A Life Story

Shri Jagan Nath Kaul was born in 1924 in Srinagar. After doing his Master's in Economics, he joined Delhi Administration and rose to the position of Chief Probation Services and Assistant Director of Social Welfare before going to Case Western University to study child care. In 1963, he met Dr. Hermann Gmeiner, who was visiting India, and went on to establish SOS Children's Villages of India with the support of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The first SOS Children's Village in India was built at Greenfields in Faridabad in 1964, with over 200 children. Today, nearly 200,000 children directly or indirectly impacted by SOS and its allied activities and programmes know him simply as Papaji, or father.

He unerringly combined a belief in social change with a faith in the good will of all people to help each other and help themselves. He never thought of what he did as charity, but as empowerment. He simply wanted to enable people to use the skills and resources he believed we all possessed -- no matter rich or poor. He succeeded in involving thousands of Indians to contribute towards the cause of children. A firm believer in the partnership of the State and the people, he never hesitated in standing up for the rights of children in need. He maintained that, “by bringing home a child, we reaffirm our faith in life and the basic goodness of mankind.”
He was associated with various Government and Voluntary agencies engaged in childcare and was also Member - Senate, SOS Kinderdorf International, Austria; Expert Committee for Care and Rehabilitation of Destitute Children, Government of India; Executive Committee Indian Council for Child Welfare; Vice President - Association for Social Health in India and President - Defence for Children International, India.

In addition to this work with children, he was a rallying point for the Kashmiri community, both in Kashmir and all over the world. He worked tirelessly for his community, building schools, temples, libraries and organizing community members to come together.

To us, he was a loving father, grandfather and an amazing human being who inspired us, and will continue to inspire us, always.

Selected Awards

Padma Shri – 2000.
Rajeev Gandhi National Sadbhawana Award - 1998.
Twentieth Century Achievement Award – 1998.
Shiromani Award - 1996.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy Teachers Award - 1984.

Papaji passes away

On the 16th of December at 5:45 am, Papaji breathed his last in Faridabad. After a life of service and grace, the end came peacefully during the wee hours of dawn at Fortis hospital, where he was battling cancer. The cremation took place on the 16th of December. He was survived by his wife, Shrimati Indira Kaul, son and three daughters, their spouses and grandchildren.

The family thanks everyone who have extended their prayers and thoughts.

A prayer meeting will be held between 4:00pm - 5:00pm at the Chinmaya Center, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Vernacular newspapers in many states of India have carried the news of Papaji's loss (click on the clipping to see full images). His efforts for children and society in general, knew no boundaries and so has been the response to his sad demise.