Urmi Basu

Doctor helps educate prostitutes's children

Urmi Basu is the founder of New Light, a secular nonprofit charitable trust that has set up a shelter to protect and educate young girls, children and women at high risk of commercial sexual exploitation.


New Light founder and director Urmi Basu in Khaligat, India

Photo by David Smoler

Basu is a well-educated, middle class woman who was born in Kolkata to a father who was a doctor and a mother working in the healthcare profession. She credits her parents with raising her with a great deal of freedom and a strong sense of her own social responsibility.

After finishing her graduate work in sociology, Basu studied social work, specializing in criminology and correctional administration. This, Basu says, was “extremely important and left a very deep impact and influence on the work that I do today.”

After working at a number of organizations, including those working with street children and women in isolated rural areas, Basu said she felt the need to do “something where I could see my work impacting the lives of people” and used her own savings to found New Light in 2000.

Since then, New Light has evolved into a community development project that reaches deeply into Kolkata to help vulnerable populations. In addition to its education initiatives, New Light has begun HIV/Aids prevention, care and treatment programs.

Read Nicholas Kristof's New York Times column about Urmi.

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