It was in December 2015, when a leading Gulf news daily, the Khalij Times reported about an Indian-origin Social worker Girish Pant working with the India People Forum that “Pant, an employee of a company in Jebel Ali, drove to help the men almost every day for 12 days they were in a bus”. The case which had gripped the media headlines at that time was that 23 workers from India and Pakistan, working for a contracting company called Qasr-Al-Ameer were left in a lurch after their owner fled the country without paying the workers. They were forced to live inside a bus, on the outskirts of Dubai for over a fortnight with little access to food and water. Reportedly, these workers, who were duped to Dubai by a travel agent who promised them lucrative jobs in the country, the agency had charged each of them Rs 60,000- Rs 70,000 for visas. But the travel agent escaped as soon as they reached Dubai and left them in a lurch.
The group had to spend a fortnight in a bus on the outskirts of Dubai before a group of Indian expats including Mr. Girish Pant, and others like the fashion designer Juhi Khan, Radio Jockey Aftab Alam, etc. provided them the necessary help and accommodation. With the help of local Indian Consulate and UAE governmental authorities arranged for their safe departure to their native place and all of them safely reached India. This noble effort of helping people in distress was acknowledged by the Indian MEA also from the gulf agencies. He has received the prestigious ‘Pravasi Mitra’ Awards for the year 2015.
Working as a consultant for a financial company, Jebel Ali in Dubai in UAE, Girish Pant is a voluntary social worker, who empathizes with the people, trapped or defrauded by employers, stranded seafarers, or for that matter anyone genuinely in need, who often land up in a soup in the Middle-East countries where there are strict laws and shows them the way-out. He helps them by “legally” sorting out issues, mostly with the help of the Indian consulate. For this reason, he is often hailed as the ‘savior’ of those in need and has helped a number of expatriates come out of the trap laid for them by the fake employers and reach back to their motherland India. Importantly, the agents take advantage of these needy people, and they give huge sums of money in the hope that they will have a job. Since they spend such huge amounts to get here, going back empty-handed is too embarrassing, so they end up staying on hoping that things would get better.
In spite of a busy schedule to work and personal responsibilities, Girish never lets go of an opportunity to help those in need. He believes in only one religion – humanity and ‘Do at least one good deed a day’ – is his life motto. This philanthropic social worker hails from hill region of Berinag, Pithoragarh, in Uttarakhand in India, though he was born and raised in New Delhi. Girish attributes all his philanthropic acts to the people and the charm of his village, which is the drive for helping hundreds of people from dire circumstances. Helping people in distress is a family trait says Girish Pant, whose grandfather was a freedom fighter of India. He presently works in the finance department of a UAE-based company,
Pant has been in the UAE from 2008 and has helped out several people of different nationalities, mostly who were stranded seafarers or workers left in a lurch by employers. Helping people languishing in the UAE jails due to trivial issues like dispute with their employers or other, which can be resolved by mutual understanding, till now he has worked for 700 + seafarers, labors, etc. of various nationalities (Indian, Russian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, etc.) for their repatriation back home after resolving various issues. He has also personally repatriated bodies to India, and helped workers get out passes, and even counseled and prevented a few contemplating suicide. “I would feel pathetic how people would just surround the victim (in case of an accident) and just stare on him or her without helping out”, says the philanthropic social worker. Pant wants to be of help in need and distress, as that is what gives him ‘contentment and happiness’.
Even in India, during 2013 Uttrakhand floods, infamously known for the Kedarnath tragedy, when the floods ravaged his home city Uttrakhand, Pant personally visited the city, with contributions from the people of the UAE. He travelled 38 hours in risky mountainous region with 400kg of relief material to personally deliver aid to the affected people. The same year, since he was a part of Uttrakhand association in UAE, he received news of a seafarer’s dead body that had to be handed over to his family in India. “I offered to personally hand over the body because I felt what if something like this happens to any of my family members. Wouldn’t I rush to help then? So I do not differentiate on the basis of religion or nationality, for me humanity comes first. The moment I get a call for help, I rush.” Since then, Pant has helped repatriate a number of bodies of Indians back to their home country, many a times personally. Way back in 2003, he has also received ‘Thanks and Appreciation’ letter from Dabur Pharma’s for the timely help in saving the life of a lady employee in 2003 working in Dabur. Amidst philanthropy, he is also an active participant in cultural activities, promoting Indian culture in India and abroad.
Pant says that, “we get this gift of life only once so why not make the most of it by helping others because that will keep you alive in the hearts of people forever and ever…it is not a big deal when you work for yourself or your family, but what adds value to your life and makes you great is when you sacrifice your comfort for strangers. And it is not tough. You just have to place yourself or your family in the victim’s shoes and you will know what to do”. Pant believes that it is your willingness; determination and positive approach that will make your life successful and help you bring about a positive change in the lives of others too. “Do it for others and do it without any motive of any personal gain…my message is that don’t sit with the problem or moan about it. Take charge, try to find a solution and make effort. Stay positive; share your problems with people who care and you will be able to emerge as a winner in this life”. It is indeed heartening to see that a fellow Indian is a smart philanthropic who been for long working to help improve migrant workers’ life in the Gulf, having always been drawn to social welfare and helping those who are downtrodden or in distress is a noble act and is always appreciable! Therefore, it is not strange for some regarding him as a ‘messiah’ for victims of Gulf Job Racket.