Profile of the Month | David Raj
More than 250 guests gathered to celebrate his 60th birthday, who is dauntlessly celebrating life after an amazing recovery from cancer. He is intelligent, blunt, handsome, a community leader and philanthropist, David Raj sat down for a scrumptious lunch with Lights Camera Action host Ruchi Mukherjee for an in depth conversation on life, music, charity, and more. A true Rock Star!
The 2012 President of Indo American Charity Foundation feels like a million bucks at 60! David Raj gleams with excitement as he shares his birthday celebration. “I was shocked to see so many people gather to celebrate my birthday,” he says. “It is important to hold on to something that gives you joy and you are passionate about,” shares Raj. For David music and charity is his passion.
Born and raised in Chennai, India David is a true philanthropist who believes in creating a charity that is meaningful and helpful. Although while in the repartee of sharing anecdotes I had the opportunity to learn about his entrepreneurial skills. David came to the US in 1974 and did his MBA at Braniff School of Management at the University of Dallas. Later he decided to become an entrepreneur and so started a procurement office in Chennai for granite and shipped in bulk rough granite blocks to China via Hong Kong. At present Raj joined Merrill Lynch as the Vice President.
Tell our readers about your passion for music.
I have a band called ‘David & Friends’ and we are basically having a lot of fun. We play at fundraisers and client appreciation dinners. I am reasonably good in playing the lead guitar with a passion for classic rock and fusion music. I have also played Bollywood Music with some local talented singers like Mauli Dave ( of Sa Re Ga Ma Fame ), Omkar Dave, Keka Kar and Imtiaz Ahmed and Sreemathy Ranganathan.
Let’s talk about your charity work.
Well apart from being involved with a number of charities like DAYA, Pratham, Save a Mother, Ek Diksha and others at present I am just focused on IACF. I just completed a 3 month course at the Harvard Business School specifically to equip myself for the post of President of IACF in 2012.
We have launched the “Help America” Program under which the ‘Math & Science Education Initiatives’ entitled Ramanujam and C.V. Raman Projects are underway. I have put together a group of retired engineering professionals to provide supplementary teaching material to students of primary grade 5 and recruit Student tutors from Colleges and in exchange pay their tuition fees. These students in return have to be proactive to teach the children in the primary Schools during class room hours. This way we have brought the Student-Teacher Ratio from 24:1 to 8:1.
What are your upcoming future goals with IACF?
Plans are afoot to strengthen the resources of the IACF in order to expand the student tutors and primary schools by 2012. We have a Food Drive where we are collecting food for the collection Centers that are running dry and at present have adopted Jasper County in Texas. Our plan is to have 2 Food Drives per year apart from supporting the Food Bank in Houston.
The Indo American Charity Foundation is in its 24th Year in 2012 and I am launching the following programs:
A. Young IACF – Angels and Cherubs of Houston: to imbibe the spirit of Charity amongst Youngsters
B. President’s Council – All Past Presidents of IACF will get re-involved apart from their usual generous contributions in getting into Hands on Projects. The IACF hopefully will be replicated in Texas by 2013 and go National by 2015.
With sky high goals and aspirations, David with a musical inclination is captivated to look forward to life and strives to help others. A genuine social worker, an entrepreneur and a entertainer. He does not worry about his health, instead channels all his energy into positive thinking. Lights Camera Action calls him A Real Life Hero!