While my work on
tobacco control began at the Prince Ali Khan Hospital in Mazgaon,
I soon concluded that tobacco consumption starts at a very young
age and unless the reasons for consumption were addressed, our
efforts would always be reactive rather than preventive. So, we
started an anti-tobacco project at the hospital that targeted
Another realisation dawned soon after: most tobacco users start
much earlier, during their school days. That was when the Salaam
Bombay Foundation was born, with the vision of working with school
children and amalgamating tobacco awareness projects with education
We developed an in-school and after-school model that found a
way to engage in the solution - children who were part of the
problem. Years of work and experience in this field has shown
that tobacco addiction is a result of a lack of life skills. Hence,
all our programmes are designed to address life skills development.
Sports and the arts are the tools we use to convey the message
about healthy living and to develop skills in children that further
lead to their personal and economic development. Children also
learn leadership skills that equip them to change the system from
within - to ensure better enforcement of existing tobacco control
laws. The children come out of these programmes more confident
and better able to deal with peer pressure. Some even get scholarships
to colleges and gain better jobs and recognition in their chosen
Today Salaam Bombay Foundation is present in over 200 government
schools in Mumbai and over 20,000 schools across Maharashtra.
We have trained and gained the support of over 35,000 government
functionaries and 500 NGOs in Maharashtra. We can proudly claim
to have impacted the lives of over three million children.
With about 400 million people under the age of 18, we are going
to have a very sick generation if we do not protect our children.
While continuing to work at the individual, school and community
levels, Salaam Bombay Foundation has stepped up its activities
at the policy formulation and implementation level, to increase
consciousness of the problem and to work towards a complete ban
of all tobacco products in Maharashtra.
When we began to work on the concept of our foundation, we realised
that the NGO field had no framework in place that could guide
start-up NGOs – no management, financial and governance systems
that we could study and adapt to suit our specific needs. There
was nobody to advise us on issues ranging from which Act or provision
of law the organization should be registered under, to what circumstances
were to be considered while determining the same, the systems
to be set in place etc.
Russi Lala, who was then on the board of the Sir Dorabji Tata
Trust suggested we meet with Noshir Dadrawala of CAP. Noshir held
our hands through that difficult time. It was he who advised us
to register under Section 25 of the Companies Act and answered
all our other related queries through CAP.
From the very beginning, CAP was involved in helping Salaam Bombay
Foundation implement its structure – managerial, accounting and
financial. It helped us understand the complicated world of NGO
legalities, guided us in setting up good governance practices
and advised us on non-profit taxation matters.
CAP has several strengths that make it a must-have resource for
any NGO at any stage of its development. Its knowledge of the
sector and the breadth of its experience make it a valuable knowledge
resource. Additionally, its information and advice can be relied
upon to be absolutely credible. Its illustrious board comprises
members with extensive corporate experience as well as sound philanthropic
credentials, thus making it more attuned to the challenges and
realities facing NGOs today.
CAP is a one-stop shop for any NGO today that wishes to have a
robust start without having to re-invent the wheel. Their extensive
experience and knowledge of and commitment to the sector are reflected
in the quality of their contributions. Their many value-added
services (newsletter, conferences) provide learning material for
us all. NGOs would be served well by their association with CAP.