New Delhi: Former President Pranab Mukherjee is all set to launch a foundation named after himself, much like former American presidents who start organisations to build a legacy even while they are active.
The foundation is being funded by the Tata Foundation but Omita Paul, a former aide of Mukherjee who will be the director of the new organisation, refused to disclose the amount.
“I can’t reveal the exact amount but it won’t be a big amount. We don’t need much money with our limited staff base and resources,” Paul told ThePrint.
“The basic idea of the foundation is to work in the areas resonating with the five traits or pillars of what makes a man like Pranab Mukherjee, the areas he is passionate about,” she said.
“It will do research and development work in the Constitution, education, inclusive development, innovation and scientific ideas and processes.”
The foundation will be launched on 15 March in the capital and besides Mukherjee, industrialist Ratan Tata will also speak at the inauguration. Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother and predecessor Sonia Gandhi are also expected to attend.
The foundation has already entered into an agreement with O.P. Jindal Global University for conducting research in the field of education and the Constitution.
The first research project will be on the 106 amendments to the Constitution. “The research would analyse all the amendments, the circumstances under which they were necessitated and how did the opposition respond at that time,” said Paul.
“It will be a three-to-four year project where the team would be getting regular guidance from Mr Mukherjee.”
The other area in which the foundation plans to work is the ‘Smart Gram’ project. As President, Pranab Mukherjee had adopted five villages in Haryana to develop them as smart villages. It’s an ongoing project with an idea to create self-sustained villages, much on the lines of the smart village scheme of the Narendra Modi government.
The five villages are still looked after by Pranab Mukherjee’s small team comprising of few interns and seniors such as Paul and Thomas Mathew, former additional secretary to the President of India.
“We didn’t spend any money on those villages. It was based on the implementation of the government’s ongoing schemes and some corporate funding under their CSR obligations. The programme is a huge success,” said Paul.
The head office of the foundation is also in one of those villages, Alipur near Sohna in Haryana.
Post the formal launch of the foundation, the idea of Smart Gram would be expanded to other states including Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Work is also on to create a brand by the name of Smart Gram, which would sell products produced by villagers such as papad, pickle, spices, sauce, chips and other food products.
“With the help of corporates and associates such as Tata Foundation, we will help villagers get a market for their product at a decent price,” said Paul.