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Video: 4 Unsung Grassroots Heroes Who Transformed Communities!

2017 brought the stories of 3 exceptional individuals, and an organisation, into the spotlight.

Source: Facebook

The Jamnalal Bajaj Awards recognise and felicitate four unsung heroes who work at the grassroots level every year. This year, the awardees included a woman from the Thar desert region who has dedicated her life and continues to follow her late husband’s vision enabling 1.2 million rural Indians to fight gender and caste discrimination, illiteracy and water scarcity across Rajasthan, to a Palestinian professor who is empowering refugees of war and taking the torch of peace ahead in the Gaza strip.

“These are Gandhian ‘Warriors’ who serve the society selflessly due to their undying passion and commitment in far-flung areas. Their service is Gandhian in nature and propagates the ideals of Jamnalal Bajaj, who was known as the adoptive fifth son of Mahatma Gandhi. We want to gratefully felicitate their selfless, life-long commitment to the inclusive development of communities in India and abroad,” says Ms Minal Bajaj, Honorary Director of Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation while speaking to The Better India.

Ms. Bajaj further states, “In a span of forty years, the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation has honoured over 150 individuals successively in a row and we continue to look for such inspirational people.”

2017 brought the stories of 3 exceptional individuals, and an organisation, into the spotlight. Each of these awardees was honoured with a citation, a trophy and a cash prize of Rs 10, 00,000 (for the International Award, the cash prize is equivalent to foreign exchange). Here’s a look at their stories.

1) Shashi Tyagi

Born in in the year of independence, Shashi Tyagi comes across as a soft-spoken, simple woman, but her clarity of vision and dedication as a social worker and educationist will leave you spellbound.

Shashi who originally hailed from Banwasi Sewa Ashram in Uttar Pradesh shifted to Jodhpur’s Thar Desert region with husband late Shri L. Tyagi in 1980, where the journey of their constructive work began. She is the recipient of the Jamnalal Bajaj National Award for Outstanding Contribution in the field of Constructive Work.

The couple conducted padayatras and surveys and understood how substance abuse, caste and gender discrimination, poor health, illiteracy and water scarcity, marred the lives of villagers. To tackle these systematically, they established Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (well known as GRAVIS) in 1983 in Gagadi village, Jodhpur.

GRAVIS empowers villagers through watershed development and management, agriculture and afforestation, animal husbandry, women empowerment, accessible primary education, affordable healthcare and rights of mine workers.

Today, GRAVIS’ work spans the northwest region of Rajasthan across six districts and has impacted the over 1200 villages and 1.2 million people.

Take a look at their story:

Rajasthan’s Modern Day Gandhian- Shashi Tyagi

A modern day Gandhian has transformed over 10 Lac lives in 1200 villages by making these communities self-reliant through her organization Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS)
Check out the journey of this Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation Award Recipient for Outstanding Contribution in the field of constructive work- 2017

Posted by TheBetterIndia on Tuesday, November 14, 2017

2. Jan Swasthya Sahyog

Registered on August 20, 1996, this recipient of the Award for Application of Science and Technology for Rural Development was founded by a group of All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) postgraduates and like-minded health professionals.

In 1999, the group settled down in the eastern part of Madhya Pradesh, in Bilaspur district (now in Chhattisgarh) and decided to develop an efficient, low-cost, high quality, community-based, health care system; that would be readily accessible to the rural poor. This is how Jan Swasthya Sahyog (JSS) started functioning in 1999, in Ganiyari village.

JSS bridges the gap of inequality in rural healthcare and focuses on preventive measures and health education. It aims to evolve low-cost technology to provide health care facilities that are also quality-oriented and sustainable. It promotes training, research, and advocacy too. Here’s their story through the lens:

Making Health Care Accessible to Rural India

A group of All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) postgraduates has provided medical assistance to over 18 Lac people from over 3000 villages through an effective, low-cost healthcare system.

The Jan Swasthya Sahoyog is Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation’s Recipient of the Award for Application of Science and Technology for Rural Development – 2017

This video was made in collabration with Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation

Posted by TheBetterIndia on Thursday, November 16, 2017

3. Dr Praveen Nair

Lovingly called ‘Didi’ by young and old alike at Salaam Balak trust, Praveen Nair was always passionate about serving underprivileged children.

Born in 1931, Praveen is the mother of filmmaker Mira Nair, and founder trustee of the Salaam Baalak Trust and now the recipient of the Award for Development and Welfare of Women and Children. With a repertoire of work spanning 60 years, she worked in Orissa, and later headed various development related committees for Red Cross, DAV Public School and Deaf and Dumb Association, before founding the trust.

Her daughter’s film Salaam Bombay brought the harsh realities of the lives of street kids on the silver screen. This motivated her to bring a huge difference to the lives of these children.

In association with Shri Sanjoy Roy, Nair established the SBT in 1988 in a small space provided by Ground Reserve Police (GRP) at New Delhi railway station. Today, SBT runs six residential homes called Aasra, Apna Ghar, Old Delhi Railway Station Open Shelter and DMRC Children’s Home (for boys); Arushi and Rose Home (for girls).

These children are provided shelter, food, clothes, education, healthcare, counselling, recreational facilities and even vocational training and placements. SBT also has 21 daycare centres located near railway stations, bus stops, market areas and slums. Children who visit the centres are trained in computers, dance workshops, taught life skills, language/communication skills etc.

Watch how SBT is transforming the lives of street kids here:

Giving Street Children A Second Chance

A modern-day Gandhian has rehabilitated thousands of children over the last 25 years. Salaam Baalak Trust has been catering to the individual needs and covering all the areas of a child’s development from physical, medical, educational and even honing their creative skills. Check out the journey of this Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation Awardee for Development and Welfare of Women and Children – 2017

Posted by TheBetterIndia on Friday, November 17, 2017


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4. Dr Ziad Medoukh

In 2014, the last Israeli military offensive against Gaza shook the world, Dr Ziad Medoukh set up a psychological support cell to counsel traumatised children of war. In three years, 100 such sessions in the kindergartens, schools, and shelters in Gaza have helped over 4,000 children.

Born in 1966, Dr Ziad Medoukh is a Palestinian professor and Director of the French Department at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza, Palestine. He is the recipient of the International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India.

The professor dedicated his life to the development of a nonviolent economy in the Gaza Strip. He is not only helping Palestinians turn to agriculture and organic farming, but has also formed cooperatives in refugee camps to help them set up small enterprises to produce cheese, olive oil, and preservatives.

It is common for fishermen facing a threat from Israeli Navy in the Gaza Sea to get shot and have their boats confiscated. To protect and safeguard these fishermen, Dr. Ziad accompanies them into the sea.

He strives to sensitise and train future teachers in Palestine to promote a culture of nonviolence in the Palestinian society and is also educating the Francophonie world to carry out peaceful operations in the Gaza Strip through testimonials and live news. He set up the Peace Center alongside his friends in 2006, which aims to manifest the power of education as a non-violent form of resistance in Palestine.

Here’s a look at the life of the International Gandhian:

Gandhian from Palestine- Ziad Medoukh

This doctor, researcher and teacher has used his Gandhian values has empowered countless farmers, brokered peace between communities and helped over 4,000 traumatized children of war through democratic education to establish a non-violent economy in the Gaza Strip.

Check out the journey of the Recipient of Jamanalal Bajaj Foundations’ International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India!

This video has been made in collaboration with Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation

Posted by TheBetterIndia on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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