Rana Uppalapati skating through the busy Camac Street in Kolkata on Saturday.
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Kolkata: Rana Uppalapati is a second generation affluent businessman but is a social activist at heart.

Unlike many, who get into occasional social work for photo-op and to strengthen their business network, this 37-year-old from Visakhapatnam has been getting involved in activism for the past three years.

This time, Uppalapati is skating 6,000-km along the Golden Quadrilateral highway network which connects India’s north-south-east-west, to raise funds for the education of 25,000 underprivileged girl children.

Going by a standardized estimate, it takes Rs 3,600 per girl per year in India to provide education up to high school level.

The tall lean fellow set out skating from Hosur in Tamil Nadu on 5 September and reached Kolkata Saturday by covering 3,900-km through the west, north, and vast part of eastern India. So far, he has raised funding for 8,000 girl children.

“Skating has been my favourite hobby since childhood. In 2016, I skated from Visakhapatnam to Chennai to raise funds for the treatment of a woman afflicted with breast cancer. My target was Rs 1-lakh but ended up raising Rs 6-lakh and with this, the treatment of six cancer patients was funded,” Uppalapati recalls.

“Then, it came to mind that instead of intervening at a later stage when a woman has already been plagued by illiteracy, poverty, ill-health, etc. why not we step in early. Thus, I conceived the idea of raising funds for girl education through skating and sent a mail to the managing director of Titan Ltd seeking the support of its network spread all over India. Within a few minutes, I got a reply endorsing the proposal,” he says.

Thus, this skating drive has been named ‘educate to carry her onwards’ or ECHO campaign that Titan and the Tata Group are supporting as a corporate social responsibility initiative.

Donations are being made by the companies’ staff, franchises, and also common people. The funds collected will be handed over to two NGO’s ~ one based in Mumbai and the other in Delhi ~ who work on girl education.

On the next leg, Uppalapati will be skating to south India through his hometown Visakhapatnam, where his family owns nine Titan stores. The journey will be flagged in at Hosur on 10 December.

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