The work of APJF and Disability Law Initiative is supported by persons with significant experience in law, public service and industry.
Mr. Rajan Mani is Executive Director and Founder Trustee of Advocates for Public Justice Foundation and Director of the Disability Law Initiative. After a long innings in the US and India as an engineering executive in the field of telecommunications, Mr. Mani took to public interest law in India as a means of realizing a fair and inclusive society. As an advocate, Mr. Mani specializes in the implementation of the positive measures for persons with disabilities provided for in India’s disability law, such as the entitlements for equal access to employment, education and public facilities provided for in the Disabilities Act. For instance he obtained precedent setting directions from the Delhi High Court to the Indian Railways to conduct a special recruitment drive for hiring more than 4000 disabled persons, including in to the elite Railway Civil Services; he also led a case where the Delhi High Court required the Delhi Government to provide free school text books in Braille to all visually impaired children in Delhi. He is currently leading several high impact cases for disabled persons, particularly for equal access to higher education and employment. Prior to his work in disability law, Mr. Mani worked for several years in the telecommunications industry, first internationally and later in India. He has a B.Tech degree in Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, a Master of Science degree from the University of Maryland, USA, and a L.L.B law degree from University of Mumbai.
Ms. Ritu Kumar is a trustee of the Advocates for Public Justice Foundation. As an advocate, she pursues issues of public interest in the Supreme Court of India and High Court of Delhi, and has specialized experience in the area of disability rights. On special commission from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Ms. Kumar helped devise a new framework, the Biwako Millennium Framework, for implementation of positive measures for disabled persons in Asia. On assignment with the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), she trained law teachers on disability law and the various judgments of the superior courts. She has been a key contributor to several important publications on disability rights, including the Handbook for Inclusive Education of Disabled Persons, published by UNESCO; the International Disability Rights Monitor report on development of disability law in India, and the Disability Manual of the NHRC. Prior to entering public interest law, Ms. Kumar worked with the AP&J law firm and was legal editor of the Indlaw Communications Pvt. Ltd. website. She has her LLB law degree from Dehradun, Uttaranchal, and also has post-graduate diplomas in Human Rights and Special Education.
Mr. Rajeev Kumar Ojha, a trustee of Advocates for Public Justice Foundation, practices finance law including income tax and securities law in Mumbai. He has specialized experience in the procedural aspects of law and is an expert on the judicial review of administrative action. Mr. Ojha provides aid and advice to DLI on the strategy and execution of public interest petitions. Prior to entering the field of law, he worked in the public sector banking industry and subsequently in the securities industry in market making roles working with leading brokers affiliated to the Bombay Stock Exchange. He has B.Sc and MBA degrees from the University of Lucknow, and a L.L.B. degree from University of Mumbai.
Ujwal Impact Advisors (UIA) is a consortium of compassionate and experienced professionals endeavoring to help social entrepreneurs with their insights, experience and network. UIA-PWD catalyzes a scalable collaborative ecosystem for delivering solutions to persons with disabilities ensuring the path to a dignified life and socio-economic inclusion.
Ujwal Thakar, with over four decades of work experience, has been a leader in the Banking, Consulting and Not for Profit world. He has worked in senior management roles at SBI, SCB, TimesBank & BNP Paribas and was a member of the Management Committees of the last three banks as Head of Retail & Private Banking. After 28 years in Banking, he joined the Development Sector as the CEO of Pratham and later as CEO of GiveIndia. He has a deep multifaceted perspective of both worlds and the various challenges in the Development Sector. He chairs the board of Educate Girls, and is on the board of Ummeed Child Development Center, Shoshit Sewa Kendra, Arogya World, and Lighthouse Communities Foundation. He is a Partner at the social incubator Ncore and a mentor to many young social entrepreneurs.
Paresh has over 3 decades of senior management experience across the financial sector in HDFC Ltd, HDFC Life and Piramal Foundation. As CEO of Piramal Foundation until 2021, Paresh has been closely involved in developing innovative solutions to issues that are critical roadblocks towards unlocking India’s economic potential. He continues to play a significant role in facilitating four initiatives – Piramal Swasthya, Piramal Sarvajal, Piramal Udgam and PFEL. Prior to joining Piramal Foundation in 2012, he served as the Executive Director & COO of HDFC Standard Life Insurance Limited. Paresh also serves on multiple Boards and mentors multiple Not-for-Profit organizations.
Shridhar Sethuram, an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, is a private equity professional with 25+ years of investment & operating experience across asset classes, industries and life stages. He is a partner at Ujwal Impact Advisors- a pro-bono ecosystem intervention endeavoring to build a collaborative of of social entrepreneurs and catalytic alliances with large philanthropists & CSR donors
Nikunj Jhaveri is the Chairman and Founder of the Systems Plus Solutions, an ISO 9001:2008 Certified Business Solution provider with experience in developing, implementing and supporting information technology solutions for clients in over 22 countries across Europe, Asia and North America.
Nikunj allots importance to both corporate and social responsibilities and along with his team at Systems Plus has conceived and established the Social Responsibility project called UDAAN in 2009.
Nikunj holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
Mr. Jiten Apte is Chief Executive Officer of Wizarth Advisors, a full service investment bank focused on cross-border transactions in the technology industry. Mr. Apte assists DLI with establishing and maintaining relationships with the corporate sector in the area of corporate social responsibility. He has over 15 years of industry experience in numerous functional areas, including international management, finance, business development, and technology. Prior to starting his entrepreneurial career, he was employed at various Research and R&D Laboratories in Hewlett Packard, IBM and AT&T Bell Labs. Mr. Apte has completed a mini-MBA in Finance from Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, and has a Ph. D. from the Computer Science Department of Duke University, and a B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.