A vacation to Ladakh’s Kargil district in 2004 turned into much more for Anuradha Prabhudesai, who came face-to-face with the adverse conditions that Indian soldiers live in at the border. Perturbed by what she saw, the ex-banker decided to take things in her hand and launched the Lakshya Foundation with her friend Vikram Joshi, who was part of the excursion that also included Prabhudesai’s husband Gurunath and Joshi’s wife Aparna. The Foundation organises various activities to create awareness about the sacrifices made by army men and the tough lives that they lead, positioned at the borders. Excerpts from an interview:
What prompted you to launch Lakshya Foundation?
It was in 2004 when I had gone to Kargil with my husband and my friend Vikram and his wife. We were taken a back seeing the tough conditions faced by our soldiers as they guard our borders. We saw that extreme climate, freezing cold and life threatening avalanches are a part of their lives. Furthermore, I saw that the martyrs of the Kargil war were just 23 or 24 years old when they laid down their lives for the country. Questions resonated in my mind that do we even know about the sacrifices of these brave men and do they even get their due respect? This prompted Vikram and me to take an oath that we would acquaint civilians with the sacrifices made by our soldiers.
What activities do you undertake to do the same?
Every year we take batches of 40 people to Ladakh in July and August. It is not any other conducted tour; I tell my participants that reaching Kargil is itself, a task and it is not a pleasure trip. Upon reaching there we interact with soldiers. Posted on borders for months together, soldiers miss their families and meeting us gives them a nice feeling. We make it a point to take homemade snacks for them, keeping in mind that these thoughtful gestures would lighten their mood as they face hardships during their border posting. Many who have joined us on these tours, return feeling proud of our soldiers and acknowledge their sacrifices.
Besides taking civilian groups to Ladakh, what else do you do to keep your mission alive?
I have made presentations depicting the life of soldiers on borders. Till now I have gven more than 150 presentations in schools, colleges and corporate offices. The presentation shows the difficulties faced by our soldiers in border areas and the routine they follow day in and day out. These presentations serve as an eye-opener for people. I have also made four booklets on four Paramveer Chakra, two Veer Chakra and two Mahaveer Chakra awardees that I distribute among school students. I have plans of creating 30 such booklets. I also dream of opening a Veer Bhavan one day, which will be an auditorium where all the walls will be decorated with stories and pictures of our soldiers.