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Inspired by Gandhi, This Lady Has Dedicated 50 Years to Help the Downtrodden

As a Trustee of the Kasturba Gandhi National Trust, Mrs. Ranade has dedicated her life and energies to ensure women’s empowerment, development, equality and education.

Mrs. Shobhana Ranade – a calm and composed lady, has dedicated over half a century of her life for the betterment of the downtrodden, particularly women and children.

She has spearheaded the Gandhi National Memorial Society and a national training institute for women at the Aga Khan Palace in Pune in 1979.

Mrs. Ranade was an active volunteer at a time when the Mahatma’s Quit India Movement was gaining ground. She embodies the Gandhian principles and is the quintessential Gandhian. Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave influenced her to work for destitute women and underprivileged children.


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In 1955, she moved to Assam and started a school ‘Shishu Niketan’ and the first child welfare centre in the oil town of Digboi. She also worked in tribal villages in Nagaland and NEFA (Arunachal Pradesh) for women empowerment. Through the Adim Jaati Seva Sangh, Naga tribal women were given special training in weaving and spinning. She also started a Khadi Bhandar in Kohima. She works and lives fearlessly and that is what she preaches to the children and women of the projects.

As a Trustee of the Kasturba Gandhi National Trust, Mrs. Ranade has dedicated her life and energies to ensure women’s empowerment, development, equality and education.

She also worked for the overall development of the children, especially orphans, underprivileged and street children.

The Trust’s State office located at Saswad, in Purandar Taluka in Pune is set up over a sprawling area of 11 acres; of which 6 acres is used for farming and 5 acres to conduct various activities of the Ashram. The Balgriha currently takes care of over 40 young, deprived girls by providing them shelter, food and education to enable them to live a happy and meaningful life.

Mrs. Ranade has emphasized on empowerment and emancipation of women. Women are empowered through the Ashram’s bakery unit, farming, and vegetation. Besides, they are also trained in over 20 village industrial trades and vocational skills viz. tailoring, flour making, preparing food items, jewellery, and many more.

Towards children’s upliftment and development, Mrs. Ranade directs her Organisation on various programs and initiatives for the welfare and upliftment of the street children. The Hermann Gmeiner Social Centre situated at Shivajinagar, Pune, provides education, nutritional food, healthcare, counseling and rehabilitation to the street kids. Around 60 children, who were unclean, undisciplined, prone to malnutrition and various addictions are taught basic personal hygiene and are each provided with a set of toiletries and a locker to keep their belongings.

The SOS Children’s Villages Balgram is yet another noble endeavor set up to provide the orphans and the destitute children their right to a family. Mrs. Ranade has been instrumental in establishing the SOS Children’s Villages in Maharashtra. It runs on rights-based principle, rather than need-based ideas, providing a sense of protection and security, emotional support and love through family care, warmth and affection. At the SOS Village Balgram, a mother is given the responsibility to take care of the overall development of a group of 10 children.

It is worth noting that some of these women leave and sacrifice their family responsibilities to take care of the abandoned and destitute.

In Maharashtra, there are three SOS villages – Pune, Latur and Alibaug. The first Balsadan was started at Vinobaji’s ancestral village — Gagode in Raigad, Maharashtra.


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It is commendable to see the unstinting welfare and developmental work done by Mrs. Shobhana Ranade. A transformational leader and a firebrand social worker indeed, Mrs. Ranade personally mentors every sevika right from the time of selection. She visits them in remote villages, stays with them and with emotional support and frequent discussions guides them to solve the various issues in line with Gandhian philosophies. She has worked with Vinobaji as a Convenor of Stree Jagaran at Pavnar and also as the Chairman of the ‘Bhoodan”Gram Dan’ board of Maharashtra.

Awards and Honours Mrs. Ranade has numerous awards and accolades to her credit, the most recent and notable being the Padma Bhushan for Social Work in 2011. Others include National Award for Child Welfare Services (1983); the Ahilyabai Holkar Award for Women and Child Development by the Government of Maharashtra (2001); the Gandhi Sanmaan Award by the Government of Madhya Pradesh; Rajiv Gandhi Manav Seva Award by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India (2007) .

Mrs. Shobhana Ranade was honoured with the Jamnalal Bajaj Award for Development and Welfare of Women and Children, in the year 2011.

Contact details: Mrs. Shobhana Ranade Trustee Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust 798 Bhandarkar Road, Pune 411 004 Tel: 020-2668-0250, M: 098225 56788 Fax: 020-2661-2700 Email: gandhi_memorial@vsnl.net


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Written by Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation

Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation was established in 1977, in memory of Jamnalal Bajaj, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. The Foundation aims to serve the ideals to which he had dedicated his life and promotes Gandhian constructive activities in which he was deeply involved during his lifetime.