The man with the Golden voice Jagjit Singh, whose birthday was celebrated last week and whose name became synonymous with ghazals, also had a heart of Gold.

I can say with some authority that when he met his tragic end on October 10,2011 two weeks after he suffered a brain hemorrhage, he had probably one last wish- he wanted to organize a tour of the US and UK to help raise funds for marginalized and deprived children with whom he had developed a special bond.

Not many people may know, for instance, that for several years he was quietly functioning as the active and serving President of Prayas, one of the best known organizations for children in the country.

As president of Prayas, Jagjit Singh took keen interest in the activities of the organization spread over nine States and Union Territories of the country, including Delhi, Bihar, Gujarat, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Prayas which was set up in 1988 and registered in 1989, while I was in service as DCP (Crime and Railways) was in a way the human face of Delhi Police. Along with Delhi Police two other groups joined Prayas- the Delhi School of Social Work and the Delhi Shramik Vidyapeeth.

Initially its Constitution permitted only the Commissioner of Police to be its President while I was the General Secretary. The Constitution was later amended in 1997 to include an eminent personality also as alternative to the CP. It was then that people like Shatrughan Sinha, Dr.Karan Singh and Jagjit Singh got involved actively with our work.

Today when I reminisce about those heady days when I met the legendary singer several times at the residence of his brother in Delhi and other places I can vouch from my personal knowledge that he was deeply involved with the issues of empowerment of children, in his own quiet way.

In fact, Prayas became a meeting point for three luminaries and geniuses Jagjit Singh, Shatrughan Sinha and Pankaj Udhas who all worked happily without the usual hullaballoo and hi tech marketing witnessed today.

Jagjit Singh was so carried away by his passion for children, as any sensitive artiste would be, that he had planned a huge musical programme in the US and UK to promote the issues raised by Prayas.

Unfortunately death snatched him away before this could materialize..

However Pankaj Udhas organised an evening in his memory on December 23,2011.The then Tourism Minister Subhodh Kant Sahay, who has also been associated with Prayas for a long time, the Chairman & Managing Director ITDC, Dr. Lalit K. Panwar, then Prayas President, Shatrughan Sinha, well known actor and a former Minister and I as Prayas General Secretary organized this memorable event combining the immortal songs of Jagjit Singh with the cause of marginalized children and youth.

On this occasion ‘Ashok-Prayas – Hunar Se Rozgar’, Community-based ITDC – Prayas Project in five ITDC Ashok hotels in Delhi (2), Guwahati (Assam), Ranchi (Jharkhand) and Patna (Bihar) was also launched.

As we remember him so fondly I can only quote from one of his most hummable ghazals:

Chitthi na Koi Sandes Jaane wo kaun sa des
Jahan tum chale gaye

(As told to Amitabh Srivastava)

(Amod Kanth is General Secretary ,Prayas)