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Sacred Steps: A Jain Tech Innovator Combines A Religious And Worldly Perspective In Education

By: Athar Ahmed

Mehool Sanghrajka isn't your typical tech CEO. To start with, his worldview is grounded in ancient Indian philosophy — one which inspires him to serve not just his close-knit religious community, but extends to people he's never met.

I’m sitting in a small, cosy vegan cafe in a quiet part of West London on a cold, wet, typically English Monday morning. The other shops near here — the generic franchises, faceless drive-thrus and big stores — blend into the background. But the cafe I’m in stands out, starting with its name, Ahimsa, which means non-violence in Sanskrit and is a key part of the Jain religion, promoting non-violence in thought, word and action.

Compared to other faiths, Jains are small in number. The last census in 2011 estimated the number in the UK to be around 20,000 though community leaders believe the actual figure is almost three times as many.

I’m at the Ahimsa cafe to meet one of the most prominent Jains in the UK: Mehool Sanighrajka. He was made an MBE — a Member of the British Empire — by the UK government and Queen, an honour given to recognize Mehool’s outstanding public service as a Jain and his work in education.

Along with his leadership in the Jain community, Mehool’s also the CEO of a social enterprise that focuses on improving the life chances for children through digital technology and distance learning. Technology expands humans’ reach and that’s why Mehool has decided to pursue it. He believes education is the best way to get people out of poverty. That may be an end, but the means are tied to his faith.

The Sacred Steps series is a collaboration between KALW’sThe Spiritual Edge andUSC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Funding comes from theJohn Templeton Foundation and theTempleton Religion Trust.