would like to encourage you to make a donation if you can----Niswarth is a registered charity and the web site is to get information


 Niswarth's first  disability camp in Assam

Niswarth's first disability camp in Assam was held at Panitola Group Hospital last week. The members of Team Niswarth who travelled there from Dooars were overwhelmed by the response and the reception that the organisation received. Mr.Harsh Kumar and Mrs.Sanjana Sarkar have both spoken to me after they returned, and here is a brief report.

The camp was held for 15 tea gardens. The managers, labour welfare officers and medical officers of the 15 tea gardens attended the camp. The Deputy Commissioner of the district Mr. Tripathi, Joint Director of the Department of Health Dr. Hazarika, head of the D.S.W.O. Mr. Rajkhowa, and Chairman of A.B.I.T.A. Zone 1 Mr.Kuldeep Matharu were all present. Niswarth Chairman Harsh Kumar was deeply impressed with their sense of commitment to the cause, and the spirit of cooperation.

Of the people who were checked up by the panel of doctors, around 359 were identified as disabled. The process of filling in forms to register them with the government began at once. Once a person receives a disability card, he or she can travel free of cost in trains and buses. A disabled card holder also receives aids and appliances (e.g. wheelchair, tricycle) free of cost. There are many more benefits for a registered card holder. Niswarth is the first organisation to have taken up the cause of disabled people in tea gardens.

Niswarth team members had taken some 'Neelam' Agarbattis with them, and they were all sold out!

Niswarth will be back in Assam on the weekend of August 15-16. This time a Disability Camp will be held in Dibrugarh town in association with the Rotary Club of Dibrugarh thanks to the kind offices of Ms Kalpana Khaund, past Governor of the Rotary Club.


 Outside comments

A note from Swati Krishnan 9/8 addressed to Gowri
it is wonderful to hear that Niswarth has moved beyond Dooars and i hope you will all be in Delhi soon so that the Niswarth volunteers here (like me) can actively participate. thank you,