Tarique Mohammad Quereshi | 29
Assistant professor, TISS; founder, Koshish
CATEGORY: NGOS & SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP
When a young Quereshi moved from Dehradun to Delhi, he was deeply moved by the sight of homeless people on the streets attempting to keep warm using discarded newspapers. Eventually he abandoned his IAS ambitions and went to Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to do a Master’s in Criminology and Correctional Behaviour. His fieldwork took him to beggars’ homes where, to his shock, the disabled, old, homeless, mentally ill—and the young and the able-bodied—were incarcerated in the same inhuman conditions, facing neglect and violence. The problem? The Bombay Prevention of Beggary Act criminalised all the destitute: A mentally-ill person, or a homeless old person, found roaming the streets could be locked up for as long as 10 years. Similar laws exist in most Indian states.
Koshish is a formal partnership with TISS, run by six permanent staffers, with volunteers from students at the institute. While it started as an emotional response, it has grown in its methods, goals and impact. To ensure that the destitute get basic human rights, Quereshi has evolved and adapted the organisation, doing research, using techniques like games to build relationships between staff at the homes and the detainees, counselling, non-confrontational lobbying with authorities, outreach to potential employers and much else.