Late Vineet Khanna’s life is a ‘Profile in Courage’. He devoted his life to the service of the underprivileged and downtrodden of society. It is interesting to note that Vineet spent a large part of his life bedridden because of a misdiagnosis after an accident that left his spine immobile. He responded to his problem by quickly arranging the furniture and his lifeline; his books, typewriter and files, within easy reach of his arms to suit his new parameters. After his graduation with a degree in Sociology in 1974 (which he attended on a stretcher) Vineet’s father died. His mother had to work to support the family while Vineet became a freelance writer for mainstream publications to help support the family. After meeting Mother Theresa and her nuns, he was most inspired and began helping them and visited many slums. As he became more involved, the program leaders became increasingly impressed with Vineet and the local Bishop invited him to discuss a program for school dropouts and unskilled youth. This discussion was the inspiration for the Society he formed in 1980.
Vineet’s thoughts still exist in the form of his work in some of the largest slums in Chandigarh. He had also extended his concern for the unemployed by launching several programs for the youths’ families, peer groups, neighbours and children, as these were the social groups that comprised the youth’s immediate environment. His hopes to effect a qualitative change in their lifestyle led him to initiate programs like VAMA (a training and income-generation program for women) and Pustak (a non-formal school for slum children).
Vineet continued to be involved in writing and editing projects in addition to his fourteen-hour days at the Society. He also published a newsletter on local issues, The City Courier. He was a popular poet with most of his poetry illustrated and published in his own calligraphic handwriting and appearing in numerous publications. He married Reetika in 1993 and they have a daughter Deeksha whom he adored
For his Commendable work in the area of social service, he was awarded the ASHOKA FELLOWSHIP AWARD (1995) and 9TH RED & WHITE BRAVERY AWARD (1999). The Government of India posthumously decorated him with The NATIONAL AWARD for CHILD WELFARE for the year 2002.