Small Talk With Udai Malhotra

CHANGE leaders do great things, and often that is all we know about them. Here we want to get a different glimpse of the personalities that constitute the development space. Every month we get one leader to answer four questions, not necessarily about their work, but about themselves. This week we catch up with Udai Malhotra, Trustee of both Shiksha and Chikitsa.

To try and improve the lives of the urban poor, Late General OP Malhotra founded Chikitsa and Shiksha to tackle two primary issues: health and education respectively. Chikitsa was started as a community health initiative in 1999 with one free health care clinic in New Delhi for slum dwellers. In the near two decades since then, they have grown remarkably and currently have base and satellite primary health care clinics at 12 locations in Delhi-NCR. 

Shiksha was founded in 2002 to make quality education a reality for underprivileged children. It started with improving basic amenities such as such as water, electricity and toilets and addressing the lack of teachers for 40 students at a government school in Gurugram. Today, Shiksha helps more than 1,000 underprivileged children at their three free education centres.

Udai Malhotra, the general’s grandson and trustee of both NGOs, has been working towards breaking the vicious cycle of poverty by providing free healthcare facilities to the underprivileged and by making inclusive and quality education accessible and affordable for disadvantaged children.

Small Change: Do you love what you do? Why?

Udai Malhotra: I do! Working at the grassroots level I spend a lot of time in the field and meet people who are impacted by our projects. I wear many different hats and which keep things interesting. Seeing progress in the communities where we work is very rewarding.

SC:  You have been forced to eat only four things for the rest of your life. Which four items would you choose?

UM: This changes often. Dolma, a variety of cheese, idli and savoury pancakes. As long as there are condiments I’ll be fine.

SC: If you could invite three famous people, living or dead, to your dinner party, who would they be and why?

UM: Hosting a dinner party is an art. I fear that many famous people I admire or think I would like to meet would probably be terrible company. I’d prefer to engage with their work or my own idealized version of them.

Instead, I’d invite some friends, and maybe my grandparents.

SC:  Name one thing you are really bad at.

UM: Wrapping gifts. I’m trying to get better though.

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