When I met him first, he was making photocopies of Newspaper cuttings and said that he ran an NGO, for helping the underprivileged. I was curious to know what kind of support S. Devender Singh Anand, 67, was providing for helping the needy. “I keep all the Newspaper cutting of News that benefit the public, for instance, the Legal News,” he said. He uses the Newspaper cuttings to empower the underprivileged. Suppose someone goes to the hospital for a handicap certificate with Address Proof, Id Cards, and still denied the license. Mr Anand provides the person with photocopies of Newspaper cuttings supporting his claims. The applicant can then challenge for his rights with the Newspaper cuttings. If required, he confronts the officials about the provisions entitled to the claimant “I have the information, no one can challenge me on the information.”
Mr Anand, who was into the truck transportation business, got injured and bedridden in 1992. And since 1995, after the trauma, with the experience he gained, he decided to help the underprivileged.
He says only four out of hundred challenged are utilizing the benefits entitled for the Physically-challenged, and that too from the educated section of the society. Most of the disabled are unaware of their privileges. He says in Delhi there is the Handicapped Finance Corporation, underutilized by the physically-challenged. And there two special commissions appointed for the challenged– National level Commissioner at 6, Baghwan Das Road and State level commissioner at Mata Gujri College. Suppose the specially-abled people are not getting the justice they can approach the commission and register a complaint against the authority who is denying them their right. At both the Commissioner offices, you get booklets about the facilities entitled for the physically- challenged. Those who are knowledgeable about the content of the brochures avail the facilities.
Helping everyone in need
Other than the physically-challenged, Mr Anand empowers the underprivileged the poor, the senior citizens, the uneducated and so on. He tries to help everyone and guides people with Newspaper Cuttings. Whenever he meets people, he tells the deserving people to approach the authorities to get their benefits. In case they face rejection, they can show a photocopy copy of the newspaper cuttings.
An exciting piece of information that Mr Anand shared was, there is a provision for a free legal attorney, in every Court, for those having income less than Rs 1 lakh. “You can go to a Court, and get a free lawyer immediately when you show documents of your earning,” says Mr Anand.
Besides providing information, if the situation requires, he approaches the authorities and speaks for the underprivileged. Once he educated his housemaid about the benefits of opening a Bank Account, but when she approached the Bank, she faced many hurdles. So Mr Anand himself went to the Bank, talked to the officials and opened a Bank Account for her. Her happiness knew no bounds because she could now save her earnings, and she also got free medical insurance coverage. Encouraged by her, her relatives also opened bank accounts.
After helping the underprivileged for two decades, he registered an NGO ‘Happy Living’ to help the cause of the physically-challenged. Happy Living accepts old clothes from donors and distributes them among the needy.
Mr Anand’s strong support comes from his wife, Harpreet Anand, a Criminal Lawyer, who teaches the Children of Watchmen, maids and construction workers of the locality.
Over time, Mr Anand has advanced his methods to garner information. He now uses the new-age tool of RTI (Right to Information) to “providing justice for those denied Justice”. He is an inspiration to the youth of today.