One of Mumbai’s leading daily newspapers, Free Press Journal recently featured a profile of the Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust set up by Mahendrabhai and Ashaben Mehta, and now steered by their son Rajiv. The article appeared in the 'Angels of Mumbai' section of the paper’s website.
We reproduce the article for the benefit of our readers:
A trust set up by diamond merchants seeks to give the poor a chance to shine
FPJ Web Desk Updated: Monday, July 31, 2023, 10:07 AM IST
Rajiv Mehta has provided 13 lakh free meals since March 2020; has donated 2,73,000 mobility aids for the disabled; and sends out 400 books every day to schools in underprivileged areas.
Mumbai: The Ratna Nidhi Trust owes its name to the diamond trade – to find a stone in the rough and give it the chance to shine.
“A diamond merchant separates rock from chaff and then polishes the rock and uplifts it into jewellery. That's what we want to do to society as well, through our various programs," said Rajiv Mehta, 62, chairperson of the Ratnanidhi Trust.
Diamond merchants by profession, Rajiv Mehta and his parents set up the trust to give back to society.
Since 1990, the trust has worked on various programmes ranging from disability to hunger, medical assistance to education.
“My parents Mahendrabhai and Ashaben established the trust in 1967, but it started working in 1990. In 2013, I lost my father, but my 83-year-old mother still is actively involved,” Mehta said.
One of Ratnanidhi’s big thrust areas is prosthetic limbs for amputees, which the trust donates free of cost. “We have undertaken camps in every district of Gujarat and Maharashtra for amputees. We have even set up camps in Leh and Kargil to help the local population,” he said.
Through a partnership with international lenses conglomerate Essilor, Ratnanidhi signed an MOU with the government of Maharashtra to conduct routine eye check-ups for students in government schools at the taluka-level. “During summer vacations, we do the eye check-ups for BEST drivers. In the last four years we have donated over 16,000 lenses to children,” Mehta said.
The Ratnanidhi Trust has also partnered with the World Bank since 2016 on a mission called Million Books. “I have donated over 1.2 million books to schools and colleges across the country. I have a librarian and I send out around 400 books every day,” Mehta said.
When some of the schools in Chandrapur district in eastern Maharashtra mentioned that their books are stored in a trunk, Mehta managed to reverse engineer IKEA cupboards, and began to send out shelving units along with the books.
“I have a van to deliver food to children of 18 private unaided schools in the slums, where children get one hot meal a day,” Mehta said. “Once the food is delivered, I use the same van to ferry books and cupboards.”
Mehta is the grand-nephew of Sarla Parekh, who approached the Bombay high court seeking better security measures for Mumbai after losing her son and daughter-in-law in the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai. Parekh, now 90, said Mehta’s credibility is really bolstered by the kind of people he manages to rope in to support his initiatives, including high-impact corporate leaders from multi-national companies. “The other thing is that the Ratnanidhi Trust goes as far as Kargil or Leh or Ladakh,” she said. “Now many are able to provide services in those regions.”
Mehta said his father left him a legacy and he hopes to do the same for his children. “Photos and even my name will disappear from the minds of coming generations. But they will remember and emulate my work,” he said. “It is a form of devotion for me, to help the underprivileged.”
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