Deep Purokayastha

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2005


This profile was prepared when Deep Purokayastha was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
Deep is working to provide effective care and protection for India’s more than 50,000 itinerant children by designing a well coordinated system that responds to these children’s mobile lifestyle. In identifying a problem in the fact that existing government and civil society programs for these children have been uncoordinated and have failed to factor in the reality that the children do not want to give up their wandering lifestyles, Deep has found an insightful solution. He is collaborating with the Railway Police Force (RPF), turning a group of people who have in the past abused these migrant children into their primary protectors. Deep has seen that the RPF is uniquely well positioned and equipped to respond to the immediate needs of the children efficiently and on a permanent basis.
Deep is working with RPF members to transform the way they perceive their role vis-à-vis the migrant children and to equip them with the skills necessary to provide care. He is linking their efforts to existing service infrastructure such as railway hospitals and canteens. Yet Deep’s organization is involved only to facilitate and advise, allowing the RPF to take ownership of its transformation by managing the program. Deep is complementing this strategy with a broader awareness-raising campaign among the public as well as providing citizen groups concrete ways to help the children by working with the RPF. His efforts have resulted in this hitherto invisible, marginalized group being put on the radar of the state and civil society, who are collaborating to take responsibility for these vulnerable children. At the same time, Deep is connecting the children to services and support that helps them re-enter society, gradually moving from social outcasts to constructive citizens.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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