IDF India – not a single human being should be deprived of his/ her fundamental right of survival, participation, protection and development.

By Milena Rampoldi and Denise Nanni,
ProMosaik. In the following our interview with Punit Asthana, the founder of IDF, the Indian Dreams Foundation. Would
like to thank Punit for the important information and photos.

was the Indian Dreams Foundation founded?
IDF’s founder Punit Asthana was driven by the
extraordinary dream that not a single human being should be deprived of his/
her fundamental right of survival, participation, protection and development. The
loss of his father at the age of ten was a turning point for Punit. He set off
on a journey to prove his strength of character and fortitude. He established
an accomplished advertising agency of his own but realized that his life has
another purpose.
Then, he determined to do something for the
welfare of the disadvantage communities, especially for the children who are
deprived with the basic necessities of life and living with dark and insecure
future and decided to do some worthwhile for those people who were uneducated
even unaware about their rights and facilities.
Initially, he started visiting some of the Agra
(India)  based  urban Slums with some of his  likeminded friends and interacted with several
slum dwellers and came to know about their basic problems i.e. improper water
supply, sanitation issues, illiteracy, unhygienic conditions of health, poverty
and most shocking was gender discrimination etc.  He was shocked to see the worst living
conditions and education status of the children. Thousands of children were not
admitted in the schools (out of school), most of them dropped with their
studies due to worst economic condition of their family and they were wandering
on the street and some of them become child labor.  Girls were the victims of malnutrition,
gender inequality and early marriages.
So with
such feedback from the ground, Punit has decided to  registered a not for profit organization
called Indian Dreams Foundation (IDF) on 24th January 2005 to
fulfill his dream that not a single human being should be deprived of his/her
fundamental right of education, survival, participation, protection and

are the main sources of gender inequality in your targeted areas?
In our targeted areas, the gender inequalities
are existed on the basis of female birth, girls’ education, health and right to
take family decisions etc. The conservative attitude of the society towards
their girls’ education, freedom and rights are the stumbling blocks for the
development of the girls.
Although, girls spend less time
in school than boys and few girls living in the poverty have a chance for an
education at all and girls often are expected to carry out domestic duties such
as caring of younger siblings, perform domestic chores etc. which undermine
their opportunities for education and empowerment.     
Gender equality will be achieved only when women
and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all spheres of
life, including economic participation and decision making, and when the
different behaviors, aspirations and need of women and men are equally valued
and favored.
What are the activities
that you carry on in order to promote women’s rights and empowerment?
Indian Dreams Foundation
believes that education is a key area of focus to minimize gender inequality.
IDF promotes literacy and gender equality in education by Sponsoring girls’
education, health awareness workshops and skills trainings. IDF believes all girls
deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential, and that investing in
education now will pay dividends for generations to come. Organization shapes
the values and opportunities of individual girls and also proven to help break
the cycle of poverty within those girls’ families and communities.
Presently IDF is successfully running many
campaigns that focus on to minimize gender inequality and promote women’s

Below are the following campaigns/ activities:
Education Sponsoring Campaign “
that impacts the girls from different backward areas and deprived communities.
Giving girls equal access to school is also crucial to reach gender
The program impacts to improve the lives of
adolescent girls by:-
education and reducing school drop-out
marriage and pregnancy
the demand for and use of quality, rights-based, voluntary family planning
sexual and reproductive health knowledge and practices
girls’ autonomy, social networks, and participation
an enabling environment to uphold girls’ rights
girls’ education program was started in 2011 and till today this program has
benefited approx. 400 girls by sponsoring their education expenses and
mainstreams them to the formal education.  
Health Awareness Campaign
that targets adolescent girls and women from
rural and urban slums those don’t have sufficient knowledge about their
physical changes, growth and healthy wellbeing.
campaign helps girls and women in overcoming the social barriers associated
with menstruation. By providing them with the right information, product and
facilities, we will ensure an equal opportunity for girls across India whilst
contributing to reach 4 key Global Sustainable Development Goal.
Our strategy is three fold: 1.
Educating – develop workshops to educate girls (from 11 to 20) on biology and
hygiene best practices, provide counseling sessions and distribute informative
booklets 2. Providing – distribute sanitary products and build new toilet
facilities for girls 3. Engaging – engage family members, schools and
specialists to increase outreach.
The Smiley Days Campaign has initiated in September 2016 and since
then, approximately 1600 adolescent girls and their mothers are registered with
this campaign.

How do
you promote children literacy?

Education plays a key role in the social and economic
development of every country. Unfortunately, there are certain areas in India,
rural Agra district for example, where female literacy rate is just 17.6%.
Indian Dreams Foundation’s programs are built to help increase literacy rates
in India, while ensuring that every child obtains a holistic education.
IDF has worked to identify reasons for low
literacy rates in rural India, and has conceptualized programs to help overcome
these obstacles by initiating development at the grassroots level.
We promote children’s literacy
by adopting three key strategic approaches i.e. through non formal education,
formal education and vocational/ life skills education.
Non-formal educational
started by IDF targeting those children who have dropped out of school or girls
from minority communities.  Through the
programme, IDF aim to build the children’s confidence, social skills and their
academic ability so that they may ultimately enrol in formal education. The
emphases is on making study easy, fun and interesting but at the same time the
performance of each individual child is monitored using specialist tools
developed by experienced educational professionals.
SCHOOL REFORMS PROGRAM was started in 2008 with a vision to provide
quality education in the children from rural and urban government schools by
adopting these schools. We also aim to develop these government schools in
Model School so that they are on par with the best run schools in the rural and
urban areas in term of best infrastructure, academic performance and healthy
environment. Under this program, we collaborate with government schools to
reform and transform them from a dysfunctional system into temples of learning
and motivations, creating an environment where dreams can be born. 
3.   Vocational/ life
skills program
We believe that education is not just about the
three Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) but much more than that – a strong
value system, soft skills, professional ethics, and vocational training. 
a family decides to send their daughter to school, it is generally expected,
and especially amongst under-privileged communities, that the education will
make a difference to the employability of their child. 
IDF has started a vocational training program in 2010 to provide the skills based
Vocational Training to youths and moreover adolescent girls and women in
vocational skills.

Do you cooperate with
local authorities and institutes? If yes, how?
Yes, we cooperate with local authorities and
institutes through our different programs.  We have partnership with district education
department for enhancing quality of education and innovation among children
with creative skills, we are also actively engaged with communities and
district department for promoting WASH practices, Sanitation and health &
hygiene of the adolescent girls .
At the international level, our organization has
special consultative status with ECOSOC
of United Nations,
we are working on the lines of SD 2030 and trying to
spread the objectives through our focused areas of work.