What is your life’s purpose?
To spread literacy among female and minority children of India and the world by building schools for them.
How are you living your purpose?
I launched the Ninash Foundation, a 501(c)(3) Charity that has built seven schools in four remote villages of India. We are providing top class education to more than 1700 underprivileged female and “untouchable” children who otherwise would have been left on the wayside by the Indian society.
How did you find your purpose?
I was one of 11 siblings brought up by two illiterate parents in a two-room house in India, with no running water or toilets or kitchen. I struggled to get a high school and college education; this became my ticket to the USA, where I received my Ph.D. and was hired to start a new philosophy department at the State University of New York. Education has been the trump card of success in my life and I wanted to help provide the same opportunity for the illiterate children of India and the world.
This, along with the tragedy of my wife dying at age 48, led me to establish the Ninash Foundation (the name combines my wife’s name Nina with my name Ashok). I sold my income property in 1996 to establish this charity focused on promoting literacy in the world. In the 21 years of its existence, Ninash has built seven schools in remote villages of India; 150 of the children we have served are now going to colleges of their choice, getting degrees in medicine, engineering, business, etc., and leading lives of meaning.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
The gear shift of your life is in your own hands. If you want to accomplish anything of significance, you need four things:
1. A vision
2. Articulation of your vision
3. Passion from the heart
4. Walk your talk
All the prophets, thinkers, and achievers followed these four steps to change the world, and found purpose in the process. If they can do it, you can do it too.
What resources do you recommend?
Get in touch with the little kid that is within you who is creative and can lead you through your enthusiastic journey. Read about the life struggles of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther, Buddha, King Ashoka, Mother Theresa, Jimmy Carter, Barak Obama, Viveknanda, Swami Rishikeshananda, Rosa Park, and Abe Lincoln.
Dr. Ashok Kumar Malhotra is Emeritus Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York College at Oneonta. He is the winner of a dozen prestigious awards such as Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, East West Center Distinguished Alumni Award (USA), University of Hawaii Distinguished Alumni Award (USA), Gullands NRI Excellence Award (UK), Jewel of India Gold Award (India), Spiritual Leadership Award (USA), Bharat Excellence Award (India) and others. He has published 14 books on Indian, Chinese, Western and Comparative Philosophy along with two volumes of Children’s Stories. He was a consultant for the Warner Brothers “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,” TV Series.
Dr. Malhotra is one of the founding members of the State University of New York Oneonta Philosophy Department. He received the Templeton Foundation grant through the Metanexus Institute of Philadelphia to establish the Yoga and Meditation Society at SUNY Oneonta. Through the Yoga Center, he invited more than 20 scholars/practitioners from diverse traditions and backgrounds from various parts of the world. His video interviews of these 20 scholars are available on the YouTube under: “Ashok Malhotra in Discussion.”
To recognize individuals who have performed outstanding community service locally, nationally or globally, he established four SEVA (Compassionate Service) Awards for the faculty and students at SUNY Oneonta as well as at the East West Center and University of Hawaii.
Furthermore, he is the founder/president of the Ninash Foundation (www.ninash.org), a charity that has built 6 schools for more than 1500 female and minority children of India. In 2016, the Ninash Foundation adopted a seventh school with 280 tribal children from Sagbara in Gujarat bordering Maharashtra. To recognize his charitable work for the underprivileged children of India, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.