October 1, 2023
An Epitome of Hope
Altruism People Profile

An Epitome of Hope

May 31, 2023

Smt. Promila Saraf is a true trailblazer for humanitarian services and a social crusader striving to transform the lives of the underprivileged.

On any normal day, you find her working with supreme dedication and putting in her best efforts to bring back the smile on the faces of the underprivileged and trying to give them a better life. At 75, Smt. Promila Saraf exudes elegance and poise, her face radiating peace, compassion and boundless healing quality.

Promila Saraf has multiple feathers in her cap. A pillar of strength for more than 60 years for the family that owns the Facor Group in Andhra Pradesh, she is a patron for philanthropy and the Founder-President of Woman and Child Welfare Centre that tirelessly works to uplift the
downtrodden. Her outstanding contribution has transformed the oncebarren Garividi village in Andhra Pradesh into a township housing a CBSE school and college. She is the driving force of the Institute of Yoga and Consciousness at Andhra University that provides education in yoga and consciousness. After an unstinting humanitarian work of many decades, Andhra University recently invited her to become the member of Andhra University Almunni Association (AAA) and to develop the centre into a full-fledged yoga village.

Promila Saraf at a Felicitation Ceremony

Altruism runs in the family

Born with a silver spoon in the Delhi-based industrial house of Modi, Saraf has imbibed her altruistic principles from her parents—the legendary Gujarmal Modi and Dayawati Modi from Modinagar in Uttar Pradesh. “My parents were highly devoted to helping the poor and I was inspired by them. They opened schools, colleges, a welfare centre and a charitable dispensary to support the needy,” she shares. A strong-headed girl with an unconventional upbringing, she was the first daughter in the family to have joined Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, a boarding school in Gwalior, followed by graduating from Modi College in Modinagar.
Married at 18 years to Ram Kishan Saraf, Chairman and MD of Facor Alloys Ltd., Saraf moved with her husband to Garividi, a rural village in Andhra Pradesh. “When I first came to Garividi, I saw women and children living in pathetic conditions. There were no opportunities for education or employment,” she recalls. Sensitive to their needs, Saraf started interacting with the locals and teaching children in a shed. That led to the formation of Nari Niketan, a small welfare centre, in 1967 that provided skill development training to the economically challenged.

The path to philanthropy

In the mid 70’s, the centre was re-launched as Woman and Child Welfare Centre, a non-profit organisation that played a pivotal role in helping underprivileged women and children with various welfare activities. “We started vocational units that gave training in skills like tailoring, embroidery, bakery, printing and detergent units. We gave them sewing machines so they could earn their livelihood and also send their children to school,” adds the remarkable lady. The products made at the centre were sold in exhibitions in Mumbai, Delhi and Nagpur.
The path to altruism has not been easy for Saraf but the hurdles did not deter her from staying focussed on her goals. “Our training centres were meant to give training and education to women and children. Due to lack of awareness, the family members would refuse to send their women and children for training. Very often, my officers had to personally go to their homes and insist to send them for training and education,” she reminisces.
In the next few years, Saraf immersed herself in the work of philanthropy. Under her guidance, the centre opened schools for the hearing and visually impaired called Drushti, Shabdam and Monovikas. Almost 650 children have passed out from the schools till now and 100 children are currently studying. She has played a vital role in establishing Godawari Devi Saraf English Medium High School with CBSE syllabus.
The welfare centre’s umbrella houses Shreeram Vidyapeeth in Shreeramnagar, SGS Senior Secondary School, Shreeram Junior College and SDS Autonomous Degree College. Till date, the centre has supported more than 1,300 women and 23,000 children in various capacities. Over the years, Saraf opened hostels for the mentally disabled, home for the elderly, and offered health support by opening a computerised speech therapy unit, Braille transcription system with tactile reader and centre, OEU Lions eye hospital, Shreeram Kalyana Mandapam religious and charitable society, rehabilitation centre and health awareness camps.

Volunteering for community health

On the basis of her welfare activities as a social worker, Professor Ramakrishna Rao, Vice Chancellor of Andhra University, donated four acres of land at the heart of Ramakrishna Beach to develop a yoga and consciousness village. “That coupled with donations from philanthropists and industrialists helped us build the
Institute for Yoga and Consciousness in 1985. It was inaugurated by Giani Zail Singh, the late President of India.” The institute conducts teaching programmes/ courses in yoga, like 3-month certificate courses, 9-month PG diploma courses in consciousness, and workshops for better living, stress management, general health and awareness, and body awareness. In 2022, Andhra University invited her to develop it into a yoga village by introducing yoga as a cure for stress, diabetes, hypertension, insomnia, etc. and launch centres in naturopathy, physiotherapy and hearing and speech therapy,” advocates Saraf, a recipient of several awards for her noble service to the mankind.

Passing on the legacy

Arnav with Chetan Sharma, Chief Selector of Indian Cricket team, and others

While Saraf is making every effort to bring happiness in the lives of the needy, she has passed on the baton in the able hands of her young and dynamic grandson, Arnav. The son of Ashim and Sonal Saraf, Arnav completed his schooling at Shreeram School in Delhi and graduated from Brandeis University in Boston. With a keen interest education, he took over as the Vice President of Shreeram Vidyapeeth in Shreeramnagar.


Arnav Saraf, Vice President, Shreeram Vidyapeeth

Ever since a highly motivated Arnav joined in, he has made significant changes and improvements in the infrastructure of the educational institutions—what with better modern classrooms, new toilets, drinking water facilities, etc. He is personally monitoring SGS Senior Secondary School with a strength of 2000 students; Shreeram Junior College with a strength of 800 students and SDS Autonomous Degree College with a strength of 2,000 students. His passion and can-do attitude is encouraging the well-qualified teachers and administration staff there to put in their best efforts. He has partnered with experts in AI, VR and Digital Classes integration to introduce new technology in the institutions and also joined hands with the Australian cricket board and BCCI to develop sports and extracurricular activities and launched a first-of-a-kind cricket academy.


Thanks to such key initiatives by Arnav, the strength of the institutions has increased from 3,500 to 4,500 students within three years. “Under Arnav’s able administration and guidance, the educational institutions are providing high standards and quality education to the students. I am happy that he shares my empathy and compassion for the needy and is following in his grandfather’s footsteps,” says Promila Saraf while signing off.

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