She feeds a 1,000 people everyday and encourages all to look at the ‘bigger picture’. HELLO! raises a toast to the Delhi philanthropist and and all her endeavours towards helping the underprivileged.
She may have named her NGO ‘The Bigger Picture’, but Vani Gupta is involved in its every little detail. A conversation with the Delhi-based dynamo brings to the fore her sincerity of intent, a conviction and passion for her foundation that moves you deeply.
“While many like to establish a foundation in their name to leave a legacy behind, that’s not what I seek,” she shares. “My belief is that if I have a global name, it will resonate with everyone. When I started this organisation, it was a young man in my social media team who came up with this name. The idea behind it is in the scheme of things, that one should always look at the bigger picture.”
Vani launched The Bigger Picture on November 8, 2014, with a fundraiser featuring 30 designers at a star hotel in Delhi. At the time, the project was a one-woman show for Vani, the daughter of real estate businessman RK Gupta and Veena Gupta. “No one in my family had done something like this, and I don’t like to ask for help,” says the 36-year-old singleton, who can’t explain what compelled her to establish the organisation.
“Initially, I’d wonder how I’d manage on my own and reach out to people, as it’d be hard to do everything single-handedly. So I knew it was important to bring together a group of like-minded, dedicated individuals. Over the years, the organisation evolved organically, especially during the second wave of Covid in India, when there was a strong desire among people to help each other.”
After graduating from Delhi’s Mater Dei School, Vani was set to join the London College of Fashion, but “personal reasons” took her to IILM University instead, where she pursued business management marketing. And today, The Bigger Picture is an even bigger NG0, which stays connected with over a 100 volunteers over WhatsApp groups and provides a 1,000 meals per day.
Recently, Vani helped raise funds along with KETO for a young boy whose cancer had relapsed. While the goal was to raise Rs 35 lakh, she helped bring in nearly Rs 15.66 lakh.
“The request came through (comedian) Mallika Dua. Since it was verified, I uploaded the link on my Instagram handle, and we managed to raise Rs 3 lakh the same day! The power of social media is incredible. It’s all about trust.”
“Our way of functioning is clean and transparent. If it’s a surgery, we transfer the money directly to the hospital and are in touch with the doctors directly. We also keep track of the patient’s progress.”
Besides patients in need, the NGO also helps feed marginalised communities. In fact, in August, they distributed 18,376 meals through The Bigger Picture kitchen. “Our donors pay Rs 50 per thali, which comprises dal, chawal, rotis and rice. These are given to patients and children outside AIIMS Delhi, Civil Hospital Gurugram and Coolie Camp in Munirka. At the camp, the kids had never tasted pizza!”
“Patients and their families often don’t have the time or the money for a meal before having their medication. We also provide meals for daily wage workers, children and people from the slums of Sriniwaspuri and Andrews Ganj who are deprived of even a single meal a day. The kids are orphans who were taken in at NGO Khilna Khilona Khelna in Panchsheel Park. They are very close to my heart. I also visited the Samarpan Foundation in New Friends Colony. When we laid down the food there, the children offered me the first bite. It was so moving.”
Once an entrepreneur who oversaw trunk shows and even ran a candle manufacturing company, Vani felt something amiss in her life at the time. But since imbibing the philosophy of Shirdi Sai Baba, of taking from one hand and giving with the other, she believes she found her calling.
“I feel like god chose me as a medium to be able to help. I’m 36, unmarried and not running a profit-making business. In the past, I worked on trunk shows and candle making, but I still used to wake up with a sense of emptiness. I felt like I was not using my potential for the right reasons, deviating from my calling. I do have a life of my own, where I like to dress up, head out and travel. But I want to leave a legacy behind.”
With this train of thought, Vani wishes to establish a sustainability skill development beauty academy for underprivileged girls that would be accessible for free. Also, with the aim to help people “reach a state where no one will need to depend on someone else for food”, she’s currently planning a festive goody bag.
“Besides stationery, chocolates and chips, I also plan to distribute solar lamps that will help the destitute cook their meals and their children study. These lamps will light up their lives — literally! I’m looking for a good manufacturer who can help me with it.”
It’s this innate desire to reach out to as many underprivileged persons as possible that keeps Vani committed to her cause 24x7.
“Feeding a 1,000 people every day is a huge responsibility that keeps me on alert even on vacation. For instance, I was in London for two months recently, where I’d wake up at 6am to ensure that things were running smoothly in India. I want to be accessible all the time. If you’re not in touch with reality, you will lose yourself,” she concludes on this sage note.
Photography: Anil Chawla; Creative Direction & Styling: Amber Tikari
This is an excerpt from an interview that was originally published in Hello! India’s October 2022 issue. To read the full interview, get your hands on the latest issue right here!