Qimpro Gold Standard 2010

Padmini Somani


Director, Salaam Bombay Foundation

Padmini Somani, Director, Salaam Bombay Foundation, is a young crusader with an extraordinary missionary zeal. Her mission: Prevention of tobacco addiction in under-privileged children, who lack support from family and society.

Ms Somani commenced her career in 1997 when she returned from the London School of Economics. She proved to be an effective business professional. However, a couple of years into her business career, a traumatic personal event gave birth to her laser sharp mission, built around tobacco control.

As a first step, capitalizing on her strengths, Ms Somani developed a special theatre based awareness program titled Ehsaas, educating children against the use of tobacco. This was supported by the Prince Aly Khan Hospital. Ehsaas was creatively structured around topical themes and Hindi film songs. The educational play travelled to 265 schools in Mumbai over a span of 3 years, reaching out to 167,000 children.

In August 2000, Ms Somani represented the youth of India at the World Conference on Tobacco Or Health (WCTOH) in Chicago; only to realize that creating mere awareness is not enough to eradicate the national tobacco addiction problem.

Consequently, in 2001, Ms Somani established an NGO, Salaam Bombay Foundation. At Salaam Bombay Foundation, Ms Somani’s aim has been to create a tobacco-free world for every child. Her first program was life skills based, titled ‘Super Army’. This non-preachy program focused on the holistic development of a child to prevent a relapse into tobacco habits. The scale of her ambition required the development of change agents, through a formal 2 year training program. Their agenda was to convince the government to shut illegal tobacco shops in the vicinity of schools; ensure restaurants observe the No Smoking ban; recognize tobacco vendors who do not sell tobacco to minors; and more.

At this stage, Ms Somani realized that the tobacco control program could only be sustained by channelizing the available energy of children into positive healthy activities. This gave birth to the Salam Bombay Cricket Academy, mentored by Mr Ashok Mankad; all-girls Hockey Academy, mentored by Mr Mir Ranjan Negi; Arts Academy; Weekend Running Clubs; Media Academy; and more. These initiatives have been well received not only by children, but also their parents.

In 2009, Ms Somani led the Salaam Bombay Foundation team to host the 14th World Conference on Tobacco Or Health. It witnessed about 2,500 scientists, advocates, public health professionals and activists from 130 countries across the globe. In 2010, she co-hosted the 2nd National Conference on Tobacco Or Health.

Through the Salaam Bombay Foundation Ms Somani has impacted the lives of many children and played a huge role in shaping their future. They are transforming into responsible adults and role model citizens. Her mission is expanding. Her responsibilities are galloping.

We salute Ms Padmini Somani, Qimpro Gold Standard 2010 for Healthcare.

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