“People would most often be shocked when they heard the statistics of CSA and the extent to which it was happening in India. Getting to break the mindset was a challenge.”
Born and raised in Mumbai, Pooja Taparia has her roots in Nagaur, Rajasthan. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Shri. Jagannathji Taparia, and is very proud of her lineage. The Taparia family is known to have been extremely entrepreneurial and philanthropic for more than a century. She studied at J B Petit High School for Girls and graduated in Applied Art/Graphic Design from Sophia Polytechnic, and Commerce and Economics from Sydenham College.
Taparia is the Founder-CEO of Arpan, a globally-recognised, award-winning NGO that works towards eliminating Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in India. “Based in Mumbai, with a team of more than 100 dedicated professionals, Arpan is India’s most prominent NGO providing CSA Prevention and Intervention services for children and adults. It is a critical stakeholder for state and non-state actors, and uses advocacy and research to push for policy and systemic change at the local, state, and national levels.”
As a leader, Taparia embodies the spirit of the modern-day social entrepreneur. She has grown Arpan from a three-person startup into a global thought-leader in the CSA space, with innovative impact models that work with a range of stakeholders-from children and parents to state bodies and teachers. Arpan’s key project focusses on personal safety education in schools, teaching children and adolescents (aged between 4 and 16) about personal safety, so that they can identify and seek help in unsafe situations, and provides counselling to children (who have been abused) to help heal from its impact. Arpan also trains and empowers teachers and parents with the knowledge, attitude, and skills needed to prevent and deal with CSA.
Awards & Recognistion
Inspire Award (2019)
Astitva Award (2017)
Architects of the Future Award (2014)
KarmaVeer Puraskaar Award (2010)
Celebrated as a SHERO on International Women’s Day (2022)
Received by Arpan Foundation:
India NGO National Award (2011)
Dasra Girl Power Award (2015)
Global NGO Excellence Award (2015)
C. Henry Kempe Award by ISPCAN (2016)
Spirit of Humanity Award (2017)
WISE Award (2019)
Dealing with Challenges
Since 2007, Arpan has impacted two million children and adults. However, the initial few years were very challenging. She shares, “People would most often be shocked when they heard the statistics of CSA and the extent to which it was happening in India. There was also an attitude that this happens only in slums and not in our homes and schools. Getting to break that mindset was a challenge, but things have changed over time.”
The magnitude of the issue is another challenge. “While Arpan is trying to make a pan-India impact, the sheer number of children and adults we need to train and create awareness with is massive and, sometimes, feels overwhelming. No matter how much we have achieved in the last 16 years, it still feels like a drop in the ocean,” says Taparia. Healing through counselling is an essential aspect of dealing with CSA. Ironically, even today, parents don’t feel the need to provide counselling and therapy and think the child will forget, but the reality is that no child or adult ever forgets. The impact of CSA can remain for a lifetime and continue to affect an individual emotionally, psychologically, sexually, and physically, unless healed.
Interestingly, Taparia has seen more acceptance of the issue and the will to act on it amongst people at large as well as the Government–both at State and National levels — in the last five years. Thanks to increased media reporting, there is better acknowledgement and organisations, schools and the government are recognising and now acting on it. She has also seen a change in the global advocacy for prevention and intervention of CSA and the building of a movement to divert the attention to it, which is highly needed.
Taparia takes immense pride in her Marwari roots and family. “Even though I’m a graphic designer by degree, hailing from an entrepreneur family helped me tremendously. My father taught me about management and running an organisation. My mother though a homemaker, has also been an entrepreneur all her life. The values and culture I was raised with — having high levels of commitment towards work and philanthropy, innovation and agility, clarity in thought and vision, altruism, feeling of brotherhood towards the community and people at large — have influenced me a lot. Also, growing up in a spiritual family helped me find my calling and guided and helped me to make right choices whenever I have faced dilemmas,” she concludes.